I don’t have a Samsung smartphone, but if I did, I’d be pretty pissed about paying anywhere from $1,400-$2,800 for a device that comes packed full of native advertising. Your not-so-meager investment apparently isn’t enough for Samsung, which has taken to filling its default apps on its devices full of ads. There are even ads in the Phone app.
Samsung has ads in the phone app — the app you open to place calls — on its $1,380 Galaxy Z Flip. ???? pic.twitter.com/tuWr2PxSYh
— Todd Haselton (@robotodd) February 18, 2020
Advertising is an unfortunate and necessary part of some aspects of the digital experience — please don’t blast me in the comments for that which I have no control over — but it’s not the kind of thing one would expect to see on a device that already cost a huge chunk of change. Welcome to your life on a Samsung Android. As Android Police reports, Samsung has dumped ads all over its devices and apps. Max Weinbach writes:
“These ads are showing up on my $2,800 Galaxy Fold, $1,900 Z Flip, $2,000 S20 Ultra, $1,700 S20+, $1,500 Note 10+, $1,400 S10+, and $1,000 S10e along with the $145 A10e. I can understand it on a $145 phone, but it is inexcusable to have them on a $1,000 phone, let alone a $2,800 phone.”
I wouldn’t bother wasting time poring over your device’s settings to try and disable Samsung’s advertising. Though there are options that sound like they’ll work — quite a few, in fact, hidden all over your phone — that’s exactly what Max seems to have done with his devices, but it didn’t prevent Samsung’s apps from filling up with advertising anyway:
“You can shut off personalised marketing notifications in Settings, but that only disables targeted ads, meaning ads will still be shown, they just won’t be personal to you. You can disable Customisation Services, which Samsung uses to pull your data to get targeted ads, but once again, you’ll still get the ads. Unfortunately, you can’t really get rid of Samsung’s ads.
Some of you might not notice ads on your Samsung phone. It’s very possible you don’t have them, but what’s more likely is you don’t use any Samsung apps that show the ads, or that there are ads in some of the apps you use, and that you just don’t notice them. As I mentioned earlier, Samsung does a great job of hiding their ads and making them look like native content you would normally find in the respective app. This is by design.”
How to fight back against your Samsung phone’s many ads
If you’re tired of advertising permeating your various Samsung apps, there are few solutions you can try. The first, and easiest, is to simply stop using Samsung’s apps. Uninstall them if you can; if you can’t, you might need to jump through a few extra hoops to remove them from your phone. But even if you don’t go that far, simply disabling the offending installed-by-default apps and hiding them in your App Drawer should be enough. Finding replacements should take all of five minutes; Max already has a helpful list for you to try:
Of course, you have quite a few options for weather apps (even now that the best one, Dark Sky, is owned by Apple). And I’d recommend an app like Spotify or Google Play Music/YouTube Music over Samsung Music, or even something like VLC or Musicolet if you’ve dumped a lot of your own music files onto your device.
If you must stick with Samsung’s apps, you can always try another approach: adblocking. I recommend setting up the free AdGuard service using your device’s “Private DNS” feature, which should at least help block adds across your operating system when you’re using wifi. (I use AdGuard on a Raspberry Pi to block ads on every device on my home network, and I couldn’t be happier.)
The only caveat to that advice is that I don’t have a Samsung Android, so I can’t confirm if this trick will indeed block the company’s many, many ads. If it doesn’t work, at least you’ll reduce the number of ads you see when you’re browsing the web.
I wouldn’t recommend rooting your device and trying to replace the ROM with something less advertising-friendly. That sounds like a great idea on paper, but it feels like overkill for what you’re trying to accomplish. Thankfully, Samsung’s apps are hardly best-in-class for their respective categories, so if the ad-blocking method doesn’t work, finding those replacements shouldn’t be much of a challenge.
More importantly, you might want to think about how you feel about this practice when it’s time to upgrade your Android. If Samsung is willing to fill its apps full of ads, how much more could they do to otherwise muck up your Android experience for some extra cash? Drop an ad on the notification whenever your phone rings? Append an ad to your keyboard while you’re replying to a messaging thread? The possibilities are endless. While Samsung might never go as far as you fear they could, it’s worth considering before you choose one of Samsung’s flagship Androids over a rival’s. Maybe the latter phone won’t be as feature-drenched — but it might also be a lot less annoying.