Today at the Samsung Unpacked event, the South Korean consumer electronics giant announced its latest two smartphones, Galaxy Z Flip 3, Galaxy Z Fold 3, Galaxy Watch 4 (using the latest WearOS 3) and the new Galaxy Buds.
I will not buy any. Simple answer: I am firmly an Apple user now. Less simple answer? It’s sticky.
Please don’t get me wrong; I find Samsung to be a company with awesome products and a great tech company overall, especially on the manufacturing side. Without a doubt, I use the products of other vendors on a daily basis that integrate their components, such as their displays and memory used in Apple devices. Various Android smartphones that I am testing incorporate Qualcomm SoCs, many of which are also made by Samsung.
The use of devices with components made by Samsung is almost inevitable. But as a customer of Samsung’s mobile device business and using those phones and tablets as daily drivers? Not really.
I tried to like their stuff in 2017 when the S8 came out. Granted, at the time, it was probably the prettiest Android phone on the market. But I found their OneUI GUI overlay to be oppressive and resource intensive. Their smart agent, Bixby, is probably the least useful and most intrusive I’ve used on any platform. After a few months with this phone, I couldn’t take it anymore; I had to start using an iPhone as my daily device again. I haven’t touched it since.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t use Android devices. Because I cover the industry – although not at a detailed product and feature-oriented level as a dedicated mobile columnist, as Jason Cipriani and Matt Miller do – I usually keep one or more Android phones for the purposes of test.
For the past decade, I have kept Google’s Nexus and Pixel phones as secondary devices as their operating systems are refreshed every year and they are the device of choice for Android developers in terms of relates to Google’s Android beta program. I just sold my Pixel 5 and plan to buy the Pixel 6 when it comes out.
Another big issue for me is that Samsung is never part of the Google Android Developer beta process and has its own deadlines to bring in the latest version of the OS. I don’t want to wait six+ months for major OS updates, especially if I’m paying top dollar for a device over $ 1,000.
But the real differentiation for me is the ecosystem. If I want the Android and Google ecosystem, I can use a Google Pixel, OnePlus, or Motorola and spend a lot less money. Samsung is just not giving me anything more than I really want.
The value-added blend just isn’t there for me. The complete and fully integrated ecosystem is not present, and what Samsung adds on top of the vanilla Android / Google experience, I don’t find to be a net positive. To get my mix of services, I use Apple One Premier, which provides me and 4 other family members with storage, music, games, fitness, news, and video content for $ 30 per month. In addition, I use Apple Card and the accompanying Apple Cash as a reward.
Google and Samsung have nothing that comes close.
I first switched to Apple in 2010 as an iPad user. After ditching my Motorola Droid Bionic in 2012 (after ditching Blackberry), I upgraded to the iPhone 5 and started using Apple TV around the same time. Since then, I have been upgrading these devices on an annual basis. In 2018, I became an Apple Watch user, which is “sticky” to be an iPhone user because you can’t do one without the other right now.
This ecosystem grip became even more sticky as more and more Apple products were added to my digital lifestyle and I activated more and more Apple services.
At the end of 2018, I became a full-time Mac user – a transition that happened due to my last two full-time jobs where Apple laptops were company-supplied equipment. Although I keep PCs for testing, I don’t see myself becoming a full-time Windows user, just by choice.
If I were to go back to PCs due to a job change, even though Android is now much better integrated with Windows 10 and will be even more so in Windows 11, I would also stick with an iPhone because I’m happy with this ecosystem.
Don’t get me wrong, I find Samsung’s hardware very appealing, especially the folding screen technology. But I’ll be happy to wait until other vendors like Apple and Google see fit to move in that direction and outsource these components to Samsung before I jump into this water.