I’ve been fortunate and used almost all of the Android flagships from last year. What that means is I’ve been able to test features for myself, rather than going on the words of other writers. I also can say I paid for every single device I used, and all of them were brand new. They weren’t purchased from ebay, Craigslist, or any other reseller websites which means every device I used was given a fair chance.
Here is a list of phones I used in 2014/2015
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
HTC One M8
Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Moto x 2014 2nd generation
Missing from this list of flagships is
Sony Xperia Z3
After using all of these phones, what I can tell you with 100% certainty is no phone is perfect. Every single phone has at least one downside. I am here to tell you why the best all around devices are made by Samsung.
- Samsung is second in the world in investing in our future
In 2013, and 2014 Samsung was second, only to Volkswagen, in dollars spent on research and development. Samsung is not all about making tons of money just to give back to its investors or to a build fancy Spaceship headquarters. Samsung takes on the responsibility to make our future better through technology as a global leader in innovation.
I am a medicinal chemist by trade, and work for a Biotech who has seen its ups and downs. I know how much money companies like mine spend on research and development and it is not cheap to research new, life-changing, technologies. Just a small example, my company in 2006 had a potential drug candidate fail at the FDA approval status phase, and just like that, 1 billion dollars was flushed down the toilet on researching and developing that drug candidate.
Of the top 10 spenders in R&D in 2014, 4 of the top 10 were pharmaceutical companies whose profits are second only to oil. 2 of the 10 came from the automotive industry. The remaining four came from the tech sector, and rank in this order of spending 1. Samsung 2. Intel 3. Microsoft 4. Google. The most interesting part of this list is that the company worth the most money in the world right now, is not on this list of spenders in R&D. Apple truly does not invest in our future, they invest in making things look beautiful, and they look to maximize profits as evidenced by their inferior products. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and if I was an investor, that’s probably the company I would invest in…the problem though is long-term. While Apple continues to hoard its cash, they are not investing in their own future or ours. They don’t have Steve Jobs anymore to hand Apple golden ideas, which means they can’t survive on pure genius anymore. They need to invest more in R&D, and their phones are proof that they are falling behind the smart-phone wars. Interestingly, Apple is the top spender in advertising among Samsung, Microsoft and Google.
Now compare that to the 17th most valuable company, Samsung, who are investing in our future. Over the past few years, no cell phone manufacturer has taken a worse beating by the Android purists more than Samsung. Why is that? Because they offer us TOO many features. How spoiled are we, when we are actually complaining about getting too much stuff? The last time you bought a car, wouldn’t it have been nice if the dealership threw in navigation, sport wheels, and whatever else your heart desires all for free?
Sure, many of the features can be useless. But isn’t the beauty of Android is that it is open-sourced? Isn’t this one of the main features what differentiates Android from iOS? Many of us love Android because of all of the extra features you can get with your phones.
One thing I love about Samsung phones is that they build in features to help improve your health. When turning up the volume with headphones, the S5 and Note 4 warn you when the volume is so loud that it may damage your hearing. Can I tell you I used to think this feature was annoying, until I thought I was losing hearing in my left ear. I have been listening to mp3s since the days of the Rio. I work out at the gym to stay healthy, 5-8 hours per week, every week for the past 17 years. Every single time I go to the gym I blast music though IEMs. About 3 months ago, my hearing was far worse in my left ear vs my right. For two weeks I had a hard time hearing out of that ear…the most frustrating part was struggling to hear my friends and family try to talk to me. It’s embarrassing to a degree to keep asking people to repeat themselves, but it incredibly frustrating when you cannot hear them because you feel like you’re not communicating. With my Note 4, I am truly grateful that it warns me when I try to turn the volume past limits where it will damage my hearing.
Also, the phone has a built in pedometer, which again may seem like a useless feature until you turn it on and actually see how lazy you are and finally get off the couch. It can serve as motivation to get outside, get some air, and most importantly get outside to exercise so the loved ones around you get to spend more time with you.
Oh and one more thing, Samsung is the leader in virtual reality. They just announced a new premium app store dedicated to immersive apps in VR.
All of these features are not free to research and develop, and that is why Samsung is atop the heap of spenders in the world.
- Touchwiz is incredibly useful and other manufacturers copy features added by Samsung
Many Android writers that I follow and work with tend to favor Android in its pure form, or near pure form. Touchwiz is arguably the most adulterated Android version, outside of Amazon’s heavily modified platform. Many purists have reason to hate Touchwiz, just a couple of years ago, Touchwiz got too bloated and slowed performance of those devices. Again, let me reiterate, no phone is perfect, not even the Nexus line. Sure Samsung made some mistakes, but they are perfecting their phones quickly while introducing us to new concepts like curved phones. Of the many people who I know who use Samsung phones, outside of Android enthusiasts, rarely ever complain to me about something touchwiz related. And many of them are still using their Note 3, Note 2, Galaxy S3, and Galaxy S4…if the software was so terrible, why isn’t the general majority of users complaining?
Those millisecond delays enthusiasts complain about, in my humble opinion, is not a reason at all to forgo features like split screen functionality, S health, quick buttons (which google later copied and added to stock android), and MOST importantly, the S pen!!!!! I absolutely love my Galaxy Note 4, mainly for its stylus. As a chemist, it is the easiest way for me to draw chemical structures. There is no better experience on a mobile device using a stylus.
