The ink is barely dry on Samsung Galaxy Note 3’s reviews, the phablet hasn’t even reached all four major US carriers yet (there’s still we know who keeping us hanging), the world’s first curved display smartphone has only broken cover earlier this week, yet, believe it or not, the Galaxy S5 rumor mill is already grinding at full throttle.
No, you haven’t slept all through the fall, winter of 2013 and spring of 2014. It’s just Samsung is allegedly thinking of tweaking its production cycle so as “the next big thing” to be official as soon as January 2014 and go up for grabs a month later.
But that’s not right, is it? And it can’t be true. It just cannot. Only it can, as long as we buy the speculation about Galaxy S4 sales bombing of late and the GNote 3 being in even lower demand.
And think about it. The S4 hit 20 million units sold two months after its launch, then it wasn’t able to cross the next milestone, 30 mil, in another three full months. If that’s not reason for concern, I don’t know what is.
Meanwhile, have you seen one retailer, one store, one lousy salesperson claiming to be out of GNote 3 stock? Exactly. With all that in mind, let’s see what we know and what are our hopes for the Galaxy S5.
Design, build materials and quality
You won’t usually hear me complaining about a piece of high-end mobile technology landing earlier than expected (I’d actually commend that under normal circumstances), but in this particular case the messing up of Samsung’s traditional production cycle can only be interpreted as a bad omen.
It’s no longer just gossip or the word of an anonymous “insider” against those of the company’s officials. The Galaxy S5 will bring a major overhaul of the Galaxy S design language. If the designers can pull the whole thing off in time.
And that’s exactly the problem. If the GS5 were to come one year after its predecessor, so around March or April 2014, it would definitely either rock an all-aluminum exterior or sport a curved screen right off the bat. Or maybe both.
But if everything has to be worked out by January, chances are the design overhaul will be put off… again, and we’ll be stuck with a boring, plastic-clad “flagship” phone for another year or so. Or at least by the time the Note 4 goes official.
On the bright side, there’s more than an outside shot the S5 will be “Active”, meaning water and dustproof, right out the box even if its ETA is January. Plus, if it won’t rock any kind of curves or flexible parts in its standard variant, it will definitely do so in a super-premium flavor dubbed “F” a few months later.
Hardware features – display, CPU, RAM, cameras
Another worrisome aspect about GS5’s potential January intro is it could end up being next year’s Sony Xperia Z. I’m pretty sure you all remember how the Z debuted as the first true flagship device of 2013, undercutting both HTC’s One and Samsung’s Galaxy S4, but having to make do with a Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, compared with the S600 that was eventually found inside its two fiercest rivals.
There’s absolutely no way Qualcomm will have Snapdragon 800’s follow-up(s) all ready for February 2014 shipments, so the S5 is likely to pack the SoC that’s now the cream of the crop, but which could look fairly outdated come next spring.
True, there’s also the Exynos 5 Octa option, more so as the processor will finally be able to make use of all its eight cores at once, courtesy of Heterogeneous Multi-Processing. Yet let’s be honest (and blunt): Samsung is incapable of producing enough of these CPUs to handle the global demand of a top-of-the-liner.
As far as other features go, the screen is expected to measure the same 5 inches as the GS4 (5.3 tops) while possibly maybe upping the resolution ante and further narrowing the bezels, the RAM could go up to a record-breaking 4 GB and the rear-facing camera is tipped to bump up the sensor to 16 MP and add optical image stabilization and a number of other goodies in the mix.
I’ll be honest with you, I have very little to go on in regards to GS5’s possible on-board software. It definitely won’t be Tizen and it won’t dual boot Android and Windows either. Also, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell it’s quite possible there will be pre-loaded 4.4 KitKat here.
But as far as TouchWiz goes, the overall look of the UI’s next version, particular customizations, tweaks, special features and so on and so forth, I’m afraid we’ll have to wait and see. At least a little bit longer.
Release date, pricing and availability
We’ve already talked a great deal about ETAs, unveiling and release timelines, so let’s focus on the dough a little. “Slim” is the word of the day as far as actual pricing rumors and reports go, though it’s not that hard to make an educated guess. Or two.
It all depends on whether or not Samsung ultimately decides to push the envelope in any way. Will there be a curved display? All-aluminum exterior? Fingerprint scanner? OIS camera? Then expect a starting price tag north of $800. Maybe even 900 or 1,000 bucks.
If on the other hand the S5 turns out to be just a rehash of the S4 or some kind of S4-Note 3 combo (think Galaxy J), you’ll probably be asked to cough up roughly $700 for an outright model. Now, which one would you prefer? And I’d like you to give it some serious thought.