Samsung Galaxy S5 release date, news and rumors
10th Dec 2013 | 16:53
All the latest on Samsung's next flagship smartphone
Samsung Galaxy S5 release date, news and rumors
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has landed - and we loved it, as you'll see through our in-depth review. It's light, slim and powerful, and has the best screen we've seen on a smartphone.
But we know what you're like. You're already thinking about the Galaxy S5.
Luckily we're constantly trawling the web for all the latest on Samsung's next flagship phone, and we've pulled together everything we've found to give an overview of what you might be able to expect from the Galaxy S5.
But if you're one of those interneteers that likes to skim read things in the hope someone will go through all the rumors and create a video render with them all thrown in together, well, you're in luck.
In terms of the name we'd be surprised if Samsung was to deviate from the highly lucrative Galaxy S prefix which has seen the Korean firm squeeze every last drop of money out of the brand with numerous handset spin offs of its top products. Expect it to arrive as the Samsung Galaxy S5.
What is it? The sequel to the Galaxy S4 - and Samsung needs it to be amazing
When is it out? Samsung will likely stick with its March launch
What will it cost? The Galaxy S5 will cost around £550 / $650 / AU$700
Samsung Galaxy S5 release date and price
All the big smartphone manufacturers are relatively entrenched in annual product cycles now, which means we can usually predict when they will launch their headlining products.
As far as the Samsung Galaxy S5 goes it's likely that we'll see the Korean firm take to the stage sometime in March 2014 with its fifth generation flagship smartphone. If the Galaxy S4 launch event is anything to go by expect it to be big, brash and rather confusing.
That said, there's a rumor doing the rounds which suggests Samsung may actually bring the launch forward to February after the Galaxy S4 failed to sell as many as predicted.
In terms of price there's no point hoping that Samsung might offer the Galaxy S5 at a more competitive rate than its predecessors. It will be crammed full of new tech and thus will carry a price tag which will see it sit right at the top of pricing tree.
If it does bring an aluminium chassis, curved display and more, then we can see the price sky-rocketing. Time to start saving? You betcha.
Samsung Galaxy S5 to finally go all metal?
A lot of the early rumors appear to be focussing on the chassis of the Samsung Galaxy S5, with various sources claiming the S5 will be the handset where the Korean firm finally breaks is polycarbonate relationship in favour of a full metal jacket.
An "inside source" apparently confirmed to Android Geeks that the Galaxy S5 will arrive with a fully aluminium chassis and a new look dubbed "Design 3.0".
The aluminium frame rumor was given another hat tip by Korean site ETNews which reported that the Galaxy S5 would have an all-metal chassis.
Further fuel was then added to the all-metal fire when analysts claimed that Catcher Technology Co had taken an order to make the metal chassis for Samsung's Galaxy series.
And here's our first snap! Expect a lot more in the build up to the Galaxy S5 launch, but a photo claiming to show the metal frame of Samsung's next flagship phone gives us more hope that it may pass on plastic at last.
If this image is the real deal it rules out a flexible Galaxy S5 though, and the frame could still be covered in polycarbonate.
We may even get the best of both worlds as another report suggests that Samsung is prepping two versions of the Galaxy S5 - one metal, one polycarbonate. We reckon that's pretty unlikely, but could suggest the Korean firm is toying with both materials.
It's worth remembering that similar rumors surrounded the Galaxy S4 which still launched with a polycarbonate body, so we're not getting too excited just yet.
Samsung Galaxy S5 64-bit CPU
There was a lot of buzz around the 64-bit A7 processor which Apple stuffed inside the iPhone 5S and it's been blowing up benchmark tests left right and centre, and it looks like Samsung wants a bit of the action.
There's no question that the Galaxy S5 will be a powerhouse of a phone, but it may struggle to match the likes of the iPhone 5S and even the Note 3 after a benchmark result showed an unnamed Samsung device coming in behind both.
The rumors have been thoroughly shoving back and forth over whether Samsung will be launching the S5 with a 64-bit processor, as an ARM executive spilled the beans on the South Korean brand picking up its fancy new chip for 2014.
It could be kept for the Note 4, but then again Apple would have had a massive lead in the 64-bit market by then. The S5 looks like it could have a whacking 4GB of RAM as well to power all the new technology inside, taking better advantage of that 64-bit chip.
64-bit is certainly not set in stone and another leak has pointed towards Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 quad-core chip clocked at 2.5GHz alongside an Adreno 330 CPU.
Considering the Galaxy Note 3 has launched with a mighty 2.3GHz quad-core processor and 3GB of RAM we'd expect the Galaxy S5 to at least match it, if not beat it.
Samsung Galaxy S5 screen
This is a tricky one - Samsung already has a display that's sharper than the human eye can detect, so why would it go any sharper?
