It’s 2014, Samsung. Why does your software still lag, even on a flagship device?

It’s 2014. The market for smartphones has matured to a point where specs do not really matter. Instead, it’s the software on devices that decides what kind of experience users get and just how useful the device is in complementing their lives. Android has reached a point where even $100 devices run fast enough and do most of the things that a flagship device can do, so why is it that the software on Samsung smartphones is still so slow and laggy?

I’m not one to limit myself to devices from a single company. Ever since I lost my Galaxy Note 3 earlier this year, I’ve been on a rollercoaster ride of sorts, going through no less than three flagship smartphones from other companies. I started with the Sony Xperia Z1, followed it up with the HTC One M8, and finally settled on the OnePlus One for a month or so before buying the Galaxy Note 4 as soon as it launched in my country.

Using those devices from Sony, HTC, and OnePlus and then switching to the Galaxy Note 4 was an eye-opening experience. What I noticed on the Note 4 from the moment I started using it was the insane amount of lags, stutters, and waiting times for things to happen. The Galaxy Note 3 was a fast device, but it had a camera and gallery app that were utterly slow. Many have pointed out that the gallery and camera apps on their Samsung devices run absolutely fine, but I’m not sure those who say that have used smartphones from other manufacturers in the last year or so.

On the Note 4, things are worse. While the camera app is a bit faster, the gallery app is still painfully slow at loading images. But that’s not the worst part. The Note 4 even takes a second or two to wake up when I press the home or power button when the screen is off, often making me wonder if I pressed said button properly or not (S Voice is turned off and disabled, so that isn’t the reason for the delay.)

Once past the lockscreen, there are a few stutters and lags in general usage as well. For example, the recent apps menu takes up to two seconds to show up, and scrolling through the apps in the recent apps screen is very jittery. Then there’s the settings menu. Every time you open the settings menu, you can expect to be met with stutter when scrolling through it, though it becomes smooth after a few seconds.

Software optimization was never Samsung’s strong suit, and on the Galaxy Note 4 it’s far worse than what it was on the Galaxy Note 3. Sure, I understand the higher screen resolution puts more load on the processor and GPU, but maybe Samsung should have stayed on Full HD and instead focused on bringing its software up to the mark first? A flagship device, in 2014, should be extremely fast, fluid and lag-free, but it seems Samsung just doesn’t seem to care about how fast its software is, as long as it can cram a lot of features and functionality and parade them as bullet points for their marketing campaign.

In terms of functionality, the Note 4 is a killer device and the best phablet in the market today, but using it as my main device hasn’t given me the flagship feel that I got from even the year-old Xperia Z1, or the HTC One M8, which remained extremely fast and smooth even after six months of use. I have written before that Samsung needs to optimize TouchWiz if it intends to go after the low-end market, but if its flagship devices can’t match what the competition is now offering, I wonder if the budget market will see Samsung as a dominant player ever again.

It’s 2014, Samsung, and maybe its time you stopped running after mind-blowing hardware like a Quad HD display and instead focused on making your software as fast, smooth and jitter-free as it should be in this day and age. Apple does it, Google does it, even a small company like HTC did it (Sense 6 is the fastest manufacturer UI out there), and with the resources at your disposal, maybe you can too.

Opinion 63

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1 year 7 months ago

You obviously had a defective note 4 defective, I use one for nearly 1 year now and it doenst lag nearly as much as you say, except on rare occasions , but this is completely acceptable even in a flagship android devide. Now especially with the update I made about two months ago, Android 5.1.1 it’s faster than ever. I compared it side by side with a note 5 at the store and did not see any difference . So I’m sure your note 4 was defective . Just be careful when you create articles to defame certain flagship . People get offended and rightly so.

2 years 2 months ago

It’s end of March 2015, my Galaxy S4 LTE has received 5.0.1 update and the story is still the same. STUTTER!!

Do you just send phone after testing it with Default Messaging App and Phone Calls? If so, please try using Google+, Chrome, Subway Surf and the list goes on.

Samsung, please fix your Touchwiz or don’t send Touchwiz with your phones at all, period.

