12 February 2014
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is still one of the most powerful phones on the market, but as surely as night follows day, Samsung will be unveiling a replacement in the coming months.
So what can you expect from the Korean company’s next flagship smartphone? We’ve gathered all the latest news, rumours and other information in one place. Expect regular updates as more gossip filters through.
IT WILL FEATURE A METAL BODY
Despite frequent criticism of the Galaxy S range’s shiny plastic bodies by almost everyone, Samsung has resolutely clung to its use of polycarbonate through four generations and countless “spin-off” devices. But that could be set to change with the Galaxy S5.
The Taipei Times reports that Catcher, a company that makes metal bodies for the likes of Apple and HTC devices, will be manufacturing Galaxy casings for Samsung in the first half of 2014. Magnesium and aluminium are the likely materials. If true, it’d bring Samsung in line with its competitors – currently it’s the only one of the top five smartphone makers to use plastic in its high-end models.
Update 14/01/14: SamMobile reiterates the rumours of a metal phone, noting that the phone may have a metallic-effect back plate with stainless steel sides and front, and that the metal version might be called the Galaxy F. It claims that Samsung will release the metal Galaxy phone alongside a plastic Samsung Galaxy S5.
IT WILL BE WEATHER AND DUST-PROOF
Samsung has form in delivering rugged, weather-proof smartphones through the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, but next year that sort of toughness could come engineered into the flagship Galaxy S5.
ETNews reports that the S5 will be resistant to dust and water, which perhaps goes hand-in-hand with the rumour above concerning a metal body.
IT’S PROBABLY NOT COMING WITH A 64-BIT PROCESSOR
Given that Apple, Samsung’s greatest rival, has already launched the 64-bit iPhone 5S, it seemed a no-brainer that the Korean company would follow suit. Samsung executive J.K. Shin revealed as much in a recent meeting, according to Korea Times.
Samsung won’t want to be seen as falling behind its rivals on paper, and even if the benefits of a jump to 64-bit are hard to pin down, we certainly expected the S5 to be the first Android phone to run a 64-bit optimised version of Android 4.4 KitKat. However, subsequent leaks suggest it’ll be plain old 32-bit silicon:
Update 04/12/13: GFXBench‘s leaked Galaxy S5 benchmarks point to a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor clocked to 2.5GHz – higher than its counterparts in existing superphones like the LG G2 and Google Nexus 5.
Update 14/01/14: According to SamMobile, the Galaxy S5 will feature one of two different processors: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 or Samsung’s own eight-core Exynos 6 CPU. The split may not be determined by LTE connectivity as on the Galaxy S4, though – the Exynos is reportedly capable of handling 4G. Instead, there’s speculation that the premium metal variant of the S5 will get the Exynos, while the plastic version will have to make do with the Snapdragon.
Update 12/01/14: A Dutch site has obtained what it claims to be the Galaxy S5 packaging, complete with confirmation that (at least the 4G version of) the phone has a 2.56GHz quad-core processor (probably the Snapdragon 800) and 3GB of RAM.
THERE’LL BE A SUPER-SENSITIVE NEW CAMERA ON BOARD
Patent Bolt reports that Samsung has developed a new 13MP camera module for its 2014 generation of smartphones. While the megapixel count with the S4’s camera is the same, this module features far superior anti-shake image stabilisation. In fact, the module supports anti-shake correction of up to 1.5 degrees, while existing image stabilisation for smartphones tops out at 0.7 degrees.
The report also indicates that the sensor is drastically more effective in low light than Samsung’s current 13MP camera module, outputting an image with eight times higher brightness. That’s a huge claim, especially considering the unit is the same physical size as the current one. Take it with a pinch of salt.
Update 14/01/14: SamMobile‘s sources claim that the Galaxy S5 will come with a 16MP camera that could feature hardware-based optical image stabilisation.
Update 30/01/14: See that photo on the right? That was reportedly taken with a Galaxy S5, codenamed SMG-900-V (expected to be a Verizon-branded version of the phone). Posted by @evleaks, its EXIF data shows a resolution of 5312 x 2988, confirming the presence of a 16MP camera.
Apparently that’s what a finger covering the lens of an S5 looks like from the S5’s point of view. Who knew?
Update 12/02/14: A Dutch Samsung rumour site claims to have got its hands on early packaging for the S5 which, if the real deal, confirms the presence of a 20MP camera with autofocus, and a 2MP front camera.
Leaked benchmarks of what could be the Galaxy S5 have appeared at GFXBench, and they point to a – wait for it – 1440p display.
That’s an insane 2560×1440 2K HD screen. On a smartphone. That’s half as many pixels you’ll find on a newfangled 4K television screen.
According to Korean website ETNews, Samsung is considering dropping its long-favoured AMOLED display tech for LCD, in a bid to cut costs by 20 percent. This applies to both the Galaxy S5 and Note 4
If rumours of a 5in screen are true, that would result in an eye-melting 560 pixels per inch (the human eye supposedly struggles to perceive more than 300ppi). Has science gone too far?
