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Samsung Galaxy S5: Samsung tries offering useful updates over bloat

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Samsung Galaxy S5: Samsung tries offering useful updates over bloat
Samsung president and CEO JK Shin set the tone for the Samsung Galaxy S5 announcement right from the start by saying, "After all, people choose meaningful and relevant improvement for day to day use, and that is small. One step further, evolution always changes the world. That's the meaningful innovation." (English is not Mr. Shin's first language, but you get the idea.) Simply stated: consumers don't want the Galaxy S5 to be filled with bloat, they want useful updates. 

Shin went on to explain that Samsung asked its customers around the world what they wanted in a device and found out that:

Our consumers don't want eye-popping technology or the most complex technology. Our customers want durable design and performance. Our consumers want a simple yet powerful camera. Our consumers want faster and seamless connectivity. And, our consumers want a phone that can help them stay fit.

More than anything else that I've heard to start a keynote speech, that filled me with hope, because the bloat added to the Galaxy S4 was something that I have taken time to speak against. Of course, hearing it said on stage and having it be true in the product are two different things. Given what Samsung showed off in the keynote, and what we've seen in the device itself, the company has done relatively well in not adding too much in the way of bloat and gimmicks to the Galaxy S5. But, ultimately it looks like Samsung couldn't help adding in a few unnecessary options, and the company definitely didn't do too much when it comes to making its technology less complex. 

Refinement rather than reinvention


One of the biggest troubles with Samsung in the past is that it has taken a "kitchen sink" approach to software design. Anything that could fit would be put in. Samsung's TouchWiz software has been what you would point to if you were trying to explain the idea of "feature creep" to someone. Samsung designers came up with ideas, and there was nobody around to say, "No, maybe that's not necessary." It looks as though Samsung has finally found some way to hold back, and focus on refining what customers want with the new features, rather than trying to reinvent the smartphone with unnecessary software. 

Of course, refinement is a tricky option as well, because the loudest voices that you'll find in any comment section on the web don't want to think about how difficult it is to have "eye-popping" innovation every year. The loudest voices want something amazing every year, and nothing less. In reality, no company can offer that to a consumer. The best a company can do is offer a better experience than was offered in the previous product. From the early looks, it seems like Samsung has succeeded in that regard. The biggest issues for the majority of smartphone users fall into five categories: security, battery life, durability, performance, and the camera. With the Galaxy S5, those are exactly the issues that Samsung has addressed. 

Samsung Galaxy S5: Samsung tries offering useful updates over bloat

Security has obviously been boosted with the addition of the fingerprint scanner, but the scanner needs to be put through quite a bit more testing before it can be said whether the addition is a success or not. The biggest issue with the fingerprint scanner right now is that there is no official integration from Google, which means you'll be able to use it to unlock your phone and protect certain data and apps on your device, as well as use it to pay for things with PayPal. But there likely won't be Google Play support, which is on Google, not Samsung. 

As far as battery life, Samsung made improvements through hardware and software, both in what it added, but in what it didn't add to the smartphone. Samsung made the battery a bit bigger, up from 2600mAh to 2800mAh (and kept it as removable). And, on the software side, Samsung added the new Ultra Power Saving Mode, and options to dim the display lower than usually allowed. These things alone would help to increase battery life, but the best decision Samsung made in this regard was with the display. Rather than pushing for a 2K display, as had been rumored, Samsung stuck with a 1080p display. A 1080p display at 432 pixels per inch is still an amazing display. A 2K display may have been a bit better, but pushing that many pixels is a serious drain on battery life. 

In terms of durability, we may still see separate models for the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active with a more ruggedized construction, but at the very least, Samsung has made the S5 more durable by making it IP67 rated for water resistance and dust-proofing. It doesn't go quite as far as Sony has gone in terms of water-proofing devices, but it is a very nice addition by Samsung. 