2 years 3 months ago

Very immature column!
Just answer me which smartphone you uses the most?
If its Samsung than answer is very clear, its productivity device very addictive device for one person, certainly have many processes running on it.
If its other than Samsung than you don’t know the worth of the device, pick up your favorite device and start killing the processes which are excess in Samsung compared to your device then check the speed.
Obviously a giant processor handling handful of job will be always more responsive than the processor busy in personalizing with person itself.
Having said that apps response optimization is area for improvement for Samsung. And knowing how to maintain your device is more important, as important as maintenance of your house, vehicle, health/ body etc.
(User of iPhone, HTC & Moto X)

2 years 5 months ago

just root ur devices and delete the bloatware u dont want.. i dont like the cyanogenmod releases or other roms… i like the spen features. I mean: its a Note!

2 years 5 months ago

This is a hardware issue; exynos takes time to wakeup from deep sleep

Cant do anything about it; unless you want to use a wakelock to disable deep sleep (softlocker free can be used from the play store) at the cost of battery backup

2 years 5 months ago

I agree with this article. I’ve had my Note 4 for about 3 days now. Extremely disappointed with it’s performance. Web browsing is jittery, scrolling my facebook feed is jittery, zipping around the UI often stutters. It’s just not on considering the raw power that is packed in this thing. I still have a One M8 and its so much snappier and nicer to use. What the hell is Samsung doing?! I think I’ll sell mine to be completely honest.

2 years 6 months ago

the article is justified, and most of the comments too, there will lag in some degree in any flagship phone, android, windows or iphone, but the article is damn right about SAMSUNG, is 2014 and you can generate lag on almost any samsung TW falgship device.

2 years 6 months ago

Hi all,
100% agree with the critics.
I am using a moto g (2013) and the note 4.
Moto G is very fast and lag free. Note 4 is slow and lags. Verz annoying using the phone app, home button, recent apps. I serve the note 4, it doesn’t serve me. Moto G serves me. Moto G does the everyday job much better.
Its a pity but truth.

2 years 7 months ago

Hi All,

After years on an iPhone I finally made the much anticipated to Android with the Note 4 (Snapdragon version). I have been using the phone for around a week now and learning heaps along the way, but I have to say much of what the author mentioned has happened to me. Screen wake up time was taking 5 seconds or more to load, phone was unresponsive when I took the phone off my ear to hang up. This was certainly not the experience I was expecting coming to such a high end phone. Play Store even crashed multiple times when I first got the phone and was an installing rampage to get all my apps installed. The contacts app had a bit of lag, and another annoying thing that happened was the SMS app kept crashing.

After reading many of the comments in this thread, I stumbled onto at least one of my major gripes which was to remove the Unlock effect. Since I have done that the phone has been amazingly responsive. I also disabled the animated wallpaper I was using on the home screens for safe measure.

As for the contacts and sms issue, I have only started tinkering with the Contacts+ app and hopefully that solves all my woes.

2 years 7 months ago

I spoke to soon!!! It seemed much more responsive after I made the above changes to the animations. But all the lag issues came back the following day and I am back to trying to figuring out how to eliminate this issue.

2 years 7 months ago

Yes!!! Is so bad my old S2 i9100 have less lag than my current S4 i9505….

2 years 7 months ago

So I have read each and everyones comment and I have noticed a trend and I’m surprised i’m the only one that has notice this, it seems to me that most of the commenters that says this article is bull has the Exynos edition of the phone, the Exynos has 8 cores and the performance is way better than the snapdragon 4 cores. So for the commenters that have the Exynos processor congratulations you have the perfect phone, this article is not for you, this article is for the people that has to deal with the crappy snapdragon or maybe the snapdragon chip isn’t to blame, maybe sammy didn’t do a good enough job optimizing the UI for the snapdragon like they did the Exynos, hopefully they come out with updates to fix this but who know, I’m keeping my fingers cross. But to me this Article hit the nail on the head, I agree with everything the author has said, I’ve experienced everything he has said and this is coming Samsung fanboy, with all the gripes I have with this phone I can’t see myself using any other phone but they really need to do a better job at optimizing the UI for the Snapdragon or just get rid of Snapdragon all together and focus all their energy on the Exynos chip, I would love to get my hands on a T-Mobile Exynos edition Note 4.

2 years 7 months ago

Seems that Google’s Android isn’t Samsung’s answer to Software optimization.

2 years 7 months ago

There will be lag on everything no matter where you go. Whether it’s an Android device, Apple device or even a Computer for that matter. No program will perform like every other program out there some with be fast other painfully slow. I’ve gone from a laggy S3 to a blazingly fast Note 4 and to be honest I have had nothing but great things to say about the device. I’ve stayed with Samsung because their ideals appeal to me plain and simple. Yes they need to optimize their Touchwiz abit but we will see what happens with the Android 5.0 does with 64-bit enabled. Unfortunately the Note 4 hasn’t got a 64-bit processor with Snapdragon but it would help with newer devices.

