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.
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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?
What's in a name?
Update 04/06/2013: According to @evleaks, the Galaxy S5 Prime will actually be named the Galaxy F, with F standing for "fashion". Because, you know, brushed metal is more fashionable than plastic. The Twitter account also posted a brand new (and apparently official) image of the phone, which you can see above.
Brushed Metal Beauty
Update 02/07/14: @evleaks has revealed yet another S5 Prime leak, showing off a much-improved brushed metal back. It's a welcome change to the plastic back of the current S5, which pales in comparison to the gorgeous metal rear of the HTC One (M8).
While the general shape of the S5 Prime appears to be the same, this is definitely a step in the right direction for Samsung.
IT'S NOT CAMERA SHY
Update 09/06/14: Oh look, the S5 Prime has decided to make another pre-launch appearance. And this time it's soaking up a bit of sun.
Obtained by Phone Arena, this latest leak shows off the shiny brushed finish of the Galaxy S5 Prime's rear on the black variant, with the rear heart rate sensor clearly visible beneath the camera lens.
Update 03/06/14: Everyone's favourite serial Android leaker @evleaks, has struck again. And this time, an anonymous tipster has supposedly snapped a genuine picture of the Galaxy S5 Prime. Although sadly, it looks like they used a potato instead of, you know, an actual camera.
This is a terrible image even by blurry leak standards, but we've done our best to clean it up. We've also placed a picture of an actual Galaxy S5 next to it for comparison.
While they look almost identical, the alleged Prime does appear to have slightly rounder corners and a more pronounced arch at the top. Its side bezels might also be a little smaller, though the grainy quality of the shot makes it hard to say for sure.
The anonymous tipster also believes that the S5 Prime will arrive with a 5.3-inch, 2560 x 1440 QHD display, along with a Snapdragon 805 processor.
Interestingly, the tipster states that the Galaxy S5 Prime will be a replacement for the Galaxy S product line, indicating that there will be no Galaxy S6. They go on to state that the Prime will be revealed at 'Samsung Unpacked Ep.2."
@evleaks stresses that this rumour is unconfirmed, so we're swallowing this latest leak with unhealthy doses of salt, for the time being at least.
Update 23/06/09: And @evleaks is at it again. This time with a gold version of what he claims is a bona fide press shot of the Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime.
Apparently, this is the 'Glowing Gold' colour. Not to be confused with the previously leaked 'Golden Touch' colour.
We wonder how many different shades of black it'll land in. We're betting on 'Black' and 'Slightly Darker Shade of Black'.
Update 27/06/14: @evleaks has posted a press shot of the 'Galaxy F' in Glowing Gold, which is presumably more... glowy, than Golden Touch.
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).
Update 18/06/14: It turns out that 2K fans should probably crank their excitement down a peg or two.
The latest rumours courtesy of Dutch site Tweakers now point to a standard 5.1in 1080p display, meaning that the G3 will remain unchallenged in the QHD department, if true.
While disappointing, the site goes onto say that the S5 Prime will out-rank the G3 and the rest of the competition, with a Snapdragon 805 processor, with an updated Adreno 405 GPU - making it the most powerful phone on the planet, on paper at least.
The site also believes that the S5 Prime will look almost identical to the existing S5. Perhaps the Galaxy F and S5 Prime are two different handsets altogether? The model ID SM-G901F is mentioned by the Dutch site, which is close enough to the Galaxy S5's SM-G900 ID to suggest an immediate predecessor.
The plot thickens...
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.
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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.