When the iPhone and Android were still young mobile platforms in the early stages of their respective development, there were tons of dramatic differences between them. Apple’s iOS platform was simple and sleek, offering users everything they need without overcomplicating any core functionality. Android, on the other hand, was open and versatile. Sure you could just pick up an Android phone and start using it as-is, but a big part of the draw for tech-savvy smartphone shoppers was how dramatically a person could change practically any part of the user experience.
These days, the two platforms are far more in line than they were back then. Android is still open source and fully customizable, but it has been streamlined and simplified over the years. Meanwhile, iOS has gained tons of new functionality that makes the mobile platform more versatile than ever. Moving back and forth between them doesn’t necessarily involve making any huge sacrifices one way or the other. This is meaningful today because Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 lineup just became available for preorder, and it’s aimed squarely at the ultra-premium flagship smartphone segment that Apple currently dominates. The cheapest Galaxy S20 phone costs $1,000, while the high-end Galaxy S20 Ultra with its incredible new quad-lens camera and 100x zoom climbs as high as $1,600. Interestingly, it’s also the first new Android phone in a long time that has me wondering if I could ever make the switch to Google’s mobile platform.
As an iPhone user ever since I ditched Symbian and switched to the original iPhone back in 2007, I’m not sure any new Android phone has ever beckoned me quite like the Galaxy S20 Ultra. I think one of the main reasons has to do with the design since Apple is still using a smartphone design that’s almost three years old now. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is as modern as it gets, with a gorgeous all-screen design and a hole-punch selfie camera. Of course, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is much more than just a pretty face.
The camera is the main attraction on Samsung’s new flagship phablet, with its 108-megapixel sensor that captures detail like nothing we’ve seen before on a smartphone. Add in 10x optical zoom and 100x hybrid zoom, and you’ve got a camera experience that Apple might not match for years. Then you can also toss 16GB of RAM into the mix, which is beyond tempting right now. Apple had huge RAM management issues with iOS 11 before fixing them with iOS 12. Similar issues then plagued iOS 13 once again until a recent update, and it’s getting rather tiresome. If Apple didn’t skimp quite as much on RAM, this might be less of an issue.
I currently use an iPhone 11 Pro and it’s a fantastic phone. To be quite frank, however, there is absolutely nothing about the handset itself that keeps me as an iPhone user. Instead, Apple was smart enough to realize early on that the surrounding ecosystem and services are what lock users in. I have an iPhone, an Apple Watch, and a Mac, and there’s just no way I could ever abandon the incredible and deep integrations between them or the wonderfully intuitive services that Apple offers to support them.
Samsung made the bizarre strategic decision in 2020 to abandon its best-selling Galaxy S tier — the “entry-level flagship” Galaxy S10e — and offer only ultra-premium Galaxy S20 phones at sky-high prices. Several analysts including the top mobile insider on the planet believe that Samsung’s sales slump will continue and that the Galaxy S20 series will sell fewer units over its lifetime than the Galaxy S10 series. Samsung’s smartphone business has been in decline for a while now, and industry watchers seem to agree that the Galaxy S20 isn’t going to help stop the slide. I agree, and I think it was a huge mistake for Samsung to only target the ultra-premium smartphone segment that Apple continues to dominate.