The problem with being the biggest smartphone player in the world is that one expects wonders. Samsung decided to play it safe this year at Mobile World Congress, announcing the Galaxy S5 and three (not so) smart watches.
Samsung’s latest flagship phone might have all the right specs, but it seems to be missing the oomph factor to get people excited. It has taken all of the features touted by other manufacturers this year and added it to the device making it look like something built based on a checklist.
You can unlock S5 using your finger print, like in iPhone 5s; it’s water and dust proof like recent Sony phones; it has taken most of the camera features that made Nokia devices stand out and it also has a rubberised backpanel just like in Nexus devices. Overall, there’s nothing unique about the device apart from the fact that it has it all…on paper.
The real difference is in the implementation, as finger print scanner seems to be a hit or miss, UI is still the same TouchWiz which lacks any sort of fizz and the dotted back panel looks like a bandaid in copper color model.
The only aspect in which S5 truly shines is with the specs. It has a 5.1″ FHD Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1920×1080 powered by a 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB RAM. The device has a 16MP camera at the back and a 2MP one in the front. It is available in 16 and 32GB models, but do keep in mind that 8GB is taken up by the OS and the add-on services that comes pre-installed in the device such as S-Health, Kids Mode, S-Translator and S-Voice among others.
Gear 2: What’s on your hand?
The Korean electronics giant also released new avatar of its Gear watch, logically called Gear 2, a lower end version called Gear Neo and a thinner device with curved screen called Gear Fit targeted at fitness enthusiasts. All three devices run on Samsung’s own Tizen operating system, but still need to be connected to a watch via Bluetooth to perform most of the ‘smart’ functions. Gear 2 and Gear Neo displays have a resolution of 320×320 and are powered by a 1.0GHz dual core processor. Gear 2 has a 2.0 megapixel autofocus camera on its frame that can record video at 720p. It also has 4GB in-built memory in which you can store songs and use it as a stand alone music player. All three devices have built-in sensors for measuring heart rate and sleep apart from a pedometer. These devices are compatible with 16 devices sold by Samsung, as opposed to one device with the original Gear. All three devices also have swappable straps and by far we like the orange one the best. We noticed two different form factors for the Gear 2: one in a regular square shape, and another in a longer form factor (below). The differences in form factor suggest that it will be a pain for developers to design for. Samsung needs to also make the device independent of other Samsung devices. No one would like to be locked in.
WatchOn & Gaming
The crowds at MWC were clearly attracted towards the Galaxy S5, and one had to wait far to look to try it out. Much less of a crowd near Gear 2, of which there were 8-10 watches on display.
Samsung had a few other services on display: firstly, there was WatchOn, Samsung’s video-on demand service, which again appears to be a device dependent service.
In the gaming section, there was S Console, for turning your Samsung device into a gaming console which can be synched with a controller, which reminds us of Pune based 18th Parallel. Samsung also showcased group gaming on Galaxy devices, which appeared to interest no one, while we were at the booth.