The IT world is all about the so-called "user experience." Every interaction with a computer has to be a good one. And there's no single type of personal computer users deploy more than smartphones.
Smartphones are all about personal taste. Brand, screen size, thinness, battery life, color, protective covering, apps--these attributes all contribute to defining who we are late in the second decade of the 21st century. We, in effect, ARE our smartphones. How did we ever operate without them?
Motor vehicles, also emblematic of our personal selves, used to be mere extensions of our legs, needing only the basic requirements to get us from one place to another to another. Now they are moving/thinking robots using hundreds of computers to decide where and when to transport us to other locations.
In parallel, smartphones are fast becoming our new adjunct brains. We don't have to remember anything anymore; Google can tell us in a few seconds. Waze can instruct us about the best way to get somewhere fast. We can communicate with any of our friends in seconds using messaging. Duplex apps soon will order dinners or haircuts for us with little or no human intervention.
Smartphone as an Extension Brain?
Delegating this kind of work-related thought to a mere handheld device is a scary thought. Will our brains even be necessary in a few generations?
While you use your brain to determine whether or not that last statement is true, we're changing the subject a bit to smartphones and how they work in a business environment. Most of the ones available now are pretty sophisticated; you probably can't go wrong with any of the ones made by Apple, Samsung, Asus, Acer, Huawei, LG and the like. But there are differences, and they often involve personal taste.
First of all, know out what kind of a user you are. If you check social networks, messages or email more than the average of 82 times per day, maybe you need a premium smartphone, one that can stand up to the rigors of a lot of pounding. You may need a high-end one, such as an iPhone, a Samsung S9 or something else.
That brings us to whether the new Samsung S9 (pictured; to see a close-up view, right-click on the image, and select View Image), which has received a lot of attention lately, can be a better device to use in a workplace than an iPhone, or a Google Pixel. Again, personal taste and trust in a manufacturer comes to the fore here, although most of these phones are made in similar factories in China or other Far Eastern nations.
I have use of both an iPhone 6 (AT&T, supplied by my employer) and a Samsung 9 (Verizon, my personal device) for work and personal duties, and I deploy them both on a daily basis--even though I'm chided now and then for carrying two phones. Whichever one is charged up, whichever network is the strongest and whichever has the app I need at the time is the one I use.
Samsung 9 vs. iPhone 8: Two of the Best Available
I realize that having two high-end phones like these is something most people won't endeavor to do, because it would be both expensive and redundant for many uses. But since I often do product reviews here on eWEEK, I'm doing this now for that reason. I also spend a LOT more time with a device than many people do; I've had the S9 since March, and here we are four months later. I believe I know this phone as well as anyone can.
One major thing that stands out: The S9 has not lost any battery power in that span of time. I cannot say that for other phones I have reviewed, including the iPhone 8. The S9 is still as responsive today as it was in March, when I first unboxed it.
I have found myself leaning more and more to the S9 for maps, security, voice, photography and video--all tools business people use on a regular basis.
Galaxy S9: Best Camera Available to Date
Why? I've never used a better on-phone camera than the one on the S9, and I have a healthy respect for the iPhone's camera. Not only is the S9 the sharpest auto-focusing lens I've ever used, but it's very responsive, the editing functions are easy to use and intuitive, and Google offers 15GB of free storage for all images--moving and otherwise.
Apple doesn't offer that. After 5GB, one must pay (albeit only a small amount) for cloud storage in the iCloud.
Here are the key data points around the S9 and S9+ and how they relate to a business user:
- Business generally demands speed, and the S9's performance is fast. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 is a potent processor; paired with it, Android 8 Oreo sets a new standard for UI responsiveness. Taps and on-screen gestures are lag-free and apps launch without delay.
- Samsung offers outstanding battery life in its Galaxy S9s. The Galaxy S9 comes with talk time up to 22 hours on a single charge and can play music continuously for up to 80 hours. The Galaxy S9+ bumps those measures to up to 25 hours and up to 94 hours on talk time and music playback. Apple’s iPhone X can deliver up to 21 hours of talk time. It can play audio for up to 60 hours. All three handsets support wireless charging.
- Samsung’s Galaxy S9 ships with 4GB of onboard memory and 64GB of storage, which Samsung argues, should suffice for most users. The Galaxy S9+ has the same 64GB of storage, but its 6GB of RAM should translate to slightly better performance with resource-intensive apps than the Galaxy S9. Those shopping for Apple’s iPhone X can choose between 64GB and 256GB of storage. Apple’s iPhone X has 3GB of RAM.
- For business users who require cameras during their workday (such as insurance, sales, real estate professionals and others): A dual-camera setup with optical stabilization in the back shoots sharp video and 12-megapixel photos, particularly in low-light conditions. New this time is super slow-motion, a mode that can record 960 frames per second and stretch 0.2 seconds of footage into a six-second clip.
- Important security distinction for business users: The Galaxy S9 handsets have more biometric features. Apple offers a single biometric security option in the iPhone X with Face ID. The feature scans a user’s face to unlock the operating system and verify purchases made through the company’s Apple Pay mobile payment service. Galaxy S9 owners will find a face scanner, a fingerprint sensor and an iris scanner in the devices. A new Intelligent Scan feature uses the face scanner and iris scanner simultaneously to verify a person’s identity and give him or her access to the operating system.
- Third-party software is another point of concern for some users. So, it’s important to note that while the devices are running different operating systems, they provide access to all the apps users could possibly want, thanks to the Google Play marketplace on the Galaxy S9s and the Apple App Store on the iPhone X. Best of all, since all the devices are powerful, they can work with any app available in those marketplaces.
- The S9 has a more advanced camera with more options than the iPhone, although the iPhone's camera is also an excellent one.
- My user experience, with both phones being on from 6am to 11pm each day: The S9 clearly has longer battery life than iPhone's.
- The S9 has Knox security; the iPhone doesn't. Centrify, which supplies the security softare in Knox for the S9, is one of the most progressive security companies in the business.
- The S9 has about the same processing power as an iPhone 8, with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and Android 8 Oreo running the device.
- Pricing: S9 ranges between $560 and $720 for 64GB storage; S9+ ranges from $779 to $912 retail for 64GB storage; and iPhone 8 ranges from $480 to $700 for 64GB storage.
Happy smartphone shopping!