Most followers of the technology world are now familiar with Samsung’s annual pattern of launching premium Galaxy models to showcase its technology. This year’s Galaxy S5 was the star of Mobile World Congress and Samsung said at the launch that it will be available from 11th April in 150 markets, though there’s no official word on pricing as yet.
So is the GS5 worth waiting for and has it wowed the press?
Engadget says that, “Despite its familiar design, the GS5 has a few new useful hardware features, including a fingerprint scanner, heart rate sensor, and a toned-down TouchWiz UI on top of Android 4.4 KitKat.” It concludes its preview with a rather luke warm, “All told, it’s very much a run-of-the-mill Galaxy S flagship, but there are enough new hardware features and software tweaks to make it feel fresh.”
The GS5 is expected to cost around £550 according to TechRadar. It wasn’t impressed with the design though, “…it’s the same tired story on the design front: taking some elements from the predecessor, adding in some bits from the current Note and calling it all new.” It also notes that the phone is markedly bigger than the S3 and S4.
The design didn’t do much for CNET either. “…those tiring of Samsung design sameness and looking for a radical new look and feel don’t have as many reasons to stay if they aren’t moved by the phone’s fingerprint scanner or heart monitor.”
Never mind the design, feel the features
When it comes to the phone’s features there’s a lot for critics to get excited about. It was the GS5’s performance potential that made an impression on Stuff, “Centre stage is its quad-core Snapdragon 805 processor, which runs at a blistering 2.5GHz. This chip, paired with 2GB of RAM, means the phone shouldn’t have any bother smoothly running any app you throw at it.” There are strong rumours of an octo-core version becoming available for some markets too.
Stuff also commented on the quality of the device, “The dimpled, matte soft-touch back is much nicer to look at and hold than the faux-leather hard plastic of recent Galaxy Note phones and tablets, and the overall feeling is one of solidity and quality.”
This quality extends to waterproofing, Samsung claims the phone can be immersed in water for as long as half an hour – good news for those who’ve ever killed a mobile by dropping it in the bath, or worse. TrustedReviews spotted another handy day-to-day feature in the new Ultra Power Saving mode, “This is an intensive low-power mode that cuts out almost all phone functions but the basics like calls and texts. Samsung says it’ll last for up to a day with just 10 per cent of battery left – if only in standby.”
The built-in fingerprint scanner, a feature which brings the Galaxy into line with the iPhone, came in for particular praise from Wired, “You can use it to unlock the phone, to verify a PayPal payment while using a mobile shopping service, and to verify your Samsung account. All of this is done by just pressing a single finger against the home button… Activating the recognition is quick and neat, and all of the fingerprint recognition attempts I’ve made since I got a hands-on unit have worked perfectly.”
The faster camera, upgraded from 13 to 16 megapixels and with improved auto-focus, caught Wired’s attention too, “…it takes just 0.3 seconds from launching the app to actually hearing the shutter sound.”
Overall the design may have left some commentators less than impressed, but there’s no doubt that the GS5 is a powerful smartphone and features like the new fingerprint scanner and the improved camera will help to maintain its competitive edge against its rivals. The build quality takes things to a new level for Samsung too, however, with the HTC One 2 and LG G3 on the horizon buyers may want to hold off choosing a new smartphone for a little while longer.
You can find out more about the S5 on the Samsung UK web site.