Every year Samsung launches a new Galaxy S flagship smartphone, and as always, Samsung puts the best platform that can be bought in their devices. The Galaxy S5 is no exception, as the MSM8974AC, or Snapdragon 801, powers the Galaxy S5. The 8974AC is the 2.45 GHz bin of the MSM8974AB, a slightly massaged MSM8974 that first launched with the LG G2 and other devices in the summer of 2013. As a recap, the MSM8974AB increases the clock speed of the Hexagon DSP to 465 MHz from 320 MHz, and the LPDDR3 RAM clocks go from 800 MHz to 933 MHz. What really matters though, is that GPU goes from 450 MHz to 578 MHz from 8974 to 8974AC. I definitely have to point to Anand's piece on the Snapdragon 801 for anyone that wants to know more.

The other portion of the hardware story is the camera, which is probably one of the biggest areas for OEMs to distinguish themselves from the pack. Samsung seems to be playing it safe this year with a straight upgrade from 13MP to 16MP by increasing sensor size, and pixel size remains at 1.12 micron side edge length. It is notable that the camera sensor seems to be in a 16:9 aspect ratio, which would make it possible for both photos and videos to keep the same interface without odd reframing effects when going from photo preview to camcorder functionality. Optics are effectively unchanged from the Galaxy S5, as the focal length in 35mm equivalent remains at 31mm, the aperture remains at F/2.2. The one area where there could be a notable improvement is the promised ISOCELL technology, which physically separates pixels better to reduce quantum effects that can lead to lower image resolution and also increases dynamic range, although this will require testing to verify the claims made by Samsung. Samsung has also added 4K video recording for this phone and real time HDR to extend the dynamic range of the camera.

The Galaxy S5 has 2GB of RAM, also not too surprising given the 32-bit ARMv7 architecture of the 8974AC.

The display is a 1080p 5.1” panel, which makes this phone around the same size as the LG G2. Samsung has definitely improved AMOLED, but first impressions are unlikely to tell much when it comes to the quality of calibration and other characteristics of the device. In all likelihood, this will continue to use an RGBG pixel layout in order to improve aging characteristics as the various subpixels age at differing rates. I would expect max brightness to increase, although this may only show in very specific conditions such as extended sunlight exposure and low APL scenarios.

The industrial design seems to be an evolution of the Note 3, with a texture that looks similar to that of the Nexus 7 2012. However, whether the stippled texture will actually avoid the long-term issue of a slimy/oily feel is another question that will have to be answered after the hands-on. While we're still on the point of the hardware design, the Galaxy S5 is IP67 rated, which is why the microUSB 3.0 port has a cover for water and dust resistance.

The fingerprint sensor is a swipe-based one, and Brian has voiced displeasure over swipe sensors like those found in the One max. I personally think that there could be some issues with ergonomics, as Samsung places the home button very close to the edge of the phone, which would make it rather difficult to swipe correctly over the home button, especially if the device is being used with one hand.

As always, Samsung has included removable battery and a microSD slot for those that need such capabilities, although now that Samsung is following Google guidelines regarding read/write permissions, the utility of the microSD slot could be much less than previously expected. For the battery, things are noticeably different as Samsung has gone with a 3.85V chemistry compared to the 3.8V chemistry previously used by the Galaxy S4. With a battery capacity of 10.78 WHr, this means that it has 2800 mAh. For reference, the Galaxy S4 had a 9.88 WHr battery with 2600 mAh. 

As always, Samsung has put TouchWiz on top of their build of Android that will ship with the Galaxy S5, and it mostly looks the same. There are definitely some new features though like My Magazine, which seems to be a way of presenting multiple sources of information using a scrollable list of tiles with images on them.

There might be a trend here in the paragraphs, and while some may see it as a tic, it’s probably more representative of the consistency that Samsung is bringing to the table. “As always” means that people know what to expect, and while it may not be nearly as exciting to the tech press, average people live and die by what’s relatively familiar, not what’s new and exciting. The addition of new features and consistent improvements to performance without compromise relative to the previous generation is definitely something to be applauded, and with review units, hopefully it will be possible to see how the GS5 stacks up against the competition.

At any rate, the phone will launch with blue, black, white, and gold colors. It launches April 11 in 150 countries.

