Samsung’s PlayGalaxy Game Streaming Is Live on the Note 10


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The Galaxy Note 10 got most of the attention at Samsung’s recent Unpacked event, and quite understandably. Samsung also talked about its upcoming PlayGalaxy Link game streaming platform. PlayGalaxy wasn’t available when the Note 10 launched, but it has now started rolling out as a beta. This is your chance to (kind of) play desktop games on your smartphone. 

Samsung’s PlayGalaxy Link is similar to Nvidia GameStream — the game renders on your computer. The PlayGalaxy client encodes the video and streams it to your mobile device over the local network or the internet. Your control inputs go back to the PC, allowing you to play the game. It’s like a fancy, low-latency remote desktop. 

The get set up, you’ll need the desktop PlayGalaxy Link client, which is only available for Windows 10. You also need a reasonably powerful GPU (at least NVIDIA GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 550), a Core i5 or higher, 8GB of RAM, and a gigabit router. The app strongly suggests having your PC wired to the router rather than connected via Wi-Fi.  The client should detect games on your PC, but it only spotted one for me. You can manually add more by directing it to the EXE files. On the phone side, there’s a PlayGalaxy Link app available in Samsung’s Galaxy Store.

PlayGalaxy Link is still in beta, and it only works on the Note 10 and Note 10+ for the time being, More Samsung phones will get support soon, though. There’s support for wired and Bluetooth game controllers, which make desktop games playable on a phone. If you choose to use the on-screen controls, well, good luck. Even on the gigantic Note 10+, the screen is too small to play a complex game with on-screen buttons effectively. 

There’s no additional cost to use PlayGalaxy Link since you already own the games and are running them on your PC. However, don’t expect miracles right now. The app truly earns its beta label right now. The client connects and launches games reliably, but the video lag is substantial from my testing. You’d have little hope of playing a real-time game, but something turn-based might be feasible. 

If Samsung can get the kinks worked out, PlayGalaxy Link could be an additional selling point for the company’s high-end phones. It’s tough to get people to drop $1,000 on a phone, and every little bit helps.

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It’s Going to Be Almost Impossible to Find a 45W Fast Charger for the Note 10+


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Samsung is splitting its annual Note refresh into a pair of devices for the first time this year. The company has announced the Note 10 and a larger Note 10+. While these phones are mostly the same aside from their size, the Note 10+ has a few features the smaller phone doesn’t. For example, 45W fast charging. However, it turns out that Samsung employed an unusual power requirement that will make finding a compatible charger a real pain. 

When you buy one of Samsung’s new stylus-packing flagships,SEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce you’ll get a 25W fast charger in the box. It’s no 45W charger, but 25W is still a solid improvement over previous Samsung phones and most Android devices from other OEMs. 18W charging is still common, but some companies like OnePlus (30W) and Huawei (40W) offer faster options. Unlike those phones, the Galaxy Note 10 and 10+ use USB-PD, which is a widely available standard. However, the 45W charging requires a very specific version of USB-PD. 

USB-PD (or power delivery) supports many different modes, some of the most common being 3A 5V (15W) and 9v 2A (18W). Some laptops like the Pixelbook and MacBook Pro also use high-power USB-C charging with the power delivery standard to hit 45-60 watts. What most of these devices have in common is they used fixed voltages to reach the specified power levels. The Note 10+ doesn’t do that. 

Samsung’s $50 fast charger with PPS.

Samsung has opted to design the Note 10+ to use a technology called Programmable Power Supply or PPS. PPS uses variable voltage and static current to reach the desired number of watts. Unlike most parts of the USB-PD standard, support for PPS is optional. Thus, many chargers that look like they’ll work with the Note 10+ will not be able to reach the claimed 45W speed. 

Noted Samsung leaker IceUniverse suggests people buy the official 45W charger from Samsung, but that’s a $50 accessory. There are a few chargers floating around that list PPS support, but they’re not cheap, either. It’s odd that Samsung would use PPS when there are plenty of high-wattage USB-PD devices that don’t use it. It really just serves to limit your charger options and push you toward Samsung’s expensive version. Actually, that may be the point. If you don’t need super-fast charging for the Note 10+ right away, you might want to wait and see what third-parties have to offer in the coming weeks.

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The Galaxy Note 10+’s Display Is Practically Perfect, but Does That Matter Anymore?


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Ever since Apple unleashed the term “Retina Display” upon the world, smartphone manufacturers have been laser-focused on improving display technology. In the beginning, these gains absolutely mattered. A lot of ink was spilled (some of it by yours truly) on the difference between OLEDs and LCDs, or PenTile subpixel arrangements versus the traditional RGB.

In the end, OLED won the high-end smartphone display race. LCDs continue to be used in some models, of course, including Apple’s iPhone XR, but OLED technology has won the day in high-end displays. At DisplayMate, display technology expert Dr. Raymond Soneira has written a shoot-out on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10+, and declared it the best phone display he’s measured to-date. The question is, does anyone really care any longer?

