Truth be told, I quite enjoy these 30 day challenges. While it does take me away from any normal daily driver I may have been using before starting the challenge up, it reminds me all over again how much I love technology. Especially mobile devices. There's such a striking difference between a Samsung-branded Android device and a handset from HTC, or LG or Motorola. Then to jump from Windows Phone to iOS to Android? It's impressive the level of detail that goes into each platform, especially as each distinct mobile OS starts to share more and more features.
Google used to play catch up to Apple, and now everyone's on the bandwagon that Apple's playing catch up to Google. Microsoft's playing catch up with everyone, except BlackBerry, as BB tries to just catch up at all. This is just the nature of the mobile industry: everyone copies everyone else, in some way or another. In truth, none of that matters to me. What matters is the end result. How different does the final product look, and act, from what it's based on?
That's why using different Android-based handsets, even if they're running the exact same version of the mobile OS, is so exciting for me. Their unique builds, features and aesthetics are awesome, even when they aren't. It's still a thrill to use, to see how the platform is expanding and evolving, especially when it gets released by a company that likes to add proprietary features.
So, yes, when I put a Samsung-branded Android device in my hand and offer up 30 days of trial, I'm excited. At the start.
I started the Galaxy S5 excited to find out what Samsung had changed and added into TouchWiz. The company had been on such a bender lately with adding so many features that people were throwing around the gimmick word quite a bit, so I wanted to find out if they had toned it back a bit, maybe just focused on the things they liked, refined and improved them, and dropped some of the other stuff.
More than that, though, my biggest test for these handsets --for any handset-- is performance over time. All of the stuff is great. The features, the apps, the whatever else you can think of. The hardware. It's all fine and dandy, and it looks great on paper and people can talk about it in front of a water cooler when they get a chance, but it doesn't mean anything if after a few weeks your performance takes a nosedive, and your happiness quickly dissolves to anger.
I've been using the Galaxy S5 for a few weeks now, and the overall performance of the device has remained pretty stable. Nothing really out of the ordinary, really. Some apps take a bit longer to open these days than they used to, but it's barely enough to get upset about. Multitasking is quick and painless, too. Apps are responsive. This particular situation, where I'm not pulling my hair out because the phone is agonizingly slow, is relatively foreign to me, so I'm happy that this is (finally) the result.
Unfortunately, it's not all rainbows and butterflies.
The camera on the Galaxy S5, while able to take some great photos in the right situations, has just done everything it can now to drive me crazy. I've already written about the camera in this challenge, and I very briefly talked about a delay with the camera button and the device actually taking a picture, but now it's just ridiculous. With HDR off, and every other setting set to default (so right out of the box), it can take up to two seconds before it'll actually make any indication that it's taken a picture. Two seconds between me touching the icon to take a picture, and hearing the snap of a digital photo being taken is absurd. What's worse, though, is that each instance is completely different. It's never two seconds twice or three times in a row. Sometimes it's a second. Sometimes it's instantaneous. It's maddening.
And then there's the My Magazine feature, which is accessible if you swipe right from the home screen. Activating it is easy enough, but I honestly preferred the old way, of swiping up from the Home button (like you still do on devices like the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition). The issue here is that this function hasn't updated since the first time I got the device up and running. There are articles still there from weeks ago. And no matter how many times I try to update the app, it just doesn't update. So I get to stare at an article about the Philadelphia Flyers choosing Mason as their starting goalie, despite the fact the Flyers have been out of the race for the Stanley Cup for quite some time now.
(Thanks for making that harder on me, Samsung. Thanks!)
I had to replace the Samsung stock keyboard with the Google keyboard because the former was unusable in any legitimate capacity.
I don't think this is worse by any means, but it's like I just can't catch a break here. The overall software is working just fine, no meaningful lag or stutters, but there are still issues. I want to use the My Magazine app, but I can't. I want to take photos, but trying to snap a photo is frustrating. These aren't issues I should be having, and I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who aren't having these issues at all, but this is what I'm going through now.
What was I saying about being excited? I can barely remember...