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  • iluvdeal - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Currently have an S3, my phone upgrade credit kicks in later this year and I was considering getting the S5 but nothing I read here blew me away. I'll wait and see what else comes out before deciding. Reply
  • coburn_c - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I bought a G2 the day before MWC and I am not the tiniest bit regretting it. Reply
  • Zanor - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    Unbelievable. I don't think I've ever been so thoroughly disappointed by the launch of a new device. They failed to make any substantial leap in every major aspect of the phone. I mean for fuck's sake, it literally recycles the screen from the S4. Reply
  • ThunderOKC - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    I said this to Samsung Mobile USA's FB.

    For a long time, it was known that the S5 was gonna have 4gb of RAM (and I even hoped that maybe it be 5gb of RAM..get it? S5 as in 5" screen and 5gb RAM, etc). But the 4gb was acceptable since its a lot better than S3's tiny 1gb of RAM. I skipped the S4 cuz I want the S5. And today I learned ita gonna only have 2gb RAM?! Two (2)?!?!?!?!?! With 4gb, I was not planning to root like I had to for the Epic. I didnt root my S3 but now there are more and more apps and they get bigger and bigger. But Samsung gonna ruin the S5 with only 2 frickin gb of RAM?! How pathetic can ya all make such a disasterous business decision?! Now I wonder if I should abandon Galaxy S all together and find a company that's actually smart to give us more RAM cuz most of us are using our mobile devices more often than computer and we need those RAM!!! So the launch date is set for April 11th, which means that millions of screwed up S5 has already been made and its not worthy enough cuz it only have a small baby 2gb of RAM. So... I got two options.... Get it and root it...or...find a better device (non-Apple) with at least 3-4gb of RAM. I cant believe how stupid Samsung can be?! Btw, no announcement of prices...well, I bet its cuz you are evaluating the public's reactions. Well, here is my furious reaction among with the mass many furious others. Now that's gonna drop the prices of the S5. If only ya had done the right thing...ya would've been able to charge more for the S5. What a crappy joke to go around bragging about your "flagship" device (which its not) while it has 2 frickin gb of RAM that will only last the S5 a few months of its full speed potential before it starts to slow down and freeze like the S3. Oh, gawd, I cant believe it... S3 is 1gb, then there is S4, and now S5 at 2gb. WOW!!!!!!!

    I'm gonna say... S5 values at $300 for 16gb storage and $375 for 32gb storage. Ya can't charge $5-600 for the S5 cuz of its pathetic RAM. Pathetic!!!
    Reply
  • K1664 - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    I'm actually curious, what apps you use that means your phone needs 4GB RAM?

    I certainly don't think your rant on Facebook or elsewhere will drop the price to $300 dollars. An item is worth whatever the punter will pay and whilst I certainly wouldn't, you can guarantee it will sell to the masses at launch price, maybe not in the numbers that the S2 or S3 did, but then they'll lower the price once the initial milking is over.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    Androids RAM use has actually been declining. I don't think 2GB will be the limiting factor in OS upgrades for the next two years. Reply
  • colonelclaw - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    Is it just me or does it look like a hunk of cheap slippery plastic? Nothing about the design says "flagship". Reply
  • fteoath64 - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    A lot of people are disappointed because they are expecting way too much of a generational release. They key benchmark for me is FOUR Major features changed or included. Count it:\
    1) New SoC (grant it does not give a lot) but it is different from the previous SoC.
    2) New screen. Not obvious to most but very important to some people.\
    3) New camera. Same as above.
    4) WaterProofing. IP67 certification. (everyone can appreciate this)
    5) Finger Print scanner.

    Yeah a lot of people would want a 20MP camera with OIS. Who would not want this ?, goto Sony!. or Goto Nokia is its camera is best to you. Choices are all over the place which makes this market interesting and fun.
    Reply
  • CBone - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    That's more than more launches get. The waterproofing is a killer feature on a phone that people might actually buy in numbers. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    > ISOCELL technology, which physically separates pixels better to reduce quantum effects

    The first thing to suppress with a barrier between pixels is good old diffusion, which is far more important than any quantum effects in traditional sensors.

    > For the battery, things are noticeably different as Samsung has gone with a 3.85V chemistry compared to the 3.8V chemistry previously used by the Galaxy S4. With a battery capacity of 10.78 WHr, this means that it has 2800 mAh.

    Just ditch mAh completely, as it doesn't contain any information not also contained in WHr, and does not tell you anything about device runtime (unless you know the voltage).
    Reply

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