6 years ago android was still in its toddler years and in 2009, Samsung was among the handful of manufacturers making android devices. At that time people were mostly having Blackberry’s or PDA’s and a partial amount of people going along with Apple’s iPhone 3G. 2009 was pretty much the year of android as it was gaining substantial users both Motorola and HTC were playing their A game as they were dominating the android market. Then on March 2010, Samsung announced their third android device, the Galaxy S—Samsung’s first two android devices where the ‘Samsung Galaxy’ and ‘Samsung Galaxy Lite’, these names sound familiar eh? The Galaxy S turned out to be a big success as Samsung managed to sell 10 million units that year (25 million units throughout its life). Their success was prevalent because they had a winning formula—their AMOLED screen was the big thing because it displayed out bright and vibrant colors. That’s not it, the device was also super slim and lightweight. Fast forward 5 years and the 5th Galaxy S device has been announced.
"the Galaxy S wasn’t meant to be a flagship device"
At MWC 2014, Samsung held their first Mobile Unpacked event for the year and if you have read my article about what i was expecting to see then you would have known that i had high hopes for the device. Well it turned out that the Galaxy S5 wasn’t that glamorous as i thought it would be; but anyways, i’ll first debrief you on the general details of the Galaxy S5 (skip to below the table to read my general thoughts). The Galaxy S5 still has a 1080P display despite the rumors of a 2K display, the screen however has been enlarged by 0.1” compared to the Galaxy S4. The good news is that the initial hands on which I've been reading notes that although the resolution is unaltered, the color accuracy (is it a Pentile display? further autopsy is needed) is now better and viewing angles is vastly improved. This is most probably because Samsung increased the maximum brightness of the device. Speed wise, the S5 also improves over the S4 as it has Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 801 which is clocked in at 2.5GHz. This will most likely double or triple the graphics performance if compared to the outgoing Galaxy S4 because the S4 is using the Snapdragon 600 which is pretty much a pre-2013 processor.
Additionally, Samsung is also increasing the megapixel count on the camera which is moving up to a 16MP shooter from the 13MP on the S4. The company is also touting that the new 16MP sensor is using their ISOCELL sensor which has superior low light performance and faster autofocusing. Other than that, the specs throughout the board has been updated. A notable mention is that the Galaxy S5 is IP67 which means it is rated for water and dust protection, thus the Galaxy S5 is ‘water resistant’ and NOT water proof.
"the Galaxy S5 is everything the Galaxy S4 should be"
In this launch, Samsung is highlighting 4 new features; in which 2 are hardware driven and the other 2 are software tweaks. S Health is the main selling point (opposed to be just being a software tweak on the S4) this time around because the S5 has a built in Heart Rate monitor which is also a ‘first’ for smartphones. Additionally, Samsung is also trying to sell their new Galaxy Gear 2 smartwatches especially the Galaxy Gear Fit which will integrate seamlessly with the Galaxy S5.
Another hardware implementation on the S5 is the fingerprint sensor or as Apple likes to call it “TouchID”. Samsung’s implementation however not only allows you to unlock you phone and sign in to the App Store (apple term), paying via Paypal is something you can do with just your finger on the Galaxy S5. The possibilities are endless with the biometric home button on the Galaxy S5 because Samsung is giving developers the SDK so they could implement the sensor into their applications. The next big thing on the S5 is Ultra Power Saving mode, this nifty software tweak will according to samsung will last your phone 24 hours if you are on 10% charge. The way this works is that it will disable all unnecessary background process and will turn your screen to B&W. Whether this lives up to what Samsung is claiming is yet to be known. The last software tweak which Samsung highlighted is Download Booster, as the name suggests, it boosts your download. Again they are claiming that this feature will boost your download speeds via Wi-Fi or LTE. I’m not so sure how this works, but when i do i’ll write up a separate article about it.
"Samsung is finally including some practical features"
|Samsung Galaxy S4||Samsung Galaxy S5|
|DISPLAY||4.99” Full HD Super AMOLED (1080 X 1920)—(441 PPI)||5.1” Full HD Super AMOLED (1080 X 1920)—(432 PPI)|
|PROCESSOR||1.6Ghz Exynos 5 Octa / 1.9Ghz Snapdragon 600||2.1Ghz Exynos 5 Octa / 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801|
|CAMERA||13MP AutoFocus||16MP Phase Detection AutoFocus|
|STORAGE||16/32/64GB; microSD support up to 64GB; 2GB RAM||16/32GB; microSD support up to 128GB; 2GB RAM|
|ANDROID OS||v.4.2.2 Jellybean; upgradable to v4.4.2 Kitkat||v4.4.2 Kitkat|
|DIMENSIONS||136.6 X 69.8 X 7.9mm ~ 130g||142 X 72.5 X 8.1mm ~ 145g|
|COLORS||White Frost, Black Mist, Blue Arctic, Brown Autumn, Purple Mirage, Red Aurora, Pink Twilight||Shimmery White, Charcoal Black, Copper Gold, Electric Blue|
I had 1 week to process my thoughts and i have came up with a conclusion which is that the from the surface it looks like the Galaxy S5 is a substantial upgrade from the Galaxy S4 but when you take some time to compare the specs of both of the devices, then you’ll see that there is indeed an upgrade there. I’ve been reading a lot of articles on the S5 for the past week and what i’m most interested in when i’m reading these articles is not what the writer is trying to say, its the comments which i’m most attracted too!
