I must admit that in the past I have always been an Android user. I have used many smartphones over the years. Once upon a time I was a huge HTC fan, but they failed spectacularly. I remember the last phone I had from HTC got some dust under the screen (before ingress protection was a thing) and the screen would scroll on its own without touching it. My carrier at the time would not fix it and neither would HTC.
That made me leave HTC for LG. I owned the LG G2, 3, and 4. I gave each of my phones to my teenage daughter as hand-me-downs. I remember the removable back, the replaceable battery, the micro-SD card access, and a reasonably pleasant UI.
When Samsung introduced the world to the Galaxy S6, I was intrigued. That was my first Samsung purchase and I have not looked back since. Before you continue to read let me be clear. I am not going to hit you over the head with stats and benchmark tests. Nor am I going to show you two pictures and ask you which one looks best.
What you are going to find in this blog is my everyday experience with Samsung products. My experience with their growing and maturing ecosystem. That is right, I said ecosystem. I am immersed in their ecosystem and I am extremely pleased with my experience. Here is why.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
Before I made my dream laptop purchase, I purchased the S6 Galaxy Tab to replace my aging Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. Right off I was impressed. The only criticism that I have on this tablet is that the lag on the S-Pen was bad. Milliseconds do not sound like a long time until what you are writing has a lag of greater than 80 milliseconds. As a side note I have always wondered how Samsung implemented the solution for the S-Pen in the Note by storing it inside of the phone but have not done the same for a much larger tablet.
Other than that, and aside from the fact that it has been replaced by the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7+, this tablet is perfect. It is impressively thin and light. The screen is fantastic. The fingerprint scanner (although optical and not ultrasonic like their phones) works very well.
This was my daily workhorse for a while. I could write a blog, search the internet, and watch YouTube or Netflix all without switching devices. The battery life has been excellent. You will get through an entire day with ease with battery to spare. And while this tablet does not have fast charging, it will charge to 100% in less than a couple of hours. That sounds like a long time, and during the pandemic sometimes it has been. I have the LTE version from Verizon. LTE speeds have always been more than acceptable.
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
I have owned the Samsung Galaxy S6, S8+, S10+ and now the S21 Ultra. Without a doubt Samsung has out done themselves! The screen, the camera, the UI, the battery, and the speed! It goes without saying that the screen on Samsung phones have been superlative for several generations, and the S21 Ultra is by far the best. It gets incredibly bright for situations when you are outside in direct sunlight, and it gets incredibly dim for those times when you are looking at your phone in a dark room before you go to bed.
I have been especially impressed with battery life. When I am not connected to my Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 via Bluetooth, I get more than 36 hours. When connected to my smartwatch, I easily get more than 24 hours. This is a game changer. On top of that charging my phone with the 25-watt brick gets me back to 100% in less than 45 minutes.
The camera is what you came here to read about. This is the best camera that I have ever used on a smartphone. I know someone is going to read this and mention the iPhone. I have an iPhone for work, and it cannot come close to what I can do with the S21 Ultra. Optical zoom at 3X and 10X takes this completely to another level.
There is another secret that most people do not realize about this phone and that is the integration with Windows 10. If you own a PC, then this is the phone that you want to own. The Your Phone app in Windows 10 integrates Samsung’s phone seamlessly. What does that mean?
As I am typing this article, my phone is across the room. I can receive calls and receive texts from my computer. The Your Phone app mirrors my phone on my PC. Gone are the days that you must walk across the room to grab your phone so that you do not miss a call. But it does not stop there. Remember the days when you had pictures on your phone and the only way you could transfer them to your computer was to email them in batches or find a cable to physically connect your phone to your computer? With the Your Phone app I can access pictures and simply drag and drop them right on my desktop or in another folder. Samsung and Microsoft have really stepped up their cooperation and I for one could not be more pleased. Well done!
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
I struggled for quite a while with purchasing a smartwatch. I could never justify the purchase of a watch that needs to be in proximity of my smartphone to use it. That is why I decided to go with the LTE version of the Galaxy Watch 3 and I am finally free!
Every Friday night I co-host a radio show on Friday nights in Chicago. During a break one week, I stepped away to get some air. I realized that I left my phone back in the studio, but I had my watch on. I was reminded because I heard a ringing sound like a was receiving a text message. As I padded myself looking for my phone, I saw my watch. I was receiving a text message. Then one second later I was receiving a call. The phone said, “The Wife”. I slid the green arrow, and I was having a conversation with my wife over my watch.
She did not once say that she could not hear me, or ask if I was outside, or complain about the sound quality. We had a quick conversation like we would normally have when I talk to her on my phone. That was the moment when I realized that my smartwatch was the best investment that I have ever made. I can literally leave my phone at home, accidently or on purpose, and still maintain contact with the world. This watch is amazing.
My wife and have been taking walks everyday since the snow melted and the weather has gotten warmer at a forest preserve near our home. Once we started walking my watch vibrated. I raised my arm to look at the watch and I noticed that my watch had started automatically tracking that I was walking. I was blown away. This device recognized that I was engaged in an activity and started monitoring me in real time. Afterwards I looked at my phone and the time, how many miles I walked, calories burned, and the GPS of where I walked was all there.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
I owned the original Galaxy Buds. These are completely on another level. The active noise cancelling is superb. The volume get loud enough that I cannot increase the volume to maximum and still have a pleasant listening experience. The volume levels are balanced in each earbud. The touch controls, which are programmable, are also excellent and responsive.
I also own over the ear headphones and I can honestly say that aside from the times when I am doing professional tasks, these earbuds are more than enough for casual listening to music and phones calls. In addition, they are aesthetically pleasing. The Phantom Black matches the phone and are bad ass!
Samsung Smart Tag
This is a product whose time has finally come. I also recently purchased two (one for my wife and me). I put them on our key rings and immediately tested them by hiding my wife’s keys so that she could find them. The ringtone from the Smart Tag is loud enough to be easily heard in our house. But Samsung did not stop there.
There is a button in the center of the smart tag that is programmable. I also have Phillips Hue smart lights in my home. We usually use the rear door to enter and exit our home. So, what did I do? I programmed the smart tag to turn on the lights in our kitchen. If we are coming home late and the lights are off, I can simply press a button and enter a well-lit house. Could I walk into the kitchen and verbally tell Google to turn the lights on? Yes. But this allows me those precious few extra seconds to turn the lights on before I open the door. That is what makes this tag so ideal. Is it saving my life? No. Is it making my life easier? Absolutely.
All of this brings me to my final point. Samsung has finally created an ecosystem. My phone, tablet, watch, computer, smart tag, earbuds, and smart home are slowly but surely starting to talk to each other. I do not have to buy several objects from different OEMs and hope that they work together. All my devices just work, and they work well.
Traditionally if you wanted this level of integration Apple was your only choice. Samsung is changing the game. I have never been an iOS person, and I never will be. And now I do not have to be. Samsung is providing everything that Apple is offering and then some. Great job Samsung!