Samsung unveiled the annual updated model of its iPhone-battling Galaxy line of phones today. The phone is (predictably) more powerful, lasts longer, wants to improve your life, and even comes in gold. Of course.
Samsung revealed the Galaxy S5, which will be released on April 11, to journalists at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday. There is no major new hook — no crazy new motion sensor, no mind control options, no lightsaber-in-your-pocket promises. The Galaxy IV was a smashing success so there is no need for Samsung to reinvent the wheel. This is a phone, and it is a lot like the last one, but now it's just a bit better. The launch was understated compared to the usual pageantry that comes with a new flagship smartphone. Here are the big takeaways:
No Plastic, No Problem
One of Samsung's biggest problems with previous Galaxy phones was that their expensive top-of-the-line device looked a little cheap. The glossy plastic on the back made the phone look like a toy, and people actually complained that the lightweight made if feel insubstantial. This year's model abandoned the plastic look for a soft-touch dimpled fake leather that owes some design influence to the Blackberry Bold. (That is a compliment; those Bolds were slick.) Most Samsung products are adopting this fake leather look, and it's a step in the right direction, design-wise. Less plastic is always better.
Matching the iPhone
Because every phone has to be slightly different, but still be the exact same as every other phone on the market, the Samsung Galaxy S5 comes in black, white, blue and yes, of course, gold designs. (Its actual "gold"-ness is up for debate.) One adaptation from the iPhone is a fingerprint sensor, though it doesn't work well, according to early reports. "We found it to be quite unreliable and virtually impossible to activate when holding the phone in one hand," writes The Verge's Dan Seifert. That's a major problem that can hopefully be fixed with a software update. Otherwise it's a major botch, but not a dealbreaker.
The Great Mobile Camera Race Is Over
Cameras on cell phones have officially released peak-ridiculousness with the introduction of the Galaxy S5. Really, all anyone uses a camera phone for is taking selfies, or pictures of pets, meals and sunsets. The new Samsung's camera can produce ultra-HD quality photos and videos, which your computer, television and phone screen cannot properly display. The quality of the phone's camera outpaces just about any available screen you could possibly use to display the photos, and any job for which you would use your phone and not something more professional. That's it, you win, Samsung. Great job!
Samsung Wants You to get Healthy
Along with the S5, Samsung also released a new series of wearables — the Galaxy Gear 2, the cheaper Gear 2 Neo, and the Gear Fit. The class of the set seems to be the Gear Fit, which helps track your heart rate, step count, and other health information. "[The Fit] also looks better than Samsung's other smart watch, the Galaxy Gear," says Business Insider's Jay Yarow, who was completely taken with the device. Samsung revamped the S Health app and are making it a central part of the phone's sales pitch, hoping to bring to smartphone customers and tech-health nerds in a way that hasn't been done before. Those two worlds have until now been dancing around each other, but have failed to fully integrate.