Samsung sought Monday to frame its new Galaxy S5 smartphone as a lifestyle product, as it emphasized a built-in heart-rate sensor and improved camera features over its slightly larger size.
One of the main appeals of Samsung phones has been their size. The screen has steadily increased since the 4-inches (10.2 cm) on the original S from 2010, while the iPhone made that jump to 4-inches only in 2012 and has stayed that way since.
But the S5 pushes the screen to only 5.1-inches (13 cm), measured diagonally, from 5-inches (12.7 cm) in last year’s model. Instead of size, Samsung touted the new phone’s ability to adapt its screen to changing external conditions and to dim it to avoid disturbing others nearby.
The phone has a 16-megapixel camera, sharper than the 13-megapixel in its predecessor. It promises faster auto focus and the ability to blur the foreground or background of an image to emphasize a subject.
Samsung Electronics Co. made the latest announcement during the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain.
The new phone will go on sale worldwide on April 11. The company didn’t announce a price; its predecessor sold for about $600 without phone subsidies or a contract.
The S5 has a fingerprint sensor to use in place of a passcode to unlock the phone or make payments through PayPal. It’s a feature still rare in phones, though Apple introduced it in last fall’s iPhone 5s.
Samsung’s Galaxy S series has emerged as one of the strongest challengers to Apple’s iPhones and has helped the Korean company surpass Apple as the world’s largest smartphone maker. According to Gartner, Samsung’s smartphones had a worldwide market share of 31 percent last year, compared with 16 percent for Apple’s iPhones.
A chief complaint about Samsung phones has been the company’s tendency to pack them with a slew of features, some of which don’t work well with each other or at all. Recent phones have sported an Easy Mode, with larger icons and fewer customization choices. It’s as though Samsung acknowledges that its devices have become too complex for many people to use.
Samsung showed restraint this time.
“Samsung is betting big on wellness, fingerprint reading and camera autofocus, while keeping a very similar look and feel for its hardware and software,” said Nick Dillon, a senior analyst at the research firm Ovum. “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.”
But he said that is to be expected “given the maturity of the smartphone market and the pressure on the Samsung not to mess with its winning formula.”
The heart-rate sensor on the S5 can be used before and after exercise to measure fitness activities. It’s not meant for continuous tracking. Samsung also unveiled a fitness band, Gear Fit, to complement two new computerized watches announced Sunday. Those will be available April 11 as well.
“These devices are Samsung’s commitment and vision to great experiences that matter the most to us all,” Samsung European executive Jean-Daniel Ayme said.
Parents, meanwhile, will enjoy the ability to hand the phone to a kid without worry. Just place it in a kid’s mode, and only approved apps can be accessed. Your kid can’t send your boss an email or post an embarrassing picture on Facebook when all you intended was to have your kid play “Candy Crush Saga.”
The phone is also water resistant.
“Our consumers do not want eye-popping technology or the most complex technology,” said J.K. Shin, Samsung’s head of information technology and the mobile communications division. “Our consumers want durable design and performance. Our consumers want a simple, yet powerful camera.”
Samsung’s much anticipated Galaxy S5 flagship, which is all set to see the light of day at MWC 2014in Barcelona on Monday, might have been leaked in its full glory ahead of its official unveiling.
A Hardware Zone forum member named OKCATYEON has allegedly clicked a bunch of live images of the Galaxy S5. The purported leaked images show the Samsung Galaxy S5 in its full glory, and indicate the device will feature a ridged silver-coloured lining around the device. If the leaked images turn out to be real, we assume that Galaxy S5 will not be a major departure from company’s Galaxy S family design. The alleged leaked image also suggests the Galaxy S5 will include a physical button on the front panel. Notably, the forum member notes the new TouchWiz is not a major overhaul from the company’s previous version.
The member has also detailed some of the expected features such as fingerprint scanner. The forum member claims that the alleged fingerprint scanner feature will require the user to swipe eight times on the home button scanner to register it, and that the Galaxy S5 can register up to three different fingerprints at a time.
Further, the forum member has claimed that the scanner on the Galaxy S5 can be used with PayPal for authorisation payments for products within the browser. Other features said to arrive on the Galaxy S5 include a new heart rate sensor that is now said to be included in the device’s S Health app.
About the camera on the Galaxy S5, the forum member notes that the device houses a 16-megapixel rear camera, which is very much in-line with earlier leaks. The device is also said to come with IP67 dust and water resistance, which should make the Galaxy S5 quite waterproof, like the recently unveiled Xperia Z2.
Previously rumoured specifications of the Galaxy S5 include a 5.24-inch AMOLED screen with a QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution; two storage variants- 32GB/64GB; two processor variants – Exynos 6 and Snapdragon 805, and a 3200mAh battery. The optics rumoured for the Galaxy S5 included a 3.2-megapixel front-facing shooter.
Samsung might have sent out invitations for its “UnPacked 5” event, where the company is said to unveil its alleged Galaxy S5 flagship smartphone at the sidelines of MWC 2014 on February 24 in Barcelona, however, new leaks related to the Galaxy S5 seem to shed more details about the yet-to-be-announced device.
Itechaddict in a report, citing an insider from Samsung India R&D, has claimed that the South Korean major has abandonned the physical button on the front panel of Galaxy S5, and instead chosen to go with onscreen buttons. The quoted source also said the long-rumoured fingerprint scanner has been integrated the into the Galaxy S5’s display panel.
The report claims that the fingerprint scanner has been implemented in a way that the fingerprint sensor is on the screen. The report does not share any other details about the technology used in the fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S5, but we expect the feature to work like fingerprint prank apps that are available on the Google Play store.
