TIME marketing

Heathrow Airport Getting a ‘Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5′

Terminal 5 in one of the world’s busiest airports will soon be rebranded “Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5”

For two weeks starting on May 19, Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport will be rebranded top to bottom, name and all, to promote Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 smartphone.

In addition to providing Galaxy S5 phones for travelers to try out while passing through the terminal, Samsung is rebranding everything brandable with its logo and images of its flagship mobile device, including, the company says in a press release, “the signage, wayfinding, website and every single digital screen at the UK’s newest terminal” (emphasis ours).

This is, Samsung notes, the first time Heathrow has allowed a brand to completely takeover Terminal 5, which is one of the least surprising things about the campaign.

Weary travelers might fear Samsung Galaxy S5 overload—especially if (can you imagine?) the terminal sees some kind of massive multiday layover situation—but if the intercom announcers start periodically squawking “DRRROOOOOIIIID” it will all have been worth it.

[Android Central]

TIME technology

Samsung Names New Mobile Design Chief

A man is silhouetted against a video screen with Apple and Samsung logos as he poses with a Samsung Galaxy S4 in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica
Dado Ruvic / Reuters

The world's biggest handset maker has replaced the head of its mobile design team amid criticism of the latest Galaxy S5 smartphone. Lee Min-hyouk, a Samsung vice president, will take the department reins

Samsung may be taking the design of its flagship Galaxy phones in a new direction. The company has named a new leader for its mobile design unit. Lee Min-hyouk, a Samsung vice president, will now head up the team. The former mobile design chief, Chang Dong-hoon, will “focus on his role as head of the design strategy team,” a Samsung spokesman told The Wall Street Journal.

The Galaxy S5 received mixed reviews when it launched in April, with reporters criticizing its cheap appearance. “As with previous Galaxy S phones, Samsung, unlike Apple, HTC and Nokia, shows no interest in knocking out anybody through the sheer lavishness of its industrial design,” TIME technology writer Harry McCracken wrote at the time. “I wouldn’t go so far as to call it ugly, but it’s a Chevy in a category full of Lexuses, Infinitis and Acuras.”

Samsung has said that the Galaxy S5 sold better than the Galaxy S4 in its opening weekend but has not disclosed any specific sales numbers. The company has faced declining profits in its last two financial quarters and is looking to the Galaxy S5 to reverse its fortunes.

[WSJ]

TIME Smartphones

Samsung Galaxy S5 Pre-Orders Begin

The Samsung Galaxy S5
The Samsung Galaxy S5 Samsung

If you want to be among the first to get a new Samsung Galaxy S5, the time to act is now. AT&T announced that pre-orders for the flagship Android smartphone will begin in-store and online starting Friday, March 21.

Unveiled just last month, the new 5.1” Galaxy S5 boasts 2560 x 1440 resolution, a fingerprint scanner, IP67 water resistance, a black-and-white ultralow power saving mode and improved camera features. The smartphone is available in four colors: white, black, blue and gold.

Like the competing Apple iPhone 5S, the Samsung Galaxy S5 will retail for $200 on-contract; full retail is $649.99. AT&T Next customers can get the device for $25 per month for 18 months, or for $32.50 per month for 12 months.

AT&T is offering a bonus $50 discount if you buy a new Galaxy Gear 2 ($299) or Gear 2 Neo ($199) smartwatch at the same time you pick up a Galaxy 5. That said, I’m far more excited about Android Wear, Google’s new Android-based smartwatch operating system, and the coming Moto 360 smartwatch that runs it.

A release date for the Samsung Galaxy S5 has yet to be announced, though AT&T says the phone will begin shipping in “early April.” Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon will carry the phone as well.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Smartphones

With the Galaxy S5, Samsung Wakes Up in a Post-Specs World

Galaxy S5 Samsung

The Galaxy S5 is Samsung's first real attempt at a smartphone where the specs aren't what matter. And it's already more interesting than anything Samsung has produced in the last few years.

Making a flagship Android phone used to be pretty simple. Get a fast processor, a good camera and a decent amount of storage, make some changes for change’s sake to the stock Android interface, put it all in a reasonably slim chassis and push it out the door.

That approach served Samsung well for many years, and its ability to mass produce and market the heck out of its phones led to market dominance and huge profits. But eventually the diminishing returns of newer smartphone specs took a toll. Last year’s Galaxy S4 was a desperate attempt to plaster over a dull upgrade, technology-wise, with gimmicks that no one really needed. The S4 wasn’t a failure, but profits have fallen in recent months as Samsung has been squeezed by Apple on one side and cheaper Android phones on the other. Samsung needed to think beyond gimmicks and specs to help its flagship phone stand out again.

