Opinion: Samsung needs better software to compete in the low-end market

In the six years since it first appeared on a commercial device, Android has come a long way, from being (possibly) the most unoptimized of any mobile operating system in history to one that no longer lags at every chance it gets. Google has optimized its performance and made it less demanding on resources with almost every alternate update, and the advancements in mobile processors has also lent a hand in making sure Android offers a much better experience than it could have done even two years ago.

However, with almost every performance-enhancing update to Android, we have seen Samsung (and other manufacturers) impede on the improvements by bloating the OS to extreme proportions. Unless you buy a high-end Samsung smartphone or tablet, the software on the company’s devices has continued to be considerably less optimized than stock Android. Even on a high-end device, turn on the camera, gallery or phone app, and you will be met with long loading times and irritating stutters that make one wonder how the world’s largest mobile manufacturer with so many resources manages to slow down an OS that is otherwise smooth and fast on humble hardware that costs a fraction of Samsung’s flagship phones.

With the Moto G, Motorola proved that a budget Android device doesn’t have to offer a poor experience that see people waiting for things to happen every time they press something on the screen. What drove Motorola to aim for a low price while offering a good experience previously unheard of on low-end devices (well, except on the Lumia 520, though we won’t be talking of that since it runs Windows Phone)? It’s simple – the market is moving away from the glitz of high-end devices with flashy specs and focusing on budget devices, as smartphone growth is set to boom in developing markets like India and Brazil, where a huge number of consumers will be moving on from feature phones and adopting low-cost devices as their first smartphone.

Samsung doesn’t currently acknowledge it, but it will soon have to focus on the same market if it wishes to stay in the game. However, with the software it currently offers on its devices, it’s going to have a tough time giving an experience that the competition (like Motorola, and countless Chinese manufacturers) will provide. Even on the Galaxy S5, while new features might have been few, Samsung did almost nothing to optimize its software, with things like the gallery and camera apps still considerably laggy (compare this to devices like the HTC One M8, where even 5000 photos can’t slow down the gallery app, or Sony’s Xperia Z1, which features less powerful hardware yet has a camera app that is the fastest in all of the Android ecosystem.)

For now, Samsung’s huge marketing machine and brand power will drive millions to buy its devices at all price points, but sooner or later, the company is going to have to do something about the software experience. All its new Exynos processors or software features cannot do a thing if actually using the device isn’t a fluid experience like it is on devices running stock Android (or even devices running custom Android skins like Sony’s).

Admittedly, with so many add-on features, it’s perhaps not possible to bring Samsung’s software as close to the performance of unadulterated Android, but when you see a flagship device like the Galaxy Note 3 lagging when you’re doing as something as simple as changing the shooting mode in the camera app, it’s simply a case of a company ignoring a huge underlying problem.

We all know how it turned out for Nokia once it started ignoring the trends in the market, and while Samsung has showed more competence in reading market trends, it could soon be looking on from the sidelines if it doesn’t manage to fix the glaring issues on its software, software that is currently running on more than a hundred million devices.

Opinion 14

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8 months 2 days ago

marshmallow vry bad version i want chnge this stupid version i want install again lollipop 5.0.1 in my galaxy note4 n910c variant download from whare i dont see the link will u help me

2 years 10 months ago

A fine article indeed !!

Samsung really need to work on this issue and take that as a TOP MOST PRIORITY.

2 years 10 months ago

Deleting photos from the gallery inside the camera app is slow as a snail. Photo quality is horrendous when viewing them from a PC or via DLNA on a TV. Absurdly the menu in some apps don’t show all of the options unless you manually scroll down. DLNA displays photos on their side and not properly up and down. The calendar often goes to days other then the current day when you open it. Not all of days events display in the day view of the calendar. It’s crazy that you have to click another arrow to see of the day’s events.

2 years 10 months ago

This is behavior from a Verizon Galaxy Note 2 with the vramc3 rom. Supposedly a top of the line product when it was introduced.

2 years 10 months ago

My note 3 is the fastest smoothest most feature packed mobile device I have yet to use. Looks like Sammy did it right there, no? I don’t get the point of this article. Seems bias uninformed. Just because you put the word “opinion” in front doesn’t justify posting it. Quite useless material.

2 years 10 months ago

Well I own a S5 and the camera lags like hell. And not to speak of its gallery., that takes ages to load. The purpose of this article is that Samsung needs to optimize the overall experience of touch with….

2 years 10 months ago

My wife has the S5 as well. Haven’t noticed the lag there either. I guess different experiences for different people. I personally enjoy the Samsung experience on my Note3 and my wife absolutely loves her S5. I know they are high end, but I knew that I wanted a good experience so that is what I payed for. However, sure, I guess all of them could use a little optimization, but not just sammy. Android in general has been chasing this issue for some time and it keeps getting better. Non-the-less, if people want a high end experience, then they must buy a high end device, or maybe a mid-high range device without the bells and whistles. You get a lower end device and you don’t get quite as good of an experience. It’s no different than any other market. Welcome to the massively diverse world of android. I will apologize for my disrespectful remarks above though. That was probably uncalled for.

2 years 10 months ago

The thing is, even I thought it was all okay when I had the Galaxy Note 3. Then I used an Xperia Z1 and then the HTC One M8, and I realized the camera and gallery apps are extremely bad on the Note 3. The same is the case on the S5: you might notice normally, but compare to other devices and you realize the issue.

