One of the most anticipated announcements at this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was the introduction of the Galaxy S5 smartphone by Samsung Electronics. The time has come, but Samsung has not exactly blown away the competition or the pundits.
The Galaxy S5 has a slightly larger display than the S4, higher-resolution cameras front and back, a fingerprint sensor, better battery life, and better protection against water and dust. The new phone uses the Android operating system from Google Inc. (GOOG) as do all its predecessors. The new phone is scheduled to go on sale in April at “very competitive pricing” according to the company. An unlocked Galaxy S4 sells for about $600 in the U.S. That is very close to the non-contract price of an Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone 5S at $649.
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Samsung’s goal with the new phone was to produce a device that responded to customers’ demands and not just to a host of features with limited appeal. Is it more important to improve the touchless touch screen controls or build a phone that can survive 30 minutes in a pool of water more than 3 feet deep? Samsung chose the latter and so would most customers.
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Samsung introduced its updated Gear 2 smartwatches in Barcelona on Sunday using an operating system called Tizen which it developed in conjunction with Intel Corp. (INTC) and others. Neither of those is a breakthrough product either, but rather an attempt to polish the dull spots in the first release of the device.
The Galaxy S5 also appears to have been released to polish up the relatively poor-selling Galaxy S4. As Apple -- and now Samsung -- has learned, not every new product is disruptive, nor does it need to be. The Galaxy S5 may not be the bold new product some had hoped for, but Samsung probably thinks that it will sell better than the previous iteration.
One final note: the perforated back on the Galaxy S5 has already been compared to a band-aid. Oh well, Samsung can’t win every pundit’s vote.