Why I traded my Samsung Galaxy S4 for the iPhone 6 Plus: a history

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I have owned portable computing devices worn on the hip since I got my HP 200LX in 1994.  I remember going to Circuit City the day the first Palm Pilot was released to grab one. Afterwards I drove up to Woodstock to meet a friend and hike up Overlook Mountain in the Catskills after a nice lunch at a local bistro. Over the years I have also owned (just handhelds):

  • Palm Pilot 1000 (two of them)*   Grade B
  • Palm Pilot Personal (later upgraded to Professional) Grade B (then A)
  • Palm III*** Grade A
  • Palm IIIxe Grade A
  • Handspring Visor Deluxe (Blue)**** Grade A
  • IBM Workpad C3 (Palm Vx)*** Grade A
  • Casio A-11 WinCE HPC* Grade F
  • Casio E-11 Palm-Sized PC** Grade D
  • Uniden PSPC* Grade F
  • NEC Mobilepro 450*** Grade B
  • Sharp Mobilon 4600** Grade C
  • HP 660LX HPC* (2 of them) Grade C
  • HP Jornada 680** Grade B
  • HP Jornada 545*** Grade A
  • Psion Series 5* Grade B
  • OnHand watch computer*   Grade D
  • Xircom Rex 3 DS (two of them)** Grade C
  • Psion Series 5mx* Grade B
  • SonicBlue Diamond Mako* Grade B
  • NEC Mobilepro 770 Grade B
  • Sony Clie PEG610N, 8 MB RAM, Palm OS Grade A***
  • HP Jornada 690 Grade B**
  • Intermec 6651 Grade A-**
  • Sony Clie SJ33, 16 MB RAM, Palm OS 4 Grade A***
  • HP Jornada 720 Grade C**
  • Tidalwave PIC-1000 Palmbook Grade B
  • Prolinear PIC-3000 Palmbook 386SXLV Grade D****
  • Psion Series 5MX
  • Palm Zire 71, 16 MB, Palm OS, VGA camera Grade C+
  • Sony Clie TH-55, 32 MB RAM, Palm OS 5, WiFi, VGA camera, HiRes+ Grade A***
  • PalmOne Treo 650, 32 MB RAM, Palm OS 5, smartphone, VGA camera, Grade A***
  • Dell Axim X51v, Windows Mobile 5, 256 MB ROM, 64 MB RAM, VGA screen, wifi Grade B+
  • Palm Treo 700p, 128 MB RAM, Palm OS 5, smartphone, 1 MP camera, Grade A-****
  • HTC Touch Pro, 256 MB RAM, WinMobile 6.0 smartphone, 3 MP camera, Grade C-
  • OQO Model 02, VIA-1.5 GHz, 1 GB RAM, 60 GB HD, 5” 800 X 480 screen, XP Pro, 1 lb, Wifi abg, BT Grade A+***
  • Fujitsu U820, 1.6 GHz Atom, 1 GB RAM, 60 GB HD, WXGA, Vista Home Premium, WiFi, GPS Grade B-
  • Apple iPod Touch 1G 16 GB Grade B
  • Apple iPod Touch 2G 16 GB Grade A-***
  • Nokia N810 Internet Tablet, Maemo 2008, WVGA screen, slide-out keyboard, GPS Grade B-
  • Viliv S5 MID, 1.3 GHz Atom, 1 GB RAM, 60 GB HD, XP Home, 4.8” WSVGA, BT, WIfi, GPS, car kit Grade C+
  • Motorola Droid, 16 GB, Android 2.1, smartphone, 5 MP camera, WVGA, Grade A+ (F after it fell apart within the year)***
  • Viliv N5, 1 GB, 32 GD SSD, 1.3 GHz Atom, 4.8” WSVGA, Win7Basic, BT, WiFi, GPS             Grade B-
  • Apple iPhone 4, Verizon, 32 GB model, 5 MP cam, RetinaDisplay Grade A
  • Apple iPhone 4S, 64 GB model, 8 mp cam, RetinaDisplay, Siri   Grade A****
  • Samsung Galaxy S4, 16 GB model, 13 MP cam, Android Jelly Bean –> KitKat Grade A-***  (later B- as it slowed down and started glitching)
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus (128 GB, 8 MP IS camera, 5.5” HD LCD, iOS 8)  Grade A

Yes, I keep a running list of every computer gadget I have ever owned that I update when I get a new one. * means I owned it less than a week, ** means I owned it less than a month, *** means I owned it over a year and **** means I owned it more than two years.

