Samsung’s Jelly Bean is a Galactic Let DownJune 25, 2013
For months I berated how long it took Samsung and my carrier to roll out the Jelly Bean upgrade to my phone, the original Galaxy Note. From the point where it had been promised, back in December, I found myself checking almost daily on-line for any news of an impending update.
There was no doubt in my mind that Jelly Bean was going to transform my phone. The evocatively named Project Butter was going to banish all trace of lag, delivering instant smooth responsiveness on a par with the iPhone. I would have Google Now anticipating my every need for up to the second information about weather, travel and my interests. Best of all, I would be able to multi-task thanks to multi-window, a feature Samsung had already introduced on the Galaxy Note II.
Well, about a month ago the long anticipated day dawned and Android 4.1.2 was finally rolled out via Kies to the UK Galaxy Note GT-N7000 on EE (T-Mobile). And my phone was indeed transformed, in every way for the worse.
I have no idea what went wrong with the implementation of Project Butter on the ROM that finally made it onto my phone. Project Sludge would have been more apt. My phone is now laggy and slow. I now have my own iPhone for comparison (my employer having issued one to me as a replacement for my work Blackberry) and find there is no comparison. The iPhone 5 is snappy and smooth. The Note on JB is a complete pig.
Google Now is OK. It is fine with local weather but not ground-breaking. It has utterly failed to get to grips with my travel needs. My commuting patterns are regular, albeit not trivial – for the last couple of months I have been working in London Tuesdays to Thursdays and at my office home base in Manchester on Mondays and Fridays. Google Now has not adapted very well. I am not always at the same hotels in London, which seems to confuse it. It is always giving me travel times to the hotels I was at the previous week. And it has not learned about my sporting or other interests. Overall not a complete failure but there is a lot of room for improvement and so far very little genuine added value.
And as for the multi-window feature I so longed for – the truth is I have never found any real occasion to use it. Firstly it is a pain to activate the multi-window mode if, as I do, you use a third party launcher to escape TouchWiz. You can leave the mode active but then get an annoying blue semicircle continuously planted halfway up the left side of the screen. But the real killer is that so very few apps are compatible with multi-window, and not in general the ones of value to me. Both Chrome and the Android stock browser are MW enabled but the only browser I can get on with is Dolphin and that is not MW compatible.
And that’s not the worst of it. Battery life has gone to hell. Before JB I could get through a working day without charging the phone something like 9 times out of ten. At the moment I can barely get to late afternoon before the phone is down to 15% charge or less. And it seems to be getting worse. It may be all the additional Samsung bloatware that came with 4.1.2 but I’ve eliminated the impact of that as far as I can. I’ve tried every battery consumption analysis app, every tweak, every trick. I am certain it is just down to the way JB has been packaged and implemented for the phone.
From an investigation on-line it looks like many others have had similar experiences. I don’t believe Google mistepped with JB. My money is firmly on this disaster being down to Samsung’s insistence on messing with JB to add their own apps and features, few of which are of any value or benefit. The only new feature which has been of use has been “smart stay” which stops the screen being turned off if the front facing camera detects that the user is looking at the screen. It is not infallible, but it is now rare for the screen to turn off when I’m looking at it.
As has oft been said, be careful what you wish for. Taken as a whole, JB has been a major setback for my enjoyment of my phone. As soon as I can find the time I shall investigate a suitable third party ROM.