Samsung releases Galaxy S5 – but what’s different?

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Back to basics with the latest version, focusing on features ‘customers want’

Samsung launched its Galaxy S5 smartphone – the fifth generation in the series, but it has received some criticism for being too similar to its predecessor, the S4.

The device was unveiled before thousands of gathered press at its “Unpacked” event on the opening evening of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 24.

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Features on the device, arguably the most anticipated at the show, include a 5.1 HD screen, quad core processor, latest Android (4.4.2 KitKat), 16 megapixel rear camera (2.1Mp front), 16 or 32GB variants (both expandable), 2GB RAM, 2,800mAh battery.

The S5 is also the first in the series to be dust and water resistant, and like the iPhone 5S (launched in September) the S5 now includes a fingerprint scanner to unlock the screen and can be set up to perform secure online payments.

It also includes a built-in pedometer and heart monitor.

Major contributors

Samsung chief executive and head of IT and mobile communications division JK Shin said the firm was going back to basics with the handset.

“Samsung has been one of the major contributors of smartphone growth, especially the Galaxy S series.

“We know we only succeed when customers choose us. People are easily excited by technology breakthroughs and as a tech company we are keen on the newest and latest technological developments.

“We asked our customers and what we have learned is surprisingly simple. Our consumers do not want eye-popping, or the most complex, technology. They want durable design and performance, a simple yet powerful camera, faster and seamless connectivity and a phone that can help them stay fit.”

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Samsung UK and Ireland IT and mobile division vice-president Simon Stanford said: “We’ve decided to go back to basics with the Galaxy S5 and focus on the features and things that matter the most to our customers.”

The device, however, received mix reactions from the audience during and after the event, with some appearing underwhelmed due to its lack of updates to its predecessor the S4 – which sold more than 40 million units in the first six months on sale.

Senior analyst at Ovum Nick Dillon said following the launch: “The updates are so minor that on first glance most consumers would be hard pressed to notice that it has changed from the previous version.”

Marketing support

Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson added: “The Galaxy S5 has great features and will probably sell well due to massive marketing support. But is the total product experience it offers different enough to continue the sales success story?

“Is it enough to bet on fitness and fingerprint sensors to beat Apple – rooting the experience in people’s daily lives? I don’t think so.” Samsung’s “Galaxy S” range of devices have proven to be a major hit with consumers – with more than 200 million sold since the first was launched in 2010 – and double the number as of January last year.

Retailers Carphone Warehouse, Phones 4u, EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three have all since confirmed they will sell the device, which will be released globally on April 11. Details on prices have yet to be announced.

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Carphone Warehouse UK and Ireland chief executive Graham Stapleton praised the manufacturer: “Samsung launches are always hugely popular as they are very good at bringing the best of technology together into one handset.

“They have shown they are responding to features which mean the most to consumers and how they actually use their phones on a daily basis.”

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