Samsung devices really do look and feel like toys

galaxy-s4

Samsung’s position in the Android world has put Samsung devices in the hands of a lot of people, and the choice of design and building materials has been a topic for quite some time. Aaron brought up the subject a few weeks ago in relation to rumors that Samsung might change its policies with future devices, and all I can say is I hope they do.

Personally, I stick my devices in cases, so the building materials isn’t really a big issue for me when I go to buy a new devices. Actually buying a new device is also something I do so rarely that a couple of generations of devices go by in the mean time. Still, when I see Samsung devices out in the wild, especially compared to devices from Apple and Sony, I can’t help but wonder how Samsung is doing so well, considering the Fisher Price toys it calls Android devices.

A lot of people buy devices based on how it feels, and Samsung isn’t exactly a brand that should push for authentic display models. Both its Android tablets and phones are made of plastic, and when you put something like the Galaxy S4 next to a Sony Xperia Z, it does become very hard to understand how both devices are high end models. I kept comparing various demo units in a store yesterday, and the more I looked at the Xperia Z compared to the lineup of Samsung devices there, the more ridiculous the differences became.

I also have to say that I’m not a big fan of the post-lawsuit war Samsung base design. To avoid more legal fights with Apple, Samsung devices are now more rounded off, with a wide home button to avoid it looking too much like an iPhone. Samsung tried to sell the design off as being natural back with the Galaxy S III, but I honestly don’t think anyone bought it. Design is of course subjective, but I personally don’t think something that is based around a rectangular screen should be that rounded off. The tablets are the worst, and I just hate the design of the Galaxy Note 8.0 compared to the iPad mini.

It will likely be a while until I buy a new device, but when I do, I might just end up ignoring Samsung altogether. Between the bloat it puts on its devices, its (in my opinion) mediocre and off-the-shelf hardware, and the presentation of the final product, I honestly think Samsung needs to pull itself together. Now that Sony has stopped being stupid and actually started making some interesting devices, and with HTC still at least trying to get back in the game, Samsung shouldn’t count on being on top for long.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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13 thoughts on “Samsung devices really do look and feel like toys

  • Avatar of nathan
    June 30, 2013 at 12:56 pm
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    There’s pretty good evidence that “premium feel” is no where near the top of most consumers’ list when buying a phone. Specs like screen quality, durability, connection speeds, proccessor, and responsiveness are better or no worse than any of their competitors. Features that still have Samsung on top when comes to devices is battery life and camera quality (at least with the phones and some of their tablets). Some aspects of Touchwiz are actually offer greater ease of use and general better usability.

    Comparing the quick settings on the Nexus 4 and GS3 I think Touchwiz is still superior over stock Android 4.2 even though quick on the setting pull down menu was added. Stock Android can be harder to pick up for a new user than necessary from Google’s bad habit of using weird symbols without word labels.

    I wish Samsung kept the tub tv effect when the screen turns off from stock Android. It’s pretty cool.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Kwan
    June 30, 2013 at 2:27 pm
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    I did not want a iphone because of apple’s closed eco system. But i did wanted a phone with similar specs and a great camera.

    I also choose the s3 because of the abundance of accessories just like apple.

    got a lot of choice in screen protectors but also cases, etc. I’m currently using a UAG case. My s3 looks completely different.

    My sister has an acer cloudmobile and its a pain to find a good case or decent screenprotector for it. That’s also the case of Sony.

    Almost everyone i know has a case of pouch for there smartphone. And everyone wants something fitting there style.

    If Apple has taught us something with the Iphone is that accessories do really matter for a lot of people.

    Also the removable battery and sd card is a major plus for a lot of people. Not everyone changes there smartphone on a yearly basis. I want to keep my phone for at least two years. I just pop in a new battery or better yet I’ll get the bigger Samsung 3000mAh battery for the s3.:) You try that with the sony or htc. good luck with that.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Lindsay
    June 30, 2013 at 2:27 pm
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    I don’t tend to post comments but…..

