back to article Samsung: Swanky hardware alone won't save a phone maker

Samsung has responded to a saturated market – and the mortal threat of Huawei – by ramping up its mid-range phones and promising much more rapid repairs. In response to a hyper-competitive market and margin squeeze, device makers have cut back on support. But that's a false economy, Samsung executive Kate Beaumont told us. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >> "You'll hear more about services next year"

    Will they be optional (and opt-in), or yet more bloatware that can't be removed?

  2. big_D Silver badge

    Better than Apple...

    One of the reasons why I prefer Android, and especially Samsung, here in Germany for "fleet" phones is the maintenance and repair support you get with them.

    Samsung are especially good, but all Android devices on mobile contracts are, generally, streets ahead of Apple.

    For example, we had a phone where the radios stopped working (no LTE, no Wi-Fi and no Bluetooth). We called the provider, the next day a courier was there with a replacement Samsung phone and took the old one in exchange. The onlly exception to this is a broken screen, they will still do a next business day replacement of the phone, but you'll be invoiced for the repaired screen.

    On the other hand, we had an iPhone with speaker problems in calls. The provider sent the same courier to pick up the phone, but no replacement, we had to do without the phone for 2 weeks, whilst Apple / its accredited repair center dealt with the problem.

    When we asked them about a replacement / loaner, they told us that it was Apple's policy not to provide replacement of loaner phones, the customer has to wait for the repaired phone to be sent back.

    Given that there aren't any Apple Stores around here (nearest one is around 3 hours away), such poor service makes Apple really stick out, and not in a good way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better than Apple...

      same reasons you don't see many Mac's used in corporates. DELL, HP, Levono goes wrong a little man comes out and fixes it the next day

      1. overunder

        Re: Better than Apple...

        I'm on a s9+ right now, had it since launch. It has issues. Touch input dropping out, Samsung Pay starts to lag (hard reset to fix), notifications turning themselves back on, others I can't think of right now. I thought about rooting it a couple months ago, but at that time there wasn't a public root method for my model and still can't find one for it (N.A., sdm845). I would like DEX very much, but apparently not I guess. But the voice quality is very good so I kept it.

        I don't use Bixby anymore but I was using it and it seems that if shopping with something like Bixby is your type of thing, it seems superior (but it seemed to fail in all other non-shopping applications). Knox I think is a good idea, just from the stand point that you will probably have to use the SDK if you REALLY want certain applications (I use ADHell 3 and 1 other.

        The camera is alright, nothing to write home about. Granted I have a Nikon D850, but the camera quality seems like the 5mpx Canon PowerShot point and shoot from 12 years ago, which were good. All the cameras AI hype is for people new to cameras, only the auto stitching do I find useful (although it is far from pixel perfect).

        All that said, the Xiaomi mi mix 3 looks great. I'd rather have less bezel and the spy/ selfie camera hidden, but it's really about those little bezels.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: Better than Apple...

          https://download.lineageos.org/star2lte

          1. overunder

            Re: Better than Apple...

            You got my hopes up Charlie, but SM-G965U1 is still not listed. It's been a few months, I'll go look around to see if there is finally a root method.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Better than Apple...

          I don't use Bixby anymore but I was using it

          Did your co-workers beat you up as well?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Better than Apple...

        Well, not always true.

        HP Ink has DaaS (Device as a Service) at least in the AMS (US & Canada) area, where if a Mac breaks and you get it through us we'll send a CE to try and fix it, and hopefully (for you) an HP CE, but they're not the most repairable computers in the world so there are limits to what we can do for them.

        I'd personally never want to try to fix a Mac's systemboard, LED, or memory, since they like to use glue and solder an awful lot.

    2. Ian Joyner

      Re: Better than Apple...

      It sounds like there is something not equal in your story. What were the service contracts you entered into? Was it a very old iPhone compared to new Samsung? Was the Samsung under a corporate service contract and the iPhone individual – reading between the lines I get that impression?

