Samsung Galaxy S5 Scans Fingers, Doesn't Fear Water

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S5 simultaneously in Barcelona, Spain and New York, NY on Feb. 24, 2014.
Image: Mashable, Pete Pachal

BARCELONA, Spain — At this year's Mobile World Congress, Samsung went all out. The company launched three wearable devices — Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit — and its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5.

The Galaxy S5, as Samsung hinted in its invitations, focuses on everyday fitness. But one rumor that didn't materialize was the 4K screen. Instead, the S5 has a 5.1-inch, full HD Super AMOLED screen, but the phone is still a monster when it comes to hardware. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon, quad-core, 2.5GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, 16/32GB of storage, a 16-megapixel camera on the back, a 2.1-megapixel one on the front and a 2,800mAh battery.

Samsung places great emphasis on the device's camera, which has an extremely fast auto-focus (up to 0.3 seconds) and a feature called real-time HDR, showing you an HDR effect on your photos and videos live in the preview as you take a shot. The camera also has selective focus, letting you choose the best focus after taking a shot; a feature called "shot and more" lets you choose the best photo from several taken in rapid succession.

The device runs Android 4.4 and comes with support for LTE and the super-fast Wi-Fi 802.11ac standard.

The big news: The Galaxy S5 is water- and dust-resistant to IP67 specifications, meaning it can be immersed in water up to 3 feet in depth. Sony's Xperia Z2, which also launched today, has an IP58 spec, meaning it's a little less resistant to dust but it can go into deeper water.

Similar to the iPhone 5S, the Galaxy S5 also has a fingerprint scanner built into the device's home button. You can unlock the phone by swiping over it, but Samsung took it a step further; you can protect certain documents on the device with your fingerprint as well as confirm payments via PayPal simply by swiping your finger on the scanner.

The phone also has a built-in heart rate monitor. It uses a sensor on the back to determine the blood flow in your finger — a nifty feature, but one that is already available on practically all smartphones with a flash, simply with the use of the right software.

Samsung had a few other tricks up its sleeve, too. A feature on the Galaxy S5 called Download Booster simultaneously uses LTE and the fastest Wi-Fi available for ultra-fast download speeds, with theoretical speeds around 600-650 Mbit/s. The power saving mode effectively doubles your battery life while cutting down on some of the phone's features.

Finally, the design of the S5 has changed, but not drastically. The device has an uneven surface on the back, while the front is quite similar to the Galaxy S4, but with a somewhat squarer edges. It's a subtle change, but it makes the S5 more visually appealing than its predecessor.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will be available in four colors: charcoal black, shimmery white, electric blue, and copper gold. The price and exact date of availability have not been announced.

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