When it comes to performance, we start getting into a bit of a mixed bag. The bump to the Snapdragon 801 is a great upgrade, as is the addition of LTE-Advanced support. One of the sneaky awesome additions in the Galaxy S5 is actually the "Download Booster" which allows for combining Wi-Fi and LTE for faster downloads. However, the Wi-Fi additions alone will likely only be noticeable by a select few. 802.11ac and Wi-Fi 2x2 Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) are nice updates, but only a few people have Wi-Fi access points that support those options in the first place which will limit the benefits. Being the first smartphone with MIMO is nice, but it also means that you may not get much use out of the feature. Even so, I can't put those updates in the realm of "bloat" by any standard. 

Then we come to the camera, which is where things get a bit more troubling. The hardware updates are great: more megapixels, a bigger sensor, and a dedicated image processing chip. You can't argue with those. The improved hardware allows for much faster auto-focus, which should be an amazing update, and the hardware should lead to better low-light performance, which will also be nice. The software additions are also fairly subdued with just the HDR improvements and the Selective Focus mode, but again there needs to be more testing to sort out how useful those things are. The trouble comes from the one item lingering over all of these updates:

Leaving out bloat isn't the same as removing bloat


Samsung Galaxy S5: Samsung tries offering useful updates over bloat
Samsung has obviously done a good job of keeping focus on the updates for the Galaxy S5. The one addition that I'd point to as unnecessary bloat would be the heart rate monitor that has been installed below the camera on the rear of the device. Anyone who is that engaged with health tracking would have a dedicated heart rate device, or would be going in for the new Samsung Gear Fit or even a Gear 2 which also includes a heart rate monitor. Picking up a smartphone of this size simply to take your heart rate seems like it would be a cumbersome and not-so-useful endeavor, and one that will likely be a gimmick for many users. The overall S Health app seems like a really nice piece of software, but the actual heart rate monitor functionality is something that is better off-loaded to a wearable accessory, rather than being in the smartphone itself.

The real issue though is that just because Samsung hasn't added more bloat doesn't necessarily mean it has removed the bloat that was there. One of the worst things about Samsung Galaxy devices recently has been that Samsung's software alone could easily take up more than half of your available storage, depending on the storage size on your model. If you make the mistake of getting a 16GB model of the Galaxy S4 or Note 3, you may start out with only about 6GB free. 

The only way to fix that situation is by removing features, not adding more. So far, it looks like Samsung hasn't actually removed anything from the TouchWiz software. It has redesigned some menus and changed a bit of UI here and there (TouchWiz actually looks better than ever has), but there are still areas that look to be over-complicated and filled with features that very few people are likely to use. 

Conclusion


Right now, this is something that needs to be looked into more, because there hasn't been enough in-depth checking on the Galaxy S5 to say whether or not TouchWiz has shrunk at all. It seems reasonable though that if Samsung had cut it down significantly, it might have been a talking point during the announcement. There were quite a few people who were upset by the lack of storage on recent Galaxy devices, and those people would have been happy to hear that the problem had been addressed. But, Samsung made no mention of the issue at all, and the early word is that only about 8GB is available on the 16GB model of the Galaxy S5.

It will certainly be a topic of conversation as more info comes out in regards to the Galaxy S5, because this new trend of focused updates is a very welcome change for Samsung, but it needs to go a bit farther. Samsung has mistakes in the past that need to be cleaned up in order to truly offer the best experience to its users. 

56 Comments
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posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:04 3

1. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3013; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


I see.... Samsung S5 metal version coming out soon!!

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:12 3

4. __0__ (banned) (Posts: 242; Member since: 07 Jan 2014)


Impossible, Samsung being cheap bean counters

posted on 25 Feb 2014, 08:18 2

55. rihel_95 (Posts: 221; Member since: 21 Mar 2012)


Bloat OS give 8 GB free out of 16 GB. LoL.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:14 2

7. akki20892 (Posts: 3571; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Why this much news.

http://images.wikia.com/cardfight/images/5/50/I-dont-want-to-live-on-this-planet-anymore.png

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:28 1

16. LiyanaBG (Posts: 350; Member since: 07 Nov 2013)


keep dreaming

posted on 25 Feb 2014, 01:08

51. Just.Saying (Posts: 132; Member since: 04 Apr 2013)


It's only feb, im sure samsung has an ace up its sleeve. rumours like a retina scanner and stuff, ok it didn't make it to the S5 but there won't be smoke without a fire.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:07 3

2. darkkjedii (Posts: 12028; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Samsung continues to learn from apple. Practicality over bloat, kudos to you Samsung.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:17 6

10. akki20892 (Posts: 3571; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


They got disease from apple. Dude.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:18 10

12. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8719; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Here we go again... Another article being flooded by comments like yours.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:22 3

13. akki20892 (Posts: 3571; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


Comments? Or Articles of Samsung?

