There had to be a way.
Last week, after I wrote about my wife’s complete reluctance to even consider buying a newthere was a world outcry.
Well, a lot of people wrote to me saying: “I have to agree with your wife.”
She, you see, is perfectly happy with her Galaxy S7, decrepit though it might be. I look at it with grim despair and hope that Samsung has come up with something that might inspire her to upgrade.
So, despite the somewhat tepid reception for the new Galaxy S20, I went to see the phone for myself. Perhaps if I could feel enthusiastic about it, my wife might at least venture to a store to be tempted. (I live to dream.)
I chose a Best Buy for my latest adventure. There, I’ve generally experienced customer service that’s been, at the very least, entertaining.
The Samsung display hit me as soon as I walked in.
First, I picked up the S20. It’s unquestionably sleek and makes my iPhone XR look and feel like a frozen steak and kidney pie.
The S20 is very recognizably Samsung, but in a way that doesn’t truly differ from, oh, the Galaxy S9. So I looked at the two other phones in the series. Both felt quite tall, the S20 Ultra absurdly so.
It was time, though, to ask the Best Buy salesman hovering nonchalantly behind his counter what he thought.
“I see you have the Galaxy S20,” I began gently. “Is it any good?”
“It’s a great phone. A great phone,” he replied.
“Oh,” I said, somewhat startled by this hearty praise. “You see, my wife has a Galaxy S7 and I’ve been trying to talk her into a new phone.”
“An S7?” he said, trying not to snigger. “Tell her that everything about the S20 is better than the phone she’s got. Literally everything.”
“The camera, the speed, the screen, just everything. Except making calls, because that’s always the same.”
I was moved by this optimism.
“So of the three new phones, which one would you get?” I asked.
“The Ultra,” he said definitively. “That’s a really great phone.”
“But it’s $ 1,400,” I wept.
“Yeah, but those cameras and the whole package.”
“So are you going to get one?” I wondered
“No, it’s got one thing missing.”
“It’s not an iPhone.”
He seemed genuinely sad about this. Was it merely absurd brand loyalty, something many say has infected Apple users? It felt like a yearning for Apple to create something, in his view, this good.
“So you’re so embedded in the Apple ecosystem that you can’t get out?” I asked.
“I don’t have a lot of Apple stuff,” he said. “But my friends and family all have iPhones, so it makes it a lot easier.”
How painful to be kidnapped by the tech decisions of your friends and your family. They’ll be choosing your spouse next.
I took another look at the S20 Ultra and felt sure it was far bigger than my wife’s hands. Both of them, stacked one on top of the other.
At this point, a Geek Squad member who’d been listening to the conversation explained modern life.
He said: “A lot of these phones, it’s all about the camera, all about the Instagram. Does your wife do Instagram?”
“She does. A little.”
“Then she’s going to love the S20. Hell, she’d love the S10.” Last year’s phone was perched on the same table as the S20, hoping to catch the eye of the frugal.
“How much is the S10 these days?” I ventured.
“There’s not much of a discount on them right now,” said the salesman. “They’re $ 700.”
But that’s half of what the gargantuan Ultra would cost. And surely my wife might be tempted into a more elevated Instagram game. (Did I mention I live to dream?)
The salesman went further in his quest to help. He tried to see if Best Buy would offer my wife anything for her S7.
“Normally, her phone isn’t worth anything,” he said, as I nodded. “But right now we’d give her 200 bucks for it.”
That seemed eminently reasonable. So surely there was a fly in this ointment of inducement.
Here it was, from the salesman: “She’d have to buy the S20.”
I walked away thinking the S20 was very nice, but the promises it bore weren’t attractive enough. Certainly not for my wife. But it made me think I could take her to see it and then casually wink toward the more economical S10.
My visit to Best Buy made me realize that the S20 is a phone made for existing Samsung owners who don’t mind spending on the latest thing. It’s not quite enough, though, to lure any possible switchers.
The reason Samsung had rushed out its folding phones, I fear, was that it’s desperate to woo away the supposed tastemakers who have iPhones and then hope for a small trickle-down effect.
Still, this was only the first step in my crusade to see if anything could possibly drag my wife toward a new phone. She is, after all, more of a typical consumer and she is convinced a new phone isn’t worth it.
Now I had to see if she’d at least be prepared to see the S20. Or even the S10.
The best time to broach this was surely on our next dinner out.