Samsung Galaxy Note Challenge is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen

Samsung has released a series of videos promoting its Galaxy Note, the dolphin-sized smartphone that’s meant to challenge Apple’s iPhone. Presumably by smothering it to death.

The spots feature “…an Android user [who had] just a few hours to play with the Samsung Galaxy Note,” a “smartphone user” playing the man-on-the-street role and a facilitator.

The facilitator asks the participants to perform three tasks with their phones. The Android user sails through each one easily while the hapless iPhone user stands gobsmacked and befuddled, which is exactly how I felt while watching this. I could’ve had a V8!

There are four huge lies in this bit, but that’s nothing compared the obvious contempt Samsung has for its potential customers. Let’s take this apart like a bullfrog in biology class.

Task Number One: Send A Birthday Greeting

"My 13-year-old niece will love this!"

The facilitator gets things rolling by asking the pair to create a birthday greeting for an imaginary niece or nephew. “Create some sort of customized message, really personal, nice, fun, big, bright, happy…something that’s going to really make their day,” he says, spraying adjectives all over the place like a literary garden sprinkler with ADD.

Mr. Note gets right to it, as if the Note were primed for the very task he’s been asked to perform. “I’m going to put my face on my little cousin’s favorite basketball player’s head” he says, which is weird because A.) it’s supposed to be for your niece or nephew and B.) why does he want a picture of Mr. Note’s head on LeBron? Wouldn’t Jr. find it funnier to see his own head on Mr. James’s shoulders? Plus, nothing says “Happy Birthday, nephew!” like a mutant athlete.

Here’s where it gets crazy. In the span of six seconds, Mr. Note uses the stylus, a tap, the keyboard and then the stylus again to accomplish whatever he’s doing on the screen (which isn’t shown). What a massive pain in the ass that must be. When we finally cut to the Note’s display, he’s already cropped his head out of an image. We don’t see how that was accomplished or how long it took. Just as he’s about to re-size the image, the camera cuts away for a second time. Drat! It’s as if they’re hiding the process. At last we watch as Mr. Note moves the selected image about 1/16th of an inch on the screen before cutting away again.

Here’s what we got to see of the Note creating a customized, really personal, nice, fun, big, bright, happy message:

  • Six seconds of tapping, swiping and scribbling with the stylus (screen not shown)
  • Two seconds of typing on the keyboard (screen shown)
  • Three seconds of typing (screen not shown)
  • Two seconds of swiping (?) with the stylus (screen not shown)
  • Two seconds of “cropping my head out here” (screen shown)
  • Ten seconds of drawing with the stylus (screen not shown)
  • Three seconds of selecting an image with the stylus (screen shown)
  • Two seconds of drawing with the stylus (screen not shown)
  • One second of dragging an image with the stylus (screen shown)

Total time spent showing on-screen image editing: eight seconds. I’ve had better glimpses of Bigfoot.

Meanwhile, the actress Samsung hired genuine iPhone user [1. Note that Samsung uses a woman to play the clueless iPhone owner in both of its challenge videos. Yes, there are two.] looks on and repeats the sentence, “My phone can’t do that” six times. Then she says that she made “smiley faces.”

Lie Number One: There Is No Image Editing Software For The iPhone

Your phone can do that, my friend. Here are five apps that will let you edit images on the iPhone.

  1. Camera+ ($1.99) My favorite.
  2. PhotoForge (1.99) Layer support! Put your head on a basketball player!
  3. PhotoMerge-Pro (0.99) Combine several photos into one. Just like Mr. Note!
  4. Photo fx (2.99)
  5. Adobe Photoshop Express (Free!)
  6. PhotoGene2 (0.99) It’s got a five-star rating across 413 reviews. So I’m guessing it’s a nice app. For less than a dollar.

I would have used Apple’s great Cards app (free) for this challenge. It allows me to create a custom, letter pressed greeting card that features a beautiful photo of my niece’s smiling face. When it arrives at her house, she’ll have a physical thing she can keep in her bedroom, show off to her family and so on. Send someone a card or a hand-written letter and witness what power it has in 2012. Trust me.

Task Number Two: Share Walking Directions With A Friend

"I wrote 'I wuv you' on the restaurant! DERP!

