So unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few days, you’ll be well aware that at MWC 2014, Samsung announced its brand new Samsung Galaxy S5 to much fanfare.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 will probably prove to be the most anticipated phone of 2014, except for maybe our beloved iPhone. Personally, I would argue that the incredibly exclusive nature of Apple’s iPhone launch, its secrecy over the phone, and its decision to steer clear of events like MWC give Apple the edge in terms of anticipation. It would seem that some of the impact of the Galaxy S5’s release was lost in the hype of the most momentous weekend in the mobile world. Without a doubt, the S5 made a big splash for sure, but certain elements of the announcement were overshadowed, such as Samsung’s new special effects for photography, which weren’t quite as spectacular as those announced by Sony some hours prior. Nonetheless, the Samsung Galaxy S5 deserves all of the praise and attention it has already received, and the detailed scrutiny to come. In the very least because of the phone’s significance to the mobile world, but more likely because it is a truly incredible piece of technology.
As is the case every year, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 will face countless comparison to the iPhone 5s, and likely the next instalment of the iPhone when that is released. However this year, I can’t help but notice that the emphasis of Samsung’s announcement was very much different to previous years. I think there were a couple of really key feature surrounding the Galaxy S5 that will push Apple further to the limit than Samsung has ever pushed before.
I say this because during the launch of the device, Samsung’s marketing team very deliberately skirted round some of the Galaxy S5’s core specifications. Rather, the emphasis really seemed to be on the user experience and functionality of the device. Indeed, JK Shin, Samsung’s head of IT and mobile communication claimed that customers don’t buy technology because of the specifications. The marketing decision to focus on some of the phone’s more lifestyle orientated features, such as the camera and its aesthetic charm may well be a clear sign that Samsung is no longer simply seeking to create powerhouse devices, but is instead focusing on a phone’s user experience. Cynics may argue that Samsung didn’t focus too much on the devices specifications because the numbers aren’t great, but I really don’t think that is the case, particularly because the numbers are actually quite impressive:
- 5.1-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display
- 2.5GHz quad-core ARM chip (Snapdragon 801)
- 2GB of RAM
- 16/32GB internal storage plus microSD up to 64
- 802.11ac MIMO
- LTE Cat. 4
- USB 3.0
- 2800mAh battery
- 16MP rear camera, 2.1MP front camera
- Fingerprint scanner
- Heart rate sensor
- IP67 Dust and water Resistant
- 142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1mm, 145g
- Android 4.4.2
With all this in tow, the S5 is certainly no slouch, and initial hands-on reports are lauding the phone’s response times and lag free user interface. A Samsung slip yesterday also gave away an info graphic that revealed a 2.1 GHz Octa-Core S5 is also in the works, showing that the device has even more power up its sleeve. A 1080p display, 2GB of RAM and a 2.5GHz processor is nothing to be embarrassed about. Samsung’s fairly low-key coverage of the S5’s impressive specs are a clear sign that manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, Sony and HTC are no longer competing with each other to see who can build the most impressive device. The S5 lays down a very high benchmark in terms of internal capability. More importantly however, Samsung’s decision not to shout about that achievement is a message to competing manufacturers to become innovative in other ways. Adding more RAM, CPU cores and pixels simply won’t do any more.
The Korean giant got the ball rolling on that front, in the guise of Samsung’s very large emphasis on the device as a tool for personal fitness. The S5 was released alongside 3 new smart watches, including the Gear Fit, which has the first ever curved super AMEOLED touchscreen ever to appear in a wearable device. The announcement of these watches alongside the S5 is on coincidence. Clearly, Samsung’s most recent innovation efforts have been focused on using smartphones in conjunction with wearable tech. The Gear Fit is an absolutely revolutionary device, and Samsung’s concerted foray into the world of tech is clear sign that most manufacturers, likely Apple included will also be pushing this market in the coming year. Again, Samsung’s emphasis on the Galaxy S5’s fitness uses is a clear sign that the S5 is no longer simply meant to encapsulate the epitome of mobile computing power.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 will also force Apple to push the boat out in other areas of mobile technology. Some other notable features include the S5’s download booster, which can combine your Wi-Fi and LTE connection to achieve download speeds of up to 650Mbps, absolutely phenomenal numbers. The S5’s bandwidth capabilities will certainly make Apple sit up and take note. Smartphones have reached the stage where performance, particularly in terms of network-orientated entertainment is currently being held back not by device capabilities, but by network performance. Samsung certainly appears to be addressing that imbalance, and no doubt Apple will do this too.
Another interesting feature is the S5’s built-in heart-rate monitor. Apple’s Touch ID was the first significant manifestation of biometric security in a smartphone, but now Samsung is pushing mobile phones towards sensory activities that open up a world of possibilities for using your phone as a device to keep track of your body’s “status”, which in time could see smartphones become an integral part of healthcare. Samsung’s biometric security is also a big step forward, allowing users to assign their fingerprint to individual files and apps. Perhaps most importantly, Samsung has released an API for developers which allows them to use the S5’s fingerprint scanner in their own third-party apps, something that Apple may well have to respond to in the future.
To conclude, I reckon that Samsung’s choice not to emphasise to heavily the fairly awesome specs of the Galaxy S5 is a clear sign that the S5 is a benchmark, a new standard in mobile processing technology. Having achieved that, Samsung has made it clear that for other companies to keep their smartphones innovative and relevant, they will have to push their devices capabilities beyond raw processing power and performance. , instead focusing on how a device can enhance users lives. Wearable tech is another huge area that Samsung is pushing, and Apple again will likely have to respond to this development.
These are just some of the effects that the Samsung Galaxy S5 will have on Apple and the development of future iPhones. But what do you think? Has Samsung got it right with the S5? What will Apple have to do to respond to Samsung? Where should its focus be? As always, leave your thoughts and your comments below, or hit me up on Twitter @TiP_Stephen