For better or worse, cellphones are a part of our business and social lives. Staying connected in the current environment is more important than ever.
When it’s time to get a new 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.
Setup was straightforward. 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 by 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 chip-set 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 that needs improvement is the voice dictation mode, which seemed to recognize words better on my old Galaxy S7.
I tested the phone on T-Mobile’s network on my personal account. I’m happy with the coverage. The tech support people on the mainland are first-rate, and I’ve had good experiences at their outlets.
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 several excellent products from Aukey, a leader in the fast-charging space.
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.
Their 65W PB-D4 model has dual USB C ports and is compact, so it works both for home or travel. I also tested Aukey’s more powerful 60W PA-D5 wall charger, also with dual USB C ports, which is better suited for home or office.
Both units were able to charge my Acer Spin 5 laptop and fast-charge my Samsung simultaneously, which proved to be handy. (Your laptop must have the USB Power Delivery standard for this to work). You also can fast-charge two phones simultaneously.
Although most phones will accept fast-chargers, different brands will recharge at different rates. Note, too, that for best results you’ll need fast-charging cables (also from Aukey) that can handle the higher wattage. If not, you won’t get full benefit from the charger.
Rob Kay, a Honolulu-based writer, covers technology and sustainability for Tech View and is the creator of Fijiguide.com. He can be reached at Robertfredkay@gmail.com.