Samsung Galaxy S5: reviews of the new smartphone

Samsung's Galaxy S5, which launched tonight, is waterproof and comes with a fingerprint payment system

LAST UPDATED AT 15:30 ON Mon 24 Feb 2014

THE Samsung Galaxy S5, unveiled last night at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, disappointed some by failing to deliver many of the features that had been predicted during months of speculation, but was described by others as a quietly impressive phone.

New features include a much-improved camera, and integrated fingerprint reader and heart rate monitor, and a waterproof and dust-proof seal. 

“Samsung was a victim of its own hype,” says TechRadar. “We were all expecting a grand step forward, the first manufacturer to bring a [super-high resolution] 2K screen to the masses.”

In fact, the Galaxy S5’s screen will be slightly less sharp than that on its predecessor, the S4. It will have the same number of pixels, but spread over a fractionally larger area.

Many had predicted that the new phone would come with an all-metal frame, but it retains a plastic rear panel, even if most commentators agreed that the material is of a higher grade than on the S4.

Matt Warman, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said people would find more to get excited about when they looked in more detail.

“The S5 is a major hardware upgrade masquerading as a minor update,” he says. “It feels better in the hand, it now allows you to take photographs and adjust the focus afterwards, … and thanks to a fingerprint scanner you can now use your fingerprint to pay for online shopping via PayPal.”

Despite the removable plastic cover and battery, the Galaxy S5 is waterproof for half an hour at a depth of one metre, which should be enough to cope with all but the most serious aquatic accidents.

The 16-megapixel camera has won praise from many of the first reviewers. It "focuses in 0.3 seconds", says the Independent, and includes "genuine ground-breaking features" that let you preview HDR photos – the colourful 'high dynamic range' images popular on photo-sharing sites such as Instagram.

Samsung has also installed a heart rate monitor just beneath the camera, which works in conjunction with a pedometer to monitor the fitness of the user.

But perhaps the most practical feature is an innovative Ultra Power Saving mode. "When the battery is critically low on juice, the S5’s display will revert to black and white, dropping all colours, in order to scrape out as much as possible from the remaining charge," Know Your Mobile explains. "You can also customise what features you deem essential such as calls, SMS and internet connection."

Samsung Galaxy S5 specs

5.1inch full HD Super Amoled screen
Android 4.4 operating system
Quad Krait 2.5GHz processor
16 megapixel camera
Dimensions: 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm
Weight: 145g
Price: TBC
 

Samsung Galaxy S5 launches tonight

February 24

THE Samsung Galaxy S5 – expected to launch tonight – will bring new meaning to the phrase ‘fingertip control’, according to leaked information about the new smartphone.

And, as anticipation builds, other reports suggest the new handset could be waterproof  and cheaper than its predecessor.

A fingerprint scanner on the S5 will be able to differentiate between up to eight fingers, according to Samsung news website Sammobile, which says users will be able to assign a different task to each one.

So, for example, you might use your right-hand thumb to unlock the phone and your index finger to launch a weather app.

The website says that the fingerprint sensor, which will be built into the Galaxy S5’s ‘home’ button, only works with dry fingers and must be used in a particular way.

“The sensor itself works in a swipe manner,” the report says, “which means that you would need to swipe the entire pad of your finger, from base to tip, across the home key to register your fingerprint properly.

Apple included a fingerprint reader in the iPhone 5S, which it launched last year, but the sensor could only be used to unlock the phone – not to launch apps or perform specific tasks.

Reports from South Korea suggest that the Galaxy S5 may be water-resistant. "Users can clean the phone with water while it can sustain short durations of dunking the phone in water," said ZDnet Korea, citing unnamed sources. That claim is strengthened by marketing material published by O2 Germany, which shows the phone submerged in water.

The new Galaxy S5 may also cost less than had previously been expected, according to reports published today. Bloomberg says that "Samsung may start selling the new phone for less than previous models in the S series after encouragement by at least one wireless carrier".

The Financial Times suggested that although gadget fans may be excited by the rumoured new features, financial analysts are concerned about their cost. 

"Marcello Ahn, a fund manager at Quad Investment Management, says such improvements would increase the production cost of the phone without adding greatly to its appeal," the paper reported. "He thinks the modest interest in the new flagship phone is also a reflection that investors expect growth in smartphone sales to come increasingly from sales of more modestly priced devices in developing countries, instead of from the saturated premium market."

