Mossberg: Samsung Galaxy phones are worthy iPhone rivals, except for…

“Samsung, has begun rolling out an impressive new line of iPhone competitors that run on Android,” Walter S. Mossberg writes for The Wall Street Journal.

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“I’ve been testing the first two Galaxy S phones, the T-Mobile Vibrant and the AT&T Captivate, both of which cost $200 with a two-year contract,” Mossberg writes. “Neither has all the features of Apple’s latest model, like a front-facing camera for video calls or an ultra–high resolution screen, but they are worthy competitors.”

MacDailyNews Take: So far, they’re “worthy iPhone competitors” unless you want to do FaceTime video calling or look at a screen that isn’t a mass of noticeable pixels (hence, blurrier/nowhere near as sharp).

Mossberg continues, “For Android phone makers, a key challenge is to differentiate their models from others offering the same operating system. Samsung has chosen to do so by combining a design that’s almost as thin as the iPhone 4 with a generous, four-inch screen. That’s significantly bigger than the iPhone’s 3.5-inch display, but smaller than the huge 4.3-inch screen on the Evo and the new Motorola (MOT) Droid X, which would force the phones to be larger… The screen on the Galaxy S is based on a different technology than those on most other smartphones. It’s called Super AMOLED, and Samsung claims it has better color reproduction, contrast, outdoor visibility and brightness. To my eye, the Galaxy S screens did look very good, but seemed no better, indoors or outdoors, than the iPhone 4’s screen and were slightly less sharp.”

MacDailyNews Take: Dear Mr. Mossberg,

Please make an appointment with your eye doctor ASAP.

If you can’t see the blatant resolution difference between iPhone 4 and Samsung’s Galaxy knockoffs, we very much fear for your eyesight.


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Mossberg continues, “Another nice touch on the Samsung models is a generous amount of internal memory—16 gigabytes—in addition to the common removable memory card, which in this case holds two gigabytes but can be replaced at extra cost with a roomier card. Also, Samsung says the new phones can hold up to two gigabytes of third-party apps, the most I’ve seen on an Android phone, which, unlike the iPhone, places limits on total app storage.”

MacDailyNews Take: So, now they’re “worthy iPhone competitors” unless you want up to 29.1 GB of space for apps (like on our iPhone 4 32GB models) instead of a paltry (not “generous,” Walt, you joker) 2 GB, or about 1/15th the storage space. They’re “worthy competitors” if you like tiny app storage space, noticeably blurrier, pixelated screens and the inability to make FaceTime video calls.

Mossberg continues, “Like other Android phones, the two Samsung models offer around 65,000 third-party apps, including popular titles like the Kindle e-book reader and Facebook. That’s far fewer than the iPhone’s 225,000 available apps, but well above the measly 7,000 or so apps available for the BlackBerry.”

MacDailyNews Take: Nice try, Walt or whoever you are, but the number of BlackBerry apps is neither here nor there when you’re trying to pimp “worthy iPhone competitors.” So, the fact is that these “worthy iPhone competitors” give you access to about 28% of the total number of iPhone apps available, have screens that are noticeably blurrier, are unable to do video calling, and provide users with 1/15th the app storage space (maybe it’s a good thing users have far fewer apps from which to choose).

Mossberg continues, “There are some drawbacks. Like other Android phones, the Galaxy S models don’t come with a program like iTunes, which allows easy synchronization with content on a PC or Mac. I also wasn’t crazy about the home, search and other buttons on these phones, which are found on a panel below the screen but not easily visible until you touch the panel and light the buttons up. That, in effect, means you have to touch twice to use them.”

MacDailyNews Take: So, easily buying, backing up, and organizing your music, apps, books, videos, movies, TV shows doesn’t count for much in Uncle Walt’s world. Apparently, neither does an intuitive, well-executed UI that works flawlessly with the hardware. This leaves us wondering if Walt’s really on vacation and just having someone who doesn’t know how to properly review smartphones slap his name on their half-assed mess. Seriously.