I got my Treo 650 in 2005, my first smartphone.  Replaced it with the 700p two years later.  Replaced it with the HTC Touch Pro, which was absolute garbage in 2008.  I sold it off and went back to my Treo 700p for the rest of the contract.  I replaced it with the first Droid in 2009 but it fell apart within a year.  in 2010 I bought a used iPhone 4 on eBay and sold it when my contract renewed in 2011 to get the 4S.  That kept me very happy, in fact I didn’t upgrade after two years.

I waited a few months more and pounced on the Samsung Galaxy S4 because I didn’t think Apple would get a decent-sized screen for years.  I loved my S4.  I loaded my life onto it, put contact icons on the home screen of my Nova Launcher.  I made extensive use of widgets and babied it in a Piel Frama leather flip case.  But as time has gone on, it has gotten weird.  Battery life, despite a new battery, became unacceptable.  It would drop calls for no reason or not even acknowledge an incoming call at all.  I loved my custom ringtones I made in RingDroid, I adored the multiple quick-open shortcuts from the lock screen.  I was not enamored of the quality of the 13-megapixel shooter, especially in less than stellar light.  Photo quality from the selfie cam was unacceptable.  The phone started getting slower and slower.  With all of the bloatware on the 16 GB device, there was no room to install anything else on the given memory.  When I pressed the Home button, it would bring up Task Manager, as if I had long-pressed.

From side

Top:  iPhone 4    Middle:  Samsung Galaxy S4   Bottom:  iPhone 6 Plus

Could I have lived with this until next June, when my contract was up?  Actually, no.  When the iPhone 6 Plus was announced, the Sammy didn’t have a chance.  I preordered the 6 Plus, a tempered glass screen protector, belt pouch and armor case and, two and a half weeks later, Sixy (I call my new phone Sixy) showed up.  I got it up and running in no time.  I tried several options to get functionality that I had enjoyed on the S4 and I now have my iPhone just the way I want it.  No Home screen shortcuts for contacts, but instead of putting the Phone app on the bottom bar, I use One Touch Dial.  I have a screen just for my web shortcuts.  I used Garageband to make custom voice alerts (“Gadjitfreek has mail!”) and my favorite ringtone song (“Let Me Be Your Hog” by Weird Al Yankovic…it’s loud and obnoxious and impossible to ignore) and assign them to where I needed them.  Sixy and I are doing great.  I don’t even use my iPad Air anymore.  Some day Sixy will be buried in the middle of my gadget list but I will look back with fondness at my first phablet.  Fast, great on aging eyes, killer battery life…and it just works!

43 thoughts on “Why I traded my Samsung Galaxy S4 for the iPhone 6 Plus: a history”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. @julie: Question… in a regular work-day, how long can the 6+ last?
    I’m just curious because my new One+ can get 22+hours with 6% remaining. (yeah, I had a long work-day last week)

    Congrats for giving iOS another shot 😉

  3. Mark Rosengarten

    Sure! I unplug it at 5 AM and use it quite a bit during the day and by the time I get home at 5:30 (assuming I went for a walk after work and listened to an audiobook or podcast) it’s at about 60%. My Sammy S4 I would unplug at midnight to use during a bathroom run and then check in the morning, it would usually be around 86%. The iPhone under the same circumstances is 100% at midnight and 100% when I wake up at 5 AM. Aren’t you glad you now know my nocturnal bathroom habits?