Nevertheless, technology websites have been awash with rumours about the Galaxy S5 since the release of its predecessor, the Galaxy S4, early last year. Expectations have ranged from a curved screen – which has also been predicted for the iPhone – to a 16-megapixel camera.  

Price

Sammobile, a website dedicated to Samsung news, suggests the company will follow the lead of its great rival Apple by making the Galaxy S5 available in both plastic and metal. It says the metal version will cost around €800 (about £670), while the plastic version will sell at €650 (£540).

Performance

An Italian website has published screenshots that suggest the S5 will be built around a powerful 2.5GHz Snapdragon processor and 2GB of RAM. "Specs still could be different at release," cautions CBR Online, which suggests that the screenshots could result from "testing a 'mule' device, one that is used to refine the phone before launch".

Construction

Some commentators have predicted that Samsung will introduce a metal frame for the Galaxy S5, taking the S4's metal trim to its logical conclusion and driving the flagship model further upmarket. However, CNET's Jessica Dolhourt is unconvinced. "I wouldn't be at all surprised if Samsung stuck with its mostly-plastic formula," she writes. "The inexpensive materials keep phones lighter, production costs lower, and margins higher." 

Screen specs

The technology site Mashable yesterday posted an image of what appears to be the new home-screen of the Galaxy S5 (pictured below). The new interface is similar to Google Now and features two columns, both containing a list of brightly coloured cards in each, relevant to your current location and recent activity.

Expert Reviews suggests that although the Galaxy S5 will, like its predecessor, have a five-inch screen, the resolution will increase substantially – to 2560x1440 pixels. That compares with 1920x1080 on the S4. Rumours of a curved display for the S5 have been all but abandoned, with Expert Reviews noting that “given the desire and demand that the S5 will likely have, a standard flat screen, albeit one with a super-high-resolution, seems like a safer bet.”

Battery

Mobile phone website Phone Arena says it has received a tip-off that the S5 will sport a new kind of Lithium-ion battery with rapid-charging technology that will bring the handset to full power in two hours.
 
Phone Arena also claims the S5’s battery will be more powerful than its predecessor, but the energy consumption of the new screen means that its battery life is unlikely to be any longer.

Anything else?

The S5 is widely expected to receive a substantial upgrade on the inside too, meaning faster downloads and a more powerful, more responsive phone. The British chip-maker ARM has confirmed that it is supplying Samsung with 64-bit processors for a smartphone due to launch this year. If that turns out to mean the S5, the new phone would match the power of the latest iPhone models.

Stuff magazine reports that the S5 will harbour more impressive air gesture controls than its predecessor, the S4. That means that a user may be able to swipe through menus or photo galleries without touching the screen, or even that the phone will "recognise handwriting in mid-air". Stuff admits to some reservations about the function’s usefulness: "We've never been completely convinced of its usefulness," it says, "but it's a neat party trick."
 
And as with all Samsung’s flagship smartphones, the S5 is likely to be followed by a smaller Galaxy S5 Mini and a long-lensed Galaxy S5 Zoom, probably in May or June.
 

Galaxy S5: Samsung 'to launch two models'

17 January  

SAMSUNG'S new Galaxy S5 will come in two variants, according to the latest reports about the hotly anticipated smartphone.

A series of test data shows that Samsung is preparing two models for launch, according to International Business Times. "Despite supposedly being both S5 models, the two units reportedly have extremely different specs," the website reported.

The more basic model has a 1080p high-definition screen, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of memory. The Prime version has a more powerful Snapdragon 800 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of memory and a 13-megapixel camera. It also has an ultrasharp 2K screen resolution.

Two weeks ago the company sent out invitations to an event called Unpacked 5, scheduled for the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 24.

Previous leaks have suggested that the Galaxy S5 will feature a beefed-up processor, a slick metal casing and an ultra-high-resolution smart-screen that will demonstrate Samsung’s determination to compete with Apple at the top end of the smartphone market, commentators say.

The most recent reports suggest that Samsung may use the Prime model to compete for the top end of the market, while the cheaper Standard handset would be pitched to more cost-sensitive buyers. Last year Apple split its iPhone range for the first time, introducing the premium 5S and slightly cheaper 5C models.

Creative commons image by Sally Tudor · 

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