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:46 10

23. maherk (Posts: 1061; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


The name Samsung just drives them nuts. All the reviews I saw or read all compliments Samsung for their effort in the design of the S5. Z2 is a sexy phone when it isn't touched, but it is disturbing how it's a smudges/fingerprints magnet. Both are waterproof phones, yet the S5 is much more compact between the 2, add to that the fact that the S5 still and beyond all odds has managed to stay true to their fans and kept the removable battery door, replaceable battery, and an sd card slot.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:07 4

30. akki20892 (Posts: 3571; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


S5 water resistant and Z2 waterproof. There is difference. And fully warranty by Sony.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:23 7

36. maherk (Posts: 1061; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


Z2 isdust proof and water resistant over 1 meter and 30 minutes.

S5 is dust proof and water resistant over 1 meter and 30 minutes.

According to Gsmarena.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:26 5

37. Astoni (Posts: 537; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


s5 is ip 67 while the z2 aswell as z1 is ip 58. That means the Galaxyphone will withstand dust and sand being poured on it, while the z2 will withstand a deeper water dive but not dropped in sand and what not :p.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:29 6

39. maherk (Posts: 1061; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


I was just going to comment on this matter. It will hurt them even more for those Sony troll boys knowing that the S5 holds the better ip certificate. I just went to Wikipedia to make sure. Wikipedia, not Sonypedia or Samsungpedia.

posted on 25 Feb 2014, 08:42 1

56. darkkjedii (Posts: 12028; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


He made the typical butthurt fanboy mistake of thinking I was bashing Samsung. Apple tries to be practical with their software as to not overload the phone, and hog the storage space. They leave the choice up to the user to do that, thru third party apps. That's why a lot of devs develop for iOS first, cuz 1 they'll make more money 2 the app will have more importance cuz it's not baked in. Smurf what are your thoughts in the s5 bro?

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:58 1

27. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)


Samsung continues to learn from apple. Practicality over bloat, kudos to you Samsung. ~ D*ckkjedii... I mean... darkkjedii

See? Two can play at that game. I can troll you as much as you troll me. Lets have some fun with it!

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:03

28. DigitalJedi_X2 (banned) (Posts: 346; Member since: 30 Jan 2012)


Samsung continues to learn from apple. Practicality over bloat, kudos to you Samsung. ~ D*ckkjedii... I mean... darkkjedii

See? Two can play at that game. I can troll you as much as you troll me. Lets have some fun with it!

posted on 25 Feb 2014, 03:17 1

53. meloth1991 (Posts: 21; Member since: 26 Aug 2012)


but have they learned enough ??? 8 gb available out of 16 gb thats still quite a lot of blotware!

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:10 5

3. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8719; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Great addition to the Galaxy line up. Picking one up in April for my birthday. :')

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:46 3

40. christophersalse (Posts: 98; Member since: 19 Jan 2014)


What color are you going to get? I'm looking at blue myself.

posted on 25 Feb 2014, 00:49 1

48. tech2 (Posts: 2238; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


I like the blue but I'll have to see in person. As far as I am concern its 'electric blue', as said in the presentation, but I want a Aqua blue. We'll see

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:13 7

5. toink (unregistered)


Bullsh!t, only 7.86GB of the 16GB of the S5s ROM is user available :(

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:13

6. Killua (Posts: 270; Member since: 25 Nov 2013)


F line, where?

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:16 4

9. akki20892 (Posts: 3571; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


What do u mean by F?

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:15 11

8. R-vjn (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)


No matter how bad the phone is, sammy fans will buy them and will have huge excuses for the design and aesthetics.
I seriously hope, this won't sell like every year's sammy flagship...
I hope to see the HTC's All new One, Sony Xperia Z2 and the upcoming LG G3 to take charge this year..