  4. Mark Rosengarten

    Larry, you have obviously not read my story, or at least not without preconceptions. I own both Apple AND Android devices. I do not understand this nearly religious fervor that platform adherents have against the OS they did not choose. I would LOVE a phone that combined the best features of both systems and I would love to try a Windows phone. I own a Dell Windows PC and a MacBook Pro Retina split between OS X and Windows 7. I am not interested in the company behind my gadget, I am interested in whether that gadget will do what I need it to do. At this time, the iPhone 6 Plus fits that bill. Had my S4 not started to flip out on me, I would have had no need of switching. I tried Sony, Lenovo, Asus, Dell and Microsoft portables before I went with the MacBook Pro Retina 13. It had the features I needed and was the only one of the machines not to vomit all over my shoes within two weeks. The Asus ultrabook it replaced was a premium model whose keyboard cable comes loose because it’s held onto the keyboard with MASKING TAPE (UX31A). Let’s leave this “fanboy” stuff out of these posts and instead try a polite discussion.

  5. I had the same experience with my galaxy S3, became so unusable I had to root it and install cyanogen just get it moderately working again. Been back on iPhone ever since

  6. Unfortunately I have to agree. The S4 is great for the first say 6 – 8 months then it goes “stark-raving-mad”…. Had the keep two batteries with me at all times. Loved that phone but had to let it go.

  7. @Mark,
    Your S4 was slowed down by Samsung’s Touchwiz, haven’t you ever tried to flash AOSP (pure google android) or any other alternate ROM ?

  8. I used Nova Launcher. I will not root my phones after the fiasco I had with my Droid. If you have to root the phone to make it usable then it has no business being on the market to a general public who, on average, have no clue how to do that.

  9. Wasted all that money on tech? Could of put it towards a down payment on a house or nicer car. Or could bought stocks of the manufactures.

  10. Same story here. I’ve got a S4 which started feeaking out after 9 months, the screen starts blinking black while using it, gets very hot and I’ve got 2 batteries for it to get through a day. I love all the features and dont know wat I will do without it. My previous phone was a blackberry and I will take an S4 over it any day. I’ll definitely try another samsung in the future…

  11. I didn’t go for the 6+ as it was just too big for me (I always carry my iPhone in my pocket) so I opted for the 4.7″ version. Really enjoying the huge 128Gb for carrying around a few movies and tv shows when I am travelling. Also love the way the screen curves into the body of the phone. It’s a great piece of kit!

  12. Mark Rosengarten

    Yes, and I have never owned a Symbian device, either. Not sure what your point is or why it’s interesting. I have played with Blackberry back when I had a Treo. Treo served my purposes better. Played with Blackberry again before settling on the Droid. I don’t care who makes the device, if it suits, I get it. If it doesn’t, I don’t. I don’t understand what is so interesting about that. Some of the comments here seem to hint at some kind of conspiracy. I just wanted to relate how I got to where I am. Didn’t want to start some kind of platform war.

  13. Seems like you have a very short attention span when it comes to technology stuff. Most of us have to keep our gadgets for more than a week before we replace them with new “improved” gadgets.

  14. Mark Rosengarten

    Donald, I really don’t understand the incredible level of snark here. Take a look at my list…I hold onto my gadgets for plenty of time. Those I don’t I either returned or sold. I would have held onto the S4 longer if it hadn’t practically blown up on me. Can you please explain the unbelievable level of judgement being hurled here? The list above is compiled going back to 1993. This is more than 20 years’ worth of stuff.

    1. Thanks for this post! I have similar device history, from 4s on, and kept devices for similar amount of time. Loved my 4s! Really, really like the S4, now going back to ios with the 6+.
      Yeah, I don’t understand the snarky responses either, especially given your very “UNsnarky” post. Thanks for keeping it “nice”! 🙂

  15. Great article. I am waiting for my iPhone Six Plus to come, please let us know which tempered glass screen protector, Belt pouch and armor case you used and why. It might help me, and others, who are still trying to decide between the choices.

  16. Thanks for sharing that list with us. I find it so interesting how tech portables have evolved over the years. Honestly, I don’t understand why people always have to argue, especially about platforms. I do appreciate though that it only helps the consumer when other platforms get better, because to stay in the competition the other platforms have to follow suit. Competition is a great thing.

