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Samsung VP: Galaxy S5 to launch by April, with “very different design” and possibly iris scanner

In an interview, Lee Young Hee, EVP of Samsung’s mobile business, talked about the Galaxy S5's release date and a new wearable device that Samsung is planning to introduce along the S5.
January 9, 2014
Samsung EVP Lee Young-hee

Samsung revealed some of its plans for the near future, including details on the Galaxy S5, wearable devices, and the Galaxy Note 4. The company is considering equipping the Galaxy S5 with an iris scanner, revealed a top executive.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business, talked about the upcoming Galaxy S5 and a new wearable device that Samsung is planning to introduce in the next months.

“We’ve been announcing our first flagship model in the first half of each year, around March and April, and we are still targeting for release around that time”, said the executive, throwing water on rumors about an announcement at the Mobile World Congress in February. Still, Lee’s language is vague, so we can’t really exclude an earlier announcement with a retail release in March or April.

In line with the earlier statements of Samsung design head Dennis Miloseski, Lee said the Galaxy S5 will be accompanied by the second generation of the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, “with more advanced functions, and the bulky design will also be improved”. Critics have panned the original Gear for its clunky operation and uninspiring design.

For the S5, we will go back to the basics. Mostly, it’s about the display and the feel of the cover

Lee also talked about the reasons why the Galaxy S4 hasn’t sold as expected – “consumers couldn’t really feel much difference between the two products from the physical perspective, so the market reaction wasn’t as big”, the executive said. The Galaxy S5 will be “very different”, and Samsung “will go back to the basics”. “Mostly, it’s about the display and the feel of the cover”, Lee said.

The S5 could feature iris recognition technology, as Samsung is “considering the possibility” because “many people are fanatical about it”. The move to equip devices with biometric identification scanners is seen as a response to Apple’s use of a fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5S.

Note 4 with three-sided display?
The Galaxy Note 4 may bring an even more radical redesign. Bloomberg cites Lee as saying that the device may use a three-sided display that allows users to read messages from an angle. Lee appears to be referring to the Youm flexible displays concept that Samsung demoed at CES in 2013, which included a phone with a display that wrapped around its edges.

Finally, Lee reiterated Samsung’s focus on tablets in 2014, which will be one of the company’s major focuses this year. Samsung introduced four new tablets at CES this week, including the 12.2 NotePRO and TabPRO.

The executive has not mentioned any upcoming changes in software design; a recent leak suggests Samsung is exploring a major redesign of TouchWiz, part of the increased software focus that the conglomerate’s chairman has recently exhorted to employees.