I bought a $2,000 foldable phone — the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G. Well, I didn’t spend quite that much. The actual cost, including a case, was a little over $1,300 (before sales tax), after a $50 instant credit, trade-in of a Samsung S20+, and a military discount. It’s much more than just a “phone”. It has also replaced my tablet and my Kindle Paperwhite e-reader.
After receiving the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G I discovered that the 4G signal was weaker than on any other phone I’ve had. Others had the same problem so it may be that some of the new 5G modems were defective. I could have exchanged the phone but I returned it and bought a OnePlus 7 Pro. I still have my LG G8 and will either keep it as a backup or try to sell it on Swappa.
It’s been a while since I posted to this blog. Not only do I forget about this blog — I tend to forget about this website. However, I ordered a new phone and I thought I’d write about it. I’ve been interested in technology since the 1960s, and at 80 years old I’m still interested in technology. I’m a T-Mobile customer and I decided to buy one of the company’s 5G phones in order to try the new technology when it becomes widely available. I guess “widely available” depends on approval of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. I checked the T-Mobile website daily to see when the company’s 5G phones would become available and what they would cost. When I checked the website early on the morning of 12/02/2019, two 5G phones were listed for pre-order: the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren Edition for $899.99 and the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G for $1,299.99. There is no way I was going to spend $1,300 on a phone so I pre-ordered the OnePlus. T-Mobile said my LG G8 had a trade-in value of $135.00, so I decided to keep it as a backup.
The next day I read a forum post about T-Mobile offering 50% off the Note 10+ 5G with an eligible trade-in. I checked the T-Mobile website and suddenly my LG G8 had a trade-in value of $650.00! Needless to say, I cancelled the OnePlus pre-order and pre-ordered the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G. I decided a while back that I wasn’t going to purchase any more Galaxy Notes. Although I need a large phone, the Notes are too expensive and have more features than I need (I often forget to use the S-Pen). However, getting any 5G phone for $650 (plus tax), let alone a Note 10+, was an offer I couldn’t refuse. The phone sounds great. It comes with Android 10 out of the box and has the latest Qualcomm 5G processor and the second generation X55 modem. It can access T Mobile’s 600 MHz nationwide 5G and will be able to tap into Sprint’s 5G bands (2.5 GHz) as well, after the merger is complete. I hope to get the phone sometime next week and I’ll try to remember to report back here.
I thought I was cured but I’m still suffering from CAPS (Compulsive Android Purchase Syndrome). I’m very happy with my Google Pixel 2 XL and the operating system was just upgraded to Android Pie (Android 9), but… Last week Samsung announced the Galaxy Note 9 and they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse if I pre-ordered the phone. So, on October 24th I should be the owner of an unlocked 128GB Note 9. We’ll see what happens in October when Google announces the Pixel 3 XL.
I still love my Google Pixel 2 XL but, sadly, I had to leave the Project Fi service. I was happy with the service and the monthly bills were ridiculously low, but my wife wanted to get her phone off our daughter’s plan and my wife has an iPhone which isn’t compatible with Project Fi. We decided to move to T-Mobile’s Unlimited 55+plan where customers 55 and older get 2 lines with unlimited talk, text, and LTE data for a total of $70.00 per month (all taxes and fees included). Coverage has been good and we’re both happy with the plan so far.
Until recently I suffered from a self-described, self-diagnosed condition I called CAPS (Compulsive Android Purchase Syndrome). I found myself purchasing almost every Android flagship phone that was introduced and selling my current phone. I didn’t bother with Apple devices because I’ve spent enough time trying to help my wife with her iPhone and iPad to know that the locked-down iOS is not for me. I love the flexibility of Android; when I get a new phone I try the user interface provided by the phone’s manufacturer but, invariably, I switch to the Nova Prime launcher so that I can customize the interface to my liking.
After trying various flagship phones I discovered the Google Pixel 2 XL, and it’s a phone I’m going to stick with for a while (at least until Google introduces the Pixel 3 XL). I’m sure the smaller Google Pixel 2 is also a great phone, but my eyesight is not what it once was, and I need the larger display of the XL.
