By Rob Kay
In this (hopefully short) era of self imposed isolation, having a dependable cell phone is critical.
If you’re in the market for a mid-priced phone, there are plenty of options. It’s not necessary to drop big bucks to get something good.
From my research the sweet spot for an Android device is $400-600. In this niche, the Google Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL offer great bang for the buck.
Another option is the Samsung Galaxy S10e which offers the most important features of the higher end S10 and S10+ for $600 or under. This includes an excellent display and a first-rate camera. My previous phone was also a Samsung Galaxy so upgrading to a newer model from the same manufacturer made sense.
Set up was straight forward. With a Samsung app called Smart Switch you can wirelessly transfer all your content from the old phone to the new one. It takes a few hours and voila, you’ve got your old phone back.
So, what else do I like about this phone?
First off, it’s small (5.8 x 2.75 inches) which means it’s easy to put in your pocket and hold. (Of course, it’s subjective about what size is optimal, but I’m happy with a smaller footprint). The Snapdragon 855 chipset is very fast and the 3,100-mAh rated battery will last all day. The unit has a headphone jack, a component that the Pixel 4 and 4 XL lack. If need be you can even wirelessly charge other Qi-enabled devices (such as my old Galaxy 7) with an app called PowerShare.
Instead of a screen-based fingerprint scanner the S10e uses a scanner integrated into the power button. It took a bit of getting used to, but it works quite well. (It also has facial recognition and of course, the old-fashioned PIN).
The S10e has up to 256GB storage, which is smaller than the S10 Plus, which tops out at 1TB. However, most of us will never use that much storage so you’re not missing out.
The only thing I didn’t like when testing this unit was the voice dictation which I use all the time, everywhere, on just about every app. It sure beats using with my scarred, stubby fingers. Compared to my ancient Galaxy 7, this function sucked. It just didn’t understand me. I was resigned to get used to it because I really like the phone and planned to buy one.
However, being the intrepid reporter that I am, I consulted Mr. Google and sure enough there’s a hack for this. I noted in my search that other folks had complained.
Well let’s not blame Mr. Samsung. There is a fix, it’s really simple and it solved my problem instantly. (I was quite proud of myself for figuring it out. I didn’t even have to bug the T-Mobile support crew).
Follow these steps:
Go to Settings
Language and input
+ Manage keyboards
Turn the Samsung voice input OFF and turn Google Voice typing ON!
Tested on T-Mobile’s Network
A short plug for T-Mobile. I tested the phone T-Mobile’s network on my own T-Mobile account. They were helpful in organizing the test unit. I’m happy with the coverage and prices are competitive. They also have good options for overseas travel. Sometimes a call drops on Oahu, but that’s usually behind Diamond Head so it’s not unexpected.
The tech support people on the mainland are first rate and I’ve had good experiences at their outlets if there’s an issue. (I usually go to the one at Kahala Mall).
Fast Charge It
Mobile phones tend to run out of juice at the worst times. Nowadays, acquiring a fast charger for home, travel and auto is a no-brainer.
I tested a several excellent products from Aukey, a leader in the fast charging space. They are top rated, both from Amazon reviewers and my favorite, the Wirecutter, a website that reviews consumer goods owned by the New York Times. (I met the founder of Wirecutter one day swimming at Kaimana Beach!)
I looked at models that incorporate the newest standard (USB C) because they have the fastest transfer/charging rates that work with new phones and laptops. (Forget about the USB B style port. It’s history).
I looked at two Aukey units.
Their 65W PB-B4 model has dual USB C ports and is compact so it works both for home or travel. It’s smaller size makes it ideal for taking on the road. It’s priced at $54.99 on Amazon.
I also tested Aukey’s more powerful 60W PA-D5 wall charger also with dual USB C ports, that optimal better for home or office. It’s a little bigger and has a bit more input. It costs $29.99.
Of course you’ll get a dedicated (fast) charger from Samsung or whatever company you buy your phone from but it’s advantageous to have a fast charger that can charge two items (say two phones or a laptop and a phone) at the same time.
There’s nothing like having your phone go dead in the car. Yes, most most modern cards will have a USB port but the rate of charge is extremely slow. This won’t be an issue with Aukey’s CC-Y15 36W Fast Car Charger. Just slip it into your cigarette lighter and you’re set. It’s got ports both for the USB 1 and USB C and cranks out 18W Power Delivery when both ports are used together and 30W Power Delivery when used on its own.
Here’s how it works on both units: When the top USB C port is in use, it outputs 65W Power Delivery, when using both ports, the top USB C port outputs 45W, the bottom USB C port outputs 18W Power Delivery. When two phones are used at the same time, the charging rate is not the same. Aukey’s technology called “Dynamic Detect” automatically allows the dual-port USB-Power Delivery charger to recognize the number of devices connected to it and allocates its full wattage accordingly.
Both units were able to charge my Acer Spin 5 laptop and fast-charge my Samsung 10e simultaneously.
Note that your laptop must have the USB Power Delivery standard for this to work. There will be a little icon on your laptop that designates the port.
Although most phones will accept fast chargers, different brands of phone will recharge at different rates. It depends on a couple of factors such as the type of battery that the phone has and the type of cable you’re using.
For best results you’ll need USB C to C fast charging cables (also from Aukey) that can handle the higher wattage. If not, you won’t get full benefit from the charger.
You must log in to post a comment.