Samsung: why do you hate the early adopters?
28th Jun 2013 | 12:00
It's like we're being punished for buying your phones
I've got a real problem. I'm just too clumsy. Last year, the one day I took my Galaxy S3 out of its case - the one day - it met a grizzly end thanks to a kamikaze style jump from my gym locker onto the changing room floor. And they say that exercise is good for you!
I'm not alone in resenting "having" to put a case on my phone. I want to enjoy the pure experience, but instead, the first thing I do when I buy a handset is spend a small fortune maxing out on protection - because, despite the pledges of Gorilla Glass and Dragon's Trails, the stupid things break SO EASILY .
It's inconvenient, it's not ideal, but important. I'm proud to say I practice safe phone.
But now, I sit here with my lovely Galaxy S4 wrapped up like a newborn child when all I really want to do is rip that case off and stare at it all day long. If only the S4 was a bit tougher and could withstand as many of life's knocks as I've had, I'd be a happy chap.
Well it is, Samsung's just unveiled the Galaxy S4 Active. It's waterproof, it's sturdy, it's got nearly all the same specs as the standard version. It's the phone for me. Hands down. I want it. The problem is, I've just spent a wad of cash on the S4.
I watched the unveiling, I waited (impatiently) for a month for release and I queued (like a fool) on that morning in April to get that cold, hard-but-not-so-tough plastic in my hands. And now I'm left feeling like the one that's missed out.
Why? Because this strategy of manufacturers, to get us to buy their latest wares and then unveil a different alternative just weeks later, really sucks. It makes the early adopters - you know, the real fans - look like idiots. And makes them feel mugged off.
When I was a kid, I'd save up my pennies to go buy an album from the record shop and then feel outraged when it was re-released as a bonus edition months later, with extra tracks, for the same price. Spending my pocket money on a CD was bad enough. But putting down hundreds on a phone (or a lifetime signed away to airtime) is so much worse.
Some would say that there's nothing to complain about - that I wanted an S4 and I got an S4. So why complain when something else is announced that trumps it? You get what you pay for.
The failure of blinding trust
Well, put simply, I think manufacturers like Samsung are taking the proverbial here. Had the S4 Active (and other variants) been announced at the same time, I could have weighed up the options. Would I like the Mini, the Active or the Advanced LTE model (if it comes to these shores).
Instead, I blindy handed over my notes to Samsung like the Apple sheep I often ridicule, trusting them to give me the best model.
And that's where Apple has the edge here. It unveils its products together in groups. You won't find an iPad being announced at one show and then another model announced a few weeks later. You'll know if you're getting a 16GB, 32GB, 64GB or 128GB model at the same time so can make an informed choice. Same with the iPhone.
If updates are announced, there's enough space between them to make you feel less of a plonker in plumping for one. If you really want to copy Cupertino, Mr Shin, copy this strategy!
Six months is fine between product announcements. Six weeks, not so much, Samsung. I'd love to get my hands on the Galaxy S4 Active, but even I can't justify it to myself or my bank account. And frankly, going through the private sale route is just an extra hassle I don't need.
The likelihood is, I may end up with one in my pocket if my clumsiness continues - but only because my S4 has gone unintentionally to an early grave. In the meantime, the lesson learned here is that being an early adopter is becoming a punishment, rather than a badge of honour.
I've reviewed dozens of phones and tablets for TechRadar over the years – each time putting them through their paces in the most unbiased, rigorous way possible.
But as well as being a professional, I have a love/hate relationship with tech, and that's what these columns are all about: the passionate howlings of a true fanboy. Tell me why I'm right, wrong or a hopeless idiot in the comments below or by tweeting@techradaror @phillavelle.