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Each year since the Note 7 and original Pixel, I've had an opportunity to use and review those phones. And each year, it seems like same story - in general, I stay with the Pixel for the camera. Will this year be any different? I can honestly say, this years decision has been difficult...
I believe the Note 10+ is the best Note since the ill fated Note 7. Not that the 8 and 9 were bad, but they both disappointed with the camera and often the camera app was buggy. The Note 10+ has performed flawlessly and while the camera has frustrated me at times, it has been very close to something that is "good enough" and that I could easily live with in order to keep the wealth of features. So, having used the Note for the last few months, here are my subjective thoughts on the Pixel 4XL...
- The Note 10+'s screen is without a doubt better than the Pixel's. It just pops out more and for sure is brighter. This isn't to say the Pixel's screen is horrible...it is good but no contest here...
- This one may take some time because my Pixel XL2 and XL3 both developed performance issues over time, mostly when opening and closing the camera app. As it stands now, both phones perform awesomely. The Pixel's clean Android install always feels just buttery smooth whereas the Note 10+ is fast and snappy but there is something that just seems smoother about a Pixel. RAM management has been OK on the Pixel, though it will often reload Chrome pages that I have open for specific purposes. On the Note with, it's 12GB of RAM, this never happened to me. Battery life has been a mild concern, especially since coming from the Note 10. I generally charge after lunch at work, take off the charger at 5PM or so and don't need to charge it again until lunch the next day. With the Pixel, I'm charging in the morning and at lunch again (to ensure charge for the evening) because I wake it to being 35% or less. We'll see if that gets better soon.
- The Pixel seems to have cut corners this year as we've seen in many reviews. What stands out for me is the loss of the wide angle selfie, a feature I LOVED about the 3XL, even if we had to have the notch to get it. The loss of the fingerprint is notable but Face Unlock is so good that I've not missed it. Yeah, it stinks there is no more full res backup of photos but I was already paying for 2TB of Google One, so a non-issue for me. Not having a 256GB options is inexcusable.
- The Pixel Still camera already kicks the Note 10 in consistency, speed and reliability. I can't say if it is significantly better than the 3XL but so far, I can generally take a photo and feel confident that it is going to look great. The Note 10+ has been capable of some amazing photos but I still battled blurry shots, skin tone that is too bright and slow shutter speed. I've not had a chance to try the astral photography as we've had cloudy days since getting the Pixel 4XL. Video is alright...I so wish they would allow for 60FPS...the 30FPS video seemed OK if a little blurry.
My battle is that I love the features of the Note 10+. The Samsung "Ecosystem" is tight with it's accessories and features like Galaxy Watch, Gear 360, Galaxy Buds, Samsung Pay, Charging Pads, Cases, Tab S6, Samsung Dex. But considering the Galaxy Watch and Buds work perfectly with a Pixel (along with Samsung Pay), I may not miss those other features as much as I think. I do like having the option for Dex but even on the Tab S6 with keyboard, I just didn't find myself using it as much as I would like. For me, it still boils down to the camera and if the Pixel continues to be buttery smooth and the camera more consistent than the Note, it looks like another year with a Pixel.
I just got my 10+...as mentioned in many posts, I go back and forth between a Note and Pixel with the camera being the decision maker but here are some very early thoughts...
- Let me cut to the chase...at this point, I still think the Pixel 3 XL takes the best photos. I've already battled blurry shots, loss of detail in zoomed in photos...battles I had with the Note 9. But the phone has taken some great shots as well...I have to get it credit there. The Pixel just seems to be more consistently great. And the Pixel is way better at low night shots. That said, considering all of the features that the Note 10 has and with the promise of continued Microsoft Integration, is it worth it to have a "Good Enough Great Camera" and not move to the Pixel 4 XL later?
- Memory Management is already so much better than on my Pixel. Like night and day with apps having to reload all the time on the Pixel and here, they come back up like you left them.
- As always, the screen is amazing.
- On my Verizon Note 10+, a lot of bloat ware but all uninstallable or at least the option to disable.
- Samsung apps, as expected, cannot be disabled
- I immediately tried "Link To Windows" and it worked great. YourPhone built into the Note 10 is working well.
- Though no fault of the phone, there is still work to be done with syncing "read" messages with YourPhone.
- Screen Mirroring works surprisingly well. I believe you do need to be on the same network.
- 256GB minimum storage is great. I know people like MicroSD option but to me, it always caused lag issues with the phones.
- I am glad I pay for 2TB Google One as I forget I don't get unlimited full res backup with Google Photos.
- I've been using a Galaxy Watch for over a year now and it works as expected. I am giving Samsung Messages a fair shot since it works a little better with the watch but beyond a little more historical texts, no real advantage in using it over Android Messages.
- Dex works great on both the Windows App via USB C or a USB C to HDMI cord directly into monitor. Even played media on the Windows App and worked flawlessly. Need it or not, it is a very nice option to have.
I am excited to see the changes in Edge in it's move to Chromium.
With there being no 100% Microsoft Mobile platform (phone), what would I gain by using Edge instead of Chrome across my PC and Android Device? I already like how Chrome syncs between my PC and Pixel 3 XL and not sure what benefit I would get my moving to Edge. I'd like to but I might as well stay on Chrome and not worry about another account to sync my browser data.
Curious what others are considering in this matter...
