Three times the trouble


Samsung’s press relations people sent me a test unit of their new Galaxy S4 phone, even though my colleague Kevin Tofel did a pretty in-depth review. And while, I am unlikely to do a review, I wouldn’t mind sharing my impressions, since Apple vs Samsung is the real story.

First impressions: it doesn’t look anything like the iPhone 5 ( or 4) and it is distinct enough to stand out in a sea of Android (devices.) Beyond the looks, there is a lot more “stuff” going on here, which to an iPhone user can be overwhelming. For instance, since I already have an Apple ID, in order to sign-on for my iPhone, I just need to put that ID and I am all set. The new iPhone wants you to create a new Apple ID. In the case of S4, when I used the device for the first time, I encountered three screens asking me to either sign-in or sign-up: Google, Samsung and AT&T. The phone is packed with Google Apps (good), Samsung Apps (meh!) and AT&T apps (why.) [I have a Google account, so I signed up with that and ignored everything else.]

That adds up to a messy experience and a rude reminder of the pre-smartphone world of “carrier decks.” I guess phone companies are not very bright in realizing that they are well not Apple or Google. I cringe at the idea of a phone company product or a recommendation. Anyway before I go too far into this rabbit hole, I do like to say one thing — in my apartment in South of Market area (SOMA), AT&T LTE is much faster than Verizon LTE. Maybe carriers should focus on making awesome networks and not apps. And good customer service!

When it comes to the phone, I can see why Samsung quickly sold 10 million of these S4 phones. It is light-weight, powerful and clean looking. Maybe it is time to put Google’s Android on this and try it again. That said, I am writing this post on Drafts on my iPhone. It is one of my favorite new apps on the iOS.


  1. qka (@qka) says:

    June 2nd, 2013 at 7:34 am Reply

    Maybe carriers should focus on making awesome networks and not apps. And good customer service!

    The carriers are only interested in what makes them money, to hell with what the customers want!

  2. Hu De Yi (@vahw88) says:

    June 2nd, 2013 at 4:49 am Reply

    I don’t understand the whole iOS versus Android thing. Seriously, fanbois on both side make pretty stupid arguments because they just can’t get it around their heads that each has pluses and minuses. I just switched from my iPhone 4 to a Galaxy S4 and I can honestly say that I like both. The only reason I didn’t decide to go with iPhone again was because in order to get the phone working the way I want, I have to jailbreak…and there is no guarantee there will be a jailbreak or when it will be released; even if the former is likely, it’s the latter that concerns me because I rely on my phone for work and less for play so I can’t wait. I turned off all the bells and whistles Samsung added (some gimmicks some I can see a use for) and disabled the remaining crap (seriously I don’t know why there is a Samsung app store or what the hell the other crapware is, but deleting it all would be a nice option – oh iOS has stuff I don’t want either and can’t get rid of, but there is less and it takes up far less space). That said, at least Samsung gives me the option to hide it, something Apple should do. In the end it boils down to personal choice, doesn’t it? Without going into a long rant myself, all I can say is that for me the S4 (after a lot of not-so-obvious tweaking) works the way I like and has apps that iOS doesn’t have that I find very useful (and a few that I used on jb iOS that have more functions)..I miss some apps from iOS, but I have an iPad for that. So best of both worlds…at least in my case.

  3. ɹןʇnqן (@lbutlr) says:

    May 31st, 2013 at 8:13 pm Reply

    I agree that Google Now is compelling, but it’s not enough of a reason to deal with the headaches that come with Android/ WOuld I consider a pure android phone that is not beholden to AT&T or Samsung for software and system updates? I would at least consider it.

  4. Ope Bakare (@obakare) says:

    May 31st, 2013 at 7:27 am Reply

    Keith, if it helps your decision, the “Google Now” service is now available for iOS as well via an app.

  5. eideard says:

    May 30th, 2013 at 7:32 am Reply

    I’m reading this on my 3rd iPad and iOS’ comparative freedom from malware and script kiddie scum makes the question moot. I await the next iPad and iteration of iOS.

    When Google or one of their 3rd parties offers something useful, an Apple app developer – or the originator – will soon offer me an option. The opposite simply isn’t the case.

  6. Hakime Seddik says:

    May 29th, 2013 at 5:39 pm Reply

    “Samsung quickly sold 10 million”

    Actually they didn’t sold 10 million of them, those are shipments to channels and carriers. It remains to be seen how many exactly were really sold to customers. Samsung likes to make this kind of propaganda by not reporting real numbers.

  7. Paul Bunnell says:

    May 29th, 2013 at 2:03 pm Reply

    Google are bring the PURE android S4……maybe then

  8. Keith Townsend says:

    May 29th, 2013 at 1:41 pm Reply

    I’m in the market for either an iPhone 5 or Android device. The S4 seems to do so much cool stuff that I really don’t need. I’m a techie and it seems overwhelming to me. The one feature I’m actually attracted to is the Google Now service. This is what I envisioned Apple providing as services after the iPhone 3GS.

    I’m almost certain I’ll go with my 5th iPhone but Google Now seems almost compelling enough to put up with the rest of the Android/Manufacture/Provider ecosystem.

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