    ” its mediocre and off-the-shelf hardware” ???????

    You are kidding aren’t you?

    After visiting this site on a daily basis for years (when Jenn was running the show), I am constantly flabbergasted at the negative manner of your articles in particular.

    The near constant use of absolutes in your writing is also amusing. Things are often – ugly, terrible, worst, useless (you love that word), hopeless, terrible, hate etc….

    I liked coming to Pocketables when reviewers and writers had a little more flexibility in their prose. Now it seems to be getting somewhat fringe like with articles like yours.

    I’m guessing you are a black and white sort of chap!. Or maybe you just always get out of the wrong side of bed…

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård
      June 30, 2013 at 9:43 pm
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      I edited the post to put another “in my opinion” in there. When writing personal opinion posts it’s often easy to forget to put qualifiers into every single sentence, but you have to admit this post is fairly full of them.

      To elaborate on what I mean by mediocre and off-the-shelf:
      Samsung is just releasing the Galaxy Tab 3 line. Very minor changes from the first generation of Galaxy Tabs. Asus has its Transformer series, Sony is making thin, light, waterproof stuff, both those use more premium materials and higher resolution screens. Samsung just releases what’s essentially the same device with minor changes.

      Another example is the “mini” phone. S3 mini, S4 mini. These phones are budget versions of the top of the line phones, but are often as expensive as last year’s top of the line model, despite not being better. Samsung waters out its own brand names to sell phones that I don’t think should be on the market.

      Then you have the top of the line models. Sony has thin, light devices, is pushing its smart accessories like the smartwatch, water proofing devices, and now has a device that can use an ordinary pencil as an accurate stylus. The S4 essentially contains parts that are so obvious that everyone knew what the device would be like before it came out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I do think it fits the “off the shelf” description. If Sony has really come out with a device that eliminates the need for a specialized digitizer pen without any major down sides, Samsung has also just lost a feature it’s based an entire line around. The Note 3 won’t be very impressive if its namesake feature turns out to be outdated.

      Reply
    • Avatar of Geni
      July 1, 2013 at 3:55 pm
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      I’m sorry but honestly, Andreas’s articles are the single most brilliant bit of internet blogging I have ever read. In fact there is somewhat of a cult following in certain circles as to some of his articles i.e. reddit tasker groups. I amongst most people enjoy his earnest opinion on many view points in that a spade is not made out to be a shovel. And in contrast to yourself I only visit this site to read his articles.

      As to his use of absolutes… It amuses me that it bothers you so much at all. Perhaps you’re just the sort of chap not able to make up their mind for themselves without the writer leaving articles open for interpretation…

      Reply
  • Avatar of jack
    June 30, 2013 at 4:17 pm
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    I hand my galaxy note 2 to anyone. My ipad mini however, is a precious thing. It might break. I hope samsung retain the lightweight materials for future phones. Durability is important.

    Also you said yourself that most people put their phones in cases. This is true. So who cares if its metal or glass or plastic.

    It was generally a rubbish article.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Garry Rackley
    June 30, 2013 at 4:20 pm
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    Just signed up for pocketbles chrome extension 2 days ago. After reading this article I will be uninstalling. I knew a lot of the articles were slanted towards Apple but this was over the top slanted for me. Please forward this to your superiors so they will at least know where they lose some of their readership….

    Reply
  • Avatar of Jon Walker
    June 30, 2013 at 6:12 pm
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    I’ll just ignore the ridiculous over reaction in the above comments.

    I have a HTC One, the look and feel of a phone is important to me personally and it’s a consideration when I buy a phone.

    Although it’s an important consideration to me I just don’t think many people care. Smartphones can be fragile, and people don’t want to risk breaking something they recently spent a lot of money on. Best way to reduce that risk is to put it a protective case, something I did with my HTC One and ran into the below.

