Update: The Samsung Galaxy S5 has been officially announced, our hands-on review is now online.
The new year is well underway and we’re excited for all the amazing new technology that will be released in the coming months. For the past few weeks there has been an endless stream of rumors about the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Korean manufacturer’s next generation flagship smartphone. Last year it was rumored that perhaps Samsung will release this device earlier than originally planned to make up for disappointing Galaxy S4 sales, which is probably why it is believed that Galaxy S5 will be unveiled at the Mobile World Congress 2014 next month. Last year, despite rumors, Galaxy S4 was absent from MWC 2013. It was unveiled on March 14th. While the release date might not be confirmed, this is probably the right time to craft together a Galaxy S5 rumor roundup, just so you’re up to speed on what to expect from the next flagship.
Galaxy S5 Specifications
Before we jump into the Galaxy S5 rumor roundup, it is imperative to keep in mind that this information comes from unofficial sources, so keep an open mind and know that nothing is for sure until Samsung makes the official announcement.
Galaxy S5 Operating System: Android 4.4 KitKat
There is no shortage of rumors about Galaxy S5 coming with Android 4.4 KitKat. Originally released late last year, the KitKat update has already started making its way to international variants of the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy Note 3, so its highly likely that the company’s next flagship is going to come with it preinstalled. Android 4.4 has been around for quite some time now, so we know what to expect from the core OS. Samsung will most likely make changes to the user interface.
Samsung slaps on a custom user interface on its Android devices called TouchWiz. Rumor has it that the company is going to debut a completely redesigned TouchWiz UI with Galaxy S5, one that comprises of column of cards which will display more information about users’ daily activities such as online orders, upcoming flights, social contacts, appointments, sports results and more. A screenshot of the purported new TouchWiz UI was leaked recently, its design brings Windows Phone’s Metro UI to mind.
Galaxy S5 Processor(s)
Late last year it was believed that a variant of the Galaxy S5 had appeared on AnTuTu benchmark. The SM-G900F variant was running a Snapdragon 800 quadcore processor from Qualcomm and coupled with 3GB of RAM. It happens to be the exact same processor that’s powering the Galaxy S4. Qualcomm has a new chip out, the Snapdragon 805, but so far it hasn’t been rumored that Galaxy S5 will debut with said chip. Its quite possible that Samsung might use a combination of Qualcomm and its very own homegrown processors for various markets, which is why it has been rumored that the Galaxy S5 might come bearing a 64-bit Exynos 6 processor.
Earlier this week, famed Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo made several predictions about the upcoming Samsung flagship. Kuo believes that Samsung is going to release “Prime” and “Standard” versions of the Galaxy S5, with the former touting a 32 bit octacore Samsung Exynos 5430 processor. The Standard version is expected to use a mix of Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and the octacore Samsung Exynos 5422 processor.
There might be conflicting reports about the processors, but there’s consensus as far as the RAM is concerned. In all rumors, and in all processor configurations, Samsung is expected to put in 3GB of RAM in the Galaxy S5 at the very least. The smartphone’s higher resolution display would require more memory for video buffers, and it will also aid multitasking performance, a crucial feature that’s set to be improved if the new TouchWiz interface debuts with Galaxy S5.
Currently, the Galaxy S4 has a 2,400mAh battery, its successor is expected to go beyond that. Rumor has it that Samsung Galaxy S5 might tout a whopping 4,000mAh battery which should be able to provide adequate juice for the AMOLED display as well as the faster processor and RAM. A bigger battery would obviously increase call and standby times, and would last longer during intensive data use over LTE. It would also last longer for media playback, taking pictures and recording full 1080p HD videos.
Galaxy S5 Display
There have been many, many rumors about the Galaxy S5 display. As always, all of them have come from unofficial sources, Samsung has not revealed anything about it and we can’t expect it to. The Galaxy S4 came with a 5.0 inch Super AMOLED 1,080×1,920 pixel resolution display with 441 pixels per inch, and it wowed us. Its display was certainly one of its biggest selling points, and Samsung can certainly be expected to continue the tradition of making beautiful displays. Display size on the Galaxy S5 is expected to be bumped up slightly to 5.25 inches. This QHD AMOLED panel reportedly entered mass production earlier this month, its said to offer an impressive 2,560×1,440 pixel resolution with a staggering 559 pixels per inch.
