For years I resisted it, the two-year lock-in that is a smartphone contact.
I had a Nexus 5, you see, imported from the US for cheaper than local import services offered it.
What Android user could need more than a Google phone and a prepaid SIM?
But as time went on, the Nexus started to show its age – its battery started to wane and its 16GB of storage (with no microSD support) became a problem.
I decided to get a new phone, and found there were good contract deals to be had – essentially, interest-free loans repayable over 24 months.
I ended up choosing Telkom and the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I’ve had the device for a year now, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
It’s not what you think
Although the S7 Edge has a great set of hardware housed in a sleek case, these features are not exclusive to Samsung.
Apple, Huawei, and LG all sell beautiful and powerful phones in South Africa.
Even features such as its IP68 dust and waterproof ratings are not unique.
It must also be noted that while I think Samsung offers the best overall package in South Africa, its devices are not perfect.
There are always trade-offs when making phones. For example, the Galaxy S7 does not have a removable battery or a dual-camera system, and it doesn’t have my favourite implementation of a fingerprint reader.
Taking that into account, however, it is hard to beat the Samsung-Android combination – for the reasons below.
Accessories and VR support
As Samsung is such a popular brand, you can always find accessories that fit your phone.
Screen protectors, covers, and battery cases are readily available in South Africa.
VR support is also included with the S7, and the Samsung Gear VR is a relatively cheap headset (if you discount the cost of the phone).
Samsung devices compatible with Gear VR include the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, Galaxy Note 5, and the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and S6 Edge+.
After-sales support is not something many people consider when buying a phone, until it’s too late and they wish they had.
When something goes wrong and you need to get your phone repaired, you will be glad that Samsung’s footprint across South Africa is expansive.
Accidental damage warranty
No list of Samsung smartphone pros would be complete without the accidental damage from handling warranty (ADH).
ADH is an additional warranty on flagship Samsung phones that offers a free screen or rear glass repair.
The ADH warranty that comes with the S7 offers one free cracked glass repair within the first 12 months of the date of purchase.
The Android connection
Having a good piece of hardware, customer support, and accessories all fall away if you have a terrible OS, and Android is an essential part of Samsung’s success.
BlackBerry had arguably the greatest value proposition of any smartphone in South Africa for years, but that didn’t stop the decline of its devices running the BlackBerry OS.
Like Samsung’s hardware, Android is not perfect. Of particular concern are worryingly-infrequent software updates on most networks.
Android’s niggles are swept away by its rich set of features, though.
Android 7.0 Nougat has added a “multiple app windows” feature to its functionality, while Samsung has had this standout feature on its devices for a while.
Home screen and app tray
Samsung devices come with a 4×4 home screen and app tray grid size, which means you can fit 16 icons on a single screen.
This can be adjusted to a 4×5 or 5×5 grid size – a feature that isn’t available on all Android-based smartphones.
Android has several features you won’t find on iOS, including an app tray that is separate from the home screens and the ability to add dynamic widgets and not just app icons to home screens.
Samsung’s software also includes widgets you won’t find on default Android, such as a full-month calendar widget.
Data usage tracker
A feature I use a lot is Android’s mobile data usage tracker and limiter.
This allows you to prevent out-of-bundle usage or being cut off by your service provider for reaching your cap.
Where did that irritating notification come from?
If you install a lot of apps, you will run into a situation where you get notifications whose origins you may not be sure of.
You can tap and hold on the notification to bring up an information icon, which reveals its source.
These are just a selection of some of the coolest features you’ll find on Samsung-Android devices.
Android smartphones also provide access to alternative keyboards, Google Now, cloud backups to Google services, and customisable quick launch trays.
This is an opinion piece.