There are certain things you don't expect to see when you drop $1,380 on a smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip. One of those things is advertisements in the phone app — but that's precisely what one journalist testing out the Z Flip has been greeted with.
A tweet (opens in new tab) from CNBC's Todd Haselton picked up by Android Central (opens in new tab) shows an ad for DirecTV smack dab in the middle of the Places portion of the dialer. Haselton notes that the Z Flip is not the only Samsung phone that behaves this way, while other critics, like PCMag's Sascha Segan, contest that the Places tab is out of the way and therefore most users probably won't discover the ad. But indeed, it is there.
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Much like bloatware on high-end Android phones, coming across an ad like this example from the Z Flip is frustrating. You'd think that Z Flip buyers are paying for the privilege to avoid this stuff (not to mention in the dialer of all places). I was shocked with the amount of unwanted software pre-loaded onto the $1,500 Motorola Razr when I reviewed that foldable, and Samsung's strategy here leaves a similarly bad taste in my mouth.
Samsung has ads in the phone app — the app you open to place calls — on its $1,380 Galaxy Z Flip. 🙄 pic.twitter.com/tuWr2PxSYhFebruary 18, 2020
A few years ago, Amazon used to sell Prime Exclusive phones — handsets that were sometimes heavily subsidized, though the tradeoff was that owners would be served ads on the device's lock screen. At least in that instance, buyers were aware of the bargain, and they stood to benefit from compelling discounts if they didn't mind an ad here and there. What's more, they had the right to opt out at any moment during the life of the device, by paying a fee. At that point, the ads would simply disappear.
This is different, though. And while what Samsung's done here is far from the most egregious example of surprise ads on phones — it's been sequestered off to a corner of the interface — it is frustrating nevertheless.
Judging from the cracking glass display horror stories and the apparent fragility of the panel, buyers who choose the Z Flip are taking a risk simply by choosing to invest in a foldable phone. They expect a suitably unique, premium experience, and to that end, I don't think these ads mesh with those reasonable expectations. The least Samsung could do is disable them on its priciest phones.