MWC 2014: Samsung Galaxy S5 Focuses On Imaging And Fitness

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 will be released on 11 April, along with the fitness-focused Samsung Gear Fit smartwatch

The Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone hopes its waterproof protection, fingerprint sensor and advanced connectivity, imaging and fitness features will allow the Korean manufacturer to maintain its position at the top of the smartphone market when it hits shelves on 11 April

Speaking at a launch event during Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, JK Shin, Samsung’s head of mobile, explained its new flagship device had been designed around the needs of consumers, claiming they wanted a beautiful design and performance, a simple but powerful camera and faster and seamless connectivity.

“We only succeed when customers choose us,” he said. “We must continue to own that choice.”

Sleek design

Samsung Galaxy S5 (9)The Samsung Galaxy S5 features a 5.1 Super AMOLED screen which uses a new algorithm to respond to bright or dim light and adapative display technology to detect what content you are viewing to alter the contrast on the screen.

On the outside, Samsung claims “a smartphone has never felt better,” thanks to a perforated back which improves grip, while the user interface has received a tidy-up, with new icons and uncluttered menus.

Faster performance is provided through a 2.5GHz quad core processor and 2GB of RAM, while the handset runs the latest version of Android, 4.2.2 KitKat and has either 16GB or 32GB of storage, which can be expanded by up to 128GB through a MicroSD card slot.

A fingerprint scanner is included on the home button to validate a user’s identity, enabling mobile payments and unlocking private mode, which unlocks personal files such as photos and documents. Exterior protection is afforded by IP67 standard dust and water resistance, while interior protection is provided by Samsung Knox, which enables both work and personal profiles.

Connectivity and camera

Samsung says the Galaxy S5 support category 4 LTE networks and the 802.11ac standard, meaning it can work on every operator’s 4G network and offers up to double fast Wi-Fi speeds. In fact the two can be used together to download files, meaning a 1GB document can be downloaded in 30 seconds.

The 16 megapixel camera includes faster autofocus with technology usually found in professional camera with a companion chip provided for more rapid image processing. Samsung claims the S5 can autofocus in 0.3 seconds – the fastest time of any smartphone. It also features an enhanced HDR mode for taking photos in low light and selective focus.

The S5 also features a 2,800mAh battery capable of ten hours of browsing on an LTE network or 12 hours of video playback, while it also has an ultra power saving mode, which will turn the display black and white and deactivate all functions except for the most basic ones, such as calling and texting. It is claimed that this mode will ensure a smartphone with just ten percent battery remaining will last for 24 hours on standby.

Fitness credentials

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is compatible with the two smartwatches revealed by the Korean manufacturer earlier this week, the Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, but it also offers additional functions with a brand new device – the Samsung Gear Fit.

The Gear Fit is a 27g wearable wristband that features the world’s first curved Super AMOLED screen on a portable device. Users can view notifications, change music track and quick message reply, as well as check their progress while exercising thanks to a built in heart-rate sensor and pedometer

The Fitness manager will tell you to slow down or speed up, and when combined with the Samsung Galaxy S5 can analyse health data through the S Health app. The Gear Fit is compatible with 20 Galaxy devices, and also offers support for ANT+, meaning it can be used with other fitness devices.

Market prospects

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is also the first smartphone with an in-built heart monitor and analysts believe that although the company has imitated a number of its competitors, its new smartphone’s fitness credentials could be a key differentiator.

“Samsung appears to have cherry picked the most crowd-pleasing features available from other manufacturers – a fingerprint ID sensor and an attractive gold model like Apple’s iPhone 5S, a water and dust-resistant body like Sony’s Xperia Z2, and photography credentials to challenge the best from Nokia,” says Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.

“What we haven’t seen on a smartphone before is a built-in heart rate monitor. Samsung is certainly playing up to the fitness craze, incorporating health apps and wearable tech. And, naturally, it’s a good segue into the launch of its complementary Gear 2 and Gear Fit smart watches. With innovative curved displays, improved customisation and changeable straps, Samsung’s latest efforts are probably the best looking bits of high-tech wrist candy on the market.

“There’s nothing wrong with catering to demand by packing features in, and the S5 is likely to prove a popular choice for anyone looking for a refreshingly high-spec change from the iPhone.”

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will be available in electric blue, shimmery white, charcoal black and copper brown when it is released in April in nearly 50 countries, although no specific price details have yet been made available.

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