Update 14/01/14: According to SamMobile‘s sources, the Galaxy S5 will feature a 5.25in AMOLED display with the aforementioned 1440p resolution. 560ppi now looks likely.
Update 17/01/14: The Galaxy S5’s screen will be even more sensitive to gestures according to ETNews‘ industry sources. That means you’ll be able to take advantage of Air View (bringing up previews by hovering your finger over thumbnails and emails), and gestures like Smart Scroll (swiping through menus by waving your hand), from further away.
The improved tech also means that finer stylus tips are supported, resulting in more accuracy – something we expect to see in the Galaxy Note 4.
Update 30/01/14: @evleaks strikes again. This time the serial leaker has posted an image of a Galaxy S5 .apk file called ‘3DTourViewer_WQHD_K.apk’. WQHD strongly points to a QHD 2560 x 1440 display, making it look more likely than ever.
Update 07/02/14: A report in the New York Times claims that a quad HD screen will not be coming to the S5.
Update 12/02/14: A Dutch site has got hold of what it claims to be packaging for the Galaxy S5: and apparently there will be a QHD screen.
KITKAT WITH EXTRAS
We’d be utterly gobsmacked if the Galaxy S5 didn’t land with Android 4.4 KitKat – the latest and greatest iteration of Google’s mobile OS – and we’d be equally shocked if it wasn’t skinned to the teeth with Samsung’s UI changes.
READ MORE: Android 4.4 KitKat review
Trusty leaker @evleaks has released what appears to be a Samsung Android home screen, and it looks very different from the TouchWiz UI we’ve come to know and… well, not love, but put up with.
Looking at the screenshots, the new Galaxy S5 home screen looks like Google Now cards were injected with steroids and given a healthy splash of colour.
Social updates, calendar appointments, parcel tracking, flight information, sports updates and fitness tracking are just some of the cards visible.
We prefer it to the cartoon-like icons of the existing TouchWiz interface, though they’re probably just a flick away on another screen.
Presumably cards can be flicked away to dismiss them Google Now-style, and our first impressions are positive.
Being able to see all this information at a glance is much smoother than opening up tonnes of apps, and that’s one of the benefits of Windows Phone 8’s home screen.
Let’s hope the rest of the Galaxy S5’s Android makeover looks just as good…
Update 12/01/14: Samsung’s Unpacked invite drops some hints concerning the new-look TouchWiz’s icon design.
IT’LL STARE INTO YOUR EYES
Apparently Samsung isn’t too fussed with fingerprint readers. Instead of the S5 scanning your fingertips, it will reportedly feature retina-scanning security instead.
That’s right, the S5 will – accordings to AndroidSaS‘ sources – be able to unlock itself once it’s scanned your eyes.
UPDATE 09/01/14: At CES 2014, Samsung Mobile’s Executive Vice Presidentsuggested that an iris-scanner was a “possibility” – but didn’t seem particularly encouraging: “[We] can’t really say whether [it] will have it or not on the S5.” Not really something to bet your mortgage on, then.
UPDATE 07/01/14: The New York Times claims that there will be no retina scanner built into the S5 as Samsung seeks to step away from “gimmicky” features in favour of more organic improvements to performance and design.
PRICE AND RELEASE DATE
Russian phone leaker @eldarmurtazin has revealed that the Samsung Galaxy S5 will be revealed in all its glory on 23 February – one day before Mobile World Congress kicks off in Barcelona.
He correctly predicted the launch date for the Galaxy S4 last year, so it looks like Samsung is all set to steal the thunder from the likes of Sony, HTC, LG and Nokia in Spain.
UPDATE 4/2/2014: Looks like soothsayer Eldar was almost bang on – Samsung has announced an Unpacked launch event on 24 February in Barcelona. Previous Unpacked events have seen the launch of every Samsung flagship device since the Galaxy S3, so we’d be shocked and surprised if the S5 isn’t announced.
Stay tuned for Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where all will be revealed.
ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY FINGER-SCANNING SCREEN
iTechAddict‘s ‘Samsung insider’ claims that the Galaxy S5’s screen itself will act as a fingerprint scanner.
Unlike the iPhone 5s’ Touch ID Home button or the HTC One Max’s rear scanner, the Galaxy S5’s screen itself will be able to scan your fingerprints, letting you unlock it and potentially authorise transactions form the Google Play Store.
While it sounds like wishful thinking, a paper from the University of Houston proves that the technology is definitely feasible. It discusses advances in transparent fingerprint sensors which can be integrated into TFT touchscreens, so it’s definitely more science, less science fiction.
If this rumour proves to be true then the Galaxy S5, with its 2,560 x 1,440 QHD screen, 3GB of RAM and Exynos 6/Snapdragon 805 innards will be the most advanced smartphone in the world when it’s revealed at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.