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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  • Mondozai - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    We're entering the era of "good enough" in the smartphone space. If you've been happy so far you'll be happy for plenty of time ahead. At least until you need a new smartphone due to lack of software upgrades(unless you're doing custom ROMs). Reply
  • surt - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    I wouldn't agree ... performance sucks. I find most of the interactive web barely usable on Galaxy S4 ... we need cpu/gpu performance to jump another 10x before it will really be enjoyable. Reply
  • djpavcy - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    Same here. The only phone that got me excited is the Sony Z2. Beautiful design and top specs across the board. If I didn't already own a Nexus 5 I would buy it in a hertbeat Reply
  • Mondozai - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    Sony Z2, "beautiful design"? Surely you must be joking.

    Compare the original Sony Xperia Z(not the Z1) and compare its sleekness to the bulky monsters of Z1/Z2. Not even close and a design regression. Sony's Z tablets are much more beautiful by comparison.
    Reply
  • agent2099 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    This is very underwhelming. Since 2010 the market has been very stagnant. Retina displays and industrial design were the last major upgrades and since then manufactures have resorted mostly to processor upgrades every year.

    How fast the market was moving from 2007 to 2009 led me to believe we would be seeing some true innovation and mind blowing things by now. Even Apple is doing incremental upgrades every year. Better cameras and a faster soc's, this has turned into the PC industry.

    Perhaps the market is moving away from innovating in phones and the moving towards wearable devices.
    Reply
  • Laxaa - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I wonder what happens when wearable stagnates? Implants? Holo-devices? Reply
  • pixelstuff - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    The market isn't moving away from phones as much as it's bumping up against the laws of physics. The PC industry took much longer because it had to invent everything from the ground up. The phone industry is basically just re-purposing and fine tuning those inventions. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise that they have most likely reached the plateau in fewer years. Reply
  • Mondozai - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    "Since 2010 the market has been very stagnant"

    Huh? LTE? And you're forgetting that there is such a thing as software. The smartphone ecosystem, whether Apple or Android-related, has evolved an enormous amount. While stuff like Dropbox or Evernote existed back then, too, their capability and convenience with high-speed smartphones today is almost without comparison when you look at the speeds and specs of 2010 when the services were undeveloped and sluggishly slow.

    And then there's the form factors. Most people don't like carrying around 3.5" phones.
    Reply
  • zmatt - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    This information looks a lot like the info leaked here, http://www.redmondpie.com/samsung-galaxy-s5-images...

    If it is then I have a hard time believing this is the S5 and not the S5 active or some midrange galaxy model to be released in parallel. Samsung's roadmaps have been pointing to much better specs than these and they always have at least one wow spec on the S line to differentiate them.

    Furthermore the S5 has yet to be officially unveiled, that happens later today.

    If I'm right Anand should hire me as I am more competent then their current smartphone staff.
    Reply
  • JoshHo - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    The S5 is already unveiled, much of the article has to be edited in real time due to time constraints, I apologize in advance for the issues. Reply

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