The electronics brand seems to have ignored that question and will be possibly bringing the S5 with a 2K display - that's a dizzying 560ppi for screens as small as five inches.
It's not all about sharpness, as it could also lead to improved colour performance and refresh rate for slicker video and animations.
Given Samsung wants to go 4K for its 2015 smartphones, the halfway resolution makes sense for next year's devices.
In fact a resolution of 2560 x 1440 briefly popped up alongside the SM-G900S model number on a benchmark test, before the details were pulled, fuelling the Galaxy S5 fire further.
In terms of the screen tech for the Galaxy S5, Samsung has always stuck AMOLED panels on its flagship handsets, but there appears to be a little bit of confusion for the fifth generation device.
Rumors suggest that Samsung may move away from the AMOLED technology in favor of LCD panels in the Galaxy S5, with a view to save money on producing the handset.
Samsung Galaxy S5 operating system
All previous headlining Galaxy S handsets have sported the Android operating system and we don't expect that to change with the Galaxy S5.
There's a rumor that is throwing a spanner in the works though, suggesting that Samsung will offer the Galaxy S5 in both Android and its own-brand Tizen variants.
Now this sounds pretty unlikely so we're taking this with a large pinch of salt, but it's certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Samsung Galaxy S5 design
As we've briefly mentioned already there's talk of a whole new design language for the Galaxy S5 which will hopefully see Samsung break away from the similar styling of the Galaxy S3 and S4.
Obviously a metal chassis would help in changing the design, but we want to know what the Galaxy S5 will actually look like.
A patent application unearthed by Patent Bolt might shed some light on this, with a couple of images cropping up showing a squarer Galaxy S5 design.
If the patents are real then Samsung may be about to finally ditch the physical home button which currently adorns all its handsets.
Samsung Galaxy 5S camera
The Galaxy S4 rocked up with a pretty decent 13MP camera on its rear, but rumors surrounding Galaxy S5 suggest it will take things a little further with a 16MP snapper.
The same report from the Electronic Times News also mentioned that the Galaxy S5 would sport the same optical image stabilisation (OIS) tech as the LG G2.
Samsung has announced a new CMOS image sensor dubbed ISOCELL which will almost certainly debut in the Galaxy S5, after the company told analysts the tech would be appearing in phones during 2014 and 2015.
The new sensor isolates individual pixels which minimises electrical crosstalk between them, which in turn leads to higher colour fidelity, for sharper, richer images.
Samsung Galaxy S5 finger print scanner
Anyone hoping that Samsung will follow in the footsteps of Apple and bring a fingerprint scanner to the Galaxy S5 could well be disappointed if certain rumors are to be believed.
That's after a Samsung official apparently told the Korean Times that the company is "not yet developing the technology" for its handsets. Boo.
All hope is not lost however, as the fingerprint rumor has reared its ugly head again, contradicting earlier reports with a fingerprint scanning firm claiming Samsung will be going big on the tech after all in 2014.
Unless someone comes out with a pretty nifty explanation of how this might work, we can't see it appearing next year. We're not holding our phone up to the eye just to open it up. We'd look insane.
Samsung Galaxy S5: what we want to see
So you're already thinking about the Galaxy S5. You're looking at the S4 and wondering: "Could Samsung have done better in some areas? Like make it FLY?"
Well, clearly you're insane if you're asking that, but your point is valid: there's always more than can be done to make the ultimate smartphone.
Word is that Samsung is already hard at work on the design of the new range of devices: simply codenamed 'Design 3.0' top level meetings have already begun in Seoul to make sure the new Galaxy range is more revolutionary.
So check out our run down of the rumors we've heard so far, and then once that's done, check out the results of us putting our thinking caps on and doing the work for the South Korean firm, divining the things that we simply must have on the Galaxy S5 to make it a success and beat the new HTC One:
A flexible design
Anyone using an HTC One will know that the reaction it inspires really is immense.
It's no exaggeration to say that more often than not, people will say: 'Wow, what's that?'. The sad fact is that we just don't get the same reaction from the S4, with most people just actually thinking it's the Galaxy S3.
One of its predecessor's main criticisms was that the use of plastic made it look and feel cheap (that even applies to the Galaxy S2 from a few years back – though not the Galaxy S, since few people took any real notice of the first iteration.)
When the S4 was announced, it didn't even need to be felt – people instantly criticised how cheap that all-plastic façade is going to feel.
Sure, it keeps the phone light (in fairness, the HTC One weighs a fair bit in the hand, by comparison) but Apple's managed to pull off glass and metal and lightness with the iPhone 5 so surely Samsung can manage the same. If only to annoy Apple even more.
