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March 13, 2016

From the Editor’s Desk: It’s true … all of it

by John_A


There’s that line in “The Force Awakens” where Han Solo gives the tl;dr of everything you missed so far. “It’s true. All of it.” Great line. I’ve seen the movie twice and the trailers a bunch of times, and somehow something always managed to get in my eye the when he said it. Weird.

Anyway. I was thinking back on something I said a few weeks ago, about Samsung simply playing on a different level as the other smartphone manufacturers. They’ve got the hardware pretty much nailed. (I’ll be interested to see if they manage to get rid of the antenna lines in the metal edges like LG has done in the G5.) The software is tolerable. I get all the residual hate for TouchWiz, and I definitely still have a few gripes (and the music controls on the lock screen and favorite contacts in the dialer are two disappointingly under-designed spots) — but I don’t think anyone can argue that this is the best Samsung’s done with software. But they really have to got to sell this thing outright in the U.S., outside the carrier system. So. Much. Junk.

Wherein I conclude that the GS7 is that good for me, and that the Android N Developer Preview isn’t for everyone.

Look at the marketing. Who else does as good (and as expensive) a job as Samsung at this point? Only Apple. LG is spending a lot of money on a phone folks can’t get for another month. And the ad spots are a little goofy at that. I’m still very much looking forward to spending some time with the G5 (should have one very soon), but let’s face it — it’s just not on the same plane of existence.

Also: I’m pretty damn proud of how my Galaxy S7 review turned out, as well as Andrew’s Galaxy S7 edge review — especially given the logistical hurdles involved. (We had our company-wide all-hands retreat smack in the middle of all that.)

Another thing that is true: The Android N Developer Preview is here, and it’s probably not for you. Unless you’re a developer. Or are comfortable with flashing images on a Nexus device. If you don’t know how to do the latter, there’s no better time to learn. (And we’re going to help with that some more real soon.) I’ve long warned against using Nexus “toolkits” that do the work for you for that very reason. The principle of factory images isn’t all that difficult, nor are the commands to get things going. And it’s sort of like riding a bike. Once you can do it, you don’t really lose it.

I’m torn on the existence of over-the-air updates for a developer beta. It’s great that it’s available to more people now, and horrible that it’s available to more people now. (A broken OTA for some folks early on made that perfectly clear.)

And it’s also true that we need to make a very clear distinction: There are things that are new in Android N that will affect Android as a platform, and there are details new in the N Preview as seen on Nexus devices. Those are two very different things, and Nexus devices still make up a tiny (but important) fraction of what’s out there today.

A few other things that are true:

  • What’s next for Nexbit now that the hype train’s left town?
  • I’m back on the LG Watch Urbane. The display isn’t as nice as the Huawei Watch, but I love the heft of it with the large bracelet I’m also wearing.
  • Welp, I think the commenters pretty much got this one right. We’ll have our more thorough camera shootout up this week.
  • Interesting commentary in this AndroidGuys piece.
  • And that’s why we have the “About this review” section in every review we do. We’re transparent about where the device came from, how we used it and where we used it.
  • We tell you whether the phone is a review unit, or a retail unit, or if it fell off the back of a truck in Dubai. And we tell you the software version it’s on. (Those things sometimes can matter a great deal before a phone is released.) But in the case of the GS7, the review units essentially are retail units. Exact same software on the Verizon model I bought.
  • We also tell you exactly how long we’ve been using phone before publishing the review. And even then we’re usually writing right up to the last minute. We don’t do 24-hour reviews (anymore).
  • (Or 48-hour reviews of new Nexus devices.)
  • How long is long enough? We generally say a week is bare minimum for a good review. Longer is usually better. But we’ve been doing this a long time. We can properly review a phone in a week. (I had the GS7 for 10 days before our review went live.)
  • But sometimes issues pop up later. That’s why we often do multiple reviews of a phone. Early second opinions. Follow-ups after a month or two of use.
  • Not every phone gets that treatment, sure. Some are one-offs. But you better believe the important ones aren’t just skimmed over.
  • And if anyone wants to know just how much money we’ve spent on actually purchasing phones, just DM me. But that’s not the sort of thing you generally talk about polite company. (Or, if I’m lucky, our accountant.)
  • And I think the really cool thing is how our review process has greatly changed over time. We’ve gotten so much better at it. (It’s painful reading back on some of our older reviews.) Growing is fun.

That’s it for this week. So much on our plates, but so much fun to be had. Catch y’all Monday.


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