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MWC 2014: Samsung announce the Galaxy S5

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James Norton

James Norton

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At an unusually calm and inoffensive event on Monday evening, Samsung announced the follow up device to their hugely popular Galaxy S4, yes, it is the Galaxy S5.

It was a huge event with thousands of people attending, showing the reach and scale that Samsung have achieved now. This in itself is quite an amazing feat given how quickly Samsung have become this important.

And so to the actual announcement itself. The main dish served was the Galaxy S5 although the Galaxy Fit was also revealed for the first time and we will have more on that later.

The S5 has, according to Samsung, been designed in response to what customers asked for. There are five main pillars that Samsung have focussed on including the camera, connectivity, fitness tracking, a modern glam look, and device protection.

The camera is a new 16 megapixel shooter with super fast autofocus - 0.3 seconds we were told - and a new HDR mode that gives a real time preview of what your shot will look like. Selective Focus allows you to select an item to be in focus while the background blurs creating an interesting effect.

With the latest 2x2 MiMo WiFi chip and super fast LTE connections, the S5 offers the fastest possible data speeds. Interestingly, the two connections types can be used together in a feature called Download Booster.

Have you ever wondered what your heart rate was while holding your phone? Yes? Good, you are in luck! The S5 includes a heart rate monitor which can also connect to the new S Health app and help you track your fitness regime. There is also potential for a new ecosystem around this technology although it is a little unclear what that means at this time.

Samsung describe the design as a modern, glam look. The word "chic" was used many times during the event. Judge for yourselves, but we remain unconvinced!

The S5 is now IP67 rated for dust and water resistance. The charging port has a cover over it too to help with that protection although the headphone jack does not. Of course this means an S5 Active is extremely unlikely.

Beyond these five main enhancements, Samsung were keen to talk about how the S5 is simpler and more battery friendly. How it has a heart rate monitor - they really liked to talk about that - and how it is chic and glam.

The S5 will be available from April 11th on a wide range of operators across many territories although pricing has yet to be revealed.

Our first impression was of a reasonable upgrade from the Galaxy S4 particularly where performance is concerned. The 2.5Ghz Snapdragon 801 chip helps the S5 feel snappy and responsive. The camera certainly seemed fast but we will have to wait for more time with the device before passing judgement.

The biggest concern from our initial hands-on was that the look and feel of the device are a downgrade from the likes of the Note 3. The material on the back - available in white, black, blue and gold - felt very slippery and didn't look particularly nice. Certainly, the faux leather of the Note 3 seems like a better option to us.

The 5.1" 1080p Super AMOLED screen was exactly what you would expect from a Samsung screen but it was fast and responsive.

The most interesting other addition to the feature set for this year is the finger scanner on the home button. It is a swipe sensor unlike the iPhone 5S and in our brief testing felt a little odd to use. It is fast to read your fingerprint, but we question its reliability as historically this type of sensor has not worked so well. Only time will tell.

For now, check out our hands-on video here:



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