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Samsung Galaxy S10+: A quality new smartphone

This post was originally published in the Southwest Journal, a Southwest Minneapolis community newspaper.

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My friends at Verizon sent me over a new smartphone to check out: the just released Samsung Galaxy S10+. I have always been a fan of Samsung and this phone is a good one. The Samsung flagship phone comes in two sizes, the smaller S10 and the larger S10+. I had the S10+ to play with.

Additionally, the phone comes in an S10e (even smaller) model which is less expensive and does not have all of the bells and whistles of its big sisters, plus there is an unreleased S10 5G that will be capable of using 5G service when it is available. I will not be comparing the S10e or the S10 5G as I do not have them on hand to write about.

The S10+ has a 6.4” Quad HD+ Dynamic AMOLED Infinity Display which wraps around the sides of the phone with curved edges. The S10 has only a 6.1-inch display but with the same features. The phone is wrapped in Gorilla Glass with Gorilla Glass 6 on the front and Gorilla Glass 5 on the rear, except on the S10+ there is also an option for a ceramic back; I had the all-glass model for testing.

The Galaxy S10+ has an ultrasonic fingerprint reader that is under the glass at the bottom of the front screen. I have heard nothing but good things about it, but in my experience it was not a good way to unlock the phone as it rarely read my fingerprints properly. Instead, I liked using the facial recognition to unlock, which worked quite quickly.

The phone does not have a notch at the top for cameras and sensors, which have become popular in the last year or so. Instead it has what is being referred to as a hole punch on the top right corner of the screen, but the wallpaper creates an illusion by filling that area with a dark color and you don’t even notice the hole punch area. The hole punch on the S10 is simply a round circle, but on the S10+ it is elongated in order to fit in the 8MP Depth Camera only available on Galaxy S10+.

The S10+ still has a headphone jack. This is starting to become uncommon, especially on phones with USB-C charging like this one. It appears that Samsung is not giving up on wired headphones.

On top of the USB-C charging, the device has wireless charging as well. Additionally, a new feature that it has allows it to charge other Samsung devices too, like the Samsung watch and earbuds, on the back of the phone as though it were a powermat.

This phone runs the Android mobile operating system and, as is common, the manufacturer adds their own flavor to this OS. For the most part it is a very clean design, but Samsung adds a lot of their own software that I don’t end up using like their email app, calendar app and web browser. I like using the Google variants and they work quite nicely on the S10+.

Samsung’s digital assistant Bixby is built into the phone, but I still find myself preferring Google’s assistant. The dedicated hardware button can be remapped to open up other programs if you find you don’t need Bixby to be that accessible.

For price, the S10 comes in at $899, while it is $100 more for the starting version of the S10+ at $999. These are not cheap phones, but that should be expected as they are flagship phones for Samsung.

To buy or not to buy … if you like Samsung’s phones, the S10+ is the way to go as it is one of the best Android phones currently available.

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Paul Burnstein is a Tech Handyman. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul helps personal and business clients optimize their use of technology. He can be found through www.gadgetguymn.com or via email at paul@gadgetguymn.com.

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Samsung Galaxy Note9: A big screen and a stylus, too

Galaxy Note9This post was originally published in the Southwest Journal, a Southwest Minneapolis community newspaper.

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The Galaxy S9 is Samsung’s flagship phone for 2018. The Note9 steps it up even more.

My friends at Verizon sent me a Samsung Galaxy Note9 to try out, and it is quite a phone. It is a very large phone with plenty of features and includes a stylus known as the S Pen for use with the phone. More on that pen later.

The Note9 is an Android phone running Android Oreo out of the box with Samsung Experience wrapped around it, giving a Samsung feel to the operating system. Samsung’s own enhancements seem minimal, and the operating system looks clean.

With a 6.4-inch diagonal screen, this is one big phone that takes two hands or a stylus to control. The screen is a beautiful Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display with rich colors and strong blacks. The screen is also edge-to-edge with very little bezel around it. The phone has an Always-On Display, or AOD, that displays the time, any music playing through the phone, notifications, calendar appointments and more.

The internal guts include an octa-core processor with 6 gigabytes of RAM and 128 gigabytes of storage (which can be upgraded to 8 gigabytes of RAM and 512 gigabytes of storage). It also has the option to expand storage via a MicroSD slot that can take an SD card with up to 512 gigabytes of additional storage.

Storage should not be an issue on this phone. This phone is fast and reacts quickly and responsively to actions.

According to Samsung’s website, the phone has an IP68 rating allowing it to be submersed in “up to 5 feet of freshwater for up to 30 minutes.” It has the capability of fast charging for both wireless and wired charging and the fast charging really does speed up the amount of time it takes to charge the phone.

Wired fast charging will always be faster than the wireless option, even for fast charging. For charging, the phone has a USB-C port. I found that the battery easily lasted all day long on a single charge. Plus, it still has a headphone jack.

The Note9 has three cameras: an 8-megapixel lense on the front-facing camera and two 12-megapixel lenses on the rear camera for both wide-angle and telephoto modes. The camera is fast to load and takes very nice pictures. I found colors to be rich and sharp with good detail in the photos.

The phone has Bixby, Samsung’s answer to Siri or Google Assistant, built in. Bixby can be called up via voice or a dedicated button on the left side of the phone. While I did not use Bixby much, it has matured and appears to be a solid digital assistant.

The S Pen, mentioned before, is a stylus that connects to the phone and pops out as needed to control actions on the phone. It can write on the screen for editing, drawing or note-taking.

The S Pen has a super capacitor that allows for 30 minutes of usage with just 40 seconds of charge time. (It gets charged inside the phone). New this year, the S Pen can remotely control phone actions via Bluetooth from a button on the stylus; these include taking photos by pressing the button or changing slides for presentations.

I liked using the S Pen for photos. I could hold the phone and press the stylus for capturing the pictures.

The phone’s retail price is $999.99.

Overall this is a great device as long as you can handle the size of it. It is not a one-handed phone, but the size helps enable a gorgeous screen and a large battery that will get you through the day.

I like this phone a lot and appreciate its size, but I can’t quite figure out many uses for the S Pen.


Paul Burnstein is a tech handyman. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul helps personal and business clients optimize their use of technology. He can be found through gadgetguymn.com or via email at paul@gadgetguymn.com.

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