One of the reasons people often offer up for sticking with an iPhone or iPad is the Apple ecosystem. Samsung has launched a multitude of mobile devices over the past few years, but hasn't created a situation where I wanted to only use its devices to get the most out of those devices. With the recent release of three devices that set the bar for phones, smartwatches, and virtual reality headsets, my opinion has changed.
The functionality and innovation provided by these three new Samsung devices is keeping them in my hand, on my wrist, and on my head. While the smartwatch doesn't require a Samsung phone and I could use any Android smartphone for phone services, together these three deliver an optimal experience.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
I've owned my Samsung Galaxy Note 5 for four months and despite a few other phone purchases it remains my favorite smartphone. The hardware is fantastic with metal and glass construction in a gorgeous dark blue color. The camera takes incredible photos and launches in seconds thanks to the physical home button that also serves as a flawless fingerprint scanner.
The display is beautiful, performance is snappy, call quality is excellent, RF signal strength is better than any other device I have tested over the past six months, and the S Pen is the best its ever been with support for taking notes with the display off. I'm not seeing battery life last as long as my iPhone 6s Plus, but with fast charging and wireless charging it's quick and easy to top off throughout the day.
While I like what Apple has in the iPhone 6s Plus, the Note 5 offers me a bigger display in a more pocketable form factor. It's my favorite phone of 2015. See my full review for more in-depth thoughts.
Samsung Gear S2 3G smartwatch
I just posted my Galaxy Gear S2 3G review after using the T-Mobile version for 10 days. While the Gear S2 3G works with other Android smartphones, the Note 5 offers an optimal experience with native Samsung app syncing.
The Gear S2 3G is based on Tizen, which provides an excellent experience for a smartwatch. There are fewer 3rd party apps, but I find the core apps and user interface to be better than Android Wear and Apple Watch.
Samsung's innovations with the Gear S2 3G include GPS, cellular connectivity with smart phone number management, and the ability to pick up on your phone where you left off on your watch.
Samsung Gear VR
The Gear VR looks to be a popular device, but thankfully I pre-ordered one on Amazon and have been using it for a couple weeks. It requires a compatible Samsung device and my Note 5 fits the bill. The Gear VR headset is one reason I keep using the Galaxy Note 5.
I've tried Google Cardboard and it is fun as a technology demo, but the Gear VR by Oculus is a much better experience. It's impressive to see how well the controls work and how the headset is powered by the phone. I also find it quite comfortable and have been able to enjoy full movies on Netflix.
I may soon pick up a gaming controller so I can play more advanced games on the Gear VR, but at this time I am primarily enjoying movies, videos, and pictures from within the Samsung offerings.
Looking to the future
The experiences of all three devices, and the ecosystem, will get better soon too. My bank should be adding Samsung Pay support, the Gear S2 3G will be getting Samsung Pay functionality, and content (games, movies, apps) will continue to roll out for the Gear VR headset. It's an exciting time for mobile technology and Samsung is setting the bar for innovation, showing us all what we can eventually expect from Apple and others.