The fifth entrant in the Galaxy S range is here, and Australians are among the first to get their hands on the phone, which will be available both outright and on plan by the middle of April.
It’s the latest handset for Samsung, and there’s already plenty of hype that can be applied to the phone, with the S5 evolving what we saw on last year’s S4, and adding a bunch of new features Samsung is betting people will want.
“The Galaxy S5 is an amazing evolution in Samsung’s smartphone technology, with features that are genuinely helpful and relevant to the everyday lifestyles of Australians,” said Arno Lenior, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung Electronics Australia.
That evolution includes things you’ll expect, like a new chip that puts the handset in the top of its class, with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz, the same chip HTC is using in its just announced HTC One (M8). Samsung pairs this with 2GB RAM, and 16GB of internal storage for your files, providing a microSD slot for expanding that space with up to 128GB more.
The latest version of Android is here, with 4.4.2 also known as “KitKat,” with the connection options supporting WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, Near-Field Communication, infrared for using the handset as a remote control for your TV, and just like the Galaxy Note 3, USB 3.0 for charging the phone and moving files quickly with faster than USB 2.0 speeds.
Support for 4G is also here — you didn’t think that was going away, did you? — and that will be provided for Category 4 (Cat4) LTE, providing speeds of up to 150Mbps down and 50Mbps up. If you don’t have 4G, no worries, because 3G also works, but it’s good to know that 4G is supported across both FDD and TDD LTE, meaning every major network can get great speeds here, including Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone.
This sits under a 5.1 inch Full HD screen, an increase by a whole inch on last year’s model, though it keeps the same Full HD 1920×1080 resolution around. New to the Galaxy flagship is water and dust resistance, providing IP67 certification for survival of up to one metre of water for up to 30 minutes, which is something only Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Active could claim up until now.
We’re not sure if that means we’ll be seeing an S5 Active this year, as that level of resistance is now on the flagship S5, and probably means there’s no reason to create a secondary rugged model, but we’ll see later on.
Also of note on the S5 is the camera, which jumps from a 13 megapixel shooter to a 16 megapixel one, with a refined interface and support for HDR video. We’re told the sensor technology is better in this model, redeveloped and including a bigger sensor size which should result in higher quality images and better support for low light shooting.
One thing that might grab attention in the video department is that — once again, like the Galaxy Note 3 — the Galaxy S5 will be able to capture 4K Ultra HD videos, which is something HTC has skipped over in its recently announced 2014 edition One.
Selfies can still be fired off, though the improvement here isn’t major, with the 2 megapixel front-facing camera sticking around from last time.
And then there are the little things you might not be thinking about, such as a new power mode called “Ultra Power Saving Mode” which sends the screen to black and white, and cuts off other apps to lower battery consumption. We’re told this means you can get up to 24 hours when you only have 10 percent battery left, and could prove to be a lifesaver for some people.
A fingerprint scanner is also included, just like the iPhone 5S, though Samsung will be using this technology in conjunction with PayPal, making it possible to use your finger to approve transactions.
Australian banks are also said to be taking advantage of this technology, though we hear the hardware may only be in the phones sold in Australia. We’ll check on this one, but it could easily put a dampening on anyone keen to order a Galaxy S5 from the grey market and save a few quid.
People who like to keep fit are also being catered for, and more than just the pedometer we saw in the S4. Rather, in the S Health 3.0 program, you’ll find more ways to manage your food and exercise routing, while a heart rate monitor will be built directly into the phone. To use this, simply hold your finger on the infrared scanner next to the camera flash, and the phone will check your heart rate.
“Samsung has delivered a phone that will offer Australians a fantastic set of features, great freedom to use their phone in wide range of environments, and a form and colour range that style conscious people will love,” said Lenior.
Now to the pricing, which is the part many of you will be skipping to, though you probably won’t be surprised.
With this model replacing the S4 as the flagship, the Galaxy S5 gets a flagship outright price of $929, landing in stores from April 11. All the major telcos look to be selling it, with Telstra, Vodafone, Optus, and Virgin all taking the phone.