At a gala launch event in Sydney tonight Samsung have confirmed the pricing and availability of their flagship smartphone for 2014 – the Galaxy S5.  Local sales for the device will commence on April 11 with all the telcos announcing their pricing this evening also

Samsung GALAXY S5

Samsung GALAXY S5

The new Galaxy S5 will be set at an RRP of $929, with Telstra, Vodafone, Optus and Virgin Mobile all confirmed as carrying the device at launch.

This is a device which like many these days at the face of it looks like an evolution rather than a revolution.  There is a lot of community expectation of tech companies today to bring out the biggest and best and new shiny features every year.  The reality is we have some amazing devices today and the next generation devices will contain new features, new ideas and new software enhancements as well as year on year hardware improvements.

I spent some time this week looking at the Galaxy S5 and this is most certainly an impressive phone which carries on the now well established “heritage” of its’ SII, SIII and S4 predecessors.

Samsung GALAXY S5

Samsung GALAXY S5

The look

On the outside Samsung have gone for a new embossed back cover with spots all over and a feel that is not quite the leather of the Note 3, but not a plain plastic.  Around the edge is a chrome look while on the front yet another stunning Samsung Screen.

At launch the Galaxy S5 will be available in two colours, Black and White, while Gold and Blue will follow soon.

Spills are ok

One of the key features of the Galaxy S5 is its dust and water resistance.  Having used the Galaxy S4 “Active” which was water-resistant this is a fantastic feature which will play a big part in the buying decision of many Australians.  With our beach culture combined with the common occurrence of water damage to smartphones it really is a sign that water resistance is going to be a standard feature of smartphones into the future.

Samsung GALAXY S5 Electric Blue 4Battery benefits

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had your battery at 4% and struggled to turn off features, screen brightness and other things to try to extend your battery – this could be the hidden gem of the Galaxy S5.  Not only does it have a great battery life, but with the built-in “Ultra Power Saving Mode” you can switch your smartphone to a semi-smart phone, where it becomes black and white and with very limited app access.  Phone and SMS is fine, even the Internet or Google Plus, but your other apps are not available to chew up the battery.

This will give a staggering extra life to your battery, and again – when put side by side, will prove a compelling reason to buy for many people. Samsung reckon you’ll get up to 24 hours from just a 10% battery!

Faster downloads

Samsung GALAXY S5 Copper Gold 1Then there is something very interesting – a new feature which Samsung call “Download Booster” which allows you to not only use your WiFi or your 3 or 4G signal, but to use both.

If you’re trying to download a file or stream a video, you can use the download booster – which will then use both the WiFi and available mobile signal at the same time.  So if you’re at home on a 5mpbs connection and you have a 20mbps 4G connection available, using the Download booster you can add the 4G download to the WiFi, this means the whole file doesn’t come via 4G, but perhaps the majority would, with the rest coming via WiFi.  It’s an interesting idea, which Jenny Goodridge (Director of Product Marketing) and Arno Lenior (Chief Marketing Officer) from Samsung both described to me as being like a tap.  Instead of turning on one tap to fill a bucket, you use two which draws the water down faster.  It’s a very cool idea, which is off by default, but a savvy user who knows how to manage their data usage could make good use of.

Pay your way

When it comes to mobile payments, the Galaxy S5 might just have the edge on everyone.  With the in-built NFC both Commonwealth and Westpac banks are offering new and existing customers the opportunity to genuinely tap-and-pay with their mobile phone.

Then there is PayPal, using the in-built fingerprint scanner, when shopping online using your mobile phone you’ll be able to simply swipe your finger to pay. This, sounds, amazing.  But – I want to see it and use it to believe it frankly!

Happy snapping

Samsung GALAXY S5 Shimmery White 2Your happy snaps may never look the same again  The 16 megapixel camera alone will take great snaps, but imagine having the fastest autofocus on a smartphone – less than half a second.  This is a key feature of the camera and combined with the live preview of HDR on both photo and video these are good advances in the camera software (and hardware)

It can feel your heart-beat

Finally for now, the health and fitness integration of the Galaxy S5 is all about their partner devices – the Galaxy Gear, the Galaxy Fit – more on those later – but in-built in your Galaxy S5 should you choose to buy one is a heart rate monitor.  An LED like light on the back near the camera is where you place your fingers, within seconds your heart-rate is displayed on-screen – it’s like wizardry.  But it’s another signal that our devices are going to know more about us and help us more than we could ever have imagined.

G’Day S5

Aussies should know, the devices sold here in Australia are optimised for our conditions.  The NFC technology which the big banks will be jumping onto for tap-and-go payments, as well as the antenna configuration which Telstra is hoping will give the device its rural Blue Tick after testing mean that there’s a clear difference between phones shipped internationally and those shipped here to Australia

When, where, how much?

Pre-orders for the Galaxy S5 start tomorrow (March 27) at the Samsung Stores in Melbourne and Sydney, with the device going on-sale from April 11.

The telcos have announced their plans – EFTM has every plan, from every telco ready for you to choose