    I want a nice phone so I buy a product that is a premium build, but then I don’t want to damage my phone so I buy a cheap plastic cover to protect it. I then don’t feel like I’m even holding a premium product anymore so I take the case off and risk damaging the phone. It’s Catch 22.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Peter Goncharouk
    June 30, 2013 at 7:49 pm
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    I think it’s entirely upto the individual, Andreas has a point shared by many , and should not be bagged at all . You will be thanking him in the future when a shiny non plastic phone is released by samsung . We will all be saying ‘why wasn’t it always so’. By voicing his opinion , and opening up a discussion on the topic ,is the only way to let samsung know how some people feel. With all the different models samsung release a fancy one shouldn’t be much problem .
    I have a nexus 4 in a premium leather case , and love how my iphone using friends comment ‘ I can’t afford a fancy looking phone like that ‘ . If only they knew how little i had to spend

    Reply
  • Avatar of Paul Tobeck
    July 1, 2013 at 4:33 am
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    I agree that Samsung’s build quality is complete garbage. I find it funny that anyone can use the words “plastic” and “durable” in the same sentence!
    My biggest issue with them, though, is their insistance on sticking with AMOLED screens.
    While I find the AMOLED display on my Galaxy Nexus tolerable, the S3, S4 and Note II screens are absolutely horrid. Gaudy colors even when toned down in the settings, awful color cast and heaven help you if you regularly use an app with a lot of blue in the interface because you will get burn-in.
    I will also assume that they keep releasing lower DPI screens because of the expense of high-res AMOLED.
    Perhaps they are learning though, as the latest rumours about the Note III suggest it will have a SuperLCD screen.
    One can only hope…

    Reply
  • Avatar of CCallahan
    July 1, 2013 at 6:48 am
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    Plastic is extremely durable. Some plastics are stronger than metal and bend without breaking, and are lighter, which is why plastic is used in so many things nowadays. Also, from what I see posted from cell company store reps Samsung devices are not in the majority for being returned as defective. Just because something has a plastic case does not make it inferior build.

    If anyone posting doesn’t have the S3/S4 or had a chance to use the phone for a good amount of time than your post is just speculation and means nothing in my opinion. They are very good devices and there is a reason why they are so popular. This must be a fact otherwise the device would not sell.

    Another point….build is only a small part of a device for a lot of users. Take my HTC Flyer tablet for example. Build quality is great. Device is extremely solid, good looking, etc. However I can’t hardly use the device anymore because HTC abandoned it 6 months after release. Never got updated. No kernel source released and development was dead before the thing was even a year old. So basically it looks really good sitting up on the shelf while collecting dust.

    I understand there are some who prefer Apple devices, HTC, etc. over Samsung which is fine. Choices in the market place is good and drives competition so buy whatever makes you happy. I’m glad to see Sony stepping it up but unfortunately most of their phone devices don’t end up making it to US carriers so is never an option.

    From what I see on my carriers shelf when I walk into the store is Samsung having the best device for me when it comes to features, hardware, and future use/development. If/when a company provides my carrier with a better device, I will for sure try it out and compare.

    Reply
  • Avatar of apertotes
    July 4, 2013 at 7:51 am
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    Repeat with me: “A phone is not a jewel, a phone is not a jewel, a phone is not a jewel…”

    I’d rather take micro-sd slot and removable battery over looks any day of the week.

    For me, my phone is a tool, much like a screwdriver, or a blender, and not something to show off like a trophy. I want it to be light, comfortable and durable, and Samsung Galaxy S plastic phones tick all the boxes. Plus, I can fit a hyperion extended battery and forget about charging for 3-4 days.

    And do not even get me started on sound quality, video codecs, long term support, third party support, or contrast levels.

    As I said, at least for me, a phone is much more than a fashion accessory.

    Reply
  • Avatar of CaRR
    July 24, 2013 at 7:15 am
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    I find this article interesting because I just got the GS4 and I agree the phone feels cheap. But I am indeed getting a case for it, so that’s not what I bought the phone for. I got this device because of it’s internals, and I know that when I root it, I’ll see it’s true power/potential.

    Reply

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