As for the experience, that’s the thing: Android is at a stage where the experience doesn’t have to be bad on the low-end (even if not that great, either), but with Samsung’s version of Android, it’s not possible. Software isn’t comparable to other markets: there is no rule that lower-end devices must suffer from a bad experience. When it’s possible to give an experience that’s better than what one would expected a low-cost device, companies shouldn’t be shying away from it.

2 years 10 months ago

Basically I cry BOGUS BULLPUCKY on this story. I have 6 Samsung mobile/portable devices. I still have my Galaxy S3 too. Which was recently updated to 4.4 Kit Kat. Seems to me with each update to Android has come a faster running OS. Although I did have some lag issues with original Galaxy S3 over two years ago. It now opens camera and other Apps just as fast as my Galaxy S4. Absolutely no lag or slowness what so ever on my Galaxy Note 3. Now if you don’t hit and hold the home button every once in a while it can lag from attempting to run too many memory hogging Apps. I use that to kill apps I don’t need running!

Because unlike Apple’s iOS still stuck using NeXTStep’s “Preemptive Task Management” Samsung has been able to fully implement pervasive system wide Multitasking. A feature I use a lot with drag n drop and multiwindow features. Even on Galaxy S3, these features all run fine. On Galaxy Note 3 with greater memory, I see absolutely no bogging down ever. I can open many Apps and never even need to open up task management to shut anything down.

This is the whole reason iOS only seems to be faster. Open up an ART app along side the same App on an iPhone 5s and Android’s ART App actually open faster on Galaxy Note 3. Even without any other apps running on both of them (which we know iOS is only ever running one single task or app at a time, unless the app is handling multitasking or multithreading itself. Because iOS is still stacking tasks one on top of the other. They appear faster with most of time Android running many tasks and Apps concurrently while iOS is stuck running ONE and suspending any others till it’s complete or another App or task becomes Active!

iOS 8 even is still only pretending to run a Live Desktop with fake Widgets that are merely momentarily opened with a tab on each icon individually. That’s not the way Widgets work on OS X and it’s certainly not the way they run Linux or the Web either!

Remember Live Widgets are supposed to be connected all the time to the web to operate. Where they are updated and show live information w/o having to touch any of them even with many on the same screen. This why I say it’s Apple’s iOS that needs a new File System (like Linus Torvalds has said), “HFS+ is completely and utter crap”. It also has a date bug waiting to kill it if Apple doesn’t by 2040!

All Apple’s products and software are completely over rated with them running so many smoke and mirror screens, it’s as if second rate magicians or Gypsy Barker Con Artists and snake oil salesmen designed it instead actual developers. Instead of being a Powerful OS like Android based on Linux…. iOS is a iSheep with a fox guarding the henhouse of it’s greatest competitors and stealing features. Well at stealing iMagical Mis-representations of those features! Apple is a Group of Charlatan shareholders too busy stuffing their own pockets to care about what customers really want!

They get away with it, because we have writers who haven’t been able to get it through their thick skulls, that Apple is perhaps the biggest group Con Artists on the Planet!
I’ll stick with Samsung because they are the only company that offers True Choice!!! F*** CrApple….. and all their enslaved back door funded writers who support them!!!

2 years 10 months ago

I don’t even feel like replying to your rant, to be honest. Why? Because the article is about low-end devices, and you’re talking about Note 3, S3 etc., all high-end devices, and iOS, which is also mainly an OS for high-end costly phones.

In the real world, the gallery and camera apps on Samsung phones like the Note 3 and S5 do lag and stutter, which you will realize when using the stock ROM and comparing it to devices like the HTC One M8 or the Xperia Z1 (from last year, not the Z2.) Otherwise, yes, these devices are fast, but only because of their high-end hardware. Try using a Galaxy Tab 3, or a Galaxy Grand, then you will realize just where Samsung’s software stands, compared to stock Android on devices like the Moto G.

No one is writing for Apple. What’s a fact is a fact, and that is Samsung’s software is not at all optimized.

2 years 10 months ago

If this is so, then why do benchmarks normally of near the same hardware, including chips on Samsung’s device, score higher? I’ll take the features and ability to do true system wide pervasive multitasking, drag n drop, multiwindow, PiP, PoP, using both front n back cameras concurrently, Wacom Stylus, etc in Touchwiz over a touchwiz-less…. featureless…. CrApple like retarded experience anyday!

If I want no ability to run the hardware the way Samsung designed a device like Note 3 in stock Android, then I’d just buy CrApple’s Crap instead!

I actually use my Galaxy Note 3 and the Wacom stylus that comes with it. I don’t about having less features just so I don’t have to wait a micro second to include them. Tab 3 and Galaxy Grand aren’t exactly the best selling hardware either. Galaxy S series and Note series are. In fact as a phone series no other company can compare to Galaxy as a whole in being a high end range of devices! Question: who are you anyway, spending more time dissing on Samsung than supporting them?

2 years 10 months ago

samsung need to let us try to remove these blot instead of rooting and new UI of s5 really fast optimized and i also think new low end devices is going to be fast.

2 years 10 months ago

I agree

2 years 10 months ago

thats true… samsung needs to remove blots and allow bootloader unlock as other companies do .. like HTC sony and so on.. this will keep interest in samsung else soon day will come samsung will go down like rocket..

Start thinking samsung world is too fast dont have much time. react fast..