Monday, February 24, 2014

An iPhone User's Opinions On the Samsung Galaxy S5 Event

Let me start by saying that just because I love my iPhone, doesn't mean I hate every other phone on the market. Frankly, I love pure Android but more importantly, I love technology in general, Apple just happens to be my choice based on my personal preference. Google is great, Samsung is great and competition is essential BUT, I won't hold back comparing to my beloved iPhone if it's called for.

So let's get to the event...

The main focus for the Galaxy S5 and the event itself were Design, Camera, Speed, Fitness and Protection and the fact that the Galaxy S5 is the product of Samsung listening to what consumers want most (unfortunately, that did not include one of the most requested features for a Samsung handset, a metal body but, we'll get to the hardware in a second.) After hearing the CEO Jong-Kyun Shin talk about Samsung's focus and their philosophy (the typical words every company likes to use) we got our first glance of the Galaxy S5.

Samsung was very clear from the start that the average consumer doesn't care about technology, they just want meaningful features. It seems however they forgot not many of the average users were watching the event as there were little to no mention of specs. The only numbers we got were battery life, megapixels and download speeds…(forgive me for this) sort of like an Apple Keynote.

But anyways, let's dive into the key categories mentioned at the beginning.


Some of the design features from the presentation including the new Settings UI and home screen

The Galaxy S5 has a 5.1" full HD display with dynamic contrast that analyzes the lighting conditions in a certain situation and alters the colours and contrast as well as the usual brightness. Also, the display can now be "extremely" dim. Obviously, I can't comment on how well the dynamic contrast works but I know that I've always hoped for a dimmer iPhone screen in dark locations. The phone also has a 2800mAh battery which provides 10h of web browsing on LTE and 12h of video playback, similar to the battery life claims of an iPad Air, so, if the Galaxy S5 can actually deliver on that, I will be very impressed. One battery life saving feature that also seemed promising was the Ultra Power Saving Mode, which only leaves the core features on and switches the interface to black & white, achieving 24h standby time on just 10% battery life! (No mention of the processor, so let's assume no 64 bit processor like the iPhone 5S.) As stated above, the Galaxy S5 is still made of plastic which is disappointing and has a new design, colors and cases - not that big of a deal for me, the overall design is very similar to older Galaxy phones. Lastly, the user interface was supposedly updated but all we got to see was a new prism look which looks like simple wallpaper and a new, more visual settings app (no live demos). Also, the lock-screen has a similar camera button placement as iOS (Missing from the image).


As rumoured the Galaxy S5 has a 16 megapixel camera which isn't as exciting but, what's impressive is the "companion chip" which will aid in an ultra fast auto focus, 0.3 seconds to be more precise. Other features include HDR and HDR video (no mention of improving performance in low light situations, something Galaxy phone cameras haven't done so well in when compared to other smartphones such as the HTC One, Lumia handsets and iPhone 5S), a new selective focus option to blur the background using software, not an larger aperture and a redesign for the camera app. No dual LED flash or mention of any improvement to the front facing camera.


Not much to say here, the S5 now has full LTE coverage for all carriers and 802.11ac wi-fi MIMO and a "download booster" which in optimal situations downloads 1GB per 30seconds. This for me was the least interesting part of the presentation.

Life (Protection)

Image credit: techradar
The S5 has IP67 water and dust resistance (not water proof) which means it'll survive falling in a puddle but just don't go swimming with it. Personally, I have yet to experience water damage to any of my devices but the peace of mind is definitely welcomed. This was the first feature pertaining to protection with the other being a fingerprint scanner. Of course, the iPhone 5S comes to mind. Side note: many will say that Apple wasn't the first company to add a fingerprint scanner to their phones BUT, can we all just agree that this is another instance where Apple causes a feature to become a must have on all other devices. Samsung's fingerprint scanner isn't as advanced as Apple's Touch ID requiring a swipe over the home button but, it is way better than the HTC One Max's fingerprint scanner which many complained was too awkward to operate due to its placement. This is one part where a detailed live demo would've mattered yet was lacking, which may be concerning. Samsung also quickly went over a payment option (just credit cards with a fingerprint scanner) but it's no where near the magnitude of Apple's rumoured mobile payment push. Lastly, Samsung added a new Kids mode which is an app that allows users to restrict features and apps before handing the phone to their children. Perfect for parents. There are also more security options for the enterprise to be announce tomorrow.


Heart rate sensor on the Galaxy S5
Fitness was Samsung's opportunity to talk about the Gear 2 and their new Gear Fit. Ultimately, the new Gear adds a home button, swappable wrist bands, longer battery life and a heart rate sensor. The Gear Fit has a horizontal curved AMOLED display which orients information horizontally, making it awkward to hold (See pictures). Using the heart rate sensor, Gear will coach you and will work alongside a Galaxy smartphone with a companion app (the only S app this year) which will also coach you on weight, eating, sleep and stress. The Galaxy S5 also has its own heart rate sensor on the back which I don't see much appeal in but, at least S Health will be fully functional for users that don't own a new Galaxy Gear. Personally, I'm more interested in seeing Google's rumoured smart watch and of course, seeing/owning Apple's iWatch. As for the Gear, good update and my thoughts go out to everyone that purchased the first Galaxy Gear.

Lastly, Samsung announced a lineup of premium earphones and headphones called Samsung Sound and a collection of gift apps. Nothing too special.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will be released alongside the Galaxy Gear on April 11th but overall, my first impressions of the device are good for the most part. Personally, I thought there were less feature additions just for the sake of adding features but then again, no real conclusions can be made until the device is in the hands of consumers to test how well the device performs, lasts battery wise and scans your finger.