Android is a very nice operating system, people like it because it’s highly configurable. One of the major players in this game - Samsung Mobile - annoys it’s users with certain “features”, which you mostly can’t switch off or get rid off.
Even more annoying - for me - that’s the only Android option I get offered by my employer. The alternatives are iPhone, or Blackberry. So not really an option. Two years ago I switched to a Samsung S3, and a few weeks ago it was time to renew the contract, so shortly before Christmas there was a box with a shiny new S5 waiting for me in the office. Using the new mobile for two weeks now, I realized that Samsung remains true to themself and added more annoying functionality over the past two years.
Samsung is churning out dozens of different mobile devices every year. Maybe they should hire a few User Interface designers, or simply start using their own stuff, and see how annoying it is to use.
Full disclosure: my private Android device is a OnePlus One, running CyanogenMod. In terms of usability, CM and Samsung are worlds apart …
So, what’s so annoying? Here is my list of most annoying “features”:
As a new user of a S5 you almost instantly stumble over the checked “Auto” checkbox for brightness in the notification area. However no matter what brighness you set, or if you uncheck the checkbox, it get’s re-checked shortly after. In addition, when this happens, the actual brightness of the display is set to “almost unreadable dark”. What a mess.
The solution to fix that problem is: go to “Settings”, “Display”, “Brightness” and activate “Automatic brightness” AND go to “Settings”, “Power saving”, “Power saving mode”, “Restrict performance” and DISABLE (uncheck) “Screen output”. Who came up with the glorious idea of having two places to configure one setting?
Charger warning after fully charged
Samsung assumes that it users needs to be constantly annoyed with a notification (which you can’t move out) once the battery is fully charged. Plus it comes with a short sound. Why the h* does the device come with a charge controller anyway?
On top of that, obviously, the charge controller stops charging the battery once it’s fully charged. This starts the discharge process. Now guess what … of course once the battery is discharged a bit, the charge process starts again, and the notification comes again. More about that in a moment.
Charger unplugged warning
The S5 is water resistent and dust proof. The specification is IP 67 (dust tight, water resistent up to 1 meter). That’s a nice feature and you don’t have to worry anymore if you drop your device into a muggy ground - just wash it of. However to make this happen, the charging socket must be protected. Samsung solves this problem by adding a watertight cover over the USB port.
But: every time you unplug the charger, a popup window on the bottom of the screen (where the keyboard usually is) informs you that you have to close this cover. EVERY SINGLE TIME you unplug the charger. Annoying. The window stays there for about three seconds. Most annoying part: if you started typing in your password while unplugging the device with the other hand, the window will be shown over the keyboard, and the keyboard slides in and disappears.
S Finder & Quick Connect
Samsung loves it’s own tools. Let me guess: no one else likes them, or uses them, but Samsung still forces them into your face. The S5 got two buttons in the notification area, consuming precious display space: “S Finder” and “Quick Connect”. The “S Finder” is some kind of search engine for your documents, “Quick Connect” let’s you connect to other devices which support this technology.
You can’t remove this two buttons from the notification area, even if you never use them. You can’t reprogram them - like using Google Now instead of “S Search”. They are just there, clogging up space and waiting for you to accidently hit one of the buttons.
Power Saving notification always present
Mobile devices are very power hungry. Often a fully charged battery only lasts one or max. two days until the mobile cries for a charger. Obviously it makes sense to activate all power savings which are possible and desirable (not every possible power saving option might make sense: disabling data will save power, but you are offline).
Samsung in it’s infinite wisdom must inform you if one or more of the available power saving options are activated. This “very helpful” - or let’s say: expressionless - information consumes yet another two lines in the notification area - and of course, you can’t switch it off. What are they thinking? As a user I don’t expect and I don’t need a constant information that “Power saving mode [is] turned on” - quite the other way around: I’d like to see such a warning ONLY if no power saving is enabled.
This mode - also called “Quiet Hours” - allows you to make the mobile more or less quiet during the specified hours. Very helpful if you don’t want to be woken up by calls in the middle of the night.
Unfortunately it does not stop the device from emitting notifications once the battery is fully charged (see above). This is braindead: on the one hand you can disable notifications in blocking mode, on the other hand the device still annoys you when fully charged. You still have to silence the mobile to get rid of the sound.
Many of Samsung’s own applications are written by someone who clearly isn’t using them, or has no concept of speeding up certain tasks.
As example: after the 10th time deleting a text message I wish for a checkbox to get rid of the confirmation question. But no, it will keep asking you EVERY SINGLE TIME. No way around, please monkey-click “OK”.
Another example: every time the “Airplane mode” is activated or deactivated, the mobile asks you for confirmation. After about 3 times I KNOW that I will be offline, once I set the device in “Airplane mode”. And I KNOW that turning off the “Airplane mode” will turn off the “Airplaine mode”. Jepp, got that. Stop asking me for a confirmation EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Another example: every time I receive a text from my telco and follow the link to activate something, the messaging app keeps warning me that it might be dangerous to follow links. No way to deactivate the warning. Hey, Samsung, here’s the thing: if it’s dangerous to follow links, then only because you forgot to fix bugs in your internal browser.
That is - according to Samsung - something like an ultra power saving mode, using specific Samsung applications, and you need to pre-configure “at least one contact”.
But still, even if no contact is configured, and if you don’t intend to use “Emergency mode” at all, Samsung keeps putting this feature into your face, if you long-press the power button. No way to fully deactivate it, or get rid of the visual elements.
Lock screen timeout
If you activate the mobile (by pressing menu or power button), you have about three seconds to check your notifications and … timeout. If you also want to login, there’s a good chance that you don’t make it to the password field in the remaining time.
There is no way to configure the timeout for the “display off again” time, if the device is locked. But most annoying: the screen also goes off if you already started typing into the password field and the keyboard comes up. After the screen is off, the keyboard is hidden again.
Lost connectivity after bad reception
Being in areas with … not so good network reception in the past two weeks, I noticed that sometimes the S5 fails to reconnect to the mobile network. Often it is enough to activate the “Airplane mode” (remember: confirmation question when turning “Airplane mode” on, and confirmation question when turning it off). But two times I had to reboot the device. For sure a software problem, but still, it’s highly annoying. Especially because I don’t check the device all the time and trust that it will reconnect once there is a mobile network available.
The S5 supports USB tethering. Nice feature if you want to quickly share your mobile of wi-fi connection with your laptop.
However: there is no way to have a quick access button for USB tethering. The way you have to activate it: open “Settings”, find “Tethering and Mobile hotspot”, check “USB tethering”. Why can’t Samsung add a quick access button, like there is one for the wi-fi hotspot?
Newer Android versions got rid of the menu button. Every app has to provide a software button somewhere on it’s screen. Don’t know if I like this - as a long time Android user I got really familiar with the option to have one place to go for options.
Coming from the S3, the same menu button is now the task switcher. You can’t imagine how often I hit this button in the last two weeks, then followed by a curse. There is no way to bring back the old behaviour (like CyanogenMod offers) or configure the buttons the way you like them.
I’m sure there is more to come, but these are my “highlights” after two weeks using the S5.