Samsung Galaxy S5 (concept, Concept Phones 001)

Yesterday, I told you that Dennis Miloseski, head of studio for Samsung Design America, basically confirmed that the Galaxy maker will be adding new wearable devices to its Galaxy Gear smartwatch lineup in 2014. He also noted that the South Korean company tends to have two major launches.

One is for its Galaxy S flagship handset in the Spring and the other tends to be for the Note phablet in the Fall. Speaking to Bloomberg today, a Samsung executive vice president has now officially confirmed that the Galaxy S5, a successor to the current S4, is coming by the end of April.

It will feature a brand new design and may or may not take on Apple’s Touch ID with an iris scanning technology. Hardware-wise, Samsung shouldn’t disappoint as the S5 is shaping up to be quite a beast of the phone.

With the upcoming iPhone 6 in the pipeline, I thought we should compile everything we “know” about Samsung’s next big thing that’ll take on the iPhone in a few months time, all over again…

Speaking to Bloomberg, Samsung’s executive vice president Lee Young Hee hinted that her company’s release schedule calls for an annual Galaxy S announcement around March or April, here’s the exact quote:

We’ve been announcing our first flagship model in the first half of each year, around March and April, and we are still targeting for release around that time.

When we release our S5 device, you can also expect a Gear successor with more advanced functions, and the bulky design will also be improved.

The device may offer an iris scanner security feature, he said:

Many people are fanatical about iris recognition technology. We are studying the possibility but can’t really say whether we will have it or not on the S5.

I previously explained that Samsung’s Touch ID is at least a year away because it considers the technology to be in its early stages “and unnecessary for its current lineup of devices”.

“We never officially admitted that Samsung was weighing the fingerprint system”, a Samsung official told The Korea Herald last September. “We are not yet developing the technology”.

Samsung Galaxy S5 (concept, Concept Phones 002)

It’s been rumored that California-based Validity Sensors would supply fingerprint sensors for Samsung devices, but apparently those plans have been shelved in favor of the new optical scanning.

Fanboyism aside, iris scans generally offer greater accuracy and stronger security versus one’s prints. On the other hand, no one has ever implemented iris scanning on a mobile device so we can only speculate on its performance and usefulness on phones.

As a reminder, the iris is a circular structure in the eye which controls the amount of light reaching the retina by changing the diameter and size of the pupil. To illustrate the point better, if the pupil is the eye’s aperture, then the iris is its aperture stop.

Human Iris (Wikipedia 002)
Image via Wikipedia.

We all know Apple’s Touch ID is very accurate and reliable.

However, it’s been proven that the technology can be hacked provided you’re armed with the perseverance and know-how needed to collect a person’s fingerprint. You then need to have access to some highly advanced technology to replicate the collected print. This is why Apple requires you to use a passcode as a failsafe mechanism.

If you ask me, iris scanner poses some usability issues.

I’d rather unlock my phone by placing the finger on the Home button than hold the device in front of me for iris scanning (replace ‘phone’ with ‘tablet’ and you get the picture).

Should Samsung use the S5’s front-facing camera to record people’s irises, it may not be accurate enough in low-light conditions.

And what happens if I’m drunk or on drugs or wearing glasses?

Activator + Touch ID

Touch is just quicker and Apple’s Home button implementation is seamless.

By the way, the executive also acknowledged a somewhat lukewarm reception to the Galaxy S4 as Christmas sales of the S4 were 13 million units, down from 17 million in the previous quarter:

When we moved to S4 from S3, it’s partly true that consumers couldn’t really feel much difference between the two products from the physical perspective, so the market reaction wasn’t as big.

For the S5, we will go back to the basics. Mostly, it’s about the display and the feel of the cover.

Slow S4 sales are hardly a surprise given the new iPhones came out and the S4 looks nearly identical to the previous-generation S3. And after the S5 hits, you can also expect a Gear successor “with more advanced functions, and the bulky design will also be improved,” according to the exec.

So, what else do we “know” about the S5?

How about an overhauled TouchWiz overlay?

Samsung TouchWiz UI redesign (EVLeaks 001)
Samsung’s alleged new smartphone UI, via @evleaks.

A brand new screen technology is another possibility.

According to the Chinese technology blog IT168, Samsung will source the S5’s quad HD screens (apparently measuring about 5.25 inches diagonally) from Sharp because of production issues plaguing Super AMOLED displays.

The display should sport 2K resolution, which offers twice as many pixels as the full HD 1080p displays. Specifically, the report claims the S5 will use Sharp’s Low-Temperature Polysilicon (LTPS) screens, which are based on AMOLED tech.

Specs-wise, SamMobile is expecting a 64-bit eight-core Exynos processor (or a quad-core Snapdragon chip, depending on the device model) with 4GB of RAM, a massive 4,000 mAh battery and a 16-megapixel camera with improved low-light performance based on its new ISOCELL technology.

Samsung ISOCELL

Finally, the new feel of the cover could be based on an all-new metal casing for the S5.

Matter of fact, SamMobile has some compelling reasons to believe that Samsung may offer the S5 in two flavors, one with a plastic cover coming in April and the other ultra high-end model with a premium aluminum finish, branded under the Galaxy F moniker and coming later in the summer.

If the S5 is in fact up for a refresh around March or April, we would expect an announcement soonish, possibly in February.

Of course, sketchy rumors have suggested that Apple may repeat its iPhone Air/Mini strategy by releasing two iPhone models this year, including one with a potentially massive 5.7-inch display in May.

Who’s excited about the next big things from Apple and Samsung?

What will your next smartphone be, an S5 or an iPhone 6?

Galaxy S5 renderings courtesy of Concept Phones.