The new S5 outmuscles the iPhone 5S in terms of specs but it doesn’t appear significantly different than its predecessor from a design standpoint. It’s a solid improvement over the S4 though it may not electrify smartphone buyers.
The same was said about the iPhone 5S, which sold extremely well in Q4. The iPhone 6 is supposed to be announced this summer and released in the fall.
We’re not in Barcelona and have not had “hands-on” time with the handset. However, reports and press materials indicate the following list of upgrades from the S4. These are the highest level changes:
- A slightly larger (5.1″) screen
- Front and rear cameras with more megapixels (16MP in back)
- Improved camera and screen technology
- Longer battery life, faster processor
- A “soft touch” surface on the back, similar to original Nexus 7 instead of plastic
- A new fingerprint unlock sensor (a la the iPhone) and a heart-rate monitor
- A number of proprietary software improvements, including S Health
- Water resistance (the phone can apparently be submerged briefly without damage)
Because Samsung is the dominant Android handset maker and such a marketing juggernaut the device is all but guaranteed to sell well. Yet expectations are almost as high for Samsung now as they are for Apple. And despite selling tens of millions of units last year, S4 sales were still regarded as something of a disappointment by investors.
Many reviewers and consumers didn’t see the Galaxy S4 as a significant upgrade over the S3. By the same token the S5 is physically quite similar to the S4, although its performance will be improved.
Samsung had been trying to differentiate its phones from other Android makers in part with increasing amounts of proprietary software. However Google reportedly succeeded in getting Samsung to “dial it back” recently and thus make its phones less unlike other Android devices.
Samsung and Google have had at times a fraught relationship behind the public statements of mutual admiration. The latest expression of that is the Korean company’s decision not to use Android in its second-generation smartwatches and instead go with its own operating system Tizen.
The Galaxy S5 is scheduled for release in April. Pricing has not been publicly disclosed.