Samsung’s Galaxy S4: The gimmick smartphone

The latest flagship smartphone from Samsung, the Galaxy S4, takes gimmicks to a whole new level.

With the Samsung Galaxy S4 now available on most major U.S. carriers, the company has started marketing its smartphone with commercials aimed at its arch nemesis: Apple.

This isn’t the first time that Samsung has poked fun at Apple. The company had several commercials for its previous flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S3, which, like today, focused on making fun of both the iPhone’s “lack of features” and the people who use them. For Samsung, the goal is simple: Do whatever it takes in a minute or less to woo potential smartphone buyers (or those looking to renew) into thinking that the iPhone is the “lesser” of the two. And to Samsung’s credit, they’ve done an amazing job.

When I originally watched the ridiculous Galaxy S4 keynote, I formed a realization about the Korean-based smartphone maker: They focus on creating great demo-able features you’ll almost never use. I’d even go as far as to say that this strategy makes up a significant part of their marketing efforts. They don’t really focus on long-term feature-sets. Instead, they focus on quick, short-term “look at what the S4 can do that your phone can’t” strategies.

Of course, the only problem is that once you buy a device like the Galaxy S4, you’ll almost never use the features they showcase in their commercials. Why? A few reasons.

For one, a lot of people don’t care to use these features in the real world. One example is their finger-hover technology that senses when your finger is close, but not touching the actual display. If my finger is 1-inch away from the screen, why wouldn’t I just touch it? Another reason you’ll likely never use these features is because they’re not very well executed. Read the majority of in-depth reviews out there and you’ll find that in many cases these features aren’t fully baked.  The sad reality is that you won’t use them all that much. They’re gimmicks built to persuade you into buying the device. David Pierce from The Verge sums it up perfectly:

Much of what Samsung offers seems to be just for show, designed to give sales clerks something to demo that makes the GS4 unique.

Regardless of how I feel though, these marketing tactics have clearly worked, and for that I have to give Samsung props. They went from being mostly a smartphone supplier in 2009, to being the the largest smartphone maker in just 4 years.

samsung vs apple shipments Samsungs Galaxy S4: The gimmick smartphone

However, my gut tells me that this won’t last very long. If Samsung wants to leave a lasting impression on their customers, they need to create and market features that people really want and love to use. Loyalty is hard to buy in this industry, and if the recent data is any indication, Samsung may be in trouble.

In the end though, Samsung has done a remarkable job in marketing its last two flagship smartphones. But make no mistake, when you dig deep, many of the features you see in their commercials are not ones you’ll likely use in your everyday life. So, when buying a smartphone, take into consideration what features are practical versus what features are gimmicky. For some, the Galaxy S4 will still fit the bill. But if you’re skeptical, like me, take the time to research and find the smartphone that provides you with features and services you’ll actually use. It’ll save you from the pain you’ll have to deal with for 23 1/2 months after your purchase.

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