  17. IPhones are great phones and have their drawbacks, comming from a guy who hasn’t used one for more than 1 day.

    I loved my SG1 so when my contract ran out, I got the SG4. Android phones have more customability which I like. If I wanted to I could load a wholen new ROM on my phone or just download a different launcher from the play store. I’ve only recently have started to have problems after a year of owning it(rotation sensor not working right, freezing up) and that’s only because of the latest update.

    All in all both are great phones, but it depends on what you want to get out of the phone

  18. I have the iPhone 6 Plus. I ordered it even though I personally thought it was way too large, mostly because I wanted it for greater reading space and especially for a way to have a large screen to take photos with.

    After a few weeks of using it, I no longer think it’s too large. I carry it with me everywhere in the front my my pants pocket, including hiking and wearing jeans, and never had an issue with it being too large for a pocket.

    It was especially fantastic when traveling, a use that can easily drain the battery in record time.

    None of this exactly relates to your article, except to back up some of the reasons that you switched.

  19. Mark Rosengarten

    Sure! I got this belt pouch:
    because it’s a PERFECT fit for the iPhone 6 Plus in the case I chose. There are two pockets, the rear one is where I keep the phone, the front one is where I keep my earbuds and Bluetooth headset. There is room for more than just that plus there is a front slip pocket. I was going to have a custom leather holster made for it on Etsy but I decided that this Big Mango case was all I needed once it arrived. It may take some time to get to you…took me three weeks to get it.

    The case I got was the Urban Armor Gear Rogue Folio: http://www.urbanarmorgear.com/products/rogue-folio-iphone-6-plus
    and I LOVE it. It offers a hard rubberized plastic protection with bumpers in the corners and a nice, thick flip cover that is held in place with a magnet. I don’t want to put it to the test but this provides all of the impact protection of an Otterbox while also giving significant protection to the screen, at least when the lid is closed. There is no water protection with this case. Expect a significant delay when ordering it. Supply is low and demand is high. There are people who are waiting weeks after ordering and there is no way to contact the company that guarantees they will get back to you.

    The screen protector I used was the:
    I use these on all of my devices…got one on my Nexus 7 and iPad Air as well as the Samsung S4. They actually have a great feel, don’t smudge easily and offer some great protection. I did develop a scratch on the one on the S4 but better a replaceable protector than the screen itself!

  20. Penguins of Madagascar

    Right now am running an S4 and I have to confirm the truth. Before 6 months elapses it’s a great phone but there after it battery life sucks all time high.

  21. Liked the article. I have to confess that I, too, have gone through quite a few “tools” over the years. Happily using an Apple iPhone 5 at present, with an upgrade on the horizon. But I agree with your approach, base your purchases on functionality rather than brand loyalty.

  22. @Yeppers Yes I am aware it a tech site, but for one to buy all those gadgets for personal use in a 10-15year period, is like buying a Ferrari every 9 months and never drive it again. Note in the article he mention “the ones he own”. If it was like a demo model he gets from the company to try out, then that a different scenario. I myself is on my fourth mobile phone, since my first one (Motorola 120 aka “Peanut”) back in 2000. I do my homework before I purchase a phone that will last me for 3-4 years before upgrading. Any way my 2¢.

    1. @AnthonyL you’re being very judgmental and I would guess that you’re in the minority here. Most people who visit this site are pretty fanatical about gadgets and like to try new ones as often as they can and as funds permit. Just because you might not fit in this category does not mean there is anything wrong with those of us who are.

  23. I have to agree regarding root. I love my s4 and hate the confinement of apple mobile os. But I’m rooted with tons of customizations. For users who just want the phone to work iPhone is the way to go. For users who want customization, control, better free app markets, new bells and whistles (with bugs) Android is far better. But most people don’t want the headache or know how to figure it out.