The other ideal would be to utilise its flexible display technology - Youm - to bring some new techology to the new design. We're not talking a completely bendy phone (that would actually be rubbish right now) but how about the designs shown off at trade shows recently? That would be amazing.
The current news seems to be that at the very least things might move away from the boredom of plastic to a more aluminium design, thanks to the aforementioned 'Design 3.0' meetings. However, there may be a slight issue in that it's much harder to produce a high volume of metal-based phones, so fingers crossed that high level design meetup is going to solve that problem too.
This uncovered patent also hints at a phone redesign for the Galaxy S5, but the presence of a screw could either mean a unibody design, another rugged phone, or just a nonsense patent from 2012. It's probably the latter...
A sleeker system
One of the things we've always liked about Samsung is that it pushed the envelope in terms of what its phones could do. It added innovation, it did things nobody else did, and then it worked out how to package it in a way that made things simple and looked half decent.
In this respect, its nadir was the Samsung Galaxy S3. Yes, it felt too cheap, but it had tonnes of innovation under the hood (Smart Stay, for instance, wasn't a total waste of time).
The problem was it went overboard with the Galaxy S4. Smart Scroll, Smart Pause and more all added complexity to a system that was already close to the limit, so all those selling points became annoyances and were quickly turned off.
Samsung, you're great at one thing: making innovation usable. With the Samsung Galaxy S5 think about that and make sure that if you add in flexible screens or eye tracking technology to create auto-3D images, you do it in a way that genuinely adds something to our lives, not just innovation for the sake of it.
If you need to make some space, get rid of that front and back cameras dual-recording feature. Nobody is ever going to use that.
We're not sure how the new Galaxy S5 will look when it comes to raw power, as Samsung has traditionally gone big - however, the octa-core phone that never really made it to many shores, and that was sad for the spec-fans.
Samsung has already developed a new 3GB RAM chip that could easily work in the lower-power phone design, so fingers crossed we see the next iteration with so much RAM we can't even begin to use it...and hey, maybe a more intelligent CPU that isn't all about power and works harder on doing the things we want.
The Moto X might be a little underpowered, but we like that there's a chip in there dedicated to just listening to your voice. That, Samsung.
We always ask for these and the S4 has graced us with a larger power pack than the S3 – it's up from 2,100 to 2,600mAh. It's a fairly decent jump – but still likely to just give a day of moderate use thanks to that huge, sharp screen.
Just look at the HTC One – that has a 2,300mAh power pack yet struggles to exceed the 1,440mAh battery of the iPhone 5 in daily usage. The fact of the matter is that the OS has a huge part to play – so upping the mAh count doesn't necessarily mean a revolution in terms of endurance.
The Motorola RAZR Maxx has been out since last summer and manages to pack in a 3,300mAh battery, which genuinely puts the hours in.
Since Samsung is such a technologically advanced company, if it were to come up with something huge like a 4,000mAh pack that's slim to boot, it would nail the Android market (even more.) Come on boys – you have a year to do this.
Some sources have stated that Samsung might be moving to a unibody design, complete with a sealed in battery... this would be a bold move for the South Korean firm as it would be giving up one of its big advantages.
But with a wrapped in design comes the freedom to make even sleeker phones, and with the new move to unique battery shapes that can fill any nook or cranny, this could see an even bigger power pack on offer. Which would you prefer?
Again we're drawing a comparison with the HTC One here but that's to be expected; especially since said device will be its main Android competitor (along with the Sony Xperia Z, of course, which we mustn't forget.) But there is something unique here.
See, HTC has raised the bar here – the sound bar, that is. Some assumed it would be a gimmick, putting two speakers on the front of the phone and calling it BoomSound. But here's the thing: it does sound amazing. To the extent that we often leave calls ringing longer than we need to so that we can enjoy the ringtone.
The Galaxy S4 doesn't go for anything so lavish – offering a mere grill on the back with a small speaker we fully expect to be loud, yet tinny. Sure, there may be limited call for deep surround sound or anything as elaborate, but why scrimp on features when including so much in other areas?
We imagine Group Play will be Samsung's answer – but considering that requires other Galaxy owners, it's a bit of a faff.
Samsung could really pull something unique out the bag here – especially considering it's got a proven relationship with audio extradordinaires Bang and Olufsen. Even the iPhone 5 speaker is fairly decent – so come on Sammy.. finger out, please.
Odd one this, but the S4 is the first Galaxy device to not ship with an FM radio. It's a bit of an add-on that many don't use, but others (especially commuters) are very attached to their FM radio feature on their phones.
Samsung's already stated that it left the S4 FM radio out not through any technical issue, but because more people are now streaming their music through YouTube and online services. Which is true. Apps like TuneIn Radio do offer a great service.
