Samsung's Galaxy S5: 5.1-in display, fingerprint scanner, and heart rate sensor
February 24, 2014
At this week's Mobile World Congress, we're going to see lots of new smartphones, tablets, and wearables on display for all the world to see. But none of them are likely to garner nearly as much attention as the one Samsung just announced. After months of rumors, the Korean company's 2014 flagship smartphone is now official. Meet the Samsung Galaxy S5.
The GS5 has a slightly bigger screen than its predecessor (5.1-in to the GS4's 5-in), though it's still 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution. That bigger screen leads to a slightly bigger phone, as well as an extra 15 g (0.53 oz) of weight. The GS5 continues Samsung's recent trend of launching its devices with the latest version of Android, as this puppy runs 4.4.2 KitKat. Along with a 2.5 GHz quad core Snapdragon 801 processor, the 2014 Galaxy flagship also has a bigger battery: this time toting a plentiful 2,800.
Samsung also upped the ante on the phone's camera, with a 16-megapixel rear sensor. It records 4K video, and includes a feature called Selective Focus, that supposedly simulates the results of a high aperture lens by focusing on a subject and blurring its background.
If you'd asked us a few weeks ago what the Galaxy S5's build would look like, we would have guessed the exact same faux leather finish from the Note 3 and new Galaxy Pro tablets. The actual result? Close, but not quite. The GS5's backing is also made of pleather, but it has a new dimpled finish, as opposed to the smoother and softer build of those mobile devices.
Like the iPhone 5s, the Galaxy S5 has a biometric sensor baked-in. But unlike the 5s' Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which only requires a short hold over the home button, the GS5's Finger Scanner requires you to swipe your finger across it. We weren't big fans of the swiping type of sensor on the HTC One Max, but, unlike that phablet, at least the GS5's is on the phone's front (it lives near the home button). We'll obviously have to wait for some extended hands-on time before jumping to conclusions on that front. In addition to the standard phone-unlocking function, the GS5's Finger Scanner will also let you authorize Paypal payments with your unique print.
The GS5's other big sensor is a heart rate monitor, which will apparently play a big role with the new Samsung wearables announced this week. The phone is also water and dust resistant (rated IP67).
Maybe just as important as the features that the Galaxy S5 does include is those that it doesn't. Last year's GS4 had an overwhelming list of software features, most of which made for great commercials, but weren't particularly significant in day-to-day use. Samsung apparently heard the feedback, as the GS5's feature list appears to be much simpler and more focused.
The GS5 will be sold in several different colors, including "charcoal black, shimmery white, electric blue, and copper gold" (apparently the colors are just too unique to not have adjectives attached). Pricing is still a mystery, but we do know that the Galaxy S5 will start rolling out globally in April.