Good Gear Guide takes a closer look at Samsung's next generation flagship
Samsung announced at its Australian launch that the new Galaxy S5 will be available in stores from 11 April. Good Gear Guide had a hands-on session with the smartphone. Here’s our first impressions.
Photo: Samsung's chief marketing officer, Arno Lenoir, with the new Galaxy S5.
The smartphone has a 5.1inch, 1920x1080 resolution screen. This gives it a density of 432 pixels-per-inch. It’s marginally behind the HTC One M8’s 441 pixels-per-inch, but a difference that minor is negligible.
Behind the Super AMOLED panel is some proper intelligence. We’re particularly fond of the Local Contrast Enhancement (Local CE), which tweaks the screen based on ambient room lighting to deliver the best possible display.
Bright screens are a trait of Samsung Galaxy smartphones. But now the Galaxy S5 supports lower lighting levels to improve the viewing experience in dark environments, such as a cinema.
Samsung has incorporated a fingerprint scanner in the new Galaxy S5. “It's a password you'll never forget,” said Jenny Goodridge, Samsung Australia’s director of product marketing.
“We believe this is a truly useful feature and that's why we've opened up access to developers through our SDK."
Samsung hasn’t just mimicked the functionality of Apple’s TouchID. Rather, the company has gone one further by making it possible to authenticate payments with the swipe of a finger. The company announced it has forged an exclusive partnership with PayPal .
Jeff Clementz, the managing director of PayPal Australia said the partnership will “allow customers to shop and pay at more than 3 million stores globally”.
"In 2010 Paypal Australia processed $35 million in mobile payments. In 2013 we closed the year processing in excess of $2 billion,” Clementz added.
"The S5 continues with the iconic design that weve had on our ranges,” said Jack Kwon, the president of Samsung Australia. All of the design elements that distinguish the Galaxy range are there; however, there are a few subtle tweaks.
The main difference is a perforated back cover, which makes “for a really comfortable grip”, Kwon said. Bright shimmering colours also help the Galaxy S5 forge its own independent identity. Australians will be able to buy the smartphone in Electric Blue, Copper Gold, Shimmer White and Charcoal Black.
The 16MP camera comes with improved features: phase detection is used for a quick 0.3 second autofocus; there are advanced shooting modes like HDR, and; the ability to record videos in Ultra High Definition (UHD).
Beneath the rear camera are a single LED flash and a heart rate sensor.
Shipping to Australia is the 2.5GHz quad-core version of the Galaxy S5. The smartphone also has 2GB of RAM, up to 32GB of internal storage and support for 64GB microSDXC cards.
The Galaxy S5 will launch with Android 4.4 KitKat. Samsung’s TouchWiz interface differentiates the OS from other Android rivals, but the company claims it has been simplified.
Samsung has replaced the text used in the ‘settings’ menu of Android with large, colourful icons. The company has also added a plethora of settings shortcuts to the notification draw.
The Galaxy S5 will be capable of quicker file transfers and faster internet download speeds. Samsung’s Download Booster bonds the latest Wi-Fi ac standard with 4G LTE technology to enable the file transfer of a gigabyte movie in thirty seconds, Samsung claims.
TouchWiz just wouldn’t be TouchWiz without a hearty range of pre-installed (and we presume non-removable) applications.
We do like how the Galaxy S5 uses NFC technology. Jenny Goodridge, Samsung’s director of product marketing, explained how the smartphone will be used to make payments.
“The S5 uses built in near field communications to enable mobile tap and pay. We're working with the country's leading banks in order to offer this to Australians.”
Goodridge announced the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac will be among the first banks to support tap-and-go payments made with the Galaxy S5 .
The new smartphone will also feature a home panel that aggregates magazine content in an aesthetic interface. We first saw this orthogonal UI on the Galaxy NotePro tablet.
The Galaxy S5 is the “world’s first smartphone with an in-built heart rate sensor”. Winter Olympian and snowboard cross world champion, Alex 'Chumpy' Pullin, demonstrated how the heart rate sensor works.
The heart rate sensor is located alongside the single-LED flash on the back of the Galaxy S5. A bright red glow prompts you to scan your finger, and the smartphone will identify your heartrate within seconds.
For your information, Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin had a heart rate of 80 beats-per-minute at the event.
The Samsung flagship also come with an updated version of S-Health. S-Health 3.0 will populate statistics on your exercise patterns, measure your food intake and present information pertaining to your general well being.
Beneath the removable back cover of the Galaxy S5 is a 2800 milliamp-hour battery. Samsung has created an ‘Ultra Power Saving’ mode in order to extend the battery life. The mode disables superfluous features -- to the extent the screen reverts to black and white -- in order to deliver up to 24 hours of standby time from just 10 per cent of battery, Samsung claims.
One of the greatest innovations separating the new Galaxy S5 from older models is its IP67 certification. The guys from Bondi Rescue eloquently demonstrate what this certification means everyday.
Water won’t spoil the Galaxy S5. You can take the smartphone into freshwater 1 metre deep for thirty minutes and it will emerge unscathed. Just be sure the charging flap is properly closed.
"The Galaxy S5 is our first flagship smartphone to feature a water and dustproof design. Its IP67 certified,” said Arno Lenoir, Samsung Australia’s chief marketing officer. "It's made to handle an outdoor lifestyle.”
Dust poses little threat to the Galaxy S5. The smartphone’s IP67 certification also covers the ingression of dust particles. Tradies will identify the value in having a feature-rich smartphone that too can withstand the daily grind.
The Galaxy S5 will come with tailor made casing, The covers come in three colours and feature rubber seals to keep the smartphone’s tough certification in tact. The Galaxy S5 will also work with Samsung’s Gear range of products.
The Galaxy S5 will be available from Vodafone, Telstra, Optus and Virgin on the 11 April. It has a retail price of $929.
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