BARCELONA, Spain--Samsung failed to disclose the price of its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, during a launch event held in conjunction with the Mobile World Congress trade show here.
Company executives revealed the device will launch on April 11 in 150 countries, after a 45 minute presentation where the key message was that Samsung had listened to its customers when designing the device. JK Shin, president and CEO of Samsung's mobile device business, said 200 million Galaxy smartphones have been sold to date, and that the company will "continue to focus on what matters most to consumers."
In the case of the S5, that means a high-quality camera, seamless connectivity, and fitness functions that work in conjunction with a range of new wearable devices the vendor also unveiled at the event.
The Galaxy S5 is compliant with LTE Category 4, which works in conjunction with Wi-Fi to offer more stable connections, the company said. The S5's camera "puts the most used functions first," with fast auto zoom and automatic colour correction, Shin said. It is also the first smartphone with a built-in heart rate monitor, which is incorporated just below the camera. Shin did not reveal how fast his heart was beating as he showed off the gadget at a Samsung press unveiling.
Jean-Daniel Ayme, vice president of Samsung's European Telecoms Operations, said the S5's heart monitor is one of several firsts in the new unit. The phone also controls light exposure when shooting video on the 16-megapixel camera, rather than just adapting still pictures, and has the "fastest ever" smartphone auto focus at 0.3 seconds. Samsung also combined standard auto focus with phase detection, and a selective focus feature allows users to blur the background of images--features Ayme said offer professional levels of photography.
The S5 sports a 5.1-inch, super AMOLED display that offers full HD, and automatically adjusts the contrast for bright or dark conditions. A power saving feature turns the screen back to black and white when the battery is low, and also turns off unnecessary functions. Ayme said the function allows the device to run for 24 hours in standby mode when at 10 per cent battery life. When battery power is good, the S5 can offer 10 hours of Web surfing in LTE mode, or 12 hours of video playback.
Ayme said the S5 has LTE capable of working across 8 bands in any given region, and that buffering has been eliminated.
The audience applauded loudly when Samsung revealed that the S5 is water and dust resistant, despite the fact ruggedised devices have been around for at least a decade, and Japanese vendors were offering full waterproof handsets as early as 2004.
Samsung did go down the biometric security route with a fingerprint scanner on the S5, but only to enable secure mobile payments. Ayme said the device also has one-touch security for when children are using the smartphone, with the features they can access being decided by parents. The addition of a fingerprint scanner is notable considering that's also one of the main advancements of Apple's new iPhone 5s.
Fitness functions in the Samsung Galaxy S5 were complemented by a range of smart watch devices--the Gear 2, Gear 2 neo, and Gear Fit. David Park, a member of the marketing team at Samsung HQ, explained the new units incorporate all the main features in the body, allowing users to swap the straps. The Gear Fit is the first curved super AMOLED touch screen featured in a wearable device, he said.
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