Samsung looks to fingerprint ID and fitness to differentiate with latest smartphone

MWC 2014: Samsung is looking to fingerprint identification technology and a range of fitness monitoring services to differentiate from its rivals with the launch of its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, and a range of new smart watches and smart bands.

Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S5.

Samsung’s new handset features a biometric scanner to unlock the device, plus a larger screen than previous models and what Samsung claims is the world’s fastest auto-focus camera.

The company’s co-chief executive and president of its mobile arm JK Shin told attendees at the device’s launch event at Mobile World Congress  – the location itself a u-turn from the standalone launches it has created to unveil its handsets in recent years – the S5 demonstrates Samsung “going back to basics”.

He went on to suggest that Samsung had eschewed expensive hardware improvements as it looks to cut costs and focus on a design that is “simple and chic”. The device will be released on 11 April in more than 150 countries.

Eden Zoller, senior analyst at Ovum, says: “In contrast to the Galaxy S4 which was packed with gimmicky features, Samsung has focused instead on a small number of enhancements with the S5. The challenge for Samsung will be to convince users to upgrade to a handset that offers little more than its predecessor.”

Thomas Husson, an analyst serving marketers at Forrester, said the device will probably sell well due to “massive” marketing support but that Samsung will need to demonstrate a more “hands on” experience of the fingerprint and fitness features if it is to build brand preference over Apple.

Some 452 million Samsung devices were shipped in 2013, compared to the 153 million sold by Apple, according to Strategy Analytics. However, investors and analysts have been disappointed by sales of its previous flagship the Galaxy S4 compared with the phenomenal sales growth achieved by its predecessor, the Galaxy S3

Samsung also unveiled the Gear Fit smart band and two Gear smartwatches at Mobile World Congress, which house features such as heart rate monitors, music players and pedometers as it steps up its bid to become a leader in wearable technology.

Read more of our Mobile World Congress 2014 coverage here