  3. James 51 Silver badge
    Meh

    Does that mean getting batteries replaced while you wait at a reasonable price? I'd prefer a user replaceable battery but I'll take second best if I have to.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So are Samsung going to start telling customers how long they can expect updates for?

    1. iron Silver badge

      My old S6+ is still receiving updates, I got one last week when I turned the phone on to do some testing. So that's at least 3 years, what more do you want?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        My S3 still regularly gets updated. But there again, it's on LineageOS and also free of bloatware.

  5. Gordon861

    Samsung/Huawei

    Not tried a Huawei phone yet but bought one of their 10 inch android tablets for just over £200 and very impressed.

    And the Samsung response to the competition is going to be seven different phones, oh great you'll spend ages just trying to work out which one is the one you actually want. I remember HTC when they announced the ONE phone to have less models and then released about 6 models on the ONE phone.

    New Nvidia cards, MSI just announced for 2070 models and ASUS will have seven. That's just the 2070 what the hell will they do with the higher end cards.

    All these companies are doing is fracturing the market further, customers don't want to have to spend ages pouring over datasheets to find the device is missing some feature you want, that you sort of assume they will all have.

    1. Gordon861

      Re: Samsung/Huawei

      'four' not 'for'

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Samsung/Huawei

      All these companies are doing is fracturing the market further

      Here it's known as segmentation and it doesn't matter which one you buy, as long as it's a Samsung, ie. as long as you go with the brand. This is the norm for consumer electronics: look at the huge variety of TVs they all produce with really minor differences and price points,

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Samsung/Huawei

        But some companies such as Apple understand the paradox of choice, and keep the number of SKUs to a minimum.

  6. Allan 1

    Samsung bait and switch

    I had a S7 Edge that I was really happy with. Then recently they changed their contracts, and my phone started popping up a notification that I had to sign in to my Samsung account and digitally accept the new contract, to continue using my phone. I did NOT agree to some of the terms in the new contract. So I declined to "accept" it. Queue my phone popping that notification over the top of everything, every 60 minutes. Prompting me that I had not yet accepted the new contract.

    Contacted Samsung, only to be told that there was no way past it, I had to accept the new contract. For a phone I owned and paid for outright. So would they buy the phone back at the same price I purchased it for? No.

    Im with a Huawei P20 Pro now. Samsung has turned into a fetid steaming mess.

    1. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      Re: Samsung bait and switch

      Same for me, though a Note 3(my first Android device). Not every hour but usually 2 or 3 times a day it asks me to accept their new terms. I don't know if it's been 1 year or 2 years but I have no need to accept their terms I am not using any of their services, so I just clear the notification. Would be nice of course to be able to permanently decline so they stop asking.

      AT&T is not quite as bad at pestering me to upgrade my OS, though their pestering comes in waves, for a few weeks they may ask me once or twice a day to upgrade, then they stop asking for a month or more. I have the latest Android from AT&T on another Note 3(5.0 from 2016) and I see no reason to upgrade my main phone, especially because I'd lose a critical feature of being able to mute the phone from the lock screen using the power button(which in itself was a downgrade in abilities from previous WebOS phones), something I do on a regular basis as my phone is also a pager for my on call stuff. I've kept wifi on my main phone for the most part disabled for the past two years to prevent automatic upgrades (at least on this vintage of phone upgrades require a wifi connection). In the early days I would turn wifi on when I needed it then off again, forgot a couple times and caught the phone mid automatic upgrade(sneaky bastards), till I killed wifi and the upgrade aborted. Now(well past ~18 months at least) with unlimited data don't really need wifi.

      About to enter it's 6th year of service the only issue with my main Note 3 is the gyroscope and light sensors(assuming probably clustered together) started failing maybe a year ago. I replace the battery once a year, and maybe new screen protector every 2 years. I have a 2nd Note 3 that gets pretty heavy usage as well (Wifi only unless I'm traveling overseas), I bought that maybe four years ago and that has no issues other than I prefer Android 4.4 to Android 5(tried downgrading it one time couldn't get past KNOX).

