In September, Apple's latest model iPhones went on sale. And after having an iPhone since it debuted in 2007, I decided not to get one. I made the switch to Samsung on Sept. 11 — the day before Apple announced its new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR. After using the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 for more than a week, I agreed with many of the critics: it's a better smartphone.
It wasn't an easy decision to give up my iPhone. I had an 11-year history with Apple and felt committed. I own a MacBook Pro and an iPad, so I couldn't imagine a world where all my devices were not compatible with iCloud and iOS. But when I originally heard rumors of new iPhone models, I didn't get excited the way I had in the past.
I admire Apple, but lately my iPhone had also disappointed me. It began when the company admitted to slowing down my phone after software updates in December. Not only did my phone become painfully slow (even after the company promised to fix it), but the battery started lasting only a couple of hours before fully dying, so I was forced to buy an external charger.
When it came down to it, the main reason I wanted to break the iPhone relationship was this: I believed there were better phones out there.
I knew I was ready to move on. And I'm not the only one: 72 percent of 480 consumers surveyed by WalletHub in August said they would not buy the new iPhone this year (47 percent of respondents were Android users and 46 percent iPhone users).
My brother, a Samsung owner for almost a decade, was always pointing out iPhone's flaws compared to his Galaxy. So after the screen of my iPhone 7 cracked, I went to the Verizon Wireless store and simply traded it in for the new Samsung Galaxy Note 9, which debuted August. I could have upgraded to the iPhone X, which is the same price as Samsung Galaxy Note 9 ($999), meaning my monthly payments would have remained around $44 a month. Or I could have waited for the new iPhones — iPhone XR for $749, iPhone XS for $999 or iPhone XS Max for $1,099.
But I went for the Samsung and felt relieved; I wanted a reliable phone with new innovations.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was being praised by CNBC's tech product editor Todd Haselton and by sites from CNet to Tech Radar for its more exciting features, like the improved S Pen (to write on the phone's screen), which now has remote control capabilities via BlueTooth; flaw-detect camera (which detects flaws in photos, like if someone blinked or the result is blurry and allows you to retake them); and fun tech innovations like the video display, which allows you to play a video as the phone's main display rather than using just a photo.
I have to admit, the transition from iPhone to Samsung was rough for the first few days and a small part of me was hoping to find flaws in the Galaxy (I have 30 days from purchase to return the phone). But now I've adjusted and after using my new Galaxy for more than a week, I've discovered features that I had wished my iPhone possessed, and I'm impressed.
Many Samsung Galaxy Note 9 features and specs trump iPhone, including the battery (it's 4,000mAh, which reportedly means it can last days without charging and I went a good 31-hour stretch; no specs have been released on the new iPhones' batteries, though the iPhone XS Max lasts 1.5 hours longer than the current iPhone X, according to Apple's website); the headphone port (I did not like the fact Apple got rid of this on the iPhone); a fast charger is included (all iPhones come with standard); internal storage starts at 128 GB (as opposed to all new iPhones and iPhone X starting at 64 GB); and there is a fingerprint scanner and an Iris scanner.
I also like the Galaxy's unique features. A favorite is that you can split the screen to run two apps at a time — to have email running at the top of the screen and Google Maps running at the bottom, for example. I also love that phone calls pop up on your screen as a banner, so you can decide whether to take the call. For YouTube, you can continue to watch a video, which shrinks to a small view on your screen, while using your phone, the way videos do on Facebook.
There are other innovative things about Samsung Galaxy Note 9. For instance, I love the one-handed keyboard, a tool that shrinks the keyboard so it's easier to type messages with one hand (I use it most when walking my dog). Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a convenient activation code scan, so if you are downloading an app that needs an activation code sent as a text message or email, you can set up your Galaxy to automatically scan and apply the code. And of course, it has the S Pen, which I have been obsessed with. You can write on the phone and reply to texts with it. You can also take photos with the pen or use as a remote control for many apps — for instance, I connected my pen to Google Assistant and now I can just click the pen to open the app if the pen is nearby but my phone is not.
Though adjusting was hard, the actual transfer from iPhone to Android is easy (like contacts and photos), and I can access all of my favorite apps (like Spotify) without any changes. That said, I'll miss some of the iPhone features, primarily the functionality of iOS and iCloud, the operating system and storage system for Apple that connected all my devices. When I take a photo with my Samsung, it's not automatically uploaded on my laptop. This goes for text messages through iMessage (that will no longer appear on my Messages platform on my MacBook Pro), videos and notes too. Fortunately, Samsung has a Sync for iCloud Calendar app.
While I thought this would get annoying, all my photos and videos are uploaded to Google Photos, the same concept as iCloud, so they are all on my computer. I have also transferred all my notes to Google Notes. There's no real fix to the text messaging system. The texts I get on my phone will not go to my computer, which will take a little more time for me to adjust to.
Additionally, my primary e-mail address is at me.com, which is part of iCloud and Apple's email platform. Samsung, which partners with Google (Gmail) does not want people checking Apple emails on the phone. While there is a Sync for iCloud mail app, it does not work (not now at least). But even with the app, I can't consolidate my me.com email with the phone's main email platform. For the first few days, I had to check all my me.com email on my computer. That's right — I couldn't even go to iCloud.com on the Samsung phone since the site is not supported on Firefox or Chrome; you simply get an error message when trying to do it. But I finally set up my me.com email to be forwarded to my Gmail account so I can check all my emails on my Samsung.
In my opinion, iPhone also has better autocorrect when texting. Words and groups of words that were corrected for me on my iPhone aren't on the Samsung, so I noticed spelling errors that I know would have been fixed. Also, while it should have very little impact, I will miss iPhone emojis. The Android emojis are shaped differently. I also think iPhone comes with a better weather app that's easier to read and more accurate.
This story has been updated.
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