The problem is that you're reliant on a good web connection for this – at the very least, 3G, and even then, there can be problems with buffering. The majority of journeys will pass through different signal strengths and types and this just means that you'll have to stop listening to the radio whether you want to or not.
Sure, we know that firm decisions lead to progress (look at Steve Jobs refusing to fit a floppy drive on the original iMac) but this just smacks of silliness since it would have made absolutely no difference to Samsung. We're even thinking of writing to our local MP about it.
Beam it up, Sammy
We'll lay this on the line before we start: this is one of our more fanciful wishes, given the technology (and desire from many consumers) is a long way away. But we'd love to see a projector built into the S5. Samsung managed it already with the Galaxy Beam last year, even though that was a bit of a niche device. But it makes perfect sense.
Forget AllShare (or maybe not 'forget' but at least run it alongside) and turn the S5 into something that everybody can enjoy. The problem is now that if you want to share your photos/videos etc, you either have to buy a dongle or have a Smart TV. It's very niche.
Apple has managed to do well with marketing its AirPlay so you can stream YouTube etc to Apple TV but again, you have to fork out for an Apple TV to do it, then turn the thing on, change your TV input source and so forth.
Wouldn't it be great if you could just stream everything using a projector to a wall? Obviously, there are issues with light interference, but we're sure Samsung could invent something that overcomes that problem.
And with those amazing stereo speakers we're lobbying for, it would also sort out the audio problem. Hey, it could even lead to more uptake of things like WatchON, with people buying movies and then streaming them straight to the wall when friends are round. There's an incentive for you there, Samsung.
Speaking of WatchON, this would be something we'd like to see sorted: a true partnership with Google. Sure, we realise that hell is more likely to see temperatures drop below freezing before then, but the issue is that there is just too much choice.
We're all for freedom – but when you have both Google and Samsung trying to sell you songs, movies, books, apps and magazines at the same time, through competing apps, it gets a little tiring.
The app drawer is littered with more options than you can shake a stick at and for those who aren't completely au-fait with smartphone tech, it's a little confusing and intimidating.
Apple makes so much of the whole fact that it is just one company providing everything – the next best thing would be for Samsung to work out with Google a common strategy for sharing revenue here and at least streamlining it for the consumer.
We know it's not going to happen because Google won't want to favour Samsung – and also there is the matter of Samsung wanting to end its dependence on Google (hence the Tizen revolution we're not really expecting), but it's nice to dream of one, unified store.
We've left this one to last as this probably sounds the most ridiculous – but it's worth giving it a moment's thought. See, screen resolutions have hit the ceiling now. Back when Nokia invented the 7650 with its tiny colour palette, we cooed.
When the 7210 came along with a square screen rocking 4096 hues, we gasped. And when the iPhone 4 launched with the famous Retina branding, it really was revolutionary.
But phones like the S4 and HTC One now have PPIs that destroy home flatscreen TVs. There isn't any point in making them sharper, because the eye can't discern any difference. We have, pretty much, reached a plateau.
3D's not taken off as well as it could have with TV's. Yeah, it's great to play with, but it's hardly making the waves that the HD revolution did. And it has been tried before with LG. Remember the Optimus 3D?
We only gave it 3.5 stars when it came out the best part of two years ago and there was a reason: glasses-free 3D just wasn't there. As we'd seen with the Nintendo 3DS, it tired the eyes very quickly, it had to be viewed at exactly the right angle and was pretty much just a fad.
Bearing in mind how much Samsung really wants to get one over on LG here (only recently, we looked at the intense competition between the two firms in Seoul), just think how much this could motivate Samsung to pull out a really decent solution.
There's a glimmer of hope here: Samsung has already patented the idea to use dual camera to track your eye direction, which would mean the 3D image would follow your eyes and would completely negate the need to keep your head in the 'sweet spot'.
App makers are more likely to make 3D apps for the Galaxy range because it is not an also-ran Android line but (at least some would say) the Android iteration to go for. And Samsung could sponsor these apps to get them in the Google Play store (or Samsung's own). Movies, the camera, games, even the OS, could be transformed with the right technique.
And there concludes our wish list. Sure, it's elaborate. And we'll be surprised if the less obvious points above make the final build of the S5. But there is no doubt that Samsung will already be hard at work on planning the S4's successor – and we'd love to see some really unique features introduced.
A year's a long time in mobile life. And we've seen just how much a company can go from HTC Hero to zero (OK, HTC wasn't quite at the lowest level – but don't ruin our analogy). HTC was the Android maker for a time and has been usurped by Samsung.
It may be on the up with the HTC One again – it certainly stands a chance – but the competition is fiercer than it's ever been. And it'll get uglier before it gets better. Samsung will need to work hard to keep its Android crown.