Sometime in the last few years, “Android phones” got replaced by the Samsung Galaxy series in most people’s eyes. They still run the Android operating system, and so do most of their competitors, like the HTC One. But somewhere along the line Samsung Galaxy became a bigger brand than Android itself … even bigger than Verizon’s Droid series of Android phones.
Most smartphone shoppers seem to have a sense for how Samsung Galaxy phones compare to the iPhone, thanks in no small part to Samsung’s attack ads on TV. But those aren’t your only two options, for high-end or low-end smartphones. Besides other Android competitors, Nokia makes a lineup of Windows phones, which may be the industry’s best-kept secret. They work differently from what you’re probably used to, but in many ways that’s a good thing.
Here’s how Nokia’s lineup of Lumia Windows Phone devices stacks up to the Samsung Galaxy series!
Samsung Galaxy smartphones are … well, big. And they have very bright screens. The higher-end models have a lot of raw power, while the Galaxy Note series come with the S Pen accessory, which is a pressure-sensitive stylus that works with certain note-taking and drawing apps. They’re also bigger than even the Galaxy S smartphone, and are almost the size of an iPad Mini or a Nexus 7 tablet.
Higher-end Nokia Lumia phones are closer to the iPhone in build quality than the plastic-y Samsung Galaxies. Most of them are brightly-colored, and some let you swap the backplate out for differently-colored ones. The higher end Lumias have professional-quality cameras with Carl Zeiss lenses, while the low-end Lumia 520 and 521 are some of the best values for prepaid smartphones, with 8 GB of storage and dual-core processors for $59 to $69.
One Nokia Lumia model, the 1520, is about the size of a Galaxy Note, but it doesn’t come with a pen.
Samsung Galaxy smartphones run the Android operating system. Most of them use a customized version, which was designed to resemble the iPhone so closely that Apple sued them for it. It has a lot of features most Android phones don’t have, like being able to run two apps side-by-side. But these don’t work with all Android apps, and cause trouble for some app developers.
Nokia Lumia smartphones run the Windows Phone operating system. It lacks some features that Android owners are used to, but the latest update brought many of those features to Windows phones, like the pull-down notification bar and the ability to store games and apps on a microSD card. It uses a Start screen with “Live Tiles” instead of rows of icons; these let you see what’s up with your apps at a glance.
The Windows Phone store has far fewer games and apps than the Google Play store, which Samsung Galaxy smartphones use. It has a number of exclusive games from Microsoft Studios, though, including Crimson Dragon: Side Story and Halo: Spartan Assault.
On the other hand, Samsung Galaxy phones tend to come with two apps for everything, as Samsung is trying to duplicate Google’s apps and services. And it’s hard to get rid of or hide their clutter, since they won’t let you uninstall many preloaded apps, unlike on a Nokia Lumia.