In the midst of all of the negative news on the Pixel 3 XL, I just wanted to say that it isn’t all negative in my experience. I’ve duplicated Paul’s issue of the camera app killing media but not every time. Also, some Chrome pages sites will auto-refresh after I’ve been in and out of other apps and back to Chrome again and that is part of the memory management issue. But other than that, it has not had any other issue that seems to be all over the news.
My primary reason for ditching the Note 9 for the Pixel 3 XL is the camera and it has not disappointed…at all…
The selfie camera is much improved and for sure, way better than the Note 9.
And of course, the rear camera is amazing…
I've used and defended WearOS (Android Wear) for several years now. My first smartwatch was a Samsung Gear and while it was slick and elegant, it just felt limited. So I moved over to WearOS (Android Wear at the time) and while it for sure has had its share of quirks, it "just worked."
I decided to give Tizen another go with the Galaxy Watch. Here are my first impressions.
- Tizen. I am so sorry for not recommending you. You have matured.
- Samsung Health is miles ahead of Google Fit. There are a lot of options that may be on par with Apple Watch.
- The notifications are far more integrated than I remembered. Most apps on the phone can be mirrored on the watch and you can respond from a wealth of auto responses, use an onscreen keyboard, swipe or do voice to text.
- It is said to have up to 4 days of battery life. I'm ready to see if that is true.
- Waterproof and swim ready. I may put that to the test soon.
- Beautiful screen and intuitive rotating watch face.
I feel I might owe Tizen an apology again when this is all over. Will give it a good shakedown this weekend.
I picked up a Note 9 and want to share my initial thoughts. But first, a quick History of my last few years in mobile.
When I moved off of my beloved Windows Phone, I spent some good time with the Note 5 and loved it. Then came the Note 7 but we all know what happened there. So, I moved to a Pixel, then Moto Z Force Droid and finally a Pixel 2 XL (but after dabbing a little in the Note 8.) The Pixel has been the best phone since my Lumia ICON.
Like Paul, Camera is HUGE for me…top of the list. Beyond some things here and there, the Pixel phones haven’t let me down on the camera.
The Note series has always seemed to be a complete, if perhaps, “dream” smartphone, packed with a ton of features and I always found the S-Pen to be very useful.
Spending time with a Pixel and then going back to a Note, in this case the Note 8, I soon realized that Samsung has a lot of bloat. Bixby, duplicate apps, their own app store, menus, etc. I end up missing stock Android. And I don’t want to “hide” from everything by loading a different launcher. That in itself feels bloated and heavy.
Same applies for the Note 9. But here are my random, first thoughts.
· Screen is amazing. Best I've seen on any smartphone.
· Performance is consistent and snappy.
· I actually like the edge screen options. I tend to be all widgets on home screens so this is a good place to put app folders.
· Camera, so far, is a let down, especially when it is essentially the same as in the S9+ and it was rated higher than Pixel 2 XL. I went to take a "Live Focus" (Portrait) photo of my daughter at the bus stop today and it was blurry and never could get it to work correctly.
· Low light is terrible compared to the Pixel 2 XL, especially if the subject moves even in the slightest.
· Low light selfie with the screen flash produces grainy shots, which may be expected but the Pixel does it better.
· Camera, when it has ample conditions, does take some great shots and you can zoom and maintain some incredible detail.
· Samsung Experience (TouchWiz) is fine but I do not like the rounded squares. I've tried looking for themes but nothing truly looks great.
· Bixby...oh Bixby. Can you just please go home? I've turned off the Bixby cards, home page and also voice. It is still there yes it is just not needed in the world of Google Assistant.
· Battery Life is good but even with 4000mAh battery, I feel that the Pixel 2 XL may still have the battery battery efficiency. I feel I may be back to charging every 12-18 hours whereas my Pixel can go just about 24 hours before I charge it.
Bottom line…it may go back, as soon as tomorrow. Unless someone can convince me that I’m using the camera wrong, I am very unimpressed. Despite those performance lags I’ve had with the Pixel 2 XL and the upcoming “Notch”, I think I’m going to stay with the Pixel line, especially if the camera remains the most consistently awesome camera that it is.
Android 9 (Pie) is here and my Pixel 2 XL just got the OTA, so it is downloading and about to install.
Anyone else get it?
A few months ago, I got top dollar for my Surface Book (512GB Model) and picked up a Surface Book 2 (512GB) and I’ve been extremely happy with it. Until now…
Over the last few days, it will not power on by the button. It simply will not power on from sleep/hibernation. Same goes if it is a full power down. It will not power on at all.
The simplest workaround is to detach the screen and it will power on with the button. If I leave it attached, I have to do the 12 second button press and then back on and then it works. Both of these are unacceptable.
Is anyone encountering this? Is this a hardware issue? I don’t want to have to swap it out. I love this one and don’t want to have to replace it. I hope it is fixed with a firmware update. I just hope it won’t take too long.
I am demoing a Google HOME and I am a happy Amazon Echo customer, so going to compare it to Echo.
I noticed that if I ask Google HOME to play music, it always appears to "cast" from my phone if we are on the same Wi-Fi. I heard it isn't really casting but just a companion app to the phone. Yet that app does say "casting."
If I turn WiFi off on my phone, Google HOME will simply stream without phone.
Is there anyway to turn this off when both devices are on the same WiFi?