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MWC: Galaxy S5's lack of innovation could see Samsung's Android grip loosen

Analysis Punters might switch to Sony
Tue Feb 25 2014, 15:38

BARCELONA: SAMSUNG UNVEILED the Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress (MWC) on Monday, and while the device impressed us during our hands-on time with it, we think it shows a lack of innovation, one that potentialy could lead to Samsung losing its grip on the Android smartphone market.

That's not to say the Samsung Galaxy S5 isn't an impressive device. It features a gorgeous 5.1in HD 1080p Super AMOLED display, Qualcomm's new quad-core 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 processor and several new features not seen on last year's Galaxy S4, such as a fingerprint sensor and a heart rate monitor.

While Samsung no doubt hopes that these new features will win over buyers and persuade Galaxy S4 owners to upgrade early, we're not totally convinced, with the Galaxy S5 somewhat lacking in innovation and offering nothing new over other flagship smartphones announced announced here in Barcelona and earlier. What's more, while it's not Samsung's fault of course, the device fails to match the rumours about it, with speculation having suggested it would have features like a 2K or 4K resolution screen and an iris scanner.

Samsung Galaxy S5 with Android 4.4 Kitkat in gold

Therefore, Samsung could see its grip on the Android smartphone market - which saw the firm rake in 95 percent of all Android profits last year - loosen, with buyers switching to Sony or even Nokia instead.

The Galaxy S5 offers nothing that can't be found elsewhere. The fingerprint sensor echoes the Touch ID sensor found on the iPhone 5S, for example, with the scanner built into the handset's physical home button, much like on Apple's latest flagship smartphone. Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S5 likely was in development before the iPhone 5S was announced, but as far as consumers are concerned, Samsung is offering nothing new here.

The Samsung Galaxy S5's heart rate monitor is, according to Samsung, the first to feature on a smartphone device, but that doesn't mean the technology is anything new. We think this move sees Samsung cashing in on the growing popularity of fitness wearables, where we think this technology is a better fit. It's fair to say that we're not the most fitness focused of people, but we found the heart rate sensor that sits directly under the handset's camera a little obtrusive, which could limit Samsung's market for the Galaxy S5.

That's not all that Samsung is claiming as 'innovative' on the Samsung Galaxy S5. The firm was keen to talk up the handset's IP57 certification, and while it received much fanfare during the handset's unveiling, it again sees Samsung offering something that was seen previously on Sony's Xperia Z1 and new Xperia Z2 smartphone. It also touted its new software features such as Private Mode and Selective Focus as 'innovative', but these are all features already available on other devices, with its redesign clearly having taken tips from Apple's iOS 7.

Of course, despite this, the Samsung Galaxy S5 will no doubt be wildly successful, but we have a feeling that some buyers may be more attracted by Sony's Xperia Z2, which claims to be the thinnest on the market, and offers truly cutting-edge camera features.

Ovum seems to agree, with senior analyst Nick Dillon having dismissed the Galaxy S5's new features as little more than incremental.

"In contrast to the Galaxy S4, which was packed with gimmicky features, Samsung has focused instead on a small number of enhancements with the [Galaxy] S5. The challenge for Samsung will be to convince users to upgrade to a handset that offers little more than its predecessor," he said.

"What perhaps is the most interesting aspect of the device is what Samsung did not announce, effectively putting to bed a number of [rumours]."

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will make its debut in the UK on 11 April, so it won't be long until we find out how successful Samsung's latest flagship smartphone becomes.

Check out our Samsung Galaxy S5 hands-on review. µ


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