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Why I returned my Galaxy Note 9 and bought an iPhone XS Max

I constantly talk about note-taking apps on iOS and the iPad Pro, so it was a logical consequence to test the Galaxy Note 9 for my community. Bad idea!

The year 2010, was so exciting for me. I finally got my very first Apple Device.

The iPad 1. Generation.

It just blew my mind right out of my head. I love technology and this was for me a whole new universe of possibilities. Does anyone of you remember the first time holding the iPad up into the sky to identify the stars via an app? Maaaan….good times.

Then in 2011, I got my very first Smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S2.
It was awesome! Finally making pictures,
video calls, gaming…and… many customization options. Something, Apple didn’t and still doesn’t allow you to do. You are stuck
to the “App Grid”. At least Apple added widgets too, but they are limited and hidden on the left side.

I want widgets to be right in my face when I open up my display. I want to put sticky notes on the main screen to be reminded.
I want to see what tasks are open in ToDoist and what notes I have written in Evernote, right on the main screen.

I don’t want the need to swipe to the left before I can see all the information I need!

At least…this is what I thought what my desire would be…


Well, 7 years after I got my Samsung Galaxy S2, I have bought most that Apple has to offer and “forgot” about Android.

iPad Air2, Apple TV, Apple Watch 1. Generation, iPhone 6S, iPhone 8, MacBook Air and finally the iPad Pro. I loved how everything
fits together. Everything just works. And everybody just can use and understand those devices without being a geek (e.g. my 70+ year old father in law).

But members of the #PaperlessMovement community kept telling me about the Galaxy Note 9. They said they would use it together with their iPads! So I was aware that a smartphone with great note taking capabilities exists.

A note-taking app expert needs to test the Galaxy Note 9, right?

When I started to talk about my experiences with the iPad Pro on YouTube, I focused mainly on Note-Taking apps and hyped the Apple Pencil. But more
and more people reached out to me asking if I could review the Galaxy Note 9. I mean, yeah, it makes sense as a note-taking app expert to review a device
that holds the word “Note” in its product name, right? It makes sense to test a device that works with a dedicated stylus (S-Pen), I thought.

So every now and then, I tested the Galaxy Note 8 and then the Galaxy Note 9 in the tech shops and I was always impressed by how good the stylus worked! I mean I was really impressed, even coming from an “Apple Pencil user experience” perspective!

I was more and more tempted to go for it. Not only for my #PaperlessMovement community but mainly for myself.
Because in parallel, the feeling grew in me, that I might be too restricted in the Apple Universe. I missed that freedom to have widgets on
my app screen, but, more importantly, I bought some smart home devices along with two Google Home Mini. Of course, as the founder
of the #PaperlessMovement, I want to level up my digital lifestyle as much as I can.

So I thought…now is the time. I come for you Google!

So, eventually, “ALL IN” – Android vs iOS

If you follow me on Instagram you know what comes next, yes, I went and bought the Galaxy Note 9.
However, as my Apple Watch would become useless with an Android device I also bought a Galaxy Watch.

I was excited. I was hyped. I was convinced it could work. I was ready to commit to the world, I am using Android now!

But oh boy…I learned it the hard way. Samsung is not Google just because it runs Android. Samsung created its own mess. Let’s have a look, shall we?


Everything will be better with Android. I was so wrong…

Ok…it took double the time to set up the Galaxy Note 9 then I am used to it from my iPhone 8…but who cares, I had time for it.

Then, the first let down. Galaxy Watch does not support Google Assistant. WHAT?? Bixby instead?? Who is that…

Well, fast I learned that Bixby is Siri’s ugly twin. Samsung even implemented a dedicated button on the
side of the Galaxy Note 9 to trigger that evil piece of creation that is only able to speak three languages. English, Korean and simplified Chinese.

Anyway, “I cannot be fooled”, I shouted at it! I ALWAYS find a workaround!

So quickly I found a workaround to reassign the Bixby button with the Google Assistant (here).
However, I needed to download an app for this. Third-party app. Using my data too. Well, I thought, as an Android user, I have to
expect this, right? No problem lets move on then….well….it became worse.

Samsung Health is like a jealous girlfriend

I was shocked to realize, that Samsung Health, the pendant to the Apple Health kit, collects the data from
my Galaxy Watch, such as Steps and Pulse, BUT, doesn’t allow me to pass this data on to other apps!!
Like a jealous girlfriend,
“How dare you talk to other apps! I will hunt you down and delete all the data we had together!”The app this beast is jealous of is Withings Health Mate. I have everything from Withings…balance, thermometer, Sleep Tracker, you name it…
Well, to be fair, I was able to transfer my step count but not the pulse data…so…..HaHa…I was laughing “hysterically” loud
when I learned that there is NO way to get the pulse data out!! NO WAY! (confirmed by one day of research and testing!)