- One size does not fit all
Apple is the king of marketing. They have half of the smartphone world eating out of the palms of their hands and made people believe there is only one correct sized smartphone. Yet again, Samsung proved their research was correct and released the Note line. The Note paved the way for all other large phones. Even apple owes its share of gratitude considering, they released a small flagship and a large one.
Many Android manufactures have one or two premium devices. HTC and Oneplus have one device. Take it or leave it, it’s what you get. Same for Sony. Same for LG. Not for Samsung…Samsung Galaxy Alpha, if you want a small phone with a premium experience. Samsung Galaxy S5, if you want an everyday workhorse that can withstand everyday challenges such as rain and dirt. Samsung Galaxy Note 4, if you want the ultimate premium experience and need a device that can function for fun, education, and business. Samsung Galaxy Mega, if you want a tablet for a phone. Samsung Galaxy Edge, if you want to optimize your screen space while being different than the crowd with every single feature the Note 4 has to offer. Not to mention the countless other budget devices if you simply cannot afford to spend 500-900 dollars on a device, or if you just don’t care about 95% of the features. Regardless of what you want, Samsung has the right device for you.
- Easily accessible customer service at Samsung Experience shops at Best Buy locations
One of Apple’s best services is having the ability to go to an Apple store if you need help. HTC, LG, OnePlus, Google, do not have customer facing storefronts where you can get help from experts. Samsung on the other hand has been more customer facing ever since creating Samsung Experience shops at Best Buy locations. Their shops are staffed by Samsung, not Best Buy. I’ve been to a few of them around San Diego, and can say with full authority that the Samsung Experience employees are very knowledgable and helpful. This is important to people like my Mom, who rather than bug me for every question about her phone, can go to an expert where she knows she will get help relevant to her device.
- Truly flexible devices
A couple of very important features many others overlook is having the abilities to swap batteries and also having the ability to add external memory. If Android purists had their way, and Android was not open-sourced, Google would have done away with expandable memory. Thank Samsung for being the external memory champion.
I love to not worry about downloading as much music as I want. Since I have switched to Samsung, I have never gotten a message that says, picture not taken due to memory being full(APPLE). I usually have 2-3 full length movies on my device for when I do my daily cardio workout. For devices without expandable memory, you can pay upwards of 100 dollars extra, just to go from 16gb of storage up to 32gb. For a meager 20 dollars, I can buy an external MicroSD card with 64gb of memory and I can expand on my device.
- Samsung always gives users the latest and greatest hardware
Samsung releases two flagships per year, the S-line and the Note line. The S-line is typically released in the Spring and comes fully packed with maximum memory, best processors, and the best displays. Without a doubt, Samsung’s Super AMOLED 2k displays are the best on the market. The contrast ratio is off the charts, brightness levels in full sun are incredible, and the colors make my friends say,”WOW!” when I show off my phone to them.
By buildings devices with the latest hardware, it future proofs the phones. Samsung wants you to get the most value from their devices by giving you a device that can last several years. They have taken a lot of flak for poor design, but plastic does not wear down like metal does. Heck, plastic bags are being banned all over California because they do not decompose! When I had the iPhone 5, the HTC One M7, and M8, the metal always scratched and nicked to the point where customer service would not take them back. There’s no point in buying a beautiful phone if you are just going to throw a case on it.
- Accessories, accessories, accessories and free gifts
One of the biggest advantages in owning a Samsung device is that millions and millions of other people have the same device. That allows third-party manufacturers like Belkin, Otter-Box, Spigen, Trend-On, etc., to capitalize on accessories made for Samsung devices. With niche phones like the Sony Xperia Z3, Oneplus One, LG G3, Moto X, and HTC One the accessories are slim to none. Users pretty much have to rely on the manufacturer to make purposeful accessories.
Samsung also has a wide range of smart watches, health monitors, and things like GEAR VR. We just saw HTC copy Samsung’s lead by releasing their own VR.
Everyone loves free stuff. Especially premium stuff. Samsung has been giving away gifts with their devices for years. It truly has been a differentiator for them, as they partnered with other companies to give away free cloud space, free Google Play credit, free premium music from Milk, and the list goes on and on. You can look for yourself here.
I know I sound like a fanboy…
Because I am. I don’t like technology for the sake of having the latest and greatest thing. I like technology because it can improve the quality of life. In my field of work, information is the most important thing when making decisions. The Galaxy Note 4 is my daily driver, and again, it was not given to me by Samsung. The Note 4 allows me to be quite functional at work. I use the stylus daily. I swap my battery daily. That is not an indication of poor battery life, but an indication of how much I use my smartphone. When I used the HTC One or the LG G3, all I could think was, “sure these phones are beautiful, but they’re just that.” The speakers on the HTC One are hands down the best. But, that is just about the only feature I desire on my Note 4. The LG G3, OnePlus One, Nexus, and the iPhone have absolutely nothing I desire on my Note 4.
I recently switched my very own mother, an iPhone user, to the Galaxy Note 4. After spending 15 minutes with her, she was off and running saying,”OK Google”, or downloading her Bible apps, etc. etc. etc. The most poignant sentences she said,”I can’t believe people would stick with their phones when this phone is so incredibly beautiful and functional. iPhone’s can’t do the things the Note can.” My brother will be the next Apple victim to fall, followed by my father and sister, they are just a little slower than the typical enthusiast(my brother-in-law is a laggard so there is no hope). But if I would switch my own mother over to Samsung, who I love and adore, I would recommend Samsung to everyone wholeheartedly, and keep in mind, my mother is retired and is not good with technology.
You will not get a better device from any other manufacturer. Go with Samsung.