Establishing a Samsung cellphone remains to be the worst a part of utilizing one

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I’m one of many few fortunate individuals who received his mitts on a Samsung Galaxy S22 earlier than the February twenty fifth launch date, and I will be placing the cellphone by way of its paces in time for a full evaluation within the subsequent week or two. However one factor that struck me — and it wasn’t simply me, as you will see afterward — is simply how messy, incongruous, and outdated it feels to arrange a model new cellphone.

Whether or not you are ranging from scratch or restoring from a backup, there are some things that strike me as absurd default settings to ship on a brand new cellphone within the yr of our lord 2022. I imply, it is so unhealthy that we usually wrap up such grievances right into a nicely-formatted record of the primary issues it is best to change on a brand new Samsung cellphone. Whereas restoring your settings from an older Samsung system will handle a few of the points talked about under, each Samsung person, novice to professional, has to sort out a minimum of just a few of them.

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That is the house display most Samsung customers see out of the field.

First, let’s begin with the plain: Samsung telephones are the one Android telephones that ship, by default, with navigation buttons, a vestige of 2010s cell pedantry that Google has persuaded virtually each different producer to maneuver away from. Gesture navigation has turn into the de facto navigation normal on Android since Google transitioned to it with Android 10 — and started forcing firms to incorporate it alongside the standard 3-button navigation choice — however Samsung continues to tuck it away in a settings menu with out giving individuals the choice to experiment with it.

This would not be as problematic if it have been a smaller firm, however how Samsung chooses to signify adjustments to Android has an outsized impact on the ecosystem at massive, for the reason that firm contains a lot of the platform’s market share as a complete. On-screen navigation buttons have been a needed transitional step between the capacitive buttons of Android’s early days and the low-profile gestures of recent smartphones, and whereas I begrudge nobody the selection to proceed utilizing them, Samsung’s determination to onboard customers with out that autonomy is, in my view, an issue.

I am not the one one who feels this fashion, too. This weekend, we polled over 10,000 individuals, and two-thirds of you employ gestures over on-screen navigation buttons. Clearly the information from an fanatic web site doesn’t essentially correlate to the broader Android person base, however I imagine that if Samsung led individuals down a unique path throughout onboarding, that quantity can be significantly larger.

Buddy of the location, Michael Fisher (aka MrMobile), posed the identical factor on Twitter final week, and received a equally various set of responses as our personal ballot.

The response to the above tweet is attention-grabbing: lots of people point out they proceed utilizing nav buttons attributable to inertia, or as a result of they do not like change, or as a result of they have not given themselves the prospect to get used to gesture navigation. Samsung might do what Motorola does, although, and supply a guided tour of the characteristic upon startup, ending the tutorial with a selection to stay with gestures or revert to on-screen buttons. Individuals stick with the defaults they’re used to, and on this case they do not see some other choices.

It’s a must to set the app drawer to kind alphabetically… in 2022.

Then there’s the still-perplexing determination to permit chaos to proceed to reign within the One UI app drawer. I will not even begin on the truth that Samsung’s app drawer nonetheless scrolls horizontally like some UX jigsaw puzzle, however the usual conduct to fill within the app record by most up-to-date set up — which, on a newly-restored cellphone, means in no order in any respect — is mind-bending.

Staying on the house display for a second, I am additionally going to attempt to preserve calm about the truth that, even in spite of everything these years, Samsung’s primary dwelling display structure wastes extra space than a foul Android pill app. Two app shops, a Google-mandated folder filled with Google apps, and (in most international locations, a minimum of) what quantities to a sponsored folder filled with Microsoft companies that duplicate Google’s defaults (apart from LinkedIn, which… yeah). A Google search bar and an outsized climate widget. I am no designer, but when it was minimalism Samsung was after right here, it is failed (see the aforementioned two folders value of apps).

Samsung’s keyboard has no enterprise being this unhealthy.

My final gripe is certainly the least critical, but it surely speaks to the corporate’s half-hearted want to work with Google whereas holding one foot within the software program world. No, I am not speaking about how Bixby remains to be a factor, and enabled by default once you maintain the house button, however the firm’s horrible keyboard, which continues to ship as some relic of the previous when each Gboard and SwiftKey (owned by Google and Microsoft, respectively) exist and are worlds higher. The inclusion of a Samsung-powered keyboard is sensible on the corporate’s Galaxy Z Fold 3, which requires separate layouts for the inner and exterior shows (one thing Gboard desperately wants as Google preps its personal foldable), however on the preferred Android cellphone on earth? Not a lot. Simply as Google has confirmed time and time once more, its Android apps are normally higher than Samsung’s, and the on-screen keyboard is not any exception.


None of that is endemic to the expertise of utilizing a Samsung cellphone typically, although, and is comparatively simple to alter with a little bit of know-how and a few menu-diving. Certainly, the Galaxy S22 collection seems to be among the many greatest Android telephones of 2022. However that is precisely my level: One UI has come thus far, diverted a lot from the brutal legacy of TouchWIZ, that these Home windows XP-like remnants really feel particularly egregious upon first boot. It is like beginning a recreation at 80% well being.

As somebody who’s used mainly each Samsung flagship, none of those issues are insurmountable, and it takes me just some minutes of tweaking to get issues the place I would like them. However my concern is for the typical cellphone person, the one who simply buys a Samsung cellphone as a result of they’ve all the time purchased Samsung telephones, this messy onboarding expertise places them at an pointless deficit, one which, with a little bit of steering and a few delicate UX tweaks, may very well be prevented.

Samsung is Android to lots of people, and an envoy for the model. Google has pushed again at instances in opposition to what it considers unhealthy UX hygiene, and cajoled its largest {hardware} accomplice at different instances by convincing the Korean big that Google’s apps and companies aren’t value competing with. Google might pressure navigation gestures on individuals, but it surely will not and should not, as a result of selection is significant to Android’s tradition.

However each little factor Samsung chooses to languish on — see the corporate’s lone insistence on not supporting Android’s seamless updates — or ignore in favor of sustaining so-called legacy experiences holds Android again in minor however significant methods.

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