While I haven’t used Samsung’s Galaxy S5, today’s announcement looks like a step in the right direction. Yes, it has better tech specs than last year’s model, but not by huge leaps, and Samsung isn’t making a big deal out of them anyway. Instead, Samsung is focused on what people actually want — that is, a phone that helps them live their lives.

Perhaps the biggest example is the addition of waterproofing. The Galaxy S5 can withstand being dunked in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes, which means you could use it in the shower, bring it to the pool or accidentally drop it in the toilet. The technology has been around for a couple years, and it’s appeared in some other phones, but never in a phone as well-known or widely-adopted as Samsung’s flagship handset. This is a major development and a genuine selling point for Samsung over its main rival, Apple.

Other changes are less splashy, but still useful. Although the Galaxy S5’s camera has a higher megapixel camera than its predecessor, more substantial improvements include faster auto-focus and the ability to choose a point of focus after you’ve taken the shot.

Samsung also cut down on the number of camera modes in its software, lumping several effects into a single “Shot & More” mode. This allows you to choose the effect after taking the photo, instead of beforehand. It’s a rare case of restraint for a company not known for minimalism, but it’s not the only example. The Galaxy S5’s interface is just a little bit cleaner than before, and Samsung is no longer talking about its previous gimmicks, such as Air Gesture, Air View and Smart Scroll. (I’m waiting to hear back from Samsung on whether these features have been removed, or if Samsung just isn’t talking about them.)

galaxys5shealth

Samsung

The other big bullet point for Samsung is its S Health 3.0 software, which ties into sensor data from the Galaxy S5 and from Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch line. Users can then plug in other data, such as diet and exercise records, to help monitor their overall health. We’ll have to see how well it all comes together, but as a software feature it’s more intriguing than, say, controlling your phone with no hands.

That’s not to say Samsung hasn’t completely moved beyond empty gestures of one-upmanship. The Galaxy S5’s fingerprint sensor seems like just that. It has more capabilities than the TouchID sensor on Apple’s iPhone 5s, but uses a swipe-based panel that’s already being criticized as finicky. We saw this coming even before the announcement.

The last Samsung phone I owned was the Galaxy S II, whose simple offering of speeds and feeds in a slim chassis appealed to me as a power user back in 2011. But times have changed, and something like the Galaxy S II would make for a pretty boring smartphone today. The Galaxy S5 may not be a revolutionary upgrade, but it’s Samsung’s first real attempt at a smartphone where the specs aren’t what matter. It’s already more interesting than anything Samsung has produced in the last few years.

TIME Smartphones

4 Things the Galaxy S5 Should Do (But Probably Won’t)

Samsung has the potential to make the best all-around smartphone on the market, but its priorities still aren’t in the right place.

On February 24th, it’s believed that Samsung will officially unveil the Galaxy S5. The screen will reportedly be a little bigger (5.2 inches), the camera nicer (probably 16 MPs), the presentation more polished, and the pastries in the lobby between 10-20% tastier than those served during Samsung’s last Galaxy reveal.

(MORE: Samsung Galaxy S5 Rumor Roundup: Taking Our Best Guesses)

The company will hopefully confirm the device’s rumored 560 pixels-per-inch display. “That’s over 70% more pixels per inch than the iPhone 5s,” a smiling Ryan Bidan (director of product marketing) should say, “and 1,000% higher than my best score on Flappy Bird.” A polite ripple of applause and tweets would surely follow.

Regrettably, Samsung will likely forget to do four things, all of which are more important than megapixels, croissants, and pixelated birds. Here’s what the Galaxy S5 should do…but probably won’t.

1. Improve Touch Response Time

Ask any longtime iPhone user why she hasn’t switched to Android, and you’ll get a vague justification. “I just like the way Apple does it.” Most iPhone users can’t explain why exactly they prefer the iPhone user experience, but there’s a simple explanation: touch response time. According to a 2013 touch latency test, Android-powered phones take up to 2.5x longer than iPhones to register actions. Never mind that Galaxy screens have several other advantages (ex: bigger, more accurate): those milliseconds matter. The experience just feels smoother on an iPhone, and that difference—however slight—is worth 8 megapixels to the mass market of Mom, Dad, and Grandpa Joe.

Granted, Samsung needs Google’s help to solve this problem: no matter how much Samsung streamlines its TouchWiz interface, it’s the hardware-software integration that ultimately matters. Samsung could work more closely with the Android team—perhaps push for tighter harmony between OS and device—Samsung certainly has the leverage. Unfortunately, it would rather cram in megapixels than shave off milliseconds.

2. Embrace Google

Samsung and Google are like a dysfunctional couple. They fell hard for each other in 2009, moved in together (some say too quickly), then quarreled for the next four years. On multiple occasions