Google Pixel 2 phones combine great hardware, pure Android, and artificial intelligence to create the smoothest and fastest phone I’ve experienced. The Pixel 2 XL has great battery life, an excellent camera, and it’s always updated to the latest version of Android with the most recent security patches. I must admit that the Pixel 2 XL lacks two features I always look for on a phone: expandable memory and a headphone jack. Google partially makes up for the lack of expandable memory by allowing unlimited storage of photos and videos in their original format on Google Photos. As far as audio is concerned, the phone has front-facing stereo speakers, and for headphone use Google provides a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) adapter for the USB-C port.
When I bought the Google Pixel 2 XL I also switched carriers to Google’s Project Fi. Project Fi is a service developed by Google that automatically switches between three carriers — T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular – depending on which offers the best signal at the time. Project Fi also uses Wi-Fi whenever available to make calls and send texts. With Project Fi you get some of the same features that you get with Google Voice. You can forward phone calls from your mobile number to any phone, view voicemail, and make calls and send texts using your mobile number from any device using the Hangouts app and website. Unfortunately, to take advantage of the features offered by Project Fi you must have a Google phone or the Moto X4 sold by Google.
Project Fi also works internationally in 170 countries with no additional cost for data use or texting. You can call at a flat rate to any number while on the cellular networks abroad or pay much lower rates when calling on Wi-Fi. You can also call back home to the U.S. on Wi-Fi for free.
So far, Project Fi coverage has been great, and you only pay for the cellular data you use. I don’t use a lot of cellular data and my first monthly bill from Project Fi was $22.48 (I was previously paying $35.00 per month with Cricket).
From a column titled, “AND 7 THINGS THAT PROBABLY (WE HOPE) WON’T HAPPEN” in the December 25, 2017 – January 1, 2018 issue of TIME magazine:
“Having the ability to read faces – a feature introduced in Apple’s most recent launch – the iPhone X starts to feel sad once it sees how it has disappointed everyone.”
And from a January 10, 2018 C\NET article:
“Apple is renowned by some people for its ability to sell what they see as well-designed but technically inferior products. It’s what many used to call, in the Steve Jobs days, Apple’s reality distortion field. There are those, however, who seem to be immune to this field’s magnetism. Samsung lovers like Warren Buffett, for example. The famed investor, whose Berkshire Hathaway group is Apple’s fifth-largest shareholder, says he’s sticking with his Samsung flip phone.”
Both Apple and Samsung have been working to perfect an in-screen fingerprint reader, but Chinese manufacturer Vivo, working with Synaptics, seems to have won the race. At CES Vivo introduced a 6-inch phone with a fingerprint scanner positioned between the display glass and OLED panel.
I’ve been reading good things about Huawei (pronounced “Wah-Way”), a Chinese high tech company largely unknown in the US but very popular in Asia and Europe. Huawei also has a sub-brand, Honor, a line of budget phones sold primarily online from its own sites as well as from third-party retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy. Huawei is the world’s second largest smartphone maker, behind Samsung and ahead of Apple.
In 2017 Huawei started selling its flagship phone, the Mate 9, in the US as an unlocked phone for around $600. Honor also introduced the Honor 7x, a $199 budget phone. Both the Mate 9 and the Honor 7x have received very good reviews. Nine months after the Mate 9 was launched, Juan Bagnell, Senior Editor at Pocketnow, said the Mate 9 was still the most used phone in his collection, and XDA Developers named the Honor 7X the best budget smartphone of 2017. However, in spite of great reviews, the general public never heard about the phones because they weren’t offered by the major carriers – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
Things may be about to change because it has been reported that Huawei has decided to make a serious effort to become established in the US. It is rumored that in 2018 AT&T and Verizon may offer Huawei’s latest flagship phone, the Mate 10 Pro. There are also reports that Huawei is lining up a $100 million advertising campaign for its US launch of the Mate 10 Pro. If the two largest US carriers offer Huawei phones, and if Huawei’s new phones are as good as those already released, Huawei could become a major contender in the US market and threaten the dominance of Apple and Samsung.
