Samsung Unveils Galaxy S5 Smartphone

Samsung Electronics unveiled its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S5, in Barcelona on Monday, the first day of the Mobile World Congress.

The phone has a 5.1-inch screen, which is slightly larger than the previous model's 4.99 inches, but they have the same weight and thickness.

The S5, however, upgrades the hardware significantly. The most distinctive feature is a 16 megapixel auto-focusing camera. It also comes with a heartbeat sensor and fingerprint scanner.

Critics said the smartphone innovations have peaked, and there is little left that can be added to the repertoire. As the hardware capacities of rivals Apple, LG, Sony and Huawei improve, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Samsung to stay ahead of the game.

Cho Shin at Yonsei University said although Samsung has managed to stay ahead of its rivals with the release of each Galaxy S series, the gap is narrowing. "Perhaps the limit is approaching."

Instead, Samsung chose to bolster user-friendly functions, prompting the Wall Street Journal to observe that the firm went "back to basics."

Samsung also unveiled three new smartwatches -- Samsung Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit. The Gear Fit is capable of gauging users' heart rate, as well as the amount of exercise gained by walking, running and bicycling. The wearable devices feature curved screens to enhance comfort.

One industry watcher said, "It shouldn't be too difficult to sell tens of millions [of the wearable smart devices], since they are follow-up models of the Galaxy S series, which racked up sales of more than 200 million units. We'll have to wait and see whether hardware innovations alone can guarantee the No. 1 global spot."

Samsung plans to start selling the Galaxy S5 in 150 countries on April 11. Competition will heat up with the release of Apple's new iPhone in the second half of this year.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 26, 2014 13:13 KST