Samsung has taken the wraps off its new Galaxy S5 in front of a full house at the Unpacked5 event in Barcelona. Unlike the previous Galaxy S4, which came with a bewildering array of features at launch, the S5 is focused on enhancing “everyday lives” in a few key areas including protection, photos, transfer speeds, health and design.
The S5’s specifications include a larger 5.1 inch full HD (1920 x 1080) Super AMOLED screen, a 16 megapixel camera, with a 2.1 camera on the rear, a quad core 2.5GHz processor, 16 and 32GB of storage, up to 64GB of expandable MicroSD memory, USB 3, a 2800mAh battery and Android 4.4 ‘KitKat’.
When it comes to protection, the S5 has a few fantastic features that seem to be tailor made for Australians.
First, the S5 is dust and water resistant, to the IP67 standard, making it far more tolerant to being slopped in dirt, slapped in sand, slipped the sink or soaked by the rain. Similar to Samsung’s Galaxy Active phone, and as per the IP67 standard, the S5 can be immersed in up to one meter of water, for 30 minutes.
Secondly, as Australians spend more money online via PayPal than any other country, the S5 comes with a fingerprint scanner that links into PayPal, so you can authorise PayPal payments with a swipe of a finger.
The fingerprint scanner can store details of up to three fingers, and, unlike Apple’s fingerprint sensor, reads fingerprints via a swiping motion.
The scanner can also be used to unlock the phone, and provide access to ‘locked’ folders and files. When we tested it, the scanner worked nearly every time, though Apple’s version may be a little more accurate for finger edges or when your finger or thumb is ‘off axis’.
On the camera front, there’s a new ‘real-time HDR’ mode, which lets you preview a ‘High Dynamic Range’ photo on-screen, instead of after you take it.
With Real-time HDR, the camera will compensate for scenes where a bright light, such a sun back-lit shot, would normally make the rest of the photo too dark by balancing both light and dark elements to reveal more detail. The net result is better looking photos, and the effect can also be applied to video captures.
Another new feature for the camera is the ‘Selective Focus’ tool. So in cases where you take a photo of an object, but find you’ve focused on the background by accident, you can now switch to the object in the foreground after the photo has been taken.
Selective Focus works by effectively taking two photos at once with different focus points, enabling you to select between them when reviewing your snaps. When tested, this worked fairly well but it does require a well lit shot, a steady hand, and the right composition.
Videos can be now be captured in Ultra-HD resolution, or a massive 3840 x 2160 resolution and 30 frames a second. Considering that there are a growing number of Ultra HD televisions on the market now, and prices are steadily dropping, being able to capture the incredible detail of Ultra HD from your phone is quite a technical feat (although it was present in Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3).