Samsung unveils Galaxy S5 smartphone

A week ago, we reported on a leaked photo of the retail packaging for Samsung’s latest flagship product, the Galaxy S5. Just today, Samsung officially launched it in Barcelona after their new Gear smartwatch announcement. On the specifications front, the S5 features a 2.5 quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, and a 16-megapixel camera that supports 4K video recording and HDR.

The Galaxy S5 looks doesn’t differ much from its predecessor, the Galaxy S4, with the display only slightly larger at 5.1 inches. It’s still a super AMOLED 1080p flat panel. The other difference is on the home button itself, which now comes fitted with a fingerprint sensor right under it. The charging port itself has a cover to prevent any water related incident and is now USB 3.0. Another stand-out feature is its IP67-rating for water and dust resistance, should your phone decide to take a swim. Gone is the plastic battery cover that is found on the S4. The S5 will come in 4 colours: black, white, blue and gold, and runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Samsung’s S-Apps.

As mobile fitness tracking is beginning to gain traction, Samsung is taking a big leap by integrating a new heart rate sensor onto the back of the S5, just below the camera. A revamped S-Health app will also work with the newly-launched Gear smartwatch. The fingerprint sensor works a little different from the way Apple touch ID on the iPhone 5S functions. The S5 sensor can be used to unlock the phone and authenticate purchases, though it currently only works with PayPal on the latter.

Unlike Apple’s offering, the S5 requires users to swipe their fingers across the home button, which is really tedious when using the phone with one hand. Hands-on reviews that have been posted on-line have shown that it can be unreliable if the speed and orientation of the swiping motion is not right.

Speaking as an ex-user of the Galaxy S4, I would say that the overall improvements are huge for the Galaxy family of phones, though the implementation of the fingerprint sensor is somewhat disappointing and underwhelming. With all its technological prowess and money, surely Samsung could have come up with something better than a standard fingerprint sensor?