“Ok, well”, I thought, “Let’s go the other way around then”. I liked how the Samsung Health app looked and what it had to offer.
So let’s pull all the data from my Withings ecosystem into that thing then, shall we?
Give Samsung whatever they want, I thought. Maybe, they will show me some better insights after all.
All that health data in their cloud…who cares. But wait? What is this?
Oh boy…I was wrong. No way. I was not even able to bring my weight data into this app nor my sleep data. Why? WHYYY??
Samsung, why don’t you just take my 3 years worth of daily weight data to train your algorithms?

Well…at least this explains, why Bixby is as smart as a bowl of porridge.

The only workaround was, for a small part of the data, to use a third party app called “Health Sync”, that syncs
Samsung Health with Google Fit, while Google Fit then can be integrated with Withings.
The only way I can sync Withings with Samsung Health is passing on my data to Google and then back to Samsung? At this point, I felt (ab)used.
I have no problem sharing my data. I support Big Data analyses. I understand the benefits for humanity understanding health data. We can
cure all illness in the world if we share our data. But man, there is no reason every company in the world can have a look and pass it on to the next.

I can imagine how this would look like…
Google Assistant says to Samsung Bixby: “You saw anything interesting?” Bixby: “Meh, I saw a lot, but I don’t understand it. You can have it, bro. But don’t you talk German to me! I will switch you off! I am serious!”
After a quick search (on Google actually) I saw that Samsung just recently closed their API (integration) doors for external Apps and
only allow specific apps such as Strava or MyFitnessPal to sync data with them. Trust me, I tried this too…not working either.

Apple is more open than Samsung

Ok, long story short….while I was thinking Apple would be restrictive in regards to data access and sharing (especially health data), it was actually the opposite!
Using the Apple Watch with the Apple Health Kit works like a charm. I can throw any data source at the Health Kit and it will
swallow it. Also the other way around. I was able to sync Life Dashboards, such as with the Health Kit and got ALL the data I need in there.
But with Samsung Health? No way…I am tracking my health since 2015 every day. But thanks Samsung I lost now three days of data
trying to make your system work.
And no…I will NOT buy new equipment dedicated to your brand. NO NO NO. Don’t you get it, that collecting my data from
other apps, that I would give you happily for free if you would let me, is more worth than having some brand deals with a few products? Gosh….

If you are still reading, you might be annoyed by now

I was not talking about the benefits the Galaxy Note 9 so far…so here you go:
Yes, the Stylus is awesome. Take it out of the phone and start writing notes. It is fluent and will blow your mind.
Yes, it is awesome, that you can write in any text field with your stylus and it will convert your handwriting into typed text on the fly.
Yes, it is awesome, that you can take selfies with your Stylus as a remote control.
Yes, it is awesome, that by just hovering with your stylus over words it gives you the translation of that word.
Yes, it is awesome, that you see a digital point indicating where you would land with your stylus while hovering over the screen.
Yes, it is awesome,…..
…well, I could go on and on how awesome it is to use the Galaxy Note 9 as a note-taking device.
I was even thinking every now and then that I would never need to use the iPad again! I mean it!
I really fell in love with the stylus and what you can do with it on the device.

But, and this is a huge BUT, the OS…oh my…Android, especially the Samsung “optimized” version of it….made it a very bad experience for me.
Besides all the problems I explained earlier it also feels “all over the place”. Too much freedom with too many options that eventually will
mess up your workflow, but was supposed to optimize your productivity by the customization in the first place. (Ahhhh… I love those long sentences. Take your time, just read it again. hihi)
Don’t get me wrong, I love having options, which is why I switched to Android after all, but this in combination with the low-quality apps the Google Play store
has to offer is just a mess compared to the App Store.

Yes, I had a ToDoist and Evernote Widget finally there. Ye,s I have thousands of Themes for my Smartphone and hundreds of Watch Faces for my watch. But what for what?
All of them looked cheap. So I rather take a few Watch Faces on my Apple Watch, but all of them make sense. All of them look and feel expensive.
Oh, talking about the watches, did I mention you cannot have ToDoist or Evernote or most other apps on your Galaxy Watch installed? But you can on the Apple Watch.

Nothing more to add here…

I know, I know…many of you might hate me now, for being so mean about Samsung. However, it is my personal opinion. Believe me when I say
that I wrote for hours on the Galaxy Note 9 with the S-Pen. And Believe me when I say I FREAKING LOVED IT!! This is what made it so hard
to return that great piece of technology. It was not the fault of the technology, it was the way Samsung implemented Android and the worst part Bixby.

Final thoughts

Went back to the store
Again, Samsung…
Get rid of Bixby.
Open up Samsung Health for other devices.

I am not saying Galaxy Note 9 is bad, technology-wise.


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Photo by Nicolas Ladino Silva

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