Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Samsung offers more device options than Apple, including foldables and products like fridges and TVs.
  • Samsung’s tech rivals Apple’s in quality and performance, often with better screens, more RAM, and more versatility.
  • Galaxy devices now integrate as well as Apple’s, with features like Quick Share and Samsung DeX for improved productivity.

For a long time, Samsung did not pay as much attention to detail as Apple, had less of an ecosystem, and had fewer well-rounded devices. But all of this has changed. Skeptical? Here are areas where Samsung has managed to catch up and some where the company has pulled far ahead.

Samsung’s Galaxy Holds Far More Devices

Person taking a selfie using the rear cameras on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

Back when Apple only offered one or two iPhone models, Samsung offered phones in any size or budget you could want. The same is true of tablets. Nowadays, Apple’s lineup has gotten more complex, but Samsung still has more choices.

Samsung now has foldable phones, such as the Galaxy Z Fold and the Galaxy Z Flip. One is a book-style foldable, and the other is a flip. Apple offers neither. Want a phone with a built-in stylus? Get a Galaxy S Ultra. Apple doesn’t do that sort of thing, either.

For the Apple Watch, there is the Samsung Galaxy Watch. For the AirPods, there’s the Galaxy Buds. For MacBooks, there are Samsung laptops running Windows. Or you can launch Samsung DeX on a Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra (a tablet with a screen as big as a laptop’s) and connect a keyboard. Both companies will sell you monitors, keyboards, and mice.

Samsung doesn’t yet have an answer to Apple’s Vision Pro VR headset, so there’s that (though connecting a pair of Xreal glasses to your phone may be close enough). Yet we’re still only scratching the surface of what Samsung sells. You can fill your entire home with Samsung appliances. Samsung TV isn’t something you plug into a TV—it’s an actual TV. Samsung is further along at selling you all the things.

The Devices Are Often Best In Class

Person holding the S Pen against the back of the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

​Put both companies’ most powerful phones against each other: iPhone 15 Pro Max versus the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. Samsung offers a better screen (it’s Apple’s screen supplier, after all, as reported by 9to5Mac). Samsung provides more RAM. It offers faster charging speeds. On other measures, there isn’t a clear winner, but many reviewers give the edge to Samsung.

As for tablets? The Samsung Galaxy S9 Ultra is larger even than the iPad Pro, with a 14.6-inch screen versus 12.9, and just as premium. There are quite a few reasons to choose a Samsung tablet over Apple’s. Whether the Android app ecosystem can compete with Apple’s is a different question, but it has become the more important one.

That’s because when it comes to hardware, the gulf just isn’t there. If you’re considering an Apple Studio Display, you may be just as well served by the Samsung Viewfinity S9. Apple devices work best with other Apple devices by design. But if you just want the best hardware, Samsung’s product is usually in the running, and you won’t find yourself left with fewer features for choosing Windows as you often are with Apple products.

Samsung’s (Promised) Support Cycle Is Now as Long

One of Apple’s strengths is that if you buy an iPhone, it will last for years. You can pass an old phone down to your kids. You can resell it for decent money. All of this is possible because Apple has long supported its devices for several years when the industry standard was two.

Samsung is now trying to match Apple in this area. Devices released in 2023 will receive four years of major OS updates, and those launched in 2024 are promised seven years of major updates.

It remains to be seen if Samsung keeps its word, but on paper, this is one advantage of Apple’s that is starting to fade away. Samsung’s stores aren’t anywhere near as ubiquitous as Apple’s, but they are among the most widely repairable phones at third-party retailers. Plus, with Samsung’s ongoing trade-in programs, you can expect not to pay anywhere near full price for the latest phones if you opt to stick with Samsung.

Galaxy Devices Play Just as Well Together

If you have an iPhone and you use iCloud, all of your files appear on your other Apple devices. Your AirPods switch between devices and automatically know which one is playing audio. You can launch an app on your phone and continue using it on your tablet. You can use your iPad as an external display for your MacBook. You can use your Apple Watch as a view finder for your camera. You can use your iPhone as a webcam. You get the idea.

But you can now do all of this on Samsung devices as well. Some of these features are only available when using Samsung hardware. Others are part of Android in general. For example, Quick Share, formerly Nearby Share, is Android’s answer to Apple’s AirDrop. It works on any Android device, not just Samsung’s. For more, take a glance at Samsung’s Continuity guide.

It’s not the case that Apple’s implementation is always better than Samsung’s or that Samsung is always better than Apple’s. In many cases, once you know the different names each company uses, they function in largely the same way.

Samsung Offers Features Apple Doesn’t

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 in DeX dock.
Bertel King / How-To Geek

Let’s start with Samsung DeX. This is a desktop mode that allows you to use your phone or tablet as a PC. DeX is an under-advertised feature that is a true advantage Samsung has over most other Android devices and Apple alike.

Multitasking on larger Galaxy devices (such as book-style foldables and tablets) is easier than just about any other mobile device. You can shrink any app down into a window, and you can minimize that window into a chat bubble. You can have multiple apps on screen at one time and use a taskbar to switch between them. You can have a dock that lives on the side of the screen, accessible at any time with a swipe. If you have an S Pen, the “Glance” feature is essentially picture-in-picture for any app so that an app in the corner remains easily accessible as you switch between other apps in the background.

An iPhone or iPad’s advantage is its app ecosystem—Samsung’s advantage is its interface. You’re more likely to find an awesome piece of software that enhances your productivity in the Apple App Store, but if Android does have all you need, Samsung’s UI lets you work with those apps in more versatile ways than just about any other platform aside from Linux.

Since Samsung doesn’t offer a traditional desktop operating system, it integrates heavily with Microsoft’s. Phone Link allows you to mirror your phone on your Windows PC and run any Android app. Once a connection is established, you can easily share files across both devices. We may most often talk about Samsung’s hardware, but software has quietly become Samsung’s strength.

Samsung’s Garden Doesn’t Come With Walls

Apple only releases a product after it has been designed with integration with other Apple gadgets in mind. Samsung has been making a wide variety of things for decades, and it’s only relatively recently that the company has made these devices do a better job of interacting with each other.

What this means is that you can be a Windows user and get full functionality out of your Samsung monitor. Your Samsung TV will still be a great TV if you switch phones. Samsung Galaxy Buds come with a few exclusive benefits for Samsung phones, but they’re good buds on any phone (to be fair, AirPods are pretty interoperable, too). If you go all in on Samsung and decide to branch out a few years down the line, most of your stuff will remain at least 90% as useful as it was before.

Samsung treats integration as an add-on to already good devices, not a requirement. Whereas Apple requires you own an iPhone to set up an Apple Watch, you can pair a Galaxy Watch to any Android phone. In short, there are benefits to playing in Samsung’s garden, but you aren’t trapped in it.

There are advantages that come with getting all your tech from the same brand, which is a big part of Apple’s business model. Google is making an effort, but its total hardware offerings just don’t offer the breadth of options and features as Apple or Samsung yet. Companies like OnePlus are also trying, but they’re even further behind.

The story is different with Samsung. It can not only compete with Apple, but often enough, it’s the better choice.

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By John P.

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