The word which i’ll use to sum up all the comments on the Galaxy S5 articles is “RUDE”. You know why? Because as i’m reading the comments especially the long ones, it feels like i’m being berated because the people are just venting their hatred towards the stupid dotted back looking like a band aid Galaxy S5. It’s safe to say that the majority of the commenters are saying that the Galaxy S5 is equivalent to a failure. There really isn’t much positive reaction towards the Galaxy S5. The only positive thing related to the Galaxy S5 is the Galaxy Gear Fit, which i have to say looks pretty slick with its curved AMOLED screen. But Hey! i’m not going to spend my time here talking about what other’s say about the Galaxy S5, i’m sure you came here to seek my initial opinion on the device.
I have to admit that when i first saw the leaked image of the Galaxy S5, i said ‘oh god, its just like the Galaxy S4’. Well after giving it some thought, i came to the conclusion that there must be a logical reason why Samsung kept the same design and added that dimpled back to it. The reasoning behind the dimpled back is most probably because they wanted to add some extra grip to the back so you don’t slip the phone off when you are holding the phone underwater. Come to think of it plastic is actually one of the better materials for water resistant/proof devices because it does not fluctuate in heat as fast as metal parts and it is also easier to hold in hand when its wet. Compare that to other water resistant/proof devices like the Xperia Z2 which has a glass back which in theory will be slippery in the hand but Sony overcome that with the metal band surrounding the device which adds rigidity to the device as well as giving users some grip to hold the device when the device is wet.
"everybody is talking about the bad design of the Galaxy S5"
Come to think of it, people are mostly talking about the Galaxy S5 having a fugly design and lack real innovation. Well, I do have to agree with the people about the lack of innovation but about the design, i can’t justify it either way until i see it in person. According to Samsung, the Galaxy S5 is full of what customers want. I quite agree with that point, but customers also want a more premium device (stay tuned for an upcoming article where I’ll discuss about the word ‘premium’). Moving back to my main point which is Samsung did show out some features which do matter. As i said earlier, with the Galaxy S5 Samsung is finally bundling up some more practical software features to their flagship phone. One thing i have to say is that personally i think that both the hear rate monitor and finger scanner are no necessary, they are just value add ons to the phone.
One software tweak which I really liked about the S4 is the ability to tune the brightness of the S5’s screen to an even lower brightness. That for me is a major plus because it’s fairly practical. Take for example when you are trying to type a text message on your bed while the light is off or when you want to check on your phone when you’re in the cinema hall. Well i’m pretty sure you have encountered the situation where the movie is playing in the cinema and somebody takes out there phone and blinds you for that second or two. These are some real world situation which i have personally encounter, also i have seen a phone which can go so dim. Faithfully there is a number of apps to make your screen super dim (does this word even exist?), I’m currently using screen filter. If you have an android phone you should give it a try because it does come in handy sometimes.
Overall Samsung is tuning things down in the software side, as what I said earlier Samsung is giving users what they want. The major complaint with the Galaxy S4 last year is that Samsung tossed in too much of gimmicky features and with the S5 they are stopping that by providing software features that matter. See that? in a way they did improve on from last year’s model. That’s about it for my initial impressions of the Galaxy S5 in general. I’ll reserve my other thoughts of the device when i get my hands-on of the device early next month when it launches. Oh, before I end this I would like to add another point, I strongly believe the rumours out there about Samsung releasing another category of premium devices because the launch of the Galaxy S5 is a bit fishy. By fishy I mean, why would they bring the launch up 3 months earlier, they could’ve gone with their May release then they could put a 2K display on the Galaxy S5? As I said this is a bit fishy and I am expecting to see Samsung release another Galaxy S5 variant with a 2K display. Maybe they are trying to avert our attention so they could launch a whole new series (possibly Galaxy T?) which will take over the Galaxy S series being the flagship.
Well this is just my pure speculation based on the reports out there by credible sources. Anyways, I’ll end it here, below is a couple of videos of the Galaxy S5 for you to enjoy. Also do tell me what are your thoughts are reading my article in the comments section below or tweet me @dickwyn on twitter. Do you think my thoughts are wrong? problematic? utterly bias?
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