Has it already been nearly a year? Time flies when the competition is fierce, doesn't it? While Mobile World Conference isn't for another month, details on Samsung's next big Android smartphone have reportedly been leaked to SamMobile, a site with a reputation for publishing accurate Samsung news. Here's everything we think we know about the Galaxy S5.
Racing Past The Rest
Smartphones have reached a point of diminishing returns when it comes to specs. Screens are sharper than ever with pixels density at such high levels that counting PPI is no longer meaningful. Storage is plenty (boosted by the cloud), RAM is bountiful to the point where dozens of apps can remain open without crashing, and mobile processors have so many cores, developers haven't even taken advantage of them all.
With the Galaxy S4, Samsung tried to push "smart" features over specs, and failed miserably. The problem wasn't its approach to create a "Samsung experience", much like the "Apple experience" iPhone users get, but the fact the features that it included weren't very useful and didn't work very well. Does anyone really use the Air Gesture or Smart Scroll eye-tracking feature?
If SamMobile's report turns out to be accurate, Samsung may return to the spec race once again with powerhouse hardware in the Galaxy S5. Rumors suggest the GS5 will have a 5.25-inch AMOLED display with an insane 2,560 x 1,440 resolution (up from a 5-inch 1080p display), Exynos 6/Snapdragon 805 processor (depending on model) and 16-megapixel rear camera, possibly with optical image stabilization. (4K video recording just like the Galaxy Note 3 would be nice.)
The Galaxy S5 will also run the latest version of Android 4.4 KitKat — most likely with a completely redesigned version of Samsung's TouchWiz UI. A recent leak from notorious phone leaker @evleaks suggests Samsung could be flattening out the UI and mixing a little bit of HTC's BlinkFeed into its version of KitKat:
Samsung is also expected to arm the Galaxy S4 5 with 4GB of RAM and support 64-bit processing. PhoneArena adds to the rumormill that the Galaxy S5 will come with a fast-charging 2900mAh battery
Plastic And Metal
The single biggest complaint about the Galaxy S4 and all of its predecessors and offshoot devices (GS4 Mini, GS4 Zoom, etc.) is its plastic construction. Now, before we get into a flame war, we're not knocking plastic as a durable material, but the general consensus is that the Galaxy S4 and S3 felt remarkably cheap. There is no rigidity to the build-quality; they feel flimsy. Nokia's Lumia smartphones made of dyed polycarbonate and the steel-reinforced iPhone 5c are good examples of plastic smartphones that feel solid and don't bend and flex.
For the Galaxy S5, Samsung will reportedly follow Apple with two models: one in plastic and one in premium metal. SamMobile believes the metal Galaxy S5 will sport a metal back cover and metal sides and front. It's unclear if the metal Galaxy, which is expected to be the premium model, will have any exclusive features to differentiate it from the plastic version, other than different materials. Perhaps that rumored Iris scanner?
In typical Samsung style, the company is also reportedly planning two spin-off devices with the Galaxy S5 moniker: a GS5 Mini and GS5 Zoom, rumored for a June and May unveil. Details are scant on these two, but the GS5 Zoom (successor to the Galaxy S4 Zoom) will have a 4.8-inch screen with qHD resolution) and both devices will run Android 4.4 KitKat.
April Galaxy S5 Showers
Bear in mind, everything "leaked" so far is pure rumor and speculation. Samsung's not as tight-lipped as, say, Apple, so it's entirely possible we'll see specs within these parameters.
The closest confirmation to when we'll hear about the Galaxy S5 came from Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung mobile. Lee told Bloomberg that the company usually announces its flagship smartphones "around March and April" and that it's still shooting for a similar announcement timeframe.
"For the S5, we will go back to basics," Lee told Bloomberg. "Mostly it's about the display and the feel of the cover."
Additionally, Lee said we can "expect a [Galaxy] Gear successor with more advanced functions, and the bulky design will be improved." This part is a little odd since the company just released the first-gen Galaxy Gear smartwatch at the end of September.