Samsung Galaxy S5 – what to expect

February 17, 2014
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Samsung Brand Shots CES 2014-3

Mobile World Congress is quickly approaching, and it’s a pretty safe bet that we’ll be seeing the Samsung Galaxy S5 come February 24th. While Samsung has yet to officially confirm that the handset will be shown off at their MWC press conference, their current teasers make it pretty obvious.

Okay, but what exactly can we expect from the Galaxy S5 when it arrives? Sometimes we have such solid, unified rumors that it’s easy to say for sure “this is exactly what the next flagship will offer” . Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those times.

There are a ton of rumors regarding the GS5, and it’s hard to say what the rumor mill got right, and what is flat wrong. Nonetheless, we can at least take a look at some of the most prevalent rumors and reports to come up with at least a rough picture of what the next Galaxy S flagship will offer.

Design

More than one executive has made it clear that the GS5 will be a fairly different animal from the Galaxy S4. In fact, Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business, recently mentioned that the “display and the feel of the cover” would be the most noticeable changes.

Samsung Galaxy S5 will reportedly come in two variants

So what exactly does that mean? Turning to the rumor mill, we’ve heard that the Samsung Galaxy S5 will reportedly come in (at least) two variants, one with a plastic casing, and the other with at least a partially metallic design.

The former of these models is said to be a base version with slightly lesser specs, and will likely at least somewhat follow the design language introduced with the Galaxy Note 3. If the metal version does in fact exist, it is expected to have more premium specs and may or may not debut under the Galaxy F name.

As for the front of the device? Rumors suggest that the device may have a 2K display, though it is probable that the handset will still rock physical buttons and a design that is pretty close to what we’ve seen from Samsung in the past.

Galaxy S5 Concept

Galaxy S5 Concept

Hardware

Over the last few months, we’ve heard varying reports about what kind of hardware the Galaxy S5 will pack. At one point, it was believed we’d see an iris scanner, now this is looking unlikely.

Based on the most recent (and likely most accurate) ‘leaks’, the GS5 is expected to debut with a 5.24-inch 2560×1440 AMOLED display with 560ppi. It is important to note, however, that a New York Times report claims that the handset will actually have a 1080p display, and not a so-called 2k screen. So which rumor is right? Perhaps both. If Samsung really is preparing two versions of the handset, it is possible that the base model will have a 1080p display and the premium model will instead opt for a 2560×1440 resolution.

Aside from the display, the Galaxy S5 is rumored to come in both a Snapdragon 800 (or maybe 805) and an Exynos variant. Other specs include 3GB RAM, 32/64GB storage, 16MP rear cam, a 3.2MP front cam and a 3200 mAh battery. It’s unknown whether the above-mentioned specs will be roughly the same for both the metal and plastic variants or not.

The new fingerprint scanner will be integrated into the physical home button.

Another new hardware element for the GS5 could be a fingerprint scanner, as several reports have mentioned in the past. Originally we heard that the scanner might somehow be integrated into the display, but a new report from SamMobile tells a different story.

The new fingerprint scanner is now believed to be integrated into the physical home button. Activating the reader will require you to keep your finger flat while swiping across the home button. Reportedly the reader will be able to recognize/store up to 8 different fingerprints.

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Software

Late last month a report surfaced claiming that Samsung and Google had reached a new agreement that would cause several changes take place in the world of Android. Reportedly, one of these changes would be that Samsung would scale back some of its own ecosystem efforts in order to better represent Google’s vision for Android.

We might see less focus on some Samsung features like the Hub this time around

We don’t know how much this agreement (if it is true) will influence the Galaxy S5’s software, but we do know that leaked GS5 app screenshots have shown off a look that is flatter, more vibrant and has a KitKat-esque design to it.

Some of the leaked images include a redesigned S-Voice app, a new Life logging app and a redesigned S-Health app.

s-health-updated

Bottom-line, while Samsung will certainly bring plenty of new software features to the table with the GS5, we might see less focus on some Samsung features like the Hub this time around, and more of a push towards Google services and UI design language.

Camera

Although the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3 both have rather impressive cameras, expect the Galaxy S5 to be a pretty big leap forward, at least if all the rumors prove correct.

The Galaxy S5 is expected to feature a 16MP sensor on the back and may even feature ISOCELL technology. For those that don’t know what this is, basically this new technology promises increased light sensitivity and higher color fidelity, even in poor lighting conditions.

We also imagine that the Galaxy S5 will include software improvements to better take advantage of the 16MP shooter. Very little information has been leaked about the new software, but we expect that its UI will at least be redesigned to fall in line with the other updated GS5 apps.

samsung galaxy gear aa 20

Galaxy Gear 2 support

Despite the fact that the Galaxy Gear hasn’t been on the market very long, we’ve heard several rumors that indicate the Galaxy S5 will launch alongside a next-gen Galaxy Gear. Whether this is a full-blow successor or just a revised variant remains unclear. If a new version of the Galaxy Gear is on its way, we can expect some form of integration with the Galaxy S5.

Whether this is a full-blow successor or just a revised variant remains unclear.

So why would Samsung release the Galaxy Gear 2 so quickly after the original? Since the first-gen hardware received mixed reviews, it’s possible that the company wants to quickly address their mistakes in order to make a bigger dent in the wearable market.

Keep in mind that we don’t know with any certainty whether or not the Galaxy Gear 2 is really on its way in time for MWC.

Pricing and Availability

It’s obviously too early to say exactly when the Galaxy S5 will hit store shelves, where or how much it will cost. That said, we can look back at Samsung’s history to get a better idea on pricing.

Considering the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4 were both $199.99 with two year contract and around $550-600 outright, it’s likely that at least one of the Galaxy S5 models will follow suit. Several rumors have suggested that the premium Galaxy S5 will cost more than past generation Galaxy S handsets, however. How much more is anyone’s guess.

As for availability? Lee Young Hee was quoted not too long ago stating that the Galaxy S5 release date will fall somewhere in March or April. Considering the GS5 will be unveiled at the tail end of February, we imagine early-to-mid March seems likely, but that’s just speculation on our part.

We aren’t so sure on what countries will get the handset when, but we do know that the Galaxy S4 launched with on 327 carriers in 155 countries, so we imagine a similar (or even larger) rollout will occur for the GS5.

Wrap up

Although the Galaxy S4 was a solid handset, there were many folks that felt it was too similar to the Galaxy S3 in terms of design and overall device size (even if the display was larger). We might not know all the specifics about the GS5, but we are fairly confident, based on both rumors and Samsung exec remarks, that the Korean giant is intent on delivering an experience that will truly stand out and take the Galaxy S brand to whole new heights.

What do you think of the Galaxy S5, based on the current rumors? What killer features do you hope to see offered with the next-gen Samsung flagship? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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