      The highest end Note 9 has me interested, though not in a rush at this time. I'd love an updated Note in the same form factor/design as the Note3 or Note 4(I have one of these too though rarely use it), but I guess that'll never happen.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Samsung bait and switch

      Sounds like they updated stuff based on GDPR in which case there really is no way around it. But they could do a better job of explaining it.

      Otherwise just stick LineageOS on it.

  7. ItsMeDammit
    Facepalm

    The old business model is the best...

    1. User replaceable battery.

    2. microSD card slot.

    3. Let the user install their own apps.

    Seriously, it's not hard. Samsung even have their own app store now so there is no excuse for forcing bloatware on people, especially when apps exist from other sources (eg Google...) that do the same thing. I absolutely detest their "cool screens and fun stickers" on their damn dialler, for example. I am not 7 years old any more.

    And possibly a rank outsider, because I might be in the minority here:

    4. Stop rounding the corners and physical edges on your screens. They distort the display and I liked the flat one on my old S4 just fine. I can't say I'm a fan of my current S8 and unless my mood drastically changes it's going to be the last Samsung I ever buy.

    1. rdhood

      Re: The old business model is the best...

      "1. User replaceable battery.

      2. microSD card slot.

      3. Let the user install their own apps."

      Oh, and a spiff that no one else gives you: a working FM radio. So if you need to catch that sports event that is blacked out or on a paid channel, you can listen to it on the radio.

  8. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Make anything more than a plain vanilla Android completely optional

    And no, I don't mean making previously baked-in crap so you can actually uninstall it; rather dont put it there in the first place. Then, if you feel an overpowering need to get Samsung flavoured crapware, there should be a dedicated SammyShiteShop(TM), where you can go and get all the useless junk you like.

    If SammyShiteware is actually good enough to be desired on its merit, as distinct from being foisted on users, Ill be proven wrong by the flood of people wanting to install it.

    Won't I?

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Make anything more than a plain vanilla Android completely optional

      This is exactly the reason that I switched to Huawei, Samsung Bloatware drove me crazy.

      Samsung want control over the users but they are not Ms, Google or Apple.

      Samsung indeed have become a steaming pile on nuisance.

      Haven't looked back since and my colleagues are now moving over as well. Samsung have gone down the wrong path and they will soon start feeling the pain. I give Samsung 2 more years before they will have no other choice than to make huge changes in what they are currently doing..

      I just wish that a European manufacturer came back into the mobile market.. Come back Nokia...

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Re: Make anything more than a plain vanilla Android completely optional

        So you went from one bloatware hell to another?

        (Unless you run AOSP ...)

        1. Khaptain Silver badge

          Re: Make anything more than a plain vanilla Android completely optional

          There's really very little bloatware in the Huaweis, nothing ever seems intrusive or annoying.. The updates arrive frequently so I am very happy.

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Make anything more than a plain vanilla Android completely optional

        I just wish that a European manufacturer came back into the mobile market.. Come back Nokia...

        Nokia has (well yes, they're made by HMD) range of Andoird phones with plain vanilla Android. Nokia 8 seems to be now available for around 260 quid, which seems very good value.

  9. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Had a sub £100 Huawei Android phone around 2011 and was quite impressed with the specs at the time compared to other phones of a similar price. The most I have paid for a Smart phone has been £150 as I never felt the need to pay more for the feature of more expensive phones as I generally use it for web surfing, watching online videos, emails and messaging apps so don't need 8 core CPU and 6GB of RAM that you get on more expensive phones. Samsung never really offered anything worth buying at the £100 price point anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Duly noted.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £549

    If Samsung think that the £549 A9 is mid-range, then they must have their corporate head stuck up their corporate bottom. I struggle to spend over £200 on Xiaomi phones and still get a stonking bargain - and if Xiaomi's announced UK launch makes their handsets too expensive in future, there's other competent makers who aren't officially operating in the UK but don't mind a grey market presence in the UK.

