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Disappointment of the Year: Galaxy S5

News by admin on Friday January 02, 2015.

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This is a pretty bold choice we feel, simply because the Galaxy S5 is one of the best smartphones on the market. However, 2014 was a year in which most of the major vendors raised their game considerably, we're thinking the LG G3, the HTC One M8, iPhone 6, and a number of efforts from Chinese companies. Next to a slew of stunning flagships and even Samsung's later Galaxy Note 4, the S5 looks stale.

That's because it was. Sure, under the hood it could compete with any device on the market, although TouchWiz remained a sore point, as it still does with the Note 4 (Samsung, please streamline this UI). However, pre-launch there was talk that the S5 would take Samsung in a radical new direction and that the company would create a device that would raise the bar.

The S6 did neither of those things, it was in many ways a tired rehash of what had come before. Of course, it's not Samsung's fault that the pre-launch hype got it completely wrong, but there was a sense that the company could have and should have done more. As it stands, the Galaxy S5 has still sold in millions, but is way down on the Galaxy S4 it followed. For the Galaxy S6 Samsung is going back to basics and taking the series in a whole new direction... wait a minute, haven't we heard that before?

Here's what we wrote about the Galaxy S5

Samsung has announced that it has replaced Chang Dong-hoon, head of design for mobile devices, with the vice president of mobile design, Lee Min-hyouk. The shift comes at a time when Samsung has faced widespread criticism for the design of the Galaxy S5. Though MobileBurn's review says the Galaxy S5 is an impressive device for its wide-range of capabilities, the hardware is merely safe and acceptable rather than impressive. Other critics have been much harsher, such as the Wall Street Journal calling the perforated back of the phone a "Band-aid" and the New York Times saying it is inferior to the iPhone 5s in "just about every major measure."


Samsung's Galaxy S5 failed to surpass sales of Apple's iPhone during the month of May, despite the GS5 arriving with a huge bang in April. The Galaxy S5 arrived amid hugely expensive advertising campaigns and with the massively successful Galaxy S4 and S3 as its predecessors. If there was a time to topple the iPhone dominance, it was now, but instead it has sort of gone wrong for Samsung.

In the UK the Galaxy S5 lost out to both the iPhone 5s (11.1%) and the iPhone 5c (11%) to become the third best-selling handset during May. The S5 picked up 9% of all sales which is not to be sniffed at, but for Samsung is something of a disappointment, especially as the Galaxy S4 still accounted for over 7% of sales. Of course, it should be pointed out that these are UK specific numbers, but looking globally the reading is not any better for Samsung. In fact it is worse as in some markets (such as the US) where the iPhone holds an even greater share of sales.

It is not a terrible result for Samsung as the Galaxy S5 is still comfortably the best-selling Android handset, although it is plainly clear that the Korean company cannot topple the iPhone. That is despite Samsung spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising, including an ambitious move to brand Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5 as Terminal GS5.

Beyond failing to tackle the iPhone, the Galaxy S5 is causing concern inside Samsung as the device has only enjoyed a lukewarm response and has not been received with same enthusiasm as the Galaxy S4. The general consumer base is being swayed by handsets like the HTC One M8 and LG G3, two Android smartphones that have better designs and in some cases better hardware and software than the GS5.


And in some ways, through 2014 that is exactly what has happened. It could be argued there are many better flagships on the market than the current Samsung Galaxy S5, and for the first time since this line of devices first became a hit, the S series is in trouble. The Galaxy S3 was the iPhone of Android, a device that broke barriers (and records too), it was a massive hit and sold millions. The Galaxy S4 was the evolution of that device and shifted even more units, but the S5 has failed to keep the trend going.

Perhaps the Galaxy S5 is an evolutionary step too far, and I don't mean that in a positive way. Instead of an incremental (which the GS5 is) update the range needed an overhaul, but Samsung failed to spot the danger and perhaps got complacent at the top of the Android pile. The result has been a phone that failed to live up to expectations in terms of sales and quality, so much so that Samsung is going right back to square one for the Galaxy S6.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that sales for the Galaxy S5 have slipped 40% behind expectations, while year on year against the GS4, sales are down 25%. To put that in clear black and white, the Galaxy S5 has sold a quarter fewer units than the Galaxy S4 managed through the same amount of time.

The S5 managed to sell 12 million units through three months on sale, while the Galaxy S4 managed to move 16 million units through that same time frame. The number also proves that any sales comparisons made by Samsung to the iPhone are totally false, Apple's device managed that number in one week. However, throughout 2014 it has become increasingly clear that Samsung is no longer fighting it out with Apple, but is instead looking over its shoulder to Xiaomi and even compatriot LG.

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