Is It Worth Switching To Android For The Samsung Galaxy Note10?
Introducing the world's most expensive mindfulness colouring book.
The very first smartphone you own in life is a momentous object. In my case, that phone was a taped-together iPhone 5 purchased secondhand from a stranger on Gumtree (what can I say, I was both extremely frugal and a late adopter of mobile phones in general). It set me on a concrete path of only ever buying iPhones — to the point where I’ve never actually used an Android phone for more than ten minutes.
Before you get cranky in my DMs, let me be clear: I am no slavering Apple fanboy. I’ve just largely had a good experience with the series of iPhones I’ve owned, and so out of a combination of fondness and inertia I’ve continued to buy them.
Still, I’ve always wondered whether the grass may indeed be greener on team Android. So when my editor asked me to take the Samsung Galaxy Note10 for a spin, I said yes. Two weeks ago, I transferred my entire life across to the Galaxy Note10 and chucked my iPhone (RIP) in a drawer: here’s how it went.
Alright, How Many Years Does It Take To Transfer The Contents Of An iPhone To The Galaxy Note10?
Now, the Samsung Galaxy Note10 is a $1,499 phone: more expensive than the iPhone XR I’ve been using for the past year. Samsung describes it as a “premium” phone “inspired by a generation that flows seamlessly between work and life”. That kind of description — and price point — leads me to expect a phone that is seamless and easy to use, not at all annoying, and better than the iPhone I came from.
This is not quite the case. Let’s start with the experience of transferring apps and data from an iPhone to the Galaxy Note10, which was a deeply painful and frustrating experience.
Apple is partly to blame for this frustration: the concept of someone not wanting to use an iPhone has famously never occurred to the people in charge at that company. Still, the process of moving all my apps and data from an iPhone 8 to an iPhone XR required me to put the phones next to each other on a table and wait a few minutes, whereas the process of moving all of my stuff from an iPhone XR to the Galaxy Note10 took cables and several long, frustrating hours.
Samsung generously kits you out with the cables you’ll need. Once you plug your iPhone into the Galaxy Note10, it’ll spend a very long time “searching for data to bring”. At one point, the screen told me it was 6 percent done, with 52 minutes left. At that point, I left the room to read an actual, physical book.
After a little over an hour, I came back to discover that the phone had managed to transfer my messages and photos, but nothing else. It also kindly placed every screenshot I’ve ever taken (thousands) right at the top of my camera roll, forcing me to scroll back for several minutes to find a photo I took the day before. To transfer apps, I had to select an additional option, which downloaded some — but not all — of the apps I had installed on my iPhone. Paid apps will not transfer because you need to repurchase them from the Android store, but some free apps I was using never arrived.
Then, once the apps in question arrived, there was the business of rearranging my home screen, logging in to everything again, and transferring all of my two-factor authentication to a new authenticator app. What I naively thought would take 30 minutes, tops, actually took closer to three hours.
As I said, part of that annoying experience is definitely Apple’s fault. One part is not, though: signing in to an Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note10 in particular, feels a little like wading back into an early-2000s internet browser infested with pop-up ads and crapware. The first few minutes of actually using this phone — far from flowing seamlessly — involved being bombarded by the terms and conditions of both the Galaxy Store and the Play Store, as well as Bixby (the Samsung virtual assistant), and billions of default apps I have never needed or wanted. Google Play Movies & TV! Bixby, which for some reason, keeps serving me a widget featuring iPhone advertisements on YouTube! Argh!
The World’s Most Expensive Mindfulness Colouring Machine
Once it’s set up, though, the Samsung Galaxy Note10 can certainly do some things my iPhone can’t. For one, it has a pen that pops out, which when used in conjunction with an app called “PENUP” transforms the Note10 into the world’s most expensive mindfulness colouring book. On my first day with the phone, I spent a good 45 minutes colouring in an illustration of a cob of corn — an incredibly peaceful, if baffling, way to spend a day.
Beyond revolutionising the corn-based art game, however, it’s a little bit unclear what else you’re meant to do with the pen. You can use it to jot down a quick note, which is handy, and the phone is surprisingly good at converting messy handwriting into text. The only problem is that the only way to export this converted text is as a Microsoft Word document, where the text is contained within a text-box, with line breaks preserved exactly as if you wrote it on a cramped phone screen. In short, it would be easier if I’d simply typed the note in the first place.
This experience is typical of quite a few of the Galaxy Note10’s much-touted Special Features. For instance, you can now control apps using gestures made with the pen, flicking it up and from side to side above the phone screen. This is an extremely cool feature that functions beautifully but has absolutely no purpose when I could simply touch the phone with my finger to achieve the same effect.
Likewise, this phone allows you to do things like open two apps side-by-side, pin all kinds of widgets to your home screen, and plug in an honest-to-god keyboard and mouse, if you want. All of these were features I found incredible for approximately five minutes, and then never really found a use for.
There are, however, many genuinely useful features that come with Android and the Galaxy Note10. This phone has a fingerprint sensor on its screen, wireless power-sharing, and offers much more detailed customisation options than the iPhone. You can pin widgets to the screen and keep favourite apps and shortcuts tucked away in a handy drawer on the side of the display. Settings, like Bluetooth pairing, are much easier to access. The fast charging is also a genuine lifesaver, delivering me a full day’s charge in close to an hour.
These perks are, sadly, balanced with some genuine drawbacks. The edge-to-edge display of this screen means the display curves away slightly at each edge, making some apps challenging to use. The compass on this phone is also noticeably worse than on the iPhone XR. The Galaxy Note10 frequently couldn’t work out which way I was facing on Google Maps, and resetting things did not help. The battery life, too, is good but not spectacular — by the end of a day of relatively light use, I’m sitting at around 30 percent. And sadly, while the camera on this phone is quite good, it just doesn’t compare to the one on the iPhone XR, which my colleague constantly borrows to enhance his Instagram aesthetic.
So, what’s the verdict? The Galaxy Note10 is a pretty good phone — the S pen is good fun, and after spending a few hours getting it set up, it’s familiar enough to use without mourning my iPhone. At the end of the day, though, it’s also more expensive than my iPhone, and yet it didn’t manage to deliver a single perk I couldn’t live without. I’m glad I’ve got my old phone in my drawer to come home to.