2 years 7 months ago

That’s the problem. You haven’t used anything but a Samsung device so you don’t know what you’re missing. And anything will seem “blazingly fast” compared to an S3.

2 years 7 months ago

I’m agree I’m a Note 4 owner but the answer is will it change? Or Samsung will always doing so?

2 years 7 months ago

Samsung, tüm donanım üstünlüğüne rağmen özellikle ram kullanımından kaynaklandığını düşündüğüm bir yavaşlamaya ve laga sahip. Aslında bu touchwizden kaynaklanan bir sorun gibi. Touchwiz donanımlarla örtüşmüyor ve onların bir şekilde yanıt sürelerini gecikmeye uğratıyor gibi. İleri seviyede bir android sistem geliştiricisi değilim ama bilgisayar teknik servisi konusunda çok tecrübem var. O yüzden bu lag konusunu da bu şekilde yorumladım ve tabiki türkçe yazdım sorry :))

2 years 7 months ago

100% agree.I have used Xperia Z2 and Z3,htc M7,also tried nexus devises.Samsung’s software is the worst even using 20 quors and 20g ram but nothing of this huge specs matters ofcource.Samsung must pay for a software Seminar to Apple and HTC to see how you make a smooth,total lag free and fast devise.I am a amoled lover,Samsung amoled is the best,so if i wasent so stuck with amoled’s deffinatly i would choose HTC M8.

2 years 7 months ago

Due to the poor touchwiz ,I can not expect more. Even Samsung goes bankrupt , those issues will not be solved. A company cares little about the users’experience . I cannot believe why dialer needs 2-3s to launch completely .

2 years 7 months ago

Its on the optimisation therefore it will take time to iron all the bugs, and all operating systems are suffering from this issue until its patched and bugfixed.

2 years 7 months ago

There’s no doubt about the authenticity of this post. All those who deny havent really used any of the latest Sony’s UI or HTC one or any stock android like nexus and motorola for that matter. If we focus on “LAGS”, they are typical of samsung especially in the gallery, camera, settings app, s health, s note and almost anywhere when compared; precisely when compared. But “STUTTERS” occur now and then in almost all devices, differently but its there, even ios stutters once in a while. The market has started to turn its back on samsund for this reason. They have ignored the user’s complaints like for over 2 years now. And the proof is in the declining sales figures. Aplle has a winner with bigger screens, so can samsung nail it with a faster and cleaner UI.

2 years 7 months ago

No, they haven’t ignored. Both the Alpha and Note 4 have made great improvements. To the point where the Note 4 actually beats the Iphone 6 Plus in a 2 lap comparison run in which several apps and menus are started and reloaded. That includes the gallery, settings menu, recent apps menu and camera. None of the “huge lag” mentioned by the OP present.
For proof, see the Phonebuff Note 4 vs Iphone 6 Plus speed comparison on Youtube.

2 years 7 months ago

i change dalvik mode to art in developers menu and im really satisfy they are no lag is minim and is very fast try if you want and say me if you are satisfy they are only one problem the shealt app is not working for me other apps they are no problem

2 years 7 months ago

It looks the wake up speed depends on the Unlock effect set in the Lock Screen settings. Set it to “None” for max speed. I used to have the “Watercolour”and it really takes a long time initialize. Especially from a deep sleep. I also disabled Pedometer and Weather. The weather has not been shown anyway, despite it was enabled. Probably a bug. It works well in the widget, but takes time sometimes to update, so it could be connected to the lock screen slowdown as well.

2 years 7 months ago

i think more people should comment below for samsung to take consideration of lag of its touchwiz

2 years 7 months ago

I am going with note series only because of s pen. I am having a great experience with s pen. I think samsung devices lag because of the tons of features they are providing with touchwize. If samsung make faster launcher then their devices are unbeatable

2 years 7 months ago

Thank you for writing this column. After two years of touchwiz, software lag is the main reason I will be picking up a Google Nexus 6 over the Note 4. Those Samsung users who think touchwiz doesn’t lag, do yourself a favour and pick up one of the other flagships as suggested by the columnist. The difference is night and day.

2 years 7 months ago

I agree too. Galaxy phones feel so much faster with different rom. Please read this Samsung!

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