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With a rumoured 2K screen and metal build, this blinged-out version of Samsung's flagship looks set to realise the S5's potential
The Samsung Galaxy S5 may only have landed a month ago, but a successor to Sammy's flagship is
already on the cards.
Before the release of the Samsung Galaxy S5, rumours were rife that the phone would pack a metal body and a 2K screen. So when Samsung stepped up on stage and revealed the decidedly plastic, 1080p Galaxy S5, there were some murmurings of discontent.
The rumour mill hasn't stopped grinding away, though – and it's becoming increasingly apparent that Samsung is working on a premium variant of the S5, dubbed the Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime. Here's what we know.
DEATH TO ALL BUT METAL?
Despite frequent criticism of the Galaxy S range’s shiny plastic bodies by almost everyone, Samsung has resolutely clung to its use of polycarbonate through four generations and countless “spin-off” devices. But that looks set to change with the Galaxy S5 Prime – to some extent.
The Taipei Times reports that Catcher, a company that makes metal bodies for the likes of Apple and HTC devices, has been manufacturing Galaxy casings for Samsung during the first half of 2014. Magnesium and aluminium are the likely materials. And a SamMobile report from January reiterates rumours of a metal phone, noting that the phone may have a metallic-effect back plate with stainless steel sides and front.
However, recent leaked photos appearing on PhoneArena may give the lie to rumours of an all-metal build for the S5 Prime. They clearly show a different phone to the existing S5 – with what appears to be a metal surround, and a speaker that's been relocated from the back to the bottom of the phone. Although the lighting's dodgy, it looks like the phone's back panel is made of the same dimpled soft-touch plastic as the standard Galaxy S5 – suggesting that this is an evolution, not a complete overhaul of the S5.
The lack of a metal back panel is backed up by serial Twitter leaker @evleaks, who claims that the S5 Prime will hit Korea in five colors: "black, white, gold, blue, and sweet pink." While coloured anodised metal finishes are fairly common on smartphones – particularly aluminium – it's impossible to create a white anodised aluminium finish, because white paint molecules are larger than the pores created on the aluminium oxide layer during the anodising process. That strongly suggests – assuming @evleaks is correct – that the S5 Prime will indeed sport a plastic back. Which is interesting, considering that criticism of the S5's plastic build reportedly led to the reassignment of Samsung's head of mobile design. So if the exterior's only getting one or two tweaks, how will the S5 Prime differ from its predecessor?
The Galaxy S5 Prime's metal build isn't the only upgrade it's getting over the standard S5. It's reportedly set to sport a 2K screen, like rival smartphones the Oppo Find 7 and the upcoming LG G3.
Backing this up are leaked benchmarks that appeared at GFXBench (since removed) ahead of the launch of the Galaxy S5, pointing to a 1440p display. That's an insane 2560x1440 2K HD screen. On a smartphone. That's half as many pixels as you'll find on a newfangled 4K television screen.
Assuming it features the same 5.1in screen size as the Galaxy S5, that will result in an eye-melting 575 pixels per inch (the human eye supposedly struggles to perceive more than 300ppi). Has science gone too far?
An anonymous source quoted in the Korea Herald suggests that the QHD screen may limit supplies of the Galaxy S5 Prime, noting that “Samsung Electronics was supposed to use a QHD display for its Galaxy S5, but it failed due to the high cost. As the Galaxy S5 Prime will be rolled out in small quantities, it is highly likely that QHD will be adopted.”
Update 10/05/14: A source involved in the development of Samsung's Kids Mode has confirmed to GSMArena that the Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime will sport a 5.2in QHD screen, with a 2560 x 1440 resolution – and that the phone's internal codename is the KQ (Lentis).
More after the break...
The Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime – or Galaxy S5 G906S – won't just be getting a screen upgrade over the Galaxy S5. Its internals are set to get a boost, too. According to the PhoneArena source that leaked snaps of the phone, the Galaxy S5 Prime will pack a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor, an Adreno 420 GPU and 3GB of RAM, and will run Android 4.4.3 KitKat on launch (unsurprisingly skinned with the latest version of Samsung's TouchWiz UI). GFXBench tests back up those specs, adding 32GB of storage, a 16MP camera and a 2MP front camera to the mix, but have the phone running Android 4.4.2 at launch.
However, back in January, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that the Galaxy S5 Prime would pack a 5.2in, 565-ppi AMOLED display, 32-bit Exynos 5430 processor and 3GB LPDDR3 RAM along with a 16MP camera. Kuo also expects both versions of the S5 to sport a plastic shell, in contrast to recent predictions that Samsung will adopt a metal build for the high-end S5. Given that at least some of Kuo's predictions seem to be on the money, could the Prime arrive packing Samsung's own silicon?
Update 21/05/14: According to ZDNet Korea (via CNet), "people who claim to have knowledge of Samsung's plans" have revealed that the Galaxy S5 Prime will support download speeds of up to 225 megabits per second – some three times faster than the 75Mbps available on 4G LTE networks. It's possible that these high-speed download speeds may only apply in Korea, on its LTE-Advanced network. The only processor that supports 225Mbps speeds is the Qualcomm MDM9635, so expect it to feature in at least one version of the S5 Prime.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
According to Korean website Naver (via BGR), the S5 Prime will be released in mid-June, priced around 900,000 KRW (US$880/£520). While the release date is backed up by reports that the Prime will be undergoing interoperability tests during May, the price seems unusually low – especially considering that an unlocked Galaxy S5 costs between £460 and £500 in the UK. Another price listing for the S5 Prime on a Hong Kong site shows it as costing around US$650.
We'll keep updating this story with info as it trickles out, so keep checking back for the latest.