Samsung pulled the curtain off its much anticipated Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress this week, bringing an end to the rumors and speculation and making official its flagship device for this year.
The Galaxy S5 got a handful of notable upgrades over its predecessor.
First, Samsung integrated a fingerprint reader into the physical Home button (where have we seen that before?). To use it, you’ll swipe your finger in a downwards motion over the button. This will allow you to unlock the phone, and to authenticate purchases with PayPal made online.
Second, the camera has been improved. The rear-facing shooter now captures 16 MP still images (instead of 13 MP on the Galaxy S4) and 4K video (instead of 1080p on the Galaxy S4). It also supports real-time HDR (high dynamic range) processing, which should make images with stark contrasts look more even. There’s also a new, simplified camera interface, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see that show up in a future software update for other Samsung devices.
Third, speaking of software: the Galaxy S5 is running the very latest version of Android KitKat, version 4.4.2. The TouchWiz UI Samsung is known for got a makeover as part of the update, which shows flatter, rounded icons and adds a few new shortcuts and settings. Samsung has also made major improvements to its S Health app, which will eventually add support for the third-party health and fitness apps you’re likely already using.
Fourth, the display has grown one tenth of an inch. The Galaxy S5 sports a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display, still at 1080p resolution like the Galaxy S4 before it.
Fifth, as if adding a fingerprint reader wasn’t enough, Samsung added a heart rate sensor to the back of the Galaxy S5, right under the rear camera. It integrates with the S Health app mentioned above. Place your finger over the sensor and in five to seven seconds, you’ll see your current heart rate on the screen.
Sixth, and one of the most welcomed changes, is the new soft touch backing on the Galaxy S5. Samsung has been known for producing devices that feel cheap and plasticky. The dimpled soft touch back on the S5 is said to be a big improvement over previous Galaxy phones, and less likely to slip out of your hand or off a table you’ve set it down on. It doesn’t appear to be quite a cheeky as the faux-leather backing of the Galaxy Note 3, which is good.
Last but not least, and for the first time ever, Samsung has made a waterproof device. If you’ve caught any of my coverage of the Sony Xperia Z, Xperia Z1, or Xperia Z1 Compact here on ZAGGblog, you know I continually rant and rave about how nice it is to have a device I don’t have to worry about dropping into a puddle, a sink, a toilet, or a pool. The Galaxy S5 is waterproof up to 3 feet for 30 minutes and has the accompanying IP67 certification to go along with it. You’ll notice the USB port on the bottom of the phone has a cover; this is why.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 will go on sale in April on all major U.S. carriers and a handful of regional carriers. While it officially comes in black, white, blue, and gold, it’s expected that only the black and white versions will make it to the U.S. At least for now. No official pricing has been announced yet, but we’d expect it to come in on par with other high-end flagships; somewhere around $199 with a two-year contract and $649 without. As always, we’ll keep you posted when we hear more.
Now that you know the differences between the Galaxy S4 and the new Galaxy S5, will you buy one? Let us know in the comments below.
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