    My current Mi handset cost me £160, and its bloody good. Its a year and a half old, if it went wrong I'd buy a new one rather than repair a device that (even being very optimistic) is at least a third of the way through its maximum useful service life, due to wear and tear, battery degradation, software compatibility, socket wear, not to mention assorted forms of electronics decay.

    So Samsung can offer one hour service and that might support the S9 premium market. But until their (genuinely) mid market phones are any good, it won't matter how quickly they can repair those.

    1. Gordon861

      Re: £549

      Bought the Xiaomi M1 A1 from an EU supplier, great phone, and fully protected as it's EU import (at least protected for now).

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: £549

        I'm not really getting on with my current "Bloatware Free" Mi A2 Lite. (Android One sucks.)

        I should have gone for the MIUI Redmi6 Pro version.

        I actually like MIUI and its features.

  11. Thagomizer

    Would you like more bloat with your Samsung sir?

    I’ve got an S7 edge, which is a great phone, I’m really happy with the device, and I got it at a great price. Will I buy another Samsung when the time comes to replace it? Hell no, and I’m actively avoiding other Samsung products when I need to buy tech. (A non-Samsung Blu-Ray was the latest.)

    Samsung don’t believe in customer choice and forces customers to accept whatever additional “services” it decides on, whether the customer wants them or not. I have no interest in Smart Things, Pay, Gear, SVoice, Bigbie, Members, Pass, Print Service or yet another cloud account. Yet Samsung refuse to allow me to disable or remove these. And every update runs the risk of having more rubbish installed.

    If the additional services were any good, people would choose to use them. If a service has to be forced onto a device, then the service is either no good and needs to be avoided, or the company ethos is wrong and the company should be avoided.

    To me, Samsung is a tainted brand. Just like Apple.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Would you like more bloat with your Samsung sir?

      Well, if we define the range as say £200 to £900 (Galaxy Note, iPhone Xn), then £550 *is* mid range. That remains true even if you can buy a very competent phone for less.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Would you like more bloat with your Samsung sir?

      I detest my work phone, right POS, bloat is ridiculous and was force installed when originally either not there or I had deleted it.

      Now what effect will it have elsewhere?

      Only other stuff I have had from them has been hard drives, now owned by Western Digital.

      When I need a new TV, there are a few top end high quality brands and some Samsung owners I know have had issues, had to return to shop and change brand over HDMI control issues.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ok Mr Samsung...

    1) How much data is slurped and can I turn it off?

    2) What so called 'essential' apps are there and can they be removed? I don't need no Twitter etc

    3) How long will you guarentee me getting updates to not only the security stuff but the OS as well?

    4) Can I get rid of your TouchWiz bloatware?

    If the answers are No, lots and No, 1 or 2 years and No then sorry no sale.

    In the meantime I'll carry on with my well used and third hand iPhone 7. The battery is so far holding up fine but I'm feeling that it might be time for a change.

    The problem is that I had a Samsung phone and it was a POS. Disabling data to save battery caused a whole load of apps to start complaining that they could not phone home for validation... wtf... I couldn't remove them either. This was back in the days of Gingerbread.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Ok Mr Samsung...

      1, more of a Google services thing. Samsung handsets are well supported by modded AOSP-based ROMs - though do read up on if that's easier on Exonys or Snapdragon varients. However, for an easy privacy concious life you're better off avoiding Android (where many apps are built around proprietary Google APIs) and staying with Apple's privacy and data collection (differential privacy) policies.

      2. Most apps can be disabled. If they can't be removed them you're only losing roughly 1% of your storage space

      3. Few Android vendors offer guarantees on this, though some appear to be listening to users and making the right noises. Project Treble should now make it easier for vendors to roll out updates. Again, Apple have a consistent track record for updates.

