Pat Pilcher: Samsung launches new flagship Galaxy S5

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The big news out of the Mobile World Congress today is the launch of Samsung's latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5. Its refreshed design, tweaks and added features mean that there's plenty for Samsung Galaxy fans to get excited about.

First Impressions

Design-wise, the Galaxy S5 feels similar to its older sibling, the Galaxy S4. What is noticeable is its roomy 1080p 5.1"display. The actual handset seems only slightly larger than the Galaxy S4.

Equally nice is its stippled soft-touch back. Swappable and available in a range of colours , the soft finish back makes the Galaxy S5 feel more grippy and less drop prone.

Another side benefit is that it also has a less plasticy feel, which was a frequent criticism levelled at the Galaxy S4.

The Galaxy S5's super AMOLED 5.1" 1080p display is gorgeous, showing off its re-tweaked touch-wiz interface well. I'm a fan of the high contrast, ultra vivid look that AMOLED displays bring to the mix, and the extra screen real-estate is also likely to be well received.

Bells and whistles

There's also a stack of new hardware features. The worst kept secret in the industry had to revolve around the Galaxy 5's fingerprint scanner. Where Apple built the iPhone 5's sensor into its home button, Samsung have put theirs under the Galaxy S5's screen. This means that the Galaxy S5 is unlocked by sliding a registered finger down the screen.

Another nifty addition that'll be well received by fitness fanatics is a heart rate sensor tucked away under the Galaxy S5's rear camera.

Fire up the S fitness app, tell it to measure your heart rate and plunk a finger on the sensor. In use it worked well, and my ticker was also behaving itself pumping at a leisurely 65 beats per minute.

Sammy have also tweaked TouchWiz and slapped it on top of Android 4.4 KitKat. A quick glance through the screens on the demo unit also revealed a surprising absence of Samsung branded apps.

Where the Galaxy S4 had a tonne of Samsung apps, they were absent from the demo unit. In my books this is a definite bonus as I'll install any apps I need. Freed up memory is never a bad thing.

Samsung CEO J.K. Shin presents the new Samsung Galaxy S5 at the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain. Photo / AP
Samsung CEO J.K. Shin presents the new Samsung Galaxy S5 at the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain. Photo / AP

Under the Hood

As with the Galaxy S4, there's also a microSD slot and removable (2,800mAh) battery. Coupled with what Samsung have branded an ultra-energy saving mode, the Galaxy S5's bigger battery and more energy efficient silicon should equate to longer battery life. Samsung claim 24 hours standby life to 12 hours of video watching.

Following Sony's lead with the Xperia Z1, the Galaxy 5 is also IP67-certified, which means that it'll survive the odd dunking and can be used in the shower. Its earphone socket is not covered but is water resistant. The micro-USB 3.0 port on its bottom is still protected by a cover.

The rear camera has also been upgraded, and now makes use of a 16-megapixel sensor that can shoot 4k video and has a real time HDR mode (which will also work for photos). Samsung have also included what they've branded as "selective focus" which lets you change depth of field after a photo has already been shot.

The auto focus has also been optimised and can focus in 0.3 seconds, making it ideal for use at kids' sports games and other action oriented settings. The front camera also now uses a 2.1-megapixel sensor.

A big bonus for many will also be the revamped TouchWiz interface. In use it appears to be a lot less cluttered as there's less tabs. In use, the much of TouchWiz felt almost stock Android which is definitely a good thing.

The Galaxy S5 also packs some serious muscle, sporting a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 800 CPU, 2GB of RAM. There is IR blaster is present, along with NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Cat 4 LTE (which means the Galaxy 5 should be able to send data at 50Mbps and receive data at up to 150Mbps). 802.11ac is also present which means that the Galaxy 5 isn't a slouch on the connectivity front.

The Galaxy 5 will ship in late April, but Samsung were unable to provide pricing info.

- NZ Herald

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