EDIT: According to a January 9, 2018 article on C\NET: “On Monday, news emerged that AT&T pulled out of a deal to sell the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and The Information reported the deal had been a victim of congressional pressure. Now, on Tuesday, as Huawei touted the Mate 10 Pro at the CES tech show in Las Vegas, Android Police reported similar pressure on Verizon.” Apple phones are manufactured in China, as well as some Samsung phones. If the Chinese government is intent on using smartphones to spy on us, they could bug any of those phones before they’re shipped to the U.S. I also wonder if there might have been some pressure on the carriers from Apple and/or Samsung. People will still be able to purchase Honor and Huawei phones in the U. S., but the phones will have to be purchased through the companies’ online stores or from retailers such as Amazon, BestBuy, Microsoft, NewEgg, and B&H.
I’m always curious about Android phones other than Samsung and I wanted to see what all the “Huawei Hype” was about. I purchased a Mate 9 from Best Buy and started using it as my daily driver. Much to my surprise, I preferred the Mate 9 to my Samsung Note 8. I’m going to turn 79 this year and both my vision and hearing are feeling their age. The Mate 9’s display, a 16:9 LCD screen with 1080p resolution, was easier on my eyes and the speaker seemed louder. I could have lowered the resolution on my Note 8 and increased the size of the icons and text, but it didn’t seem to make much sense to “dumb down” Samsung’s flagship smartphone. Also, I found that I wasn’t using some of the features on the Note 8, such as the S-pen. I decided to sell my Note 8 and keep the Mate 9.
So far, I’m very happy with my choice of the Mate 9. It’s easy for me to hold, the screen is large and bright, and the sound is loud enough for me to hear. It seems just as fast and smooth as my Note 8, and it charges faster and a charge lasts longer. I think it’s an ideal phone for us older folks. I have only one minor complaint, and it’s one I have with other major smartphone companies; the lack of prompt software updates. My Mate 9 is still running Android 7 (Nougat) and the security updates are not current. I spoke with Huawei tech support and was told that new software has been released but the updates are pushed in batches and it might take a couple of months for the new software to be pushed to my phone.
I’m one of those unfortunate folks who purchased a Samsung Note 7, had it recalled, received a replacement and then had that recalled. I wound up with an S7 Edge; nice phone, but I missed the Note 7 — it was the best phone I’d ever had, even though I rarely used the S-Pen. I’m not one to give up on Samsung, so when the S8 and S8+ were announced I decided to wait for the availability of the unlocked versions and then purchase the S8+. However, once I had a chance to try demo units, I discovered that my average-sized hands had trouble reaching the fingerprint sensor on the s8+. I like large phones but the S8+ was too tall for me and I decided to purchase the S8 instead.
Since I didn’t plan to purchase an S8 through my carrier, T-Mobile, I switched cell service to Cricket Wireless. I’m very happy with Cricket’s features, the signal strength in my area, and the lower monthly cost. I still planned to buy an unlocked S8 and bring it to Cricket but on April 21 I received an email from Cricket announcing the availability of the S8. The local Cricket store had a demo unit and one in the box for sale. I didn’t plan on leaving Cricket anytime soon and I bought the S8 from the Cricket store..
So, I bought the S8 instead of the S8+ and the phone I bought is locked to Cricket for the next six months. I’m OK with that and, after a few days, the S8 is the best phone I’ve ever had. It has everything I liked about the Note 7 and more — a beautiful AMOLED screen that’s remarkably bright, USB C, incredibly fast charging, wireless charging, 64GB of storage plus a microSD card slot, and great build quality. There was an S-Pen feature on the Note 7 that allowed you to take screenshots of selected areas of the screen and also create animated GIFs. That feature is available on an S8 Edge panel. I would prefer a better location for the fingerprint sensor, although it’s easy to reach and, with a bumper case on the phone, I have yet to miss the sensor and smudge the camera lens. I can’t use the iris scanner with bifocals, and Bixby is a work in progress that doesn’t need its own button. I’ve read that Samsung has improved the TouchWiz UI but I’m a Nova Prime user so I can’t comment on any TouchWiz improvements.
My S8 has no wi-fi connectivity issues or a red tint on the screen, but here’s something to keep in mind. The S8 I bought from Cricket appears to be pretty much stock, but I’ve read that some T-Mobile variants have removed the wireless fast charging setting and Verizon has removed the shopping feature from Bixby vision.
So far I’m very happy with Cricket Wireless and the Samsung Galaxy S8.