August 1, 2014

Samsung: Good, bad, and what I'd change [EDITORIAL]

Are there too many Samsung Galaxy devices out there_featured


Good

Build

Many of you do not like the plastic look of Galaxy phones. Let us use their flagship “Galaxy S” line as an example. They’re all plastic, or polycarbonate. I, for one, think that’s a good thing - to a certain degree. I didn’t like that awful hyperglaze finish on the S3 for example, but the S2 on the other hand was just fine. As is the case with the current Galaxy S5. I know, I know, it’s plastic, but what’s wrong with that? Sure, aluminum for example gives it a more premium look and the way it feels in the hand is great. I believe you’ll agree with me when I say plastic is more mainstream and can be quite resilient if done right.

I’ve dropped my Galaxy 5, Galaxy S2, and Galaxy S3. I didn’t drop them frequently but they did get an occasional kiss from the pavement. Guess what! They were just fine. I even dropped my Galaxy S2 on the front face and it pulled through okay. Typical consumers aren’t extremely careful with their devices and the Galaxy brand is made to be used like a generic “everyman” phone.

If you drop the HTC One, on the other hand, you’re almost guaranteed to get some nasty scratches. Let’s face it, it’s easier to replace plastic cover back of the Galaxy S line phone than look at those nasty scratches on a beautiful aluminum body. Some of you might say,”Get a case” and that’s fine. But what’s the point of having that beautiful aluminum body?

Camera

There are better cameras out there, that’s true. But out of all that crappy/buggy software they put out, the camera is, in my opinion, the best thing. All Galaxy S phones have a rather good camera and can stand with the others in the smartphone space. Galaxy S5 issues on the side, it’s a great camera. To their credit, Samsung puts a lot of extra software in there which add value and capabilities. No, not all of it is stuff we will all use, but for general use it provides really good pictures. Quite frankly, the camera is a part of the experience I liked the most when using my Galaxy S phones.

Battery and Storage

Removable battery? Extra storage via SD card slot? Heck yeah! Although I personally don’t use the extra storage I did have use of the removable battery option. It’s always good to know you can pop in a larger battery get a spare to have on you in the time of need. In my unscientific opinion this is something that every smartphone out there should have.

As for storage I know plenty of people who do use that SD card slot to transfer a bunch of songs, movies and files to and from their smartphones. I’m not heavy on cloud storage and capabilities – I don’t watch movies on my smartphones – so I really don’t have any use of it. But, I am sure there are plenty of you who might disagree or have other use cases.

Bad

Build

Yes, I listed build here as well. I don’t want to give you the impression I actually like the overall build, because I don’t. I like the fact that it’s plastic, just as long as it’s quality plastic. But, that doesn’t change the fact that the phones look cheap. It doesn’t have to be the case. Take a look at the LG G2 which current looks beautiful in my opinion. The design truly is great and, in that short time I’ve handled it, I just couldn’t stop admiring the design of the phone. And it is plastic. Those thin bezels and simple design of the front portion of the phone.. just great. I got used to the back buttons rather fast, but that’s an another story. On the other hand Samsung Galaxy phones looks cheap, they just do. The design has been largely unchanged for the last few years.The flagship Galaxy S and Galaxy Note lines lack design courage. They could make a beautiful phone but they’re sticking to the same old recipe. True, it sells. And, why change things that work, right? But it feels like something else could be done.

 

Software 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Samsung’s software is full of bugs and as a result it is rather crappy. Every time I use TouchWiz I feel like I’m using an early beta version software. I would really like to feel like Samsung has given us a finished version of software for once. I never feel like TouchWiz is buttery smooth, no matter which Samsung device I used it’s always the same thing, lag, lag and some more lag.

It doesn’t have to be significant, but it’s there, it’s not as smooth as vanilla Android, Motorola’s offering, or HTC’s Sense. When you cough upwards of $700 on a phone today, you don’t want it to lag. Generally speaking, the Galaxy S series has top-of-the-line specs so lag should simply not exist. 

Samsung bakes in lots and lots of its “features”, or as I like to call them “gimmicks”. Sadly, this is largely the reason Android gets unstable. To me, TouchWiz still looks extremely cartoonish and it’s just not refined. Every time I look at it I feel like looking at a children’s program or something.

There are tons of ways to avoid this in Android, such as custom launchers, but that’s not the point. We shouldn’t want to change the UI on day one. Not only is Samsung pushing way too many gimmicks our way but they’re also doubling up Google’s services on Android. For basically every Google service you get within Android OS Samsung has one of their own. Don’t get me started on ChatOn, KNOX, and Milk. This would be perfectly fine if they did this in certain areas, but they’re doing it practically everywhere.

Bottom Line

I’ve said my piece. I have slowly fallen less in love with the phones with each iteration of the Galaxy S line.  I think it is kind of obvious what Samsung is doing here; I think they’re planning on switching its smartphone business to Tizen OS. The more it can make Android look like Samsung, the less obvious it will be when Tizen runs things. Once they own the OS and the underlying platform they can go about their business without relying on a relationship with Google. They’ve already done this with Gear 2 instead of Galaxy Gear 2 and most users don’t know the difference. A subtle name change from Galaxy S6 to Samsung S6 could slide in under the radar.

This is only my opinion on the matter. Yours could be different, so let’s discuss!What do you think about Samsung and their smartphone family? Do you see them switching away from Android? Do you have any problems with the software or hardware? Do you like Samsung devices as they are or would you change something? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments, no matter if you agree or disagree.  I’d be happy to read them and discuss.