The report informs that Samsung has used a similar method to implement the fingerprint scanner on the S5, to what the company has been using to implement the S Pen stylus interface. According to the report, the company has been using an electromagnetic field layer to realise the stylus input.
Samsung is also rumoured to include multi-hovering touch technology on its next flagship smartphone. The multi-hovering touch technology is said to be prepared by Synaptics tech, which is expected to enhance the finger-hovering accuracy of the screen input. Notably, the Synaptics’ new technology is said to detect movements from 15mm to 30mm above the display and could detect more than one finger at a time.
In addition, Sammobile has also purportedly leaked the new S Voice UI interface which is said to debut on the long-rumoured Galaxy S5. As per Sammobile, the new alleged S Voice interface is now faster compared to the last version. Further, the S Voice UI interface has reportedly been revamped, though there are no major colour scheme and aesthetic changes.
Earlier on Wednesday, the anticipated Samsung Galaxy S5’s specifications were puportedly leakedvia popular Russian tipster for smartphone devices, Eldar Murtazin.
According to the tipster, the Galaxy S5 is said to sport a 5.24-inch AMOLED screen with a QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) resolution; two storage variants- 32GB/64GB; two processor variants – Exynos 6 and Snapdragon 805, and a 3200mAh battery.
The optics rumoured for the Galaxy S5 include a 16-megapixel rear camera, and a 3.2-megapixel front-facing shooter.
Iris scanner technology shelved: Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G3 might come with fingerprint sensors instead
The Samsung Galaxy S5 rumors craze has officially begun. We’re just a couple of months away from the big Galaxy S5 unveiling that will happen by the end of April, and all kinds of sources take their turn spinning the rumor mill.
Interestingly, this rumor has it that Samsung is working on integrating the fingerprint sensor under the display itself. This would allow users to scan fingerprints directly on the screen, and not on a dedicated button. The approach is different from what Apple uses in its iPhone 5s, where the fingerprint reader is hidden beneath the home key.
LG is allegedly also working on including a fingerprint sensor in its forthcoming G3 flagship smartphone. If true, this all marks a very clear trend in the Android world to follow suit with Apple’s decision in favor of including a fingerprint reader. We’ve heard previously from Samsung’s own Lee Young-hee that while the Korean company is working on implementing iris scanning technology, it is not something that’s set in stone to arrive in a smartphone.
Finally, there are also definite technology limitations for iris scan technology:
“In order to enable iris recognition on a smartphone, an extra camera designed specifically for the identification technology should be installed, which will make the smartphone bigger since there will be three camera modules,” a market source explained. “And since iris recognition requires a long range camera, the smartphone, if fitted with the camera, needs a completely different design from previous models.”
Fingerprint Cards is aiming to sell its identity technology to most of the world’s biggest smartphone makers, which are likely to follow Apple in offering touch recognition for mobiles from next year.
Apple’s September launch of the iPhone 5S was the first smartphone with a fingerprint identity touch sensor, provided by AuthenTec, part of Apple.
Following on from this, Sweden’s Fingerprint hopes to sell its own touch sensors to other big mobile phone makers like Samsung, LG Electronics and Huawei.
“I think at least seven or eight will launch a phone with a touch sensor in 2014,” Johan Carlstrom, Fingerprint’s Chief Executive Officer, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
He said Fingerprint Cards hoped to clinch contracts with the majority of those firms after announcing last week new touch fingerprint sensors for Android smartphones and tablets, and the Windows operating system.
Carlstrom said Fingerprint expected Samsung, the world’s biggest maker of smartphones, to launch at least one smartphone – or probably even two – with either a swipe or touch fingerprint sensor next year.
“Samsung is well known for having multiple suppliers for most components and our goal is to be selected as one of their sensor suppliers already in 2014,” he said.
Fingerprint is one of only a handful of global specialists in touch sensor technology. Rival AuthenTec was bought by Apple and Validity was bought by Synaptics in October.
Fingerprint already has contracts to supply its cheaper “swipe” fingerprint technology to Japan’s Fujitsu, South Korea’sPantech and China’s Konka.
The company has forecast a fivefold increase in revenues for 2014 to at least 500 million Swedish crowns. Its share price has surged more than 600 percent in the past year.
In October, Fingerprint was caught up in a hoax following a fake press release which claimed Samsung was buying the company for $650 million.
The Swedish Economic Crime Authority launched a fraud probe. Carlstrom declined to comment on the case on Wednesday, saying that an investigation was underway.
Fingerprint’s revenues have been dominated by sales of fingerprint security products to Chinese banks like Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
But in the third quarter of this year, more than 50 percent of revenues came from mobile phones, Carlstrom said, a trend the company expects will continue.
The group expects to secure a 60 percent share of the smartphone market for touch sensors in 2014 and 2015, excluding Apple smartphones.
The smartphone market is growing rapidly. Worldwide smartphone shipments are forecast to grow 40 percent year-over- year to more than 1.0 billion units this year, according to International Data Corporation.
Last year, when Apple bought fingerprint sensor developer AuthenTec for $356 million this was viewed as a signal that the technology would finally go mainstream.
“It was an industry breakthrough and certainly opens the flood gates and starts a new industry,” Carlstrom said.
He said that Apple, which also looked at Fingerprint back in 2010 when it was eyeing AuthenTec, sets the agenda for smartphone makers when it comes to functionality and design.
Asked if he would be open to a sale, Carlstrom said that given the industry’s growth potential, he believed the company – with a $488 million market capitalisation – was not yet fully valued.
“We are just at the beginning of the growth phase,” said Carlstrom, who has spent 25 years in the telecommunications industry. “We have no intention to sell at the current time, and at current valuations,” he said.