      4 TouchWiz ain't what it used to be, and I say that coming from a Nexus to an S8. Other launchers are available. The Google Pixel launcher can be side-loaded, but you sound like you want less Google slurp.

      5. Turning off data doesn't make any apps squeal. Android has changed a lot since Gingerbread, including the addition of Stamina mode that will turn off data polling when the screen is off - akin to Sony's excellent implementation of old.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuck everything

    We're doing five lenses.

    1. MrMerrymaker

      Re: Fuck everything

      Good Onion reference!

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Fuck everything

      Five lenses, eh,? Twoflower will be very interested.

  14. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Can confirm re bloatware.

    On my three Huawei devices (one work, two private) I absolutely had no bloatware or unwanted apps (like zuckerbook etc). And a Xiaomi Redmi 4A. Sheer bliss, to use MY device with the apps I HAVE SELECTED. After all, I paid for it and it is MINE.

    Prior to my first Huawei device I had a Sagsmug S3 mini. It was loaded with bloatware which I did not want, and sometimes (frequently too, to add insult to injury) some crap app would go berzerk and drain the battery flat in record time. I totally swore Sagsmug off then.

    Or else Sagsmug can lease out phones with crap bloatware installed for maximum slurpage (and so delight the Zuckerborg) and they can control it since it is theirs. (Oops, did I gave somebody a Very Bad Idea?)

    Wife's phone (a Sagsmug Neo) is on its way out, but I will be getting a new phone for her, and this time it will NOT be a Sagsmug, she complained about not being able to uninstall the faceboob app (for starters).

  15. Palladium

    even without Samsung's bloat

    Their hardware specs per dollar ratio sucks so much alpaca butt to begin with that it's a non starter.

    On the other hand if I'm a "ZOMG my time and data is worth millions" kinda of guy I would rather just get an iPhone or two.

  16. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I was given an S2 for the job, now I have an A3

    The only reason I keep it is because it is a required work tool, it's not because I like it. I don't, I hate the things. Every update changes something in the UI. Options move, some things are reset and there is never any warning or explanation. I hate it all.

    Please explain why it was soooo necessary to move the Flashlight option from lower right to middle left ? It's nothing, but it is supremely annoying when you had the habit of going lower right.

    Either you let me put it where I want, or you LEAVE IT WHERE IT IS. You are not "enhancing" the UI by changing stuff all the time, you're just making everything confusing and frustrating.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That picture was a bit harsh...

    ... I thought, denigrating Millennials above an article that was supposed to be about Samsung hardware.

    Then I realised it was actually light bulbs above their heads - and not badly drawn willies pointing at their haircuts.

  18. Ian Joyner

    Dose of Samsung's own Medicine

    Now Samsung are worried that others will do to them what Samsung has done to the market. Of course Samsung can see this happening to them – they well know the tactic. Bring out some cut price hardware to destabilise the incumbents (they have not been 100% successful here). Make prices cheaper by not having such good software or support – the hardware looks good in a shop, and most people do not go into all the complexities of computing and software, they make a decision on 'swankiness' and price.

    So now Samsung is acting like an incumbent trying to deflect the attacks of others who are now using Samsung's exact tactics.

  19. MJI Silver badge

    Got new one in box scared to open it

    Due to my current work phone being an absolute PITA to use.

    Previous 2 HTC were OK

    Now got a Samsung and a new one to replace it.

    Too much bloatware, and keeps beeping mid phone calls to activate some Samsung shit or other.

    A few months ago Faecesbook arrived, and I could not unistall it, was not on before but now was stuck.

    Google data usage and Samsung data usage on unused services are both more than my Firefox data usage.

    Anyway I need to root my new one and hope for the best.

    Even Mrs "Should be happy you get a free phone" in our office upstairs is moaning about it. Others still have in the box scared to extract it.

    I have also been winding up a workmate with a Samsung TV asking if pay has force installed itself yet!

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