Yesterday, Samsung announced its new range of Galaxy smartphones.
The lineup features three flavours – the S22 (think iPhone 13-ish), S22+ (think iPhone 13 Pro-ish), and the S22 Ultra (think… erm… I’ll get to that later).
I’ve pre-ordered one to run as a second device and to pitch directly against the iPhone. More on that in a moment, but this was also the first Samsung event I’ve ever watched.
This is what it looked like from an Apple guy’s perspective.
Breaking the rules
The narrative for Samsung’s UNPACKED event was underscored by the phrase every presenter kept uttering.
“We broke the rules!”
I quite like that, but I’m also absolutely fascinated by the approach Samsung takes with its events because that’s where they really appear to break the rules.
Apple’s product launches – and even WWDC – are really digestible. Sure, they occasionally waffle on about NITS and secure enclaves, but that stuff sails past in the blink of an eye. Apple is far more interested in revealing why its supersonic techie wizardry is so useful for normal people.
Tim has never mentioned thermal paste. Not even in passing.
Samsung talked a lot about thermal paste yesterday.
This was during the relatively short skit about the Galaxy’s new processor, which is apparently their fastest chip ever (although, this has some regional challenges, which I’ll cover in a future article – if I can be bothered).
Specific details about the actual chip itself were curiously absent (possibly due to those regional challenges) – Samsung spent the entire section talking about how cool the phone could keep itself, thanks to – yep, that really awesome thermal paste. And something called ‘nano tin’. Whatever that is.
We also heard about vapour chambers, graphite spreading sheets, and how great the phone is at maximising heat diffusion. It was all fabulously boring and needlessly techie.
But, again, I quite like that.
It makes me wonder who these events are aimed at. They are, after all, designed to launch the iPhone’s most gnarly competitor and a device that millions of people have grown to love just as much as Apple’s flagship product.
I understood around 3% of the stuff revealed yesterday. Everything else was a sea of numbers, percentages, and made-up words (‘nightography’, anyone?).
If, by ‘breaking the rules’, Samsung was referring to an event whose content was only digestible by its own workforce and the most technical teams within the four walls of its competitors, boy did it hit the nail on the head.
Erm… it’s a Note, mate
The other rule Samsung broke was by brazenly undertaking the most obvious example of let’s-just-chuck-that-under-the-carpet-and-forget-it-ever-happened marketing I’ve ever seen.
For those who have forgotten (and there aren’t many in the tech community who have), Samsung hit the headlines in 2017 following reports of “exploding” Note 7 batteries.
Social media platforms quickly became awash with images of toasted Note 7s, burnt tabletops, and trouser disasters, leading Samsung to conduct a voluntary global recall of 2.5 million devices.
It got worse.
On October 5th, 2017, reports emerged of a replacement Note 7 overheating and catching fire on a flight in the US. This prompted carriers to drop the device entirely and, eventually, Samsung shutting down production for good.
I remember being on a flight at around the same time and hearing a warning about the Note 7 piped into the cabin – before the usual safety run-through. As PR goes, that’s about as bad as it gets.
Despite this troubled history, the Galaxy S22 Ultra is a Galaxy Note. Samsung has simply deleted the latter’s brand. It’s both mildly amusing and pretty admirable; clearly, they wanted to continue satisfying their army of Note fans, but without any of the negative connotations that developed during 2017.
Watching from the iPhone vantage point
I’ve never owned a Samsung phone, but I’ve always admired them from afar.
The bright, oversaturated screens, throw-everything-at-the-wall feature sets, and wealth of device options have nearly tempted me away from the iPhone on multiple occasions.
I’ve just never made the leap – and it’s got harder to justify doing so with every additional deadlock Apple adds to its ecosystem.
It’s hard not to be impressed by Samsung phones, though – even if you’re a staunch iPhone advocate and fanboy/girl. Yesterday was no different.
Samsung has gradually reduced its throw-everything-at-the-wall approach and instead focused on what matters – the camera, screen, and industrial design. The S22 (and S21 before it) are very attractive devices. At certain angles, I think they look far better than the iPhone’s ageing business suit.
However, as I watched yesterday’s event with my iPhone 13 mini placed comfortably beside me, there was only one Samsung phone I was ever going to bring in for a full-on daily carry test.
Satisfying my Note craving
I’ve nearly bought a Galaxy Note on numerous occasions.
Like so many people, the disastrous Note 7 put me off, but when the Note20 arrived in 2020, my desire for a phone that could double as a note-taking device resurfaced.
Alas, I stuck with the iPhone.
But things are different now. I’m running a reviews business. I therefore have the perfect excuse to get the Note-sorry, S22 Ultra and finally see what it’s like to live with one.
I have many questions, including:
- Is the S Pen a gimmick?
- Will the S22 Ultra be too big now I’ve fallen in love with the iPhone 13 mini?
- How much will I miss the Apple ecosystem?
- Could the S22 Ultra tear me away from the iPad mini when it comes to note-taking?
- Should Apple release an iPhone with a stylus?
Expect lots of content as soon as I have it in my hands.