Report: Samsung might make Galaxy S5 cheaper than previous flagship phones

Samsung Electronics might start selling its next flagship phone, expected to be called the Galaxy S5, for less than previous models in the Galaxy S line, after encouragement by at least one carrier, according to a Bloomberg report.

The report, which cited unnamed sources familiar with the matter, also said the S5 is expected to have a larger 5.2-inch screen and a sharper display than the Galaxy S4. The report said the new phone will sport an improved battery and camera, and will be released about the same time as an upgraded Galaxy Gear smart watch.

According to the report, Samsung hasn't yet decided exactly how much the S5 will cost but it is considering selling it for less than what it sells the S4 for. Samsung has not yet given carriers a price for the phone. A Galaxy S4 with 16 GB of internal storage sells for $199.99 with a two-year contract from most U.S. carriers; an unlocked version of the phone without carrier subsidies goes for around $600. Samsung will hold its latest "Unpacked" event on Feb. 24 at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, where it is expected to unveil the S5.

Samsung declined to comment, according to the report.

Meanwhile, rumors about the S5 continue to swirl. The blog Sammobile reported, without citing its sources, that the S5 will have a fingerprint scanner like Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5s. The report said the scanner will be used to unlock the device as well as hide and secure personal apps and information on the phone. The report said to use the sensor users will need to swipe the entire pad of their finger, from base to tip, across the home key to register their fingerprint properly.

Samsung is still the world's market leader in terms of smartphone and overall handset shipments by volume. However, the company posted flat profits from its mobile division in the fourth quarter and a drop in sales from the third quarter.

To improve its results, Samsung plans to triple its footprint of 31 stores in Europe in the coming months and will open 90 kiosks within Best Buy and Future Shops in Canada by the spring, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited Samsung executives. In the U.S., Samsung last year partnered with Best Buy to open 1,400 "Samsung Experience Shops." The store-within-a-store concept allows Samsung to highlight its wares and demonstrate how its smartphone, tablets, TVs, laptops, cameras and other connected devices interact, and the stores are staffed by Samsung-trained employees.

And finally, in other Samsung news, the company said that many of its newest smartphones and tablets will receive the Android 4.4.2 (Kit Kat) software update. The update will add an integrated location menu that enables users to easily activate GPS, Wi-Fi and mobile networks, while simultaneously checking the battery usage of apps running location service capabilities. It will also let users to choose between Messages or Hangouts as their preferred default messaging application, and select from a larger assortment of updated Emoji icons; and it will let users automatically back up photos and videos and open, view, rename and share Google Docs and files.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Sammobile post
- see this CNET article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this release

Related Articles:
Samsung hints at new TouchWiz UI for Galaxy S5
Report: Samsung's Galaxy S5 launch likely will be low-key, and phone won't have eye-scanner
Samsung appears set to unwrap Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress
Analysts: Samsung, Apple keep smartphone grip, but lower-end rivals are nipping
Samsung reports flat mobile profits in Q4
Samsung to open 1,400 mini-stores within Best Buys, challenging Apple

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