There’s so much that has been written about the Galaxy S4, Samsung’s flagship device for this year. It’s cranked up some huge sales though not in the same fashion as last year’s monster, the Galaxy S III. Though it is not yet a full year since it was released, recent months have seen the device’s popularity with customers take a slight dip. That could be because of so many factors. Over 6 months after the launch of a product is such a long time in the mobile world. Then factor in the other more awesome devices that have been launched ever since in quick succession. The Apple iPhone 5s with its fingerprint sensor, the Galaxy Note 3 and Samsung’s own Galaxy S4 Advance (part of the wider S4 family but duly its own “man”) and lately the Galaxy J. While there are no figures to show that indeed the S4’s sales didn’t go as per Samsung’s expectations nor any impact of the above listed devices on the sales, anyone who can read signs can see the writing on the wall.
The build quality
The main issue most reviewers of the Galaxy S4 had with the device was its build quality. The plastic! While some of us still appreciate the perks (if any) that come with such a design like a removable back that loosely translates to a removable battery, not many like the idea of spending $500+ on a device with questionable build quality. Amidst all the rants, outrage and even defence of the decision to make the S4, like the S III, in plastic someone was listening. The latest rumours from that part of the world indicate that Samsung has some metal device in its device holding cells under construction. Of course we all agree that the S4 was not the most well designed smartphone this year. The HTC One and a slew of other devices take the honours here.
According to Japanese website EMSOne, the Galaxy S5 will adorn metal casings supplied by Catcher. The Taiwanese company is said to have been contracted by Samsung to supply the first 10 million metal cases of the 30 million the company requires for the initial rollout while the rest will be supplied by BYD, a Chinese company, and Ju Teng, another Taiwanese company. Previous reports pointed to Samsung working on a premium Galaxy F line of high end devices that will feature the metal construction while the Galaxy S line continues basking in its plastic glory. For now those rumours can rest as we digest the latest rumours but remember they are just that: RUMOURS! Don’t read too much into them and at the same time ignore them at your own risk.
The Galaxy S5 is rumoured to feature Samsung’s first 64-bit chip, the octa-core Exynos processor that is rumoured to feature the new 14 nanometer process (the industry standard at the moment is 28 nm if you’re wondering). The Snapdragon variant will likely pack the newly announced Snapdragon 805 chipset even though what leaked yesterday through benchmark sites is a Snapdragon 800 powered device. 3 GB of RAM is another rumoured spec even though some quarters feel that Samsung may as well throw in 4 GB of RAM in order to fully take advantage of the 64-bit architecture chip. Not because you need 4 GB RAM on a mobile device but because, well, they can. Then again why not? A 16 megapixel camera featuring its new new ISOCELL technology might as well be what you’ll use for taking those high definition selfies next year. What does that ISOCELL tech do? Improves low-light photo quality and colour reproduction and sharpness in any lighting. It is still unclear if the Galaxy S5 will have optical image stabilization (OIS) with multiple reports emerging that Samsung is having issues producing camera modules incorporating OIS on time for the GS5 launch. While I may want to believe those rumours since Samsung usually ships a huge number of a flagship’s units, that’s exactly the same thing that was being said about the Galaxy S4’s full HD Super AMOLED display same time last year yet it ended up being ready on time and being as awesome as expected.
It is pretty much obvious that internal storage on all high end Samsung devices will start at 32 GB since all the nifty additions Samsung makes to Android end up taking a lot of space and the usual 16 GB is no longer a standard. As shown by the Note 3, 32 GB is the way to go and the Galaxy S5 will likely be the first Galaxy S device to herald that.
Android 4.4 KitKat is expected on board. What we have no news about is TouchWiz. While Samsung really tries to add as many features as possible, it is not those features that are of interest to us right now, it is the core! The skin itself. The current version of TouchWiz is what first came with the Galaxy S III as Nature UX and has largely remained the same ever since with just a few changes to the looks in the form of widgets, notification shade modifications and app icon redesigns. It’s time for a change and we might as well see the biggest redesign of TouchWiz ever. I hope it happens.
The battery: 4000 mAh is what is in the rumour mill but a 3300 mAh unit will still be a sufficient upgrade over the current flagship’s 2600 mAh cell. Either way, with proper optimization, any of those will do. However if rumours of the Galaxy S5 packing a 2K (2560 x 1440) display are true, that may as well be insufficient as that display will be as power hungry as ever. I’ll avoid talk of the display since other than the rumours that it will be a very high resolution one (2K), we don’t know much yet. Whether Samsung will stick with the S4’s 5 inch screen or go beyond to say 5.2 or 5.3 inches is still anyone’s guess.
The release date
This is still mysterious and rumours point to different directions. An early (January/February 2014) Galaxy S5 launch is what some expect citing unexpected slow Galaxy S4 sales. Galaxy S4 shipments hit the 40 million mark after 6 months and with earlier reports pointing to Samsung’s own set internal sales record of 100 million, that target may be missed slightly after holiday sales are factored in. Others like Edgar Murtazin expect Samsung to stick with its traditional Galaxy S device launch calendar and release the Galaxy S5 in April.
What would you like to see in the Galaxy S5?