Every time Apple launches a new iPhone model, people call it boring and say that it’s more of the same, even when it introduces some new and significant feature — like the iPhone 4’s Retina Display, the iPhone 4S’ Siri, or the iPhone 5’s larger 16:9 screen.
Samsung’s new flagship Android smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4, is really just more of the same. It has a handful of new bells and whistles, like the ability to pause videos when you’re looking away from the screen and the ability to use certain gestures without even touching the screen. But most of these features are gimmicky things which seem like they’d get in people’s way, while the hardware itself is basically just an upgraded Galaxy S3. So if you already have one, you’re probably good for another year or so at least.
If you don’t have a Samsung smartphone already? You might want to look elsewhere. Here’s why:
I don’t just mean the old ads that slam Apple fans (everyone bashes on Apple fans these days). I mean the press conference where Samsung announced the Galaxy S4. CNet’s Molly Wood called it “tone deaf and shockingly sexist,” and whatever your definition of “sexist” is that’s really not far off the mark.
You probably already know about the lawsuits Apple has been pursuing against Samsung for copying its designs. Granted, there are only so many ways to make a touchscreen smartphone or tablet, and you can’t really make it too different without doing something weird like the Nook Color’s hollowed-out corner. (Or leaving out essential features.)
Looking at side-by-side comparisons of Samsung and Apple’s products, though, one gets the impression that the former’s a bit slavish in its copying of the latter’s designs. In fact, the first picture in that link is a Samsung booth showing Apple’s own App Store icons as part of the display.
Inflated brand recognition
Forbes writer Eric Savitz sums up Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley’s research, in which they say that Apple and Samsung together basically own the smartphone market in terms of profit share — the percent of all the total money to be made in the market that they have. But while Apple’s dominance largely comes from user satisfaction and repeat buyers, Samsung is dramatically outspending Apple — and even Coca-Cola — on marketing.
None of this is to say that Samsung phones are necessarily bad. But for some reason, they’re getting all of the hype, even while truly revolutionary devices like the HTC One are being ignored. And their best features tend to be either gimmicky or derivative.
You owe it to yourself to at least comparison shop before buying a new Samsung smartphone.