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:17 12

11. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8719; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Much hate. So angry.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:27 1

15. R-vjn (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)


Frankly my friend, there's a lot of hate..i admit. Its just because of what Samsung is doing with their products.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:12 6

31. hurrycanger (Posts: 1191; Member since: 01 Dec 2013)


What is Samsung doing wrong? And how does it affect your life?

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:50 2

41. R-vjn (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)


its what you called 'dissapointment' when you are expecting a lot from a product and when it comes out, its not even worth it..

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:16 6

34. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)


What's with the hate though, isn't you not buying it enough, why does it matter if others do buy it or like it.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:59

43. R-vjn (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)


i hate it because I'm dissapointed with the s5, thats it..and it completely is pointing 'My Dissapointment''.
I hope you would feel or pretty much every one would feel the same when your expetations gets a huge blow in the face...

Its funny, how people won't admit its a piece of crap, when actaully is a POC..especially the fans of that particular company.

I'm not a fan of any particular company, i frankly love the Note Series by Samsung and many LG, Sony and HTC phones. At the same time I also hate some devices by these companies.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 22:17 1

44. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)


I got a s4 and I am disappointed but hate it no. I'm not going to get s5 because I'm happy with the s4 and other than camera and the water and dust stuff I'm not really bothered by the rest. Whats actually crap, design is subjective, spec is more than good enough. Let's be honest hardware spec has plateaued so to have major upgrade every year not going to happen. Does it matter it's not 2k,not really even before the s5 I have been saying I don't want 2k,i would much rather have the same screen with better battery. I'm disappointed that 32gb isn't the Base model and I'm disappointed that the bezels didn't get smaller than the s4. Design sure it's plastic but again I have never had any issues with it ever. For me the only thing I hated was the glossy plastic and that's gone. I'm going to see what the note 4 says, that's most likely to be next phone. Can I ask what did you want, metal body, 2k screen. Would those 2 features alone have made you love it.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:35 7

19. maherk (Posts: 1061; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


The S4 sold more than 50 million where as the Note 3 sold more than 15 million handsets. I guess Samsung just like Apple have tons of fanboys, which I guess isn't a bad thing. I feel sorry for you budd, instead of letting your hate blind you, use your common sense to get it why people rush to get the iPhones and Galaxies. I guess it's too tough being an HTC, LG, and Sony fans. The 1st is trying to be the Apple of android with all it's premium build and crappy camera and feature-less phone, the second are waiting for every Galaxy released to copy them, while the 3rd have been working on fixing their "triluminus" screen for the past decade or so.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:43

21. R-vjn (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)


'Excuses' no matter what Samsung makes... (mentioned in my main comment, and also failure to admit how crap it is)..

Actually, thank you so much for your reply because your reply just made my main comment a whole lot MEANINGFUL..lols

Well, buddy, There's just no point in replying to what your are going to say next.. anyways praise your S5 and chill..;)

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:13

32. Napalm_3nema (Posts: 1182; Member since: 14 Jun 2013)


40 million and 10 million are the last recorded numbers. We know the S4 fell off a cliff, sales wise, or they wouldn't have moved up the S5 announcement to February. The Note 3 is an unknown, but given how quickly secondary prices have fallen (A 16GB 5S sells for more, on average, than the more expensive 32GB Note 3), I'm guessing sales of it have been flat, as well. We will know when the next financials are announced by Samsung.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:17 3

35. maherk (Posts: 1061; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


40 millions were sold up untill December. Unless they didn't sell any in 3 months, right?

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:27 4

38. Astoni (Posts: 537; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


I'm not a fan of samsung but the camera IMO is more of a WOW than other companys cameras. My z1 Boasted by sony how good the f*cking camera is, is pretty much a Meh. And my older s3.. almost 2 years apart get sharper images and better at macro.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:50

42. Ant34 (Posts: 193; Member since: 10 Aug 2013)


There are too many choices in Android for any of us to be beholden to one company. Samsung just left the door wide open for other OEMs and I think companies like HTC and Motorola step up their game. This may be the beginning of Samsung's downfall.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 23:51 2

47. willard12 (Posts: 834; Member since: 04 Jul 2012)


