Samsung unveils phone with heart-rate monitor

Feb 24, 2014 by Anick Jesdanun
Samsung CEO J.K. Shin presents the new Samsung Galaxy S5 at the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Highlights of the show included major product launches from Samsung and other phone makers, along with a keynote address by Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

(AP)—Samsung sought Monday to frame its new Galaxy S5 smartphone as a lifestyle product, as it emphasized a built-in heart-rate sensor and improved camera features over its slightly larger size.

One of the main appeals of Samsung phones has been their size. The screen has steadily increased since the 4 inches (10.2 centimeters) on the original S from 2010, while the iPhone made that jump to 4 inches only in 2012 and has stayed that way since.

But the S5 pushes the screen to only 5.1 inches (13 cms), measured diagonally, from 5 inches (12.7 cms) in last year's model. Instead of size, Samsung touted the new phone's ability to adapt its screen to changing external conditions and to dim it to avoid disturbing others nearby.

The phone has a 16 megapixel camera, sharper than the 13 megapixels in its predecessor. It promises faster auto focus and the ability to blur the foreground or background of an image to emphasize a subject.

Samsung Electronics Co. made the latest announcement during the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain.

The new phone will go on sale worldwide on April 11. The company didn't announce a price; its predecessor sold for about $600 without phone subsidies or a contract.

Samsung CEO J.K. Shin presents the new Samsung Galaxy S5 at the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest mobile phone trade show in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Expected highlights include major product launches from Samsung and other phone makers, along with a keynote address by Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

The S5 has a fingerprint sensor to use in place of a passcode to unlock the phone or make payments through PayPal. It's a feature still rare in phones, though Apple introduced it in last fall's iPhone 5s.

Samsung's Galaxy S series has emerged as one of the strongest challengers to Apple's iPhones and has helped the Korean company surpass Apple as the world's largest smartphone maker. According to Gartner, Samsung's smartphones had a worldwide market share of 31 percent last year, compared with 16 percent for Apple's iPhones.

A chief complaint about Samsung phones has been the company's tendency to pack them with a slew of features, some of which don't work well with each other or at all. Recent phones have sported an Easy Mode, with larger icons and fewer customization choices. It's as though Samsung acknowledges that its devices have become too complex for many people to use.

Samsung showed restraint this time.

"Samsung is betting big on wellness, fingerprint reading and camera autofocus, while keeping a very similar look and feel for its hardware and software," said Nick Dillon, a senior analyst at the research firm Ovum. "The updates are so minor that on first glance most consumers would be hard pressed to notice that it has changed from the previous version."

But he said that is to be expected "given the maturity of the smartphone market and the pressure on the Samsung not to mess with its winning formula."

The heart-rate sensor on the S5 can be used before and after exercise to measure fitness activities. It's not meant for continuous tracking. Samsung also unveiled a fitness band, Gear Fit, to complement two new computerized watches announced Sunday. Those will be available April 11 as well.

"These devices are Samsung's commitment and vision to great experiences that matter the most to us all," Samsung European executive Jean-Daniel Ayme said.

Parents, meanwhile, will enjoy the ability to hand the phone to a kid without worry. Just place it in a kid's mode, and only approved apps can be accessed. Your kid can't send your boss an email or post an embarrassing picture on Facebook when all you intended was to have your kid play "Candy Crush Saga."

The phone is also water resistant.

"Our consumers do not want eye-popping technology or the most complex technology," said J.K. Shin, Samsung's head of information technology and the mobile communications division. "Our consumers want durable design and performance. Our consumers want a simple, yet powerful camera."

Explore further: Samsung's new smartwatches have fitness features

5 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sony showcases phone with ultra-HD video recording

Feb 24, 2014

(AP)—Sony is borrowing innovations from its audio and camcorder businesses and incorporating its new Xperia Z2 smartphone with noise-cancelling technology and ultra-high-definition video recording.

Many new phones coming, but Samsung hogs limelight

Feb 24, 2014

(AP)—Sony unveiled a new waterproof phone that can take ultra-high-definition video. Nokia introduced three Android smartphones aimed at emerging markets. And Lenovo announced one with an all-glass exterior.

LG to launch new smartwatch this year

Feb 24, 2014

LG will launch its first smartwatch in 2014, the head of its mobile unit said Monday, tapping into the nascent market for wearable devices seen as the mobile industry's new source of growth.

Recommended for you

Sony's PlayStation 4 sales top seven million

Apr 17, 2014

Sony says it has sold seven million PlayStation 4 worldwide since its launch last year and admitted it can't make them fast enough, in a welcome change of fortune for the Japanese consumer electronics giant.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into an increasing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.

White House updating online privacy policy

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...