Earlier this month, Samsung unveiled its latest and greatest flagship, the Galaxy S5, to the world. At Vodafone Social we were pretty excited to be able to say that we’ll be stocking the new Android powerhouse (which will be available to pre-order on 28 March), and today we can officially announce that the gold colour option will be a Vodafone exclusive from launch.
Samsung: 2013 in review
Samsung’s had a bunch of big successes this year, so it’s well placed to tell us what the year’s biggest stories are. And when we say ‘big’, we mean big.
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To celebrate, we’ve been having a chat with Samsung to find out more about the Galaxy S5, and to figure out what makes it tick. And it turns out the answer is…You.
Bigger and better
James White is Samsung Mobile’s Head of IM Strategy & Mobile Product Marketing, which means he knows the Galaxy S5 better than almost anyone on the planet. So what’s the story? We started off with the first thing people notice: design. So what’s shaped the Galaxy S5’s looks?
“Increasing the screen size has to be benefit-driven.”
“I think design is still one of the most important purchase decision-makers that we hear from our consumers,” James says. “We’ve evolved the design with the Galaxy S5 so that it follows on naturally from the Galaxy S4 but, we’ve also introduced some new elements.
“We’ve focussed on a ‘modern glam’ look for our design inspiration for the new Galaxy S5. That’s represented in the four colours we’ve got available, as well as the introduction of texture.
“One of the key things for us is about not only delivering a product that’s beautiful and has the best design we can possibly deliver, it also needs to be functional. I think that’s one of the big learnings with the Galaxy S5: we’ve got a stunningly designed product that’s also really functional. It’s IP67 rated – meaning water and dust resistant – and it’s much more ‘life-proof’ than ever before, which we know is important for our consumers.”
The shape and size of a phone is usually determined by the size of the screen, but Samsung’s managed to buck that trend on the Galaxy S5:
“It’s a real tribute to the engineering prowess that we have within Samsung that our R&D guys have managed to increase the screen size in the Galaxy S5 to 5.1-inches without increasing the footprint. That’s really important: when it’s in your pocket or in your hand there’s no increase in size, yet you’ve got a bigger screen to enjoy the range of services at your fingertips.
“And on that score, looking at the way that Samsung and Vodafone are working together is great,” James adds. “The services that Vodafone offers, such as Spotify and Sky Sports Mobile TV, really leverage the 4G network and come to life on the Galaxy S5. In that respect, increasing the screen size has to be benefit-driven.”
A much sharper focus
With past launches, Samsung’s been accused of throwing almost too much new software at the wall at once. That’s really not the case with the Galaxy S5; the Unpacked launch event in Barcelona used the words ‘simple’ and ‘focussed’ several times, and the result is a phone that’s free of clutter, but with big, clear plus points. We asked James if this was a conscious choice:
“We listened to the 200 million Samsung Galaxy owners,” he explains. “We’ve really asked people what was important to them and what they wanted from the next Galaxy product. We need to deliver a phone that’s not only a phenomenally advanced piece of technology, but also meets those consumer needs. So we’ve gone back and tried to make a phone that really does that.
“We’ve really asked people what was important to them and what they wanted from the next Galaxy product.”
“The camera, for instance, is still such an important feature in a smartphone. So we’ve focussed on delivering what we believe will be the best smartphone camera on the market.” As well as stressing the camera improvements, Samsung has put a lot of time into making its fitness tracking service a winner, too:
“We’re really excited about S Health,” James says.
“This version, which is S Health 3.0, is probably the most holistic fitness tracker out there. It obviously tracks calories you’re consuming, your exercise, distance and steps, but what we’ve done differently is build both the service and the technology to support it. To that end, the Galaxy S5 has an integrated heart-rate monitor, which adds huge value to what the app can track.
“All that’s within a single device, but it’s also deeply integrated within the new wearable range – the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit. They all have heart-rate monitors as well, they all track that data during your exercise and they all sync to the phone when you next have it with you. So you can pick your phone up from your gym locker, and all that data will already synced.
“Fitness is a real opportunity to bring more value to people,” he adds. “The smartphone is probably the single most advanced piece of technology we own, and we have it with us pretty much every minute of the day. Because of that, there will always be a load of new services like this that help us get even more out of our phones.”
And then there’s battery life, which remains a hot topic in mobile.
“I think battery life can be one of the biggest consumer pain points,” James says. “We’ve all had the frustration of having a phone running low on battery, and you just can’t do without that connectivity these days. So what we’ve introduced with the Galaxy S5 is the Ultra Low Power mode, which you can activate if you’re running low on power. It’ll significantly increase the time that the Galaxy S5 will stay alive and in contact.”
In focussing on the display, camera, battery and S Health, Samsung’s really simplified what the Galaxy S range is about, while improving it at the same time, which James tells us was the ultimate aim:
“The Galaxy S5 is the most advanced smartphone we’ve ever launched,” he says in closing. “We’ve advanced the technology but also – importantly – focussed on what that delivers.”
Is the Samsung Galaxy S5 your next phone? Let us know your thoughts below. You’ll be able to pre-order yours through Vodafone UK, exclusive gold colour et al, from 28 March. Click here for more info.