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Galaxy reality check: 4 big reasons to avoid Samsung's Android phones

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Samsung’s Galaxy phones may have the best-known brand within Android, but they come with some underemphasized downsides every serious user should consider.
The biggest story in the Android universe this week is the pending arrival of Samsung’s latest and greatest Galaxy flagships — the Galaxy S21 and its various cousins, expected to be unveiled at a virtual event later this morning. The phones will almost certainly be the de facto standard bearers of the high-end Android experience for the months ahead, and they’re all but certain to be among the top-selling premium Android devices of 2021. And yet, as someone who closely studies the Android ecosystem and aims to offer advice about the most advisable experiences available within it, I find myself struggling to wholeheartedly recommend Samsung’s Android products — especially for serious business users — more so with every passing year. And it’s not because of any manner of subjective assessment; it’s because of some glaring, foundational flaws with the real-world experience Samsung provides on its Android-based Galaxy devices. They’re issues that not only impact what it’s like to use Samsung’s phones over the entire time that you own ’em but also impact the all-important areas of privacy and security as it pertains to your personal and/or company-connected data. And while I’m all too aware that I’m likely to get a fair amount of pushback for focusing on these typically underemphasized areas — hey, brand loyalty is a powerful thing these days! — now in particular, this stuff desperately needs to be brought to the forefront. Here, specifically, are four reasons I’d encourage anyone to think twice before committing to a Samsung Android phone. Ads are a mostly unavoidable part of contemporary life, especially when technology is involved. But while Google implements ads into otherwise free online services — an arrangement that’s well publicized and that allows those services to remain free for general use — Samsung goes a step further and actually puts ads into the heart of its high-cost mobile products. And it does so in a way that’s over the top and unacceptably invasive. It’s something we’ve talked about before — from the ads prominently built into Samsung’s system-level Phone app to the endless in-your-face notification nudges pushing everything from new Samsung devices to fee-requiring Samsung apps and services — and it’s an issue that only continues to expand and grow ever more troubling over time.

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