Samsung loves to make a splash when it announces its brand new Galaxy smartphones. The launch of the Galaxy S5 in Barcelona was no different. But this time the focus was on the smartphone and not theatrics and features that may or may not work.
Presumably Samsung learned something from last year’s Galaxy S4 launch—namely that the event was too ostentatious and the device too bloated with features that served more as marketing gimmicks than anything that actually helped users.
The Galaxy S5 launch had none of the skits or dancing children of last year. The same can be said for the device. For the Galaxy S5, Samsung has focused on lifestyle features for users and less on whiz-bang technology. If Samsung can live up to the simple message from the launch announcement at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Galaxy S5 may end up being a much better and more appealing device than its predecessor.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 will launch on April 11 in 150 countries. Samsung’s marketing for the phone focuses on five aspects of user experience: design, camera, fast connectivity, security and fitness.
The Galaxy S5 comes in four different colors (blue, white, black and copper gold) with a perforated back cover. It sports a 5.1-inch Full HD Super Amoled display with a screen that adapts to the light conditions as well as a new dimming feature for when you may be in dark rooms.
The phone ships with a 2,800 mAh battery and a new version of the power-saving features that have graced previous phones in the S line. TouchWiz, Samsung’s custom launcher, has been toned down and simplified—a striking departure, given that previous versions of TouchWiz were often more effective at getting in the way of users than helping them operate their smartphones.
Samsung toned down all of the features in the camera for the launch of the Galaxy S5. The 16-megapixel camera employs its own chipset within the phone and features a new automatic autofocus. The Galaxy S5 sports a new high dynamic range (HDR) imaging function that Samsung says can instantly control the light focus when taking pictures. The HDR in the Galaxy S5 will also work with video, which is newish in the smartphone world.
Samsung also is shipping a feature within the camera called Select Focus that allows for photographers to focus on one object while blurring the rest. At first glance, this seems to be a feature in the camera’s viewfinder, not a photo-editing tool.
The Galaxy S5 will support up to eight bands of LTE, which means it’ll work out of the box in just about any market in the world.
It also features Wi-Fi MIMO (802.11ac) and a “download booster” that supposedly combines data signals to pump up download speeds. Samsung claims the Galaxy S5 can download a gigabyte of data in 30 seconds.
A new “ultra power saving mode” will conserve battery by shutting the phone down to basically idle with only text and phone capabilities. Samsung claims that when the battery charge drops to 10%, the phone will go into ultra-saving mode, allowing it to stay awake for up to 24 hours.
Protection & Security
Samsung has a brand new fingerprint scanner in the Galaxy S5 that will allow for mobile payments (with PayPal), a “private mode” that locks your photos and data with your fingerprint. A “kid mode” is designed for parents whose children use their devices; it limits what those younger users can access.
The Galaxy S5 is water and dust resistant; it meets an “ingress protection” standard called IP67. It will be able to withstand rain or a short dunk, but not a swim in the lake. Water resistant does not mean waterproof.
Business users can order the Galaxy S5 with Samsung’s Knox security features. The phone also attaches to Google mobile services.
The fitness capabilities of the Galaxy S5 are wrapped around your wrist—literally.
Samsung has three new smartwatches to go along with the Galaxy S5: The Gear 2, Gear Neo and the Gear Fit. The new Gear devices ship with Linux-based Tizen as opposed to the Android of the first iteration Galaxy Gear. The Gear 2 has new apps and settings and watch faces that the original Gear didn’t have. The Gear 2 can track your heart rate and play music (with 4 GB of internal memory).
The Gear devices will be able to sync with 17 different Galaxy devices; by contrast, the Galaxy Gear only worked with the Galaxy Note 3 “phablet” at launch.
The Gear Fit is more of a fitness band than a smartwatch, as it includes a heart rate monitor and a pedometer. The Fit has a curved, Super AMOLED touchscreen device and is light at 27 grams. The Fit will also have notifications, a feature absent from most wearable fitness trackers.
To aggregate and analyze this data, the Galaxy S5 comes with Samsung’s S Health app and a digital coach. The Galaxy S5, like its smartwatch partners, also comes with its own heart rate monitor, built into the back of the device below the camera.