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Monday, February 24, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5 officially announced - Waterproof, Finger Scanner and Heart Rate Sensor


Samsung Galaxy S5

The Samsung Galaxy S5 was officially announced during Samsung's Unpacked 5 event, which tool place in Barcelona alongside the MWC. Samsung's announcement was a low-key event this year compared to the glitzy dedicated presentations that we saw for the previous two editions of the Galaxy S line.

In terms of design, the Galaxy S5 is not very exciting, though we do see some welcome improvements which we got to see ahead of the launch, thanks to a leak. However Samsung has borrowed two features from their competitors and introduced one new one of their own to allow the Galaxy S5 to stand out. The Galaxy S5 now includes a Finger Scanner similar to the one we saw on the iPhone 5s, in fact Samsung has even integrated it into their home button like the iPhone instead of placing it on the back like the HTC One max. Samsung has also borrowed the water resistance feature from Sony's Xperia flagship devices for their new flagship. The new feature which has been  introduced is the built-in-heartbeat sensor which has been placed next to the LED flash on the back of the phone.


Display

The Galaxy S5 has a 5.1 inch touch display with a 1080 by 1920 pixel of resolution. Unfortunately the rumors of the Quad HD display have not come true, but Samsung maybe holding off on that until their next Note.


Design

We expected Samsung to bring their faux-leather effect from the Galaxy Note 3 to the Galaxy S5, but the company chose to surprise us a with new design. Even though Samsung has still used plastic, the perforated rear pattern gives it a richer look. The company calls this a "modern glam look," and the Galaxy S5 is offered in Copper Gold, Charcoal Black, Shimmery White and Electric Blue.

Despite almost the same screen size, The Galaxy S5 body is slightly longer and wider than the Galaxy S4. This is likely due to the new fingerprint scanner which requires a thicker bottom bezel. The new flagship is even heavier than the Galaxy S4, thus breaking the thinner and lighter trend which occurred between the Galaxy S III and the Galaxy S4.

Samsung has even included IP67 certification, just like its Galaxy S4 Active, which could also be a cause for its larger dimensions. This certification means that it is completely sealed from dust, and will remain functional even after you dunk it in up to three feet (1m) of water, for as long as half an hour.

The other big new feature is the swipe Finger Scanner embedded in the home key. It provides biometric authentication for unlocking the phone, or for secure mobile payments transactions. On its back, right below the camera the Galaxy S5 features a heart rate monitor.


Processor, Memory and Connectivity

The Galaxy S5 comes with a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801, which is slightly faster than the 2.3GHz Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974-AB) processor found on the Xperia Z2, but Samsung offers only 2GB with their flagship unlike the 3GB on Sony's pride and joy.

The Snapdragon 801 processor is just a step below Qualcomm's fastest Snapdragon 805, which won't be in devices before the summer, so the S5 won't feel under-powered for the foreseeable future. In comparison with Snapdragon 800, the new 801 comes with 14% faster Krait 400 processor cores, 28% faster Adreno 330 graphics, and the whole reason for the 801 being - a 45% improvement in camera sensor processing speed.

Snapdragon 801 also introduces hardware support for dual SIM/dual Active devices, so perhaps a dual SIM version of the Galaxy S5 won't be far behind. The new chipset supports 150 Mbps LTE-A download speeds, and Samsung has put an innovative feature in the handset, called Download Booster, which speeds them up by combining the Wi-Fi/ac and LTE-Advanced connectivity.

The Galaxy S5 will ship with 16 GB or 32 GB of internal memory, depending on the version, and also provides a microSD card slot for storage expansion. The phone also sports NFC radio, and an IR blaster, while wired connectivity is supplied via the USB 3.0 port at the bottom, covered with a protective flap. Of note is the Wi-Fi 2x2 Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) setup on a phone, too.


Camera

The Samsung Galaxy S5 comes with a 16MP camera sensor, which the company claims will provide the fastest, 0.3 seconds autofocus times - a feat made possible by the dedicated image signal processors in the Snapdragon 801 chipset. You get 4K video recording at 30fps, and the processor also allows for a few extra camera tricks, too. 

Selective Focus allows users to tap on objects they want to look sharp, and the rest of the background gets blurred, achieving a shallow depth of field (DOF) effect without special lenses. Sony bragged with the same thing for the Z2, so we'd imagine that the new image processing capabilities in Snapdragon 801 are what makes 4K video recording and Selective Focus possible, rather than some homebrew ISPs from Samsung or Sony.

Samsung also touts that an advanced High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography will be in store with the Galaxy S5, that lets you "reproduce natural light and color with striking intensity at any circumstances". The camera also boasts f/2.2 aperture, and Samsung's new ISOCELL technology, which should bring better exposed and blur-free photos in low light.


Battery

The Galaxy S5 comes with a user removable 2800 mAh battery which offers a respectable 21 hours of talk time on a charge, and 16 days of standby. Samsung has also included a new Ultra Power Saving Mode which enhances the battery life allowing you to squeeze in that extra hour on a taxing day.


Software

The Samsung Galaxy S5 comes with the latest version of Android 4.4 KitKat, combined with an updated version of Samsung's TouchWiz user interface. The new TouchWiz comes with flatter, round icons, reworked menus, and a plethora of new features.

The new Ultra Power Savings Mode we mentioned earlier makes the display show images in black and white, shutting down all processes and connections it deems unnecessary, which should make the phone last quite the time in that state.

The Galaxy S5 also comes with version 3.0 of its S Health app. Besides the usual pedometer, diet and exercise recordings, it is now also paired with something really interesting - a built-in heart rate monitor, located next to the LED flash. The sensor probably works on the same principle that the optical one on the Gear 2 smartwatch uses, and you can further customize the experience with an abundance of third party apps that take advantage of the combined health and fitness trackers on the phone.


Pricing and Availability

Samsung announced that the Galaxy S5 will be available in 150 countries globally on April 11th - not really shortly after the official unveiling. Pricing will inevitably vary from one region and carrier to another, and is likely to hit the expected flagship range of 200 USD or EUR on contract, and 600 USD or EUR for those who purchase it contract free.

Several major U.S. carriers have already confirmed the upcoming availability of the device along with some retailers.


Press Release

What do you think of the brand new Galaxy S5? Does it have what it takes to become your next phone?

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