Samsung added biometric security, super-fast downloads, health-monitoring tech and water-resistant capabilities to its flagship phone last night but largely dispensed with novelty features in a bid to go ‘back to basics’, indicating it has heeded consumer complaints about the last generation handset.
Unveiled at Mobile World Congress amid Apple-style ballyhoo and a sweep of live strings, the gadget-maker’s latest smartphone challenger features the same IP67-certified dust and water-resistant capabilities as the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active.
That means it can be submerged in up to a metre of water for 30 minutes and come out unharmed and, crucially, gives the S5 a selling point that’s missing from the iPhone 5S.
It’s also home to a suite of fitness monitoring tools under the collective banner Health 3.0, which are designed to work with Samsung’s burgeoning range of Gear smartwatches.
Foremost of these gym bunny-friendly apps is what Samsung's Chief of Mobile JK Shin claims is a “first of its kind” heart-rate sensor that can be tailored to each user. There’s also a pedometer and diet and exercise records.
Front and centre too is support for the 4G LTE frequency and the fastest fifth-gen Wi-Fi standards, as well as a so-called Download Booster that is designed to super-charge data speed by bonding Wi-Fi and LTE simultaneously.
An Ultra-Saving Power Mode, meanwhile, addresses the eternal bugbear of disappointing battery life on smartphones. When turned on, this switches the Android 4.4.2 KitKat-powered handset’s screen to a lo-fi black and white colour format and shuts off unnecessary features.
The camera has been given a leg up from 13-megapixels to 16-megapixels. And this time, it's augmented with 4K UHD video recording and features that Samsung research indicated are priorities for consumers. That means you can expect fast auto-focus, enriched colour and an improved user interface.
Like the iPhone 5S and HTC One Max, though, the fifth-gen Galaxy S features a Finger Scanner to boost its security credentials. This “new evolution” of Samsung’s Knox security comprises a swipe reader that enables users to set a ‘private mode’ to keep documents safe.
Perhaps surprisingly, though, Samsung has opted to retain a plastic build instead of switching to a more premium metal construction that rumours suggested was a dead cert to appear.
However, in a sop to design doyens it does feature a subtly different shell, as well as a perforated look on the back cover and comes in electric blue, shimmering white, none-more black and the sure-to-be-biggest seller, copper gold.
At 5.1-inches, the screen is slightly larger than the S4’s and features Samsung’s hallmark Super AMOLED HD display tech. There’s also a moderately more powerful 2.5GHz quad core application processor and not the beefy eight-core number that some sites claimed would be on board.
Notable by their absence at the launch, though, was any mention of last year’s leading features such as SmartScroll, which used eyeball-tracking to let users scroll through pages with eye movements alone.
Although widely championed by Samsung, these were largely seen as unwelcome gimmicks that used up memory and made the S4 needlessly fiddly to use.