The smart phone debate rages on

By Jeff Linville - [email protected]

Brand loyalty is a wonderful thing — for manufacturers.

When a customer has a good experience with a product, the likelihood of buying that same brand next time is very high — even if others have legitimate complaints.

When I was growing up, I heard my uncles arguing Ford versus Chevy. My aunt would argue TV brands with her brothers. When my dad bought a couple of Ruger revolvers, the complaints were heavy from the Colt and Smith & Wesson crowds.

For nearly seven years, a debate has raged between users of iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones. Sometimes the discussions become as heated as Duke/Carolina (ahem, back-to-back championship games).

I received an email a couple of weeks ago from a marketing firm that had done a poll of Samsung users. Two-thirds of those polled would buy another Galaxy phone. More than 60 percent would buy another Note — even after people have suffered burns and loss of property from Note batteries bursting into flames.

With more than 100 phones combusting last year, Samsung made the unprecedented decision to recall every single one of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold. Tech websites estimated that to be 1 million of the 2.5 million that were manufactured.

And yet 60 percent of Samsung users would buy another?

I am unique among my friends in that I’ve had a few phones from both brands. I’ve kept an open mind and gone back and forth. There’s plenty to like and not like, and it doesn’t always have anything to do with the hardware.

I had a Samsung A707 flip phone a decade ago. Then I got a Samsung Blackjack, a blatant attempt at making a Blackberry. When Samsung came out with a touch-screen smart phone, I jumped at the first Galaxy, called the Captivate.

It was bad.

Okay, sure, the phone and texting functions were just fine. But, the RAM was insufficient, and having more than one app open at a time would slow operating times to a crawl. Even with no apps open, the phone would take longer to start an app than the iPhone 3GS that was several months old in the summer of 2010.

So, when my two-year commitment ended, I gladly jumped to the iPhone 5 in the fall of 2012. Much faster phone, and way more reliable.

Still, it bugged me that Apple believed that it was perfectly okay to charge an extra $100 to get the next bigger storage capacity. My crappy Captivate had a microSD slot, but Apple wants to charge more money rather than provide a card slot.

A big music lover, I quickly ran out of storage space on my phone because I had a thousand songs loaded. If I wanted to add a new album from iTunes, I’d have to delete apps, photos or other songs to make room.

After two years of this, I was pretty fed up with my phone — even though it actually worked great, despite the storage issues.

Rather than get an iPhone 6 with more gigabytes, I went back to Samsung so I could get the microSD slot again. Plus, I had read many good reviews of the S5.

The fifth version of Galaxy was way better than the Captivate and seemed to perform about as well as my friend’s new iPhone. The screen was bigger than the iPhone 6 and yet cost me less. And I soon had more than 1,800 songs loaded — with plenty of capacity left on my 32 GB card.

So, had Samsung pulled ahead of Apple? Not so fast.

The first thing I noticed was that Bluetooth refused to connect to my car automatically. I could get it to work if I did everything manually and in a certain order — and if I held my mouth just right and sacrificed a goat to a pagan god.

My car had a work-around. I could use the charging cord to connect my device to the radio. All those 1,800 songs on my phone? They wouldn’t play. The radio wouldn’t work with my phone plugged in.

Over the past two and a half years, I’ve had issues like apps crashing and people mysteriously disappearing from my contacts list. Last summer my phone glitched in the Ultra Power Saver mode and refused to come back on. All I could do was make calls and texts. It was 2006 all over again.

I had to do a full reset and lost everything on the phone. I thought my contacts were backed up to my PC, but when I restarted my phone, only part of my list was there.

And perhaps most annoying of all (yes, even more than having to reset my phone) is the way that Android allows companies to be nosy with their apps.

Many of my apps don’t work anymore. When I would open one, a message would come up and say that I couldn’t use the app unless I updated it. When I went to update, a message would say that the app had to be given permission to snoop my phone or else the update wouldn’t complete. Say no to snooping, and you can no longer use the app.

For example, I tried to order a pizza from a local chain. The app said it needed permission to access my contacts list, my phone log and my photo gallery. All of that just to order a pizza? I don’t think so.

So, this week I went back Apple. We’ll see how the next couple of years go.

By Jeff Linville

[email protected]

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

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