23 Hours with a Samsung Galaxy S8

14 October 2017

This years marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone by Apple. I’ve owned the iPhone ever since beginning with the original one. Then I had the 3GS, 4S, 5S and 6S. Before the iPhone and the advent of smartphones I had 3 different Nextel phones. I don’t recall the model name of my very first cell phone but it was a Nextel and resembled a small brick. Then I had the Motorola i730 flip phone and the Motorola i830 flip phone. The i730 was my favorite because it was silver in color and had that neat little colorful disco ball thing on the front and had a nice looking blue outer display too. It was kind of fat for a cell phone compared to today’s ultra thin phones, but it still felt good in the hand. After those phones and getting my first iPhone I’ve had no other phone in the past decade.

I like to consider myself a techie of sorts and it’s even my job to be an IT person. I have no trouble switching between the various platforms of computers and other forms of technology. Even when it’s not work related people come to me with their tech problems and I’m usually good at helping to resolve them.

After the past decade with iPhone and iOS I thought that perhaps I’d try out a new smartphone platform this time. To me there was nothing wrong with the iPhone and it has done everything I needed and wanted it to do and has worked superbly all along.

Perhaps it was out of boredom and complacency that I decided I wanted to try another smartphone. Since the Android operating system is pretty much the only other mobile platform out there it kind of limits my choices. Windows mobile is officially dead as Microsoft has just announced that it has been discontinued.

Apple has recently announced their new phones for 2017/2018 in the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X (pronounced ten). The prices for these phones are quite expensive and the iPhone X has a starting price of $999 round that off and it’s $1,000. The iPhone X also has this fancy new display and edge to edge screen with a “notch” at the top where they added their camera’s and face detection sensors for their new FaceID system. They’ve done away with a physical Home button and TouchID on this new phone. The iPhone 8 still retains the same form factor as the 7 and 6 before it with some changes in the material and of course new and upgraded options. It was because of this new $1,000 price tag and FaceID that sort of helped me gravitate toward trying something new. $1,000 for a phone? Sheeesh! I really don’t want to be paying that for a phone no matter how great they are. FaceID is pretty cool and the work they put into developing it and making it possible is amazing. However, I doubt its practicality in my life as being useful. I’m quite accustomed to the Home button and very often I will leave the iPhone on a table and just press the Home button to either see notifications or unlock the phone to do something quickly without needing to pick the phone up. Based on the keynote demonstration of the iPhone X it appears that you have to pick it up, look at it and then swipe up to unlock it. For me that’s not as convenient as the Home button with TouchID. Plus did I mention it costs $1,000 to start?

On the Android front there are numerous different phone makers out there and they all put their own little touch, or flare, into them on top of the base Android OS. The only one that keeps Android pure are the phones made by Google, the maker of Android. I wanted to experience Android as Google intended it to be just as I have iOS with Apple. Of course, iOS and iPhone are all made by Apple and there are no customizations made to it by other manufacturers - because there are none - so the experience on iOS is a pure one.

I admit I don’t know a lot about Android but over the past month I’ve been learning a lot. I decided to go with the Google Pixel which was first introduced in late 2016 and I learned that the Pixel 2 was set to be announced soon, so I would wait until then to make a decision on what I was going to do, if anything. In the meantime I was trying to do my homework on it and Android in general.

I mostly decided to go after the new Google Pixel 2 which is as pure as Android can be since it's all made by Google. But after a lot of reading of various forum comments, watching YouTube videos and blog articles about Google's ability to deliver on the hardware front of the original Pixel and the Nexus line before that it gave me cold feet a day before the big announcement. I was ready to try a different experience other than the iPhone this time around and wanted to try Android. Because of the reputation of Google having supply and demand issues for months at a time I decided to get a Samsung Galaxy S8 instead. I stopped in at the ATT store after work one day and they gave me $300 for my iPhone 6s! That was $100 more than Samsung was going to give me if I bought from their website, so I said sure why not.

I went home with the Samsung Galaxy S8 that day and began to go thorough it and set up my various apps and accounts. Learning the new OS was also a major task of mine as well. It is very different from Apple's iOS. This Samsung phone from AT&T not only had Android on it (of course) but it also has an integrated layer of Samsung apps and it also has a layer of AT&T apps on it as well. This was something I was trying to avoid when going the Android way, but I knew it was all going to be there on the Samsung phone.

To keep a long story from getting any longer, I was unhappy with the layers of apps and compatibility between them. I was banging my head against the wall for hours trying to get Google Photos (which works great and I like) to sync with Samsung Gallery (their photos app) which only works with their Samsung Phone/Contacts app in order to sync my contact's photos to it. I finally figured out a workflow to accomplish the task the next morning.

Then, the finger print sensor is in an awkward location on the top of the back next to the camera. I had a heck of a time getting my finger on it properly to read it and half the time I'd flip the phone to the side so I could see where I was placing it on the sensor. So I wasn't too pleased with that.

Another thing was the USB-C charger cable would come disconnected ever so slightly if it was nudged and I'd nudge it again and it would connect back up. It wasn't that the cable was coming out of the phone, it just had sloppy tolerances for mating with the phone.

I decided that all of that stuff and some other things were too much for me to live with and I went back to the store and returned it. They gave me back the iPhone 6s I gave them and they reversed everything and put it all back the way it (my AT&T account) was. The only thing I am out is a $45 restocking fee.

Then my plan was to pre-order the Pixel 2 like I originally wanted. But while I was restoring my iPhone back from iTunes, I decided against that. This kind of change is too much for me!

I said screw it and I ordered an iPhone 8 Plus 64GB directly from Apple. I paid for it all up front, plus a black leather case for a total of $898.88. I had almost all of that already saved up which I was going to spend on the Pixel 2.

In the end I still spent nearly $1,000 on a mobile phone and I didn't get the Pixel 2 like I was planning. Had I been a little more patient and waited one more day for the Pixel 2 announcement I might have bought that and probably would have been happier than with it compared to the Galaxy S8. But, I still have the nice new iPhone 8 Plus which does everything I need and want and I don't have to worry about it.

Since I own the iPhone and don't owe Apple or AT&T anything for it, perhaps I'll still buy a Pixel 2 down the road and just have two phones and swap the SIM card between them. Who knows? We'll see.

Download the pdf version with pictures here.