Samsung Galaxy S5: Can ‘less gimmicks’ approach boost flagging sales?
February 25, 2014
Samsung has launched its flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone, with an iPhone 5S-like finger print sensor, water-resistance, faster camera and a range fitness-related features, as the world’s largest phone maker looks to boost its slowing growth.
The new phone will go on sale worldwide on April 11. The company didn't announce a price; its predecessor sold for about $600 without phone subsidies or a contract.
The S5 has a fingerprint sensor to use in place of a passcode to unlock the phone or make payments through PayPal.
Launched at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the phone features a slightly larger 5.1-inch Super AMOLED (1080 X 1920p) display and looks similar to that of the Galaxy S4.
Powered by a 2.5GHz quad-core processor and 2GB RAM, the Galaxy S5 will come in 16GB and 32GB internal storage variants, which will be expandable up to 64GB through microSD card.
The South Korea-based firm also claimed to have made the "world's fastest" auto-focusing camera.
Another feature impressing the crowd at MCW was the device's black-and-white mode - designed to save battery life by limiting the power used by the screen and disabling all but essential features such as text and calls.
The smartphone runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. It is IP67 certified dust and water-resistant. The back panel of the phone sports a dimpled soft-touch cover, similar to the Nexus 7(2012) tablet.
Watch this promotional video showcasing the Galaxy 5's key features here:
In addition to two smartwatches announced on Sunday - the Gear and Gear 2 Neo - Samsung also added the Gear Fit, a smartband that is focused on fitness.
"With the enhanced S Health 3.0, the Galaxy S5 offers more tools to help people stay fit and well. It provides a comprehensive personal fitness tracker to help users monitor and manage their behaviour, along with additional tools, including a pedometer, diet and exercise records, and a new, built-in heart rate monitor," said a Samsung spokesperson.
"Galaxy S5 users can further customize their experience with an enriched third party app ecosystem and the ability to pair with next-generation Gear products for real-time fitness coaching."
Another highlight of the phone is a new iPhone-like fingerprint sensor integrated with the phone's home button. The finger scanner will offer a biometric screen-locking feature and mobile payment experience to consumers. Parents, meanwhile, will enjoy the ability to hand the phone to a kid without worry. Just place it in a kid's mode, and only approved apps can be accessed.
Extended battery life
Samsung's Galaxy S5 also has arrange of improved battery life features, with an expected 10 hours of web browsing and 12 hours of video playback on a single charge.
A new "ultra power-saving mode" makes the screen black-and-white and turns off all the non-essential services on the phone. Samsung claims that if the phone is in standby mode with only 10% of the battery left, it will still last "up to 24 hours" before running out of juice.
Challenge from new generation of competitors
Samsung's Galaxy S series has emerged as one of the strongest challengers to Apple's iPhones and has helped the Korean company surpass Apple as the world's largest smartphone maker. According to Gartner, Samsung's smartphones had a worldwide market share of 31 percent last year, compared with 16 percent for Apple's iPhones. But the company now faces a growing threat from emerging Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi, ZTE and Lenovo.
"With the Galaxy S5, Samsung is going back to basics to focus on delivering the capabilities that matter most to our consumers," said JK Shin, president and head of IT & mobile communications division at Samsung. "Galaxy S5 represents an iconic design with essential and useful features to focus on delivering the ultimate smartphone in the market today through people inspired innovation."
While acknowledging the lukewarm critical reception and lesser-than-expected sales of Galaxy S4, Shin revealed that Samsung had so far sold over 200 million units of Galaxy S series phones.
Usually, Samsung launches flagship Galaxy phone every year after World Mobile Congress (MWC). But, this year, the company announced Galaxy S5 at the MWC because it wants to replace Galaxy S4 as soon as possible.
Sticking with Android: No Tizen (for now)
Some had speculated before the event that Samsung would eventually drop Google's Android software in favour of a fledgling system known as Tizen.
However, while the company's new smartwatches will use Tizen rather than Android, the flagship smartphone is, for now, sticking with Google's system.
This is likely to be of relief to the search giant - it is Samsung's enormous market share that makes Android the most popular mobile operating system.