Samsung is an amazing hardware company. My TV, refrigerator, electric razor and dvd player are all made by Samsung. They also make two of my favorite smartphones: the Nexus S, and the Galaxy Nexus. They also make 3 of my least favorite devices: The Galaxy S2, Galaxy S3, and Epic 4G. But what separates my favorite phones from my least favorite phones is the software.
This phone has great hardware. It’s light, comfortable, built quite solidly, and has slide out keyboard with a very nice feel to it. But it’s the software that makes this my least favorite phone. Aside from being glacially slow with Android OS updates (6-9 months behind), these updates failed to fix my biggest complaints. They made some awful UX decisions that are just unacceptable. The worst may be their decision to decide how I use my battery: when the battery reaches 20%, they shut down the camera and video camera. This does not help me conserve battery, this just makes my (already short) battery life even shorter. I’d like to decide how I use the last 20% of my battery life. To me, taking pictures of my daughter is more important to me than making calls.
Like I hinted at, this is the best phone I have ever owned. Both the hardware and software blow away any competitor. This phone has cutting edge hardware AND cutting edge software. What’s the difference? Samsung did not make the software. The best phone ever made had hardware made by a great hardware engineering company (Samsung) and software made by a great software engineering company (Google).
This is a beautiful phone, with a beautiful screen, fast CPU, etc. etc. Again, cutting edge hardware (or, was cutting edge when it was released). In fact, its specs are very similar to the Galaxy Nexus. So what makes the Galaxy Nexus the best phone ever made, and the Galaxy S2 one of my least favorite phones? Not to beat you over the head, but it’s the software.
It’s the Software
As an Android developer, the second most time consuming part of my job (after internationalization) is dealing with software problems created by hardware manufacturers (not just Samsung; I’m pointing the finger at HTC, LG, and so on, too).
So, why does Andie Graph not work on the Samsung Galaxy S2? It’s the software. Samsung’s (and HTC’s) OS firmware is not compatible with every app, and Andie Graph is one of those. If you want to run Andie Graph on the Samsung Galaxy S2, it will happily run on non-Samsung firmware (try CyanogenMod, or an AOSP-based ROM).
Why does Andie Graph not work on the Samsung Galaxy S3? It’s the software.
Here is my plea to hardware companies: please concentrate on what you do best. Please make your great hardware even more great! Please make it fast, light, beautiful, long-lasting, amazing. Distinguish yourself by making your hardware the best. Leave the software design to the software engineers.
*By the way, Apple falls into the same category: they make great hardware (even, the best hardware). But other than OSX, they don’t make a single piece of software that I like to use.