I don't think people will make excuses. I believe peope don't give a care. It's a rectangle with rounded corners. It seems that a bunch of people who probably wear Wrangler jeans all of the sudden become Vogue Magazine editors when it comes to designing a phone. One minute, Samsung is copying Apple and a judge doesn't think lawyers can tell two tablets apart from a distance. At the same time, people say Samsung has no clue on design. It has to be one or the other. Can't be both. You can't be a copier of the greatest phone designer in the history of phones and ugly at the same time.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:23 1

14. moroninc (Posts: 183; Member since: 14 Jul 2012)


likely see it dominate the market yet again this year.. however SONY Z2 will push them all the way.. up next is HTC M8, LG G3

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:29 2

17. asingha94 (Posts: 290; Member since: 08 Apr 2012)


So big disappointment....few sensors not makes it that good!Z2 already bettered it & old G2 also...now G3 is coming!!

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:30

18. freebee269 (Posts: 528; Member since: 10 Aug 2012)


If you look at phone arenas front page it's literally all gs5 articles. Lol someone is trying to push the gs5 down your throat. Probably because it's water proof now.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:35 1

20. PBXtech (Posts: 980; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)


It's a great phone, but it feels more like the S3 Mk 3 than a S5. Personally, I was hoping Design 3.0 would be a big shift in a completely new design, one which has more refinement than what this model shows.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:44

22. Lampriya (Posts: 207; Member since: 05 Oct 2013)


useful features? which one? cheap plastic is durable? not to mention its ugliest ever design on the planet! finger print scanner is totally Apple's idea. stop stealing already, copycat samsung

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:05 8

29. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2682; Member since: 26 May 2011)


The Motorola Atrix had a fingerprint scanner before the iPhone, and various laptops had fingerprint scanners before that. A good idea is a good idea, and "copying" makes the whole ecosystem better. It's not like Apple users are the only ones who deserve the added security of a fingerprint scanner.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 22:20

45. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)


Nope that doesn't count, it's only a 1st when apple do it. Just like how some think Android copied the notification shade off apple.

posted on 25 Feb 2014, 03:09

52. ady_lad (Posts: 73; Member since: 17 Jul 2013)


Regardless who's idea was...the truth is that at the end of the day is a useless feature...more like a show-off thing, not the most practical thing ever, is it? Besides that you got your fingerprints stored and they might as well jst sell them...

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:48 2

24. jellmoo (Posts: 693; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)


I *like* the overall approach Samsung took here. They went the path of locking down the overall user experience, which I absolutely think is the right one. It's not always about re-inventing the wheel, sometime you need to make the wheel the best wheel it can be.

My complaint with it is size. The added size took a device that was at the very cusp of one handed use, to one that goes over that line. The problem this presents is that there isn't that advantage over the Note. Previously it was the tradeoff: the extra functionality that the Not offers vs the smaller footprint and one handed use of the S4. I don't think that exists anymore, and makes the Note the almost default choice.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 21:13

33. maherk (Posts: 1061; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


I hear you. But after watching some reviews, it turned out that the added size is due to the ip67 certification.

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:48

25. UglyFrank (Posts: 469; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)


Spigen were right about the S5 so they might be right about the S5 Prime/Pro also

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 20:53

26. Ikechukwu (Posts: 143; Member since: 03 Oct 2011)


7.86GB free? am outta here. I really am going to get a Lumia next. The inability to move apps to my humongous SD card has really left me angered

posted on 24 Feb 2014, 23:27

46. Jishnusur (Posts: 73; Member since: 07 Oct 2013)


Why on earth would someone want to throw a USD800 phone on the sand? :O Or pour water on it..?

posted on 25 Feb 2014, 00:55 1

49. dome888 (Posts: 58; Member since: 10 Oct 2012)


i could see an epic fail on this one. sales of s5 will be less than s4, mark my words.

posted on 25 Feb 2014, 00:59

50. Gemmol (Posts: 539; Member since: 09 Nov 2011)


LTE advance not new the Lumia 1520 have it

posted on 25 Feb 2014, 04:27 1

54. Harb98.com (Posts: 7; Member since: 12 Dec 2013)


There is no 16 GB version of note 3

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