Samsung aims for iPhone as it shows off new Galaxy S5
Smartphone includes heart rate sensor, improved wifi and new security features
The new Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone, Gear 2 smartwatch (centre) and Gear Fit fitness band are displayed. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters
Samsung lifted the lid on its much-anticipated Galaxy S5 this evening, showing off a larger screen and increased health functions as it vowed to get “back to basics” and give phone users what they wanted.
A 5.1 inch screen, improved wifi and a better camera were all top of Samsung’s list for the updated phone, which also includes stronger security features and an improved battery.
“Our consumers do not want eye-popping technology or the most complex technology,” said JK Shin, chief executive and president of the IT and Mobile Communication Division at
Samsung Electronics. He said the devices were designed to make life easier for consumers, with the focus on beautiful design, faster connectivity and technology to keep them fit.
It was a more low-key launch for the S5, following its predecessor’s unveiling at New York’s Radio City Music Hall last year.
Although Samsung’s high-end Galaxy phones have proved popular with consumers, sales of the previous model, the S4, were affected by the launch of the iPhone 5S in September, which in turn impacted growth in the Korean company’s earnings.
Samsung has improved the S5’s camera, increasing the resolution to 16 megapixels from the S4’s 13, and a fast autofocus of up to 0.3 seconds. It also includes new features such as selective focus, which allows you to choose your subject ad blur the background, and advanced high dynamic range (HDR) to reproduce natural light more accurately.
Download boosting technology, meanwhile, allows users to harness both wifi and 4G networks to increase their download speeds.
The handset is the first in the world to have a heart rate sensor built in, according to Samsung, giving users yet more information on their health that can be gathered through the S Health app.
It’s water and dust resistant too, which means it will stand up to a short dip in water or a rain shower.
Samsung has also improved security features, with a fingerprint reader to securely unlock the phone and other features without the need for passwords. Paypal has linked up with Samsung to offer users the ability to pay for goods and services using their fingerprint as authentication.
The new service will be available on the S5, for use with merchants who accept Paypal on mobile and in-store.
“We spearheaded the Fast IDentity Online Alliance last year and predicted that the industry would soon move beyond passwords, and this announcement brings us one step closer to that reality,” said Hill Ferguson, chief product officer for PayPal. “By working with Samsung to leverage fingerprint authentication technology on their new Galaxy S5, we are able to demonstrate that consumers don’t need to face a tradeoff between security and convenience.”
The Galaxy uses FIDO Ready software to securely communicate with Paypal. The payment information is stored in the cloud in a secure wallet, rather than on the device, and only a unique encrypted key to verify identity is shared with the device Biometric information is not stored on Paypal’s servers either, the company said.
The fingerprint authentication will be available from May in 26 markets around the world.
But Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson remained sceptical.
“The Galaxy S5 has great features and will probably sell well due to massive marketing support,” he said. “But is the total product experience it offers differentiated enough to continue the sales success story? Is it enough to bet on fitness and fingerprint sensors to beat Apple - rooting the experience in people’s daily lives? I don’t think so.”
Samsung also had time to squeeze in one more fitness device, the Gear Fit. The device comes with a built in heart rate monitor, and Samsung said it is the first curved super AMOLED touch screen display on a wearable device.
Weighing in at 27g, the device will track your movement calorie burn, and is compatible with 20 Galaxy devices at launch.