Flexible display? Its a stretch
Samsung dipped its toe in the water by launching the Galaxy Round last year. This smartphone, touting a flexible display, was released in limited numbers that too in just South Korea. It didn’t go global like the LG G Flex. At that time it was believed that perhaps Samsung was just testing the waters, and that it might launch Galaxy S5 with a flexible display. Recent rumors point to the contrary, with market sources claiming that the company has been unable to produce curved display panels in enough quantity within the required time period, which would make it unfeasible to continue with the idea for the upcoming flagship. So now it is believed that another curved smartphone with a flexible display from Samsung will be released as a variant later in the year, as opposed to being released as a flagship.
Apple might have stole the spotlight with Touch ID fingerprint scanner in the iPhone 5s, but Samsung is yet to follow it down this road. HTC did, with the One Max, putting in a fingerprint scanner on the rear of the phablet. Rumor has it that Samsung will instead go for an eye scanner, one that would scan the user’s eye in order to determine whether or not access is to be granted. While there have been rumors of a fingerprint scanner in Galaxy S5 as well, recent chatter hints towards the eye scanner. It has already patented the method, the only thing left now is implementation.
Galaxy S5 Camera
There are only a couple of things that an average customer takes notice of when deciding whether or not to purchase a mobile device. The customer will look at the design, the device’s feel, its display and its camera. Samsung has focused a lot on improving the imaging capabilities of its mobile devices, so we can expect it to make improvements in the Galaxy S5. Rumors hint towards a 16 megapixel rear camera with ISOCELL technology. ISOCELL would enable the device to deliver better low-light performance, and would also allow for better color reproduction, richness and sharpness as opposed to BSI technology normally found in most smartphone cameras today.
While ISOCELL will certainly be welcomed, those waiting for optical image stabilization or OIS should probably brace themselves. Samsung is not expected to add OIS to the Galaxy S5’s camera, even though rivals from LG, such as the LG G2, already offer this feature which greatly improves image quality by reducing motion and blur.
Galaxy S5 Industrial Design
It was first rumored back in mid-2013 that Samsung will be giving up on plastic and will instead use metal for its next generation flagship smartphones. Though late last year it was rumored that the switch might not happen, seeing as how manufacturers that were expected to make said metal chassis had yet to start mass production.
Metal or plastic body? Probably plastic
Sources in the supply chain claimed that Samsung was pondering over the question of whether or not the Galaxy S5 should use a metal chassis, and also said that it would be unnecessary for the company to go down this road given the fact that its rise as the world’s largest smartphone vendor can solely be attributed to its plastic touting devices. One can definitely make an argument for this based on the “it its not broken, don’t fix it” logic, but the reasons might be more complex than that.
Using metal would increase Samsung’s production costs as well as add weight to the device, something that probably won’t sit well with customers. Plastic or polycarbonate wouldn’t complicate the manufacturing process Samsung the company has had ample time to perfect it, switching to metal could lead to complications. Moreover, a metal body would mean that the battery would be non-removable, which could dent expectations of many customers.
Samsung would have to take a big risk just to switch its popular flagship from plastic to metal, the risks involved might not end up outweighing the rewards. This is probably why the company has consistently been rumored to be working on a new premium lineup of Galaxy products that will tout metal chassis, but there’s no word as yet when that lineup is going to hit the market.
We believe that the Samsung Galaxy S5 will be more of an evolutionary update as opposed to a revolutionary update. The changes will feel natural, will feel like the result of an evolutionary process that took an year. Customers have come to expect better displays, improved performance and better imaging year after year, packed into the familiar plastic shell. Its a package that works for them, and it certainly works for Samsung, it ends up selling millions of units in days.
Even if the smartphone is unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona on February 23rd as rumored, it may take some time for the device to hit the market. Major U.S. carriers will most definitely carry it, so its got that going for itself. We’ll hold off on the final opinion until the device comes into our hands, but we believe that this information paints a good enough picture of what you can expect from Samsung’s next generation flagship smartphone.