Mossberg concludes, “Still, for consumers who prefer Android, or who—in the case of the Vibrant and the coming Sprint and Verizon versions—would rather not be on AT&T, the Galaxy S phones present an appealing alternative to the iPhone.”

The full misleading review is here.

MacDailyNews Take: Let’s recap, shall we? Someone claiming to be “Walter S. Mossberg” says that Samsung’s Galaxy phones are “worthy competitors” to Apple’s iPhone, but he can’t see the blatant discrepancy between the quality of the screen resolutions (go see that eye doc, whoever you are). Said “worthy iPhone competitors” also can’t do FaceTime (or any other video calling), saddle anyone who made the unfortunate decision to settle for an iPhone knockoff with a mere 1/15 of the app storage as Apple’s iPhone (or 1/7th, in the case of the entry-level iPhone 4 model) and access to a whopping 28% of the total iPhone apps available (the quality of these apps is another thing that’s never discussed, but in our experience, most iPhone apps seem to work better/offer more features than their Android counterparts, when there are Android counterparts with which to compare, of course; 72% of the time, there aren’t).

Now, these “worthy iPhone competitors” also have nothing like iTunes, so there’s no full-featured software and store for organizing, backing up, and downloading music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, university lectures, apps, books, and ringtones. Plus, if your “worthy iPhone competitor” gets bricked by an over-the-air update, they likely have no backup. With an iPhone, just sync it back to iTunes and you’re back in business. These Android devices all have redundant extra buttons on them because the software UI isn’t thought-out anywhere near to the degree that Apple’s is and therefore users are required to click some buttons twice in order to get them to light up and then work. Android phones also do not have built-in iPods. In Walt’s world, that apparently carries no weight. In most people’s, however, the lack of an iPod alone can be the deal breaker.

Did we miss anything? Oh, yeah, the third-party accessory market, including a wide variety of vehicle makers, dock, stereo, case, home automation, medical equipment, and about a million others is woeful compared to the massive, vibrant market that supports Apple’s iOS ecosystem. Plus you have a Samsung or an HTC or a whatever assembling hardware (think Dell, HP, etc.) and you have a Google producing the software, trying to please their “partners,” but failing to delight their users (think Microsoft).

Too many cooks. Again.

Plus all of these screen sizes and resolutions and unique UI overlays drive developers crazy (which may explain why there’s only 28% of the total iPhone apps for Android). Only Apple does it all, so the OS is perfectly tuned to the hardware and developers don’t have to deal with out-of-control fragmentation and a hodgepodge of 50 device assemblers along with a search engine/advertising company trying to make a fake iPhone OS so that people will keep using their search products and therefore continue to load and click on their ads. And what about the Android crapware that’s baked into a lot of these phones, Walt? The stuff you don’t want, but can;t remove? Do these Samsung’s afflict that junk upon their users, too?

That is what this so-called “Walter S. Mossberg” has deemed “worthy iPhone competitors?” Puleeze.

What has The Wall Street Journal done with the real Walt Mossberg and can we please have him back ASAP? This one’s going (or may already be) blind and is not at all discerning enough to be of service to his readership. Not even close. This is a huge disservice actually, and, if Mossberg really did scribble this one, he should be embarrassed. We expect better. If this isn’t really from Mossberg, the WSJ should send whichever community college intern they have writing Mossberg’s summertime reviews back to school (first to the eye doc) and tell Walt that it’s time to get off the beach and back to work!

The extreme overweighting Mossberg gives to things like “deep social-network integration” while seemingly ignoring that most people will want their phone to fit into the case they like, they’ll want their built-in iPod to simply appear on their car’s display, they’ll want to use FaceTime (especially as it becomes more widespread on Macs and iPod touches and iPads), they’ll want the contents of their phones safely backed up on their computers, etc., etc., etc. is laughable. Mossberge needs to go back and approach his reviews from the perspective of real users, like he usually does.

What happens if/when Apple turns on FaceTime in iChat and on iPod touches this fall after you’ve suckered your hapless readers into two-year contracts with Verizon, and stuck them with wannabe iPhones that lack a front-facing camera? Isn’t live video calling really some serious “social-network integration,” Mr. Mossberg?

