Samsung Galaxy S5 (CDMA)
Samsung today confirmed it will close its Music Hub and e-book store on July 1. The Music Hub served alongside the Samsung Hub - which sold music, videos, books, games, and educational content - on last year's Galaxy S4 handset. The Music Hub was a full music store, much like Google Play Music or the Amazon MP3 Store. It allowed users to buy individual tracks and albums. The same was true of the e-book store, which duplicated Google's own offering, in addition to those of other providers, such as Amazon. Samsung didn't explain the rationale behind its decision to shutter the music and e-book stores other than to say it was "striving for service differentiation and customer value enhancement." The Samsung Hub itself will also go away, and is no longer preinstalled on this year's Galaxy S5. Instead, Samsung's surviving services - movies, games, and educational content - will remain available as stand-alone apps. Samsung's music and e-book services will still be available to consumers in its home market of Korea.
Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless followed T-Mobile today by announcing that they, too, will offer the Limited Edition Galaxy S5 Gold beginning May 30.
Verizon Wireless today announced the launch of XLTE service, which is a new way for the company to market its dual-band LTE network. Verizon Wireless initially deployed LTE in the 700MHz band. Verizon's build-out of LTE in the 700MHz band is functionally complete. Verizon began rolling out LTE on its 1700MHz AWS spectrum late last year, and has been slowly adding markets over time. As of today, Verizon says it has initiated service on its AWS spectrum in half its existing LTE footprint. Moving forward, Verizon Wireless will market its dual-band LTE coverage as XLTE in much the same way that Sprint is marketing its tri-band LTE service as Sprint Spark. According to Verizon, XLTE markets offer consumers far more headroom thanks to dramatically improved capacity. With twice the spectrum to work with, XLTE markets can deliver faster peak data speeds when compared to Verizon's 700MHz-only LTE markets. Verizon said a number of its most popular devices are already compatible with its XLTE service, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3; the Apple iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c; and the Motorola Droid Maxx, Ultra, and Mini. Customers who own these devices don't need to do anything in order to take advantage of XLTE. They'll automatically connect to Verizon's dual-band LTE network where it is available. Non-XLTE devices will still be able to access Verizon's LTE network as normal. Verizon will continue to roll out XLTE to more markets over time. Verizon didn't say how long it will take to build-out its AWS LTE coverage. Verizon acquired the AWS spectrum from a consortium of cable companies in 2012.
Samsung executive Rhee In-jong today said the company plans to increase the use of biometrics in its mobile devices and will eventually make them available to low-cost smartphones. Samsung recently added a fingerprint scanner to the Galaxy S5 as one of several security options. Owners can choose to use their fingerprint, rather than a password, to lock and protect their device. The Apple iPhone 5s also has a fingerprint scanner. Both devices are flagship models, however, and aren't necessarily affordable to everyone. Samsung wants to make biometrics available to all its devices, though Rhee didn't say just how quickly Samsung will accomplish this goal. Rhee did indicate the company is also looking at iris detection as a means of securing mobile devices. The motivation behind these efforts is to drive adoption of Samsung's Knox enterprise security platform, which Samsung believes will help it sell devices to corporate clients.
Samsung today announced that its second-generation business security suite is now available to the Galaxy S5. One of the core features of the improved software is support for split billing. Knox 2.0 can determine the amount of monthly data used by personal apps and the data used by business apps and split the bill so businesses only have to pay for the portion generated by actual work. Knox 2.0 also improves compatibility with other applications so they can be secured or sandboxed. The suite has a new series of cloud-based services, as well, such as a dedicated store for enterprise applications, and tools for IT to manage and control employee devices. Knox 2.0 is only available to the GS5, but Samsung said it will become available to more Galaxy devices in the months ahead. Samsung created Knox to help generate more appeal for its devices within businesses. It competes with BlackBerry's BES product.
Samsung has confirmed that a limited number of a Galaxy S5 smartphones sold are afflicted with a bug that permanently disables the camera. "We have learned that a limited number of Galaxy S5 devices may have an issue that causes 'Camera Failure' pop-up error message. We ask that customers affected visit their carrier for service under Samsung’s standard limited warranty," said the company in a statement. The GS5 has a 16-megapixel camera. Consumers with affected devices may contact Samsung directly or exchange the device at carrier retail stores. Verizon has reached out to customers via social media, but other carriers have not yet done so, and it isn't clear if their devices are also being affected. The GS5 is sold by most carriers in the U.S. for about $200 on contract or $26 per month with an installment plan.
PayPal today made a new version of its mobile app available explicitly for the Samsung Galaxy S5. The app, first announced in February, lets GS5 owners make payments across the web by swiping their finger on the GS5's fingerprint sensor. PayPal says the feature can be used with most online merchants and mobile apps that accept PayPal, in addition to select retail stores. Further, PayPal launched a separate app for Samsung's Gear 2 and Gear Fit smartwatches. The watch-based app lets people save and redeem offers, check their balance, receive payment notifications, and check-in at local stores. Both the smartphone and smartwatch apps are free to download.
Samsung's Download Booster, a feature of the Galaxy S5 meant to improve file download speeds, has been removed from the device by AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. The companies did not provide a reason for cutting the app. T-Mobile will be the only major U.S. carrier to support the feature. Download Booster splits file downloads between Wi-Fi and LTE in order to create faster speeds. AnandTech reports that Download Booster only works with files from apps such as the Google Play Store, YouTube, Facebook, and the browser that are larger than 30MB. Download Booster's usefulness will vary depending on local network connections.
C Spire Wireless recently revealed that it will begin selling the Samsung Galaxy S5 as soon as May. The company didn't share pricing details, however. The GS5 reaches most major carriers this month.
Sprint announced its plans to sell the Samsung Galaxy S5. It is accepting pre-orders for the phone beginning today. Customers may choose between two different financing options. Customers can pay $199.99 (after rebate) with a new two-year contract, or pay $0 down followed by 24 monthly payments of $27.09 with Sprint's Easy Pay option. The GS5 is compatible with Sprint Spark, its faster LTE service that is available in 18 markets around the country. Customers who choose to sign up for a Sprint Framily Plan with the GS5 are eligible for a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. Sprint will also offer the Samsung Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit wearables beginning April 11 for $299, $199, and $199, respectively.
Samsung today highlighted some of the third-party applications it plans to install on the Galaxy S5 smartphone, and claims their total value exceeds $600. Most of the freebies take the form of limited-time memberships to web sites or services that would otherwise charge for their use. For example, the Galaxy S5 will include a six-month subscription to the Wall Street Journal and a 12-month subscription to Bloomberg/BusinessWeek. It will also include a $50 voucher for PayPal merchants, 50GB of Box storage for six months, 50GB of DropBox storage for two years, and 1TB of Bitcasa storage for three months. Several fitness subscriptions will be included, as will gaming credits. Smartphones are often sold with third-party apps and services pre-loaded. The Samsung Galaxy S5 will go on sale worldwide in April.
Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA today both announced plans to sell the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. Both companies, which are owned and operated by Sprint, said the GS5 will be compatible with Sprint's Spark LTE service. Pricing was not discussed, but the prepaid carriers said the GS5 will arrive during the second quarter with contract-free, flexible service options.
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S5 smartphone today in Barcelona. Those expecting a great leap forward are bound to be disappointed, but the Galaxy S5 makes progress all the same. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions.
AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile each today affirmed that it will off the Samsung Galaxy S5 when it goes on sale in April. Exact sales dates and pricing were not shared by the carriers.