Samsung is technically the global smartphone leader, at least in terms of device market share. I say “technically” because for 12 years, pretty much every other device maker has been a copy of, or an attempt to out-feature the iPhone. In that race, few competitors have matched the overall design and experience of the iPhone, but Samsung has always been the next-best designer, in my opinion at least.
With the Galaxy: Unpacked event yesterday, it’s only fair to say that– at least for now– that’s changed. Samsung’s announcements put it squarely in the lead in terms of both design and features, and that’s bad news for Apple.
While Apple hasn’t ever competed purely on features, instead relying on the overall iOS experience and Apple services ecosystem, features matter to consumers, and Samsung managed to pack a lot of them into devices that manage to come in at a lower price point that Apple’s flagship iPhone XS.
Note 10 and Note 10 Plus
Samsung’s flagship line of Galaxy Note devices were overdue for an update, and it would be hard to argue that the company didn’t deliver. In fact, if you’re an Android user who wants a large screen, this is now the device to beat.
It’s also going to make things very interesting for Apple. The Note 10 has a larger AMOLED screen than the iPhone, a lower price, and allows you to share a wireless charge between devices, meaning you can power up your partner or friend’s device on the go, without needing a charging cable.
That AMOLED display means faster refresh rates and better contrast than the iPhone XS, which makes for a better experience watching video or playing games. And if you think people don’t use their smartphone to stream video or play games, you probably haven’t been paying enough attention. And the Galaxy Note allows you to stream games to your PC, and includes and integration with Discord allowing you to chat with other gamers.
I bring it up because Apple has made a big deal about its upcoming gaming service, Apple Arcade, and even introduced an updated iPod Touch as an entry-level device to lower the barrier to entry for gamers who want to give it a try. The Galaxy Note 10 makes it difficult to see why anyone interested in gaming wouldn’t just go with the Samsung device.
It also include three cameras for regular, wide-angle, and telephoto shots, and managed to do so without the controversial “square bump” expected on the iPhone 11. It’s been a while since a non-Apple device had such a better overall design and feel than an iPhone. That’s bad news for Apple, considering that design and feel are pretty much hallmarks of the Cupertino-based company.
The Note 10 and Note 10+ start at $949 and $1,099 respectively, with a 5G version available for $1,299.
Samsung also introduced an updated version of its S Pen stylus, which now includes a gyroscope and accelerometer, which allows for gesture controls. That sounds like a gimmic at first, but is actually pretty helpful if you want to, say, take a group photo with your Note 10 on a tripod or control Spotify while your device is plugged in on the other side of the room.
It’s also now able to connect to devices other than just your Galaxy Note smartphone, making it more versatile than the previous version.
Galaxy Book S
The biggest thing you need to know about Samsung’s newest laptop is that besides the 13″ touchscreen display, when it says “all-day” battery life, it really means all day. Like 23 hours. That’s pretty much as close to all-day as you’re going to get on a Window’s laptop.
The Galaxy Book S, at least according to Samsung, is as much smartphone as laptop, owing to the fact that it includes LTE wireless, and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx chip, instead of a traditional Intel processor. But, with two USB-C ports (along with a headphone jack), it’s definitely still slim and powerful enough to be your primary device, which makes it especially compelling if you’re regularly on the go.
Apple still doesn’t have a laptop with built in cellular capabilities, and though its recent purchase of Intel’s 5G chip technology is at least a nod in the direction towards including ultra-fast wireless connectivity in future versions, Samsung delivers it now.
While I’m still primarily a Mac guy, and would have a hard time switching from macOS for Windows, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Samsung is making it pretty obvious it’s finally Apple that is playing catch up.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.