This one’s hilarious. The facilitator asks our heroes to create “…a way for them to know how to get from Point A to Point B.” The woman (we’ll call her Mrs. iPhone) asks, “…some sort of walking map?” as that segment fades in, so I assume he’s after walking directions specifically. Mrs. iPhone says, “I have Contacts, that’s about it.” The facilitator leaves her to wallow in the incorrect answer while Mr. Note gets busy.

He opens a mapping application and — get this — draws lines with the stylus onto the map, takes a picture of the result and then emails that image to his contact.

What what whaat?

Here’s why this is dumber than a hammer in a box of rocks.

  • If your contact has a smartphone, just email them the final destination’s address and let their GPS suss out the directions.
  • As Gizmodo points out, “the entire point of Google Maps is not needing to figure out directions on your own.”
  • This is in no way useful to the recipient. What if his/her point of origin changes? Since he’s only getting an image, there’s no live location data in there. Forget finding an alternate route on the fly!
  • Good luck reading street names on that teeny-tiny image.
  • It makes a dead-simple process difficult.

Lie Number Two: There Is No Mapping Application On The iPhone

Every iPhone ever made comes bundled with an application called Maps. Every iPhone ships with a GPS receiver.

There are so many ways to meet this challenge, I don’t know which one to pick! Here’s one:

  1. Find the start locaiton
  2. Find the destination
  3. Tap “Directions to here”
  4. Tap “Route”
  5. Tap the walking directions icon

Presto! A tidy line between Point A and Point B! And I didn’t even need a cumbersome stylus that I’d lose/drop/replace several times! At this point I can go Mr. Note’s route, take a screenshot and send it along. But I won’t because that sucks! Let’s explore another way to do this on an iPhone.

  1. Tap the final destination on the Maps app
  2. Tap “Share this location”
  3. Use one of the three options for sharing, like email
  4. Compose a message to my companion

Now she can use the GPS receiver on her own phone to map a route to our rendezvous, no matter where she’s starting from. Neat!

Oh, what the heck. One more!

It looks like Mr. Note mapped a short journey. Like I said, his image makes it hard to read street names. If we’re going to send an image too, let’s switch the directions to a step-by-step list.

  1. Once your phone has mapped the course, flip the page up
  2. Tap List
  3. Take an image of that and send it along

Much, much easier to read than a map.

Task Numer Three: Edit A PowerPoint Deck

"Scrolling = editing, right?"

Finally, the facilitator asks the pair to edit a PowerPoint deck. Reeling from her failure at mapping, not to mention forgetting her nephew’s birthday, Mrs. iPhone pokes at her iPhone’s display hesitantly, as if it were covered with a strong skin irritant.

“I don’t think I can do that,” she says.

“It’s got to be edited,” the facilitator emphasizes.

I know, jerk,” I think.

Meanwhile, Mr. Note has made revisions to the deck on his Note. Or at least we think he did. Here’s all we get to see of The Galaxy Note editing a PowerPoint presentation.

Don’t blink because it’s fast.

  • Eight seconds of tapping with the stylus (screen not shown)
  • One second of tapping with a finger (screen not shown)
  • Two seconds of scrolling from one slide to another (screen shown)
  • Three seconds of swiping with a finger (screen not shown)
  • Two seconds of tapping with the stylus (screen not shown)
  • Two seconds of moving a slide 1/16th of an inch (screen shown)

Total time spent showing on-screen PowerPoint editing: four seconds. Technically the answer is two, as he spent the first two seconds scrolling between slides. So two seconds.

Lie Number Three: The iPhone Cannot Edit PowerPoint Documents

Here are two apps that can edit PowerPoint files on the iPhone. I’ve never edited a PowerPoint file on my iPhone, so I didn’t know of these off the top of my head. I spent four or five seconds finding what I needed with Google, which is precisely what Mrs. iPhone could have done. Does the iPhone do Google searches? I’m not sure.

Lie Number Four: The Stylus Is Better Than The Finger

Here’s the tacit implication of the entire piece. It suggests that the stylus is a major win over the iPhone’s touchscreen. It’s not. You could argue that point with me, but consider this: does the video above demonstrate definitively that the stylus is superior? Does it prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that we ought to be using a stylus?


Do the people at Samsung really think that the public is that stupid? That the iPhone has no map? Or can’t edit a photo? That’s having contempt for your customers.

I’d be humiliated if my company’s name was on this. It is the dumbest thing I have ever seen.