We feel bad for the people that Mossberg has convinced to settle for a Samsung Galaxy.

Anyone who’s used both an iPhone 4 and any Android phone knows the real score, as does Mossberg it seems, but for some reason, he left it rather unclear to his readers who are average consumers.

We’ve endured 26 years of absolute idiots claiming that Windows was “as good as a Mac” for the average consumer. It was never true. We’re not going to sit around and be silent when people attempt to do the same thing with Android. If Android ever becomes as good or better than the Mac for the average consumer, so be it. Publish it, Mr. Mossberg. We’ll publish it and laud you for doing so, too. We’ll be all over Apple for blowing their lead. But, no Android phone is anywhere near as good as iPhone 4 for the average consumer and nobody should insinuate that any of them are, either by sloppiness or design.

Mossberg should have made iPhone’s superiority crystal clear to the average consumer that he should be trying to serve, especially since he used the word “iPhone” about as many times as he used the word “Android” in his Android phone review.

Instead, as it stands now, Walt Mossberg’s review confuses the average consumer and does them a disservice.

Lastly, we’re very confident: We challenge you to go buy a Samsung Galaxy, hell, go buy a Samsung Universe if you can find one, and try it for as long as you can before you have to return it for a refund. Go get any HTC or any Motorola or any other Android-based phone and do the same. Run them through their paces, really try to use them. Live with them. Then go get an iPhone 4. You won’t be returning your iPhone 4, so do that one last.


  1. My iPhone 4 has 16 gig of memory too. My iPhone 4 has a much better screen and a much better OS which will get even better. I’ll stick with the iPhone thanks Moss.

  2. Walter likes to do this from time to time. He picks a phone that is no real threat at all and pumps it up a few notches. I think he believes it will make him look less Apple bias.

  3. It’s really too bad these mainstream journalists are beholden to such corporations as Samsung, and that they have to be so polite. “Worthy competitor”? Get real. Just as MDN implies, either he’s incompetent or he’s got another agenda. I think it’s the latter, that he’s writing to stir up the competition, without regard to the actual quality of the products themselves. There’s no way a Samsung knockoff can rival the iPhone, and it’s too bad at least some of Mossberg’s readers will buy this thing based on his overly positive review. C’est la guerre, I guess…

  4. Except…If Apple win their lawsuit against HTC, that will be the effective end of Android as is offered. That will leave Samsung with the option of either winmob, rim, symbian or HP Palm. Has Sumsung put all its eggs in one baskety?

  5. It would nice without all the sanctimonious, self-righteous ranting from MDN- since it presupposes that nobody is capable of making a reasoned appraisal of the article without their intrusively rabid fan boy bias everywhere. Sure I accept the bias, but atleast preserve the flow of the article.

  6. So if it’s worse in every metric (except for an extra .5″ screen), and it’s worse in user experience, and it costs the same as an iPhone, why is he playing up the horse race? Just so there’s the appearance of a race?

  7. Back when Windows users used to crow about how they had way more software to choose from than Mac users, MDN used to always reply that it is quality not quantity that’s important. But not anymore. Now, MDN is the one crowing about the sheer number of iPhone apps vs the others. Hypocrisy. 65,000 is a damn lot of apps, and I am quite certain there are a lot of quality apps in each store. So using MDN’s own logic, sheer number of apps is not a valid argument for iPhone superiority. Let’s just stick with the real arguments: The Android OS is still inferior, so is most of the hardware, and so is the hardware/os integration.

  8. I had the chance to look at one of these from a friend who bought one today. It’s a nice phone. It reminds me of the iPhone 3G, so it’s a bit behind the times. But it was snappy!

    I would say yes, that if you’re stuck on the network without an iPhone upgrade available then this would be a worthy option.

  9. Walt is just doing this to protect his “journalist reputation” for even handedness. He’s becoming increasingly viewed as an Apple fanboy and his career would suffer (a lot) if that became the prevailing view. There’s no way the WSJ would keep him in that position, for example.
    BTW, that article wasn’t THAT bad.

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