Samsung has just launched its next flagship phone – the Galaxy S5 – at its Unpacked event at Mobile World Congress. The new phone will launch in 150 countries on April 11 and features a 5.1 inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, a 16 MP camera with fast autofocus and an enhanced HDR mode, a fingerprint scanner in the home button and a new heart rate monitor built into the device.
It’s also dust- and water-resistant – features borrowed from last year’s Galaxy S4 Active. The IP67 ingress protection rating means that the device is totally protected against dust, and is protected against the effect of immersion between 15cm and 1m.
The whole show’s run by a 2.5 Ghz quad core processor with 2GB RAM. It can connect to Category 4 LTE and Wifi MIMO 802.11ac networks with “smart bonding” to combine both Wi-fi and LTE network connectivity – you might want to keep your data allowance in check for that one.
The 2800 mAh battery should keep the phone going for a while, but when the battery gets low it features an “Ultra Power Saving” mode which turns the screen to black & white and shuts down unnecessary functions. The company says that the phone can last 24 hours with 10% battery in Ultra Power Saving mode.
Samsung says they’ve crafted a “clean and vibrant” user experience on the S5, but we actually didn’t see much by way of actual screens during the event. From the brief flashes we did see, they don’t seem to have changed a lot about the general user experience of the phone over the S4. There’s a new settings menu, which may or may not end up being simpler to navigate.
While it seems like the rumours of Samsung toning down their Android customisations haven’t borne fruit, it does seem that the rumour of them bundling Google’s services over their own may come to pass. The Galaxy S5 comes with all of Google’s Play apps (Newsstand, Books, Movies & TV, Music and Games) bundled with the device.
The device also features Samsung’s updated button arrangement, first seen on the Note PRO and Tab PRO devices. Samsung’s replaced the capacitive menu button with a multitasking button, but they’re still the “wrong” way around (though there’s some debate about that within the Ausdroid team).
The USB port now has a cover over it – probably related to the IP67 rating – but it’s not clear whether it’s removable, or attached to the body of the device itself. If it’s attached, it could prove an interesting challenge for case manufacturers.
Finally, Samsung glossed over accessories but specifically mentioned covers and wireless charging. They also teased “Samsung Sound” premium headphones, but didn’t go into any detail on any of these items.
Glam looks in four colours
While the design of the phone hasn’t strayed far from that of its successors, the S5 features a bold new perforated perforated pattern on the back cover creating a “modern glam look”, to striking effect on the blue and gold versions. It actually lends the phone a nice, distinctive look and the perforations are said to enhance grip.
The device will come in charcoal Black, shimmery White, electric Blue and copper Gold.
While Samsung’s well known to add more colours over the course of a device (that purple Galaxy S4 is still hot as far as I’m concerned), it’s great to see more colours coming from phone manufacturers at launch.
One of the big talking points with any new phone is its camera. While Samsung didn’t go into as much detail on the 16MP camera as they did in last year’s Galaxy S4 launch, they did provide a few basic points.
Samsung’s new “Hybrid AF” combines standard contrast autofocus features with Phase Detection autofocus, giving a stated autofocus performance of 0.3 seconds which the company says is great for capturing moving objects. It can also handle selective focus, allowing you to bring people into sharp focus and blur backgrounds out as you’ll commonly see with some DSLR lenses.
The camera also brings an enhanced HDR mode (“Rich tone”, as Samsung calls it) which instantly controls exposure when you focus to give more accurate contrast and colour reproduction. In what the company says is a first, the feature also works on video.
The phone also has a companion chipset for image processing, and is said to include an enhanced user experience on the camera, although we never got to see the camera software specifically.
Samsung’s placing a greater emphasis on fitness in the S5, and of course the phone integrates with the Gear 2 and Gear Fit devices. The company would like you to think of the phone as “the coach that won’t quit on you”.
The newest version of S Health (3.0 for those of you counting) wants to help you track your exercise, food, sleep, stress, weight. The software offers a pedometer, integrates with the new heat rate sensor on the back of the phone and includes tools to help you track your diet and exercise records.
The phone also features ANT+ compatibility, so it can communicate with a bunch of fitness accessories already on the market using this standard.
Samsung’s integrated a fingerprint scanner into the home button of the device, and says that it provides “the ultimate password” for validating your identity. Your fingerprint is encrypted on-device and the company says it is never shared.
Your fingerprint provides security (and privacy) on your device, and is used for authenticating your identity for mobile payments.
The company showed a PayPal app on screen accepting a fingerprint to authorise a payment, but it’s not clear whether that was a mockup or an actual screenshot of a real app.
Interestingly, Samsung will also use your fingerprint to enter “Private mode” with protected storage that’s not available without authentication. It’s expected that you’d store sensitive documents in this area – or, you know, naughty selfies.
- 5.1” FHD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080)
- 2.5GHz Quad core application processor
- 2GB RAM
- 16/32GB on-board Storage with microSD slot upto 64GB
- 16MP (rear), 2.1MP (front
- IP67 Dust and water Resistant
- 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac HT80, MIMO(2×2), Bluetooth 4.0 BLE/ANT+
- NFC and IR Remote
- Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, Hall, RGB ambient light, Gesture(IR), Finger Scanner, Heart rate sensor
- LTE Cat.4 (150/50Mbps)
- 2800mAh Battery – Standby time: 390 hrs / Talk time: 21 hrs
- Android 4.4.2 (Kitkat)
- 142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1mm @ 145g
We’ll be updating the site with Australian launch details for the Galaxy S5 over the course of the day.
Are you sold on the Galaxy S5? Will you be hunting one down at launch? Let us know in the comments!