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Samsung launches Galaxy S5 smartphone

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(Photo credit: Samsung)

BARCELONA, Spain — Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S5 smartphone, an improved, but not radically different successor to last year’s Galaxy S4.

Still, Samsung had a few new tricks up its sleeve for its top-of-the-line Android phone. Samsung claims that the Galaxy S5 is weatherproof, resistant to water and dust. It also has a heart rate sensor and a fingerprint scanner on the home button.

Compared to last year’s model, the Galaxy S5 has a bigger screen (5.1 inches), a faster processor (2 GHz) and a bigger battery. But none of those represent dramatic improvements. Its screen is 2% bigger, the processor is 5% faster and the battery is 8% larger.

One potentially big improvement is the camera, now with 16 megapixels, up from 13 a year ago.

But there are a few tradeoffs. The Galaxy S5 is ever so slightly heavier (a half ounce) and larger than its predecessor.

Last year’s Galaxy S4 never lived up to its incredible hype, and sales were a disappointment. It’s still the best-selling Android smartphone, but Samsung’s reputation has taken a big hit after essentially tweaking the previous year’s Galaxy S3 and calling it the next big thing.

This year, Samsung tried to dial down excitement about the newest edition. Forgoing the kind of splashy Radio City Music Hall launch event that it threw last year, it instead introduced the S5 at a much more subdued press conference at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain.

“With the Galaxy S5, Samsung is going back to basics to focus on delivering the capabilities that matter most to our consumers,” said JK Shin, head of Samsung’s mobile divison. “Consumers are looking for mobile tools that inspire and support them as they improve their everyday lives.”

Samsung said the Galaxy S5 would be available in April.

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