Samsung's new folding devices may be impressive but Apple's ecosystem is stickier

The South Korean consumer electronics giant is extremely advanced technologically. It just doesn't have the complete package I need -- here's why.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer

This week, at the Samsung Unpacked event, the South Korean consumer electronics giant announced its two latest smartphones, the Galaxy Z Flip 3, and the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It also unveiled the Galaxy Watch 4 (running the latest WearOS 3), and new Galaxy Buds. 

Also: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3: How to pre-order and get the best deal

I will not be buying any of them. Why? Simple answer: I am firmly an Apple user now. Less simple answer? Apple's ecosystem is sticky.

Please don't misunderstand; I find Samsung to be a company with impressive products and a formidable technology company as a whole, especially on the manufacturing side. No doubt, I use other vendors' products daily that incorporate their components, such as their displays and their memory used in Apple's devices. Various Android smartphones I test incorporate Qualcomm SoCs, many of which are also manufactured by Samsung.

Using devices with components made by Samsung is practically unavoidable. But as a customer of Samsung's mobile device business and using those phones and tablets as my daily drivers? Not so much.

I did try to like their stuff back in 2017 when the S8 came out. Granted, at the time, it was probably the nicest Android phone on the market. But I found their OneUI GUI overlay to be oppressive and resource-intensive. Their intelligent agent, Bixby, is probably the least useful and most intrusive I have used on any platform. After a few months with that phone, I couldn't take it anymore; I had to go back to using an iPhone as my daily device. I have not touched one since.

This is not to say I do not use Android devices. Because I cover the industry -- albeit not on a detailed product and feature-oriented level as a dedicated mobile columnist, such as Jason Cipriani and Matt Miller are -- I usually keep one or more Android phones around for testing purposes. 

Over the last decade, I've kept Google's Nexus and Pixel phones as secondary devices because their OSes are refreshed yearly, and they are the Android developer device of choice when it comes to Google's Android beta program. I just sold my Pixel 5 and plan to pick up Pixel 6 when it is released -- and which, by all accounts, uses a custom SoC made by Samsung.

Another big issue for me is that Samsung is never part of Google's Android Developer beta process and has its own timelines for integrating the latest OS release. I don't want to wait six months plus for major OS updates, especially if I am paying top dollar for a device in the $1000+ range.

But the real differentiation for me is the ecosystem. If I want Android's and Google's ecosystem, I can use a Google Pixel, a OnePlus, or a Motorola and spend a lot less money. Samsung just isn't giving me anything extra that I really want.

The value-add blend is just not there for me. The complete, fully integrated ecosystem isn't present, and what Samsung adds on top of the vanilla Android/Google experience I don't find to be a net positive. To get my mix of services, I use Apple One Premier, which gets me and 4 other family members storage, music, games, fitness, news, and video content for $30 a month. Plus, I'm using Apple Card and Apple Cash that comes along with it as a reward. 

Google and Samsung have nothing that even comes close to this.

I first crossed over to Apple in 2010 as an iPad user. After ditching my Motorola Droid Bionic in 2012 (having previously ditched Blackberry), I went to iPhone 5 and started using Apple TV about the same time. I've been upgrading these devices on a yearly cadence ever since. In 2018, I became an Apple Watch user, which is "sticky" to being an iPhone user, as you can't do one without the other currently. 

This ecosystem stickiness has become even more adhesive as more and more Apple products have been added to my digital lifestyle, and I have enabled more and more of Apple's services.

In late 2018, I became a full-time Mac user -- a transition that has occurred by virtue of working at my last two full-time jobs where Apple laptops were corporate-issued gear. Although I do keep PCs around for testing, I don't see myself becoming a full-time Windows user, just out of choice. 

If I were to return to PCs due to a job change, even though Android is now much better integrated with Windows 10 and will be even more so in Windows 11, I would also stick with an iPhone because I'm content with that ecosystem.

Don't get me wrong -- I find Samsung's hardware to be very appealing, particularly the folding screen technology. But I will happily wait until other vendors like Apple and Google see fit to move in that direction and outsource those components from Samsung before I jump in that water.

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