According to Dr. Soneira, the Note 10+’s display has “has again raised the bar significantly higher.” But the significance of that movement as a whole has never looked more tenuous. Consider how close the Note 10+ ranks against the S10, the display Samsung launched earlier this year. Data below drawn from the Galaxy Note 10+ and Galaxy S10 display reviews:

Note 10+ versus S10

Data by Dr. Raymond Soneira, chart by ExtremeTech

We’ve created this chart using the metrics Dr. Soneira declares are most significant for each display. As you can see, the Note 10+ and the S10 displays are extremely similar. This is not a bad thing on the face of it — both the Note 10+ and S10 are recognized as having an excellent panel to begin with. Dr. Soneira declares that the shift in color accuracy and intensity values for both the Note 10+ and S10 are record-setting. While there’s a numerical difference between the two, the value is below 1 in both cases, which means it’s visually indistinguishable from perfect. The fact that we’re literally measuring differences that humans can’t visually perceive tells you something about how far down the rabbit hole device manufacturers have gone already.

As Dr. Soneira notes in his evaluation of resolutions, moving to 4K over 3K in a panel this small does not provide a noticeable improvement. He states, “As a result, it is absolutely pointless to further increase the display resolution and pixels per inch (ppi) for a marketing wild goose chase into the stratosphere, with no visual benefit for humans!” We may have hit this point in more ways than one. Reading over the Note’s performance, it’s one “excellent” score after another. The iPhone XS and S10 are scarcely different. It’s not that there are literally no differences in the designs of these screens, but that the differences have shrunk to virtually nothing. The major chatter these days is on when Android vendors will adopt panels with high refresh rates, because moving to 90-120Hz makes a display feel faster than a 60Hz equivalent.

Even so, screens don’t really feel like the upgrade-drivers that they once were. There was a time when a faster phone, better panel, and sharper image combined to make a new iteration of Android or iOS feel like a reinvention of mobile computing, especially if you skipped several OS versions at once. The strength of this effect obviously depended on when you upgraded — some Android and iOS versions have overhauled the UX more than others — but the boost used to be significant. Larger devices may have also indirectly helped with this — if you went from a 4-inch panel to a 5.5-inch or even 6-inch display, you obviously got a very different experience in that regard as well.

For all the hubbub over foldable displays in 2019, it seems telling that the most interesting and important aspect of the panel is a trait that has nothing to do with its actual ability to display an image. In 2012, the hottest thing in smartphone displays was a phone that could display a crisp, sharp picture. In 2019, the hottest thing in smartphone displays is a phone that can fold like a washcloth (until it breaks). Apart from faster refresh rates, smartphones seem to be topping out against the limits of human visual perception if nothing else. The enduring problems of smartphones, like the difficulty of reading them outdoors, are intrinsically difficult to overcome. The Sun, being powered by nuclear fusion, has a distinct performance advantage over the hapless OLED screen attempting to outshine it. Incremental improvements in JNCD, viewing angles, and reflection certainly seem possible, but these gains are all subject to diminishing marginal returns.

This leads to an odd scenario: The Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ may indeed have the best screen you can buy today, but I’m less certain than ever that this empirical observation will lead to additional sales. Much of the conversation around the phone has debated whether or not(e) it should even exist with the extremely-similar S10 on the market, though stylus lovers continue to defend it.

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The Galaxy Note 10+ 5G May Have Very Limited 5G Band Support in the US


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Samsung has announced the Galaxy Note 10 and 10+ after many months of speculation, and this launch marks a new approach to 5G. With the Galaxy S10 launch, there was a completely different piece of hardware for 5G, but the Note 10 and 10+ both come in 5G variants. However, the band support is shaping up to be a complete mess with some carriers supporting one type of 5G and others using frequencies that barely exist on their networks. 

According to PCMag, Samsung is still scrambling to put the finishing touches on the 5G modems it will use in the Note 10. Verizon gets first dibs on the Galaxy Note 10+ 5G (the smaller Note 10 5G is exclusive to South Korea for now). It will have the same Qualcomm X50 5G modem we’ve seen in devices like the Galaxy S10 5G and 5G Moto Mod. It will run on millimeter wave 5G in eight cities just like previous 5G phones. We don’t know yet if it will overheat when the outside ambient temperature exceeds ~85F / 29C. The currently-available solutions, which do overheat, are also based on the Qualcomm X50. 

Verizon’s millimeter wave 5G network is very fast with speeds over 1Gbps. However, coverage is extremely limited because of the high frequencies involved (28 and 39GHz). It’s similar for the early millimeter wave networks operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. Those carriers are hoping to fill in the gaps with low-frequency 5G similar to LTE, but speeds will top out around 100Mbps. 

PCMag reports that T-Mobile and AT&T will have versions of the Note 10+ 5G that only operate on these lower frequencies via the new X55 5G modem — they plan to start rolling out low-band 5G late this year. The X50 lacks support for low-frequency, but it sounds like the X55 can’t do both low-band and millimeter wave at the same time. 

A 5G millimeter wave cell site in Minneapolis on a light pole.

Sprint is in a good place with 5G, which is why T-Mobile is acquiring the carrier. Its mid-band 5G (2.5GHz) is faster than low-band, but has much better coverage than millimeter wave. Sprint will have a Galaxy Note 10+ 5G later this year as well, but it will have to choose whether it wants low-band and mid-band (the X55) or millimeter wave and mid-band (the X50). 

Qualcomm has been pushing the X55 has a modem that can do both low and high-band 5G, but Samsung hasn’t been able to make that work yet. Perhaps it’s something to do with the antenna setup? There are a lot of unknowns, and the 5G situation may change by later this year when carriers get the Note 10+ 5G. 

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