  24. Anthony, I sell my gadgets when I am done with them and use the money to fund the new gadget. I am a gadget enthusiast, I have no family of my own to support so I derive great pleasure from my gadgetry. In contrast, when I buy a car, I buy the cheapest one I can find and run it into the ground. I don’t buy expensive clothing and I replace my clothing very infrequently. I never go out to eat or spend a penny on alcoholic beverages. I don’t replace my television every year, I have a TV that I bought back in the late 1980’s. I spend my money on small gadgets and keep them in pristine condition because I will eventually resell them. We all have different priorities and just because our priorities are different doesn’t mean either of us are wrong. It’s one reason I write for a gadget site…I am just very enthusiastic about technology. And I will NEVER own a Ferrari. 🙂

  25. I just find it very strange that people come to this site and then bash the very people that give, at no cost to us, their expertise on gadgets! I for one lap up the type of info on this site. I came across it back in 2000 and its been on my favorites ever since. To all the writers of this site I thank you all! Keep me informed!!!!!!

  26. Mark Rosengarten

    Believe you me, I had a pang when I saw that announcement but, like all my phones, I’ll stick with the iPhone for at least a year. We’ll see. It was actually a battle between the 6 Plus, LG G3 and Samsung Note 4. Apple won…for now. Who knows where it goes from here…but it will be at least a year before I jump again. Heck, I haven’t even gotten the charge statement with the bill for this phone on it yet… 🙂

    I bought a Samsung Galaxy Note S 10.5 a couple of months ago. What an amazing tablet! The keyboard is also fantastic but when I connected the keyboard via bluetooth, I lost wifi. I spent days trying to suss out the problem and ended up having to return it. It’s a shame because that is one hell of a tablet.

  27. I’ve had the 6plus for a week and I absolutely love it! Moved from a 5. Battery says usually 68-75% at the end of the day even with an hour of workout with bluetooth streaming! I’m fine with the size and as Mark put it, it is a feast for aging eyes!

  28. Mark Rosengarten

    @The Lorax: I was really intrigued by the little white trackball used for navigation…my friend Ross had a Blackberry phone and I found it very interesting (though not as interesting as the Nokia “taco” game phone he had) but the touch screen of the Treo is what really did the trick. Prior to 2005 all I had was one cheap flip phone and before that a candy bar phone from Cellular One with 40 minutes of talk time. Having been a Palm OS user for a long, long time and having a vibrant ecosystem of apps for it, the Treo also made perfect sense. In fact, if Palm were still making devices, I’d probably still be using one. 🙂 When HP effectively killed off Palm OS, I went with the HTC WinCE phone. It was a hunk of junk and I went back to the Treo until the Droid came out.

  29. Mark and I have shared our enthusiasm of gadgets for many years. Often I have tried one type of tech (blackberry, nokia, etc) while he tried the other. Nothing beats a friend who shares your passion for tech and the opportunity to check out what’s new. But to reiterate; Not all gadgets do everything you want and people have different opinions on different devices. One friend can not stand Apple and hates Android even more for privacy concerns. I have plenty of Apple and Android devices that run one program I like better than the other. I futz with Mac/PC/Linux on multiple machines in making the best franken-device that does what I want. Like they say, the thrill is in the journey. And of the thrills is to share the experience with others who feel same.

  30. Ross and I have been gadget freaks from the word go. We used to beam Palm OS apps through IRDA back in the day and did the same with our HP palmtops. The tradition continues even to this day, we can spend hours on the phone discussing technology and trends. That’s why I gravitated to Julie’s site when it first got started and am so happy to be a part of it now.

  31. You know I get so tired of Android people defending their phone’s flaws by saying “haven’t you flashed such and such rom?” Honestly, who in the heck wants to go around flashing roms and doing developer type things to their phones? A very small minority that’s who. I think that is half the reason iPhones are so popular. They just work. I am pretty decent with technology but quite frankly my galaxy s3 constantly gave me a headache. After my Galaxy died I tried Windows phone and pretty much hated it. There were no apps, and stupid things kept happening to the phone like mms would stop working and other hiccups that just got irritating. I finally got an iPhone 6 a couple of weeks ago and it has been a breeze. Everything works flawlessly and I barely had to do any thing to set up the phone. Not every one wants to MaGyver their phones.

  32. mark, have u experienced low call volume on incoming calls? i’m on my second 6+ (replaced due to low call volume, but unfortunately it’s still low).. love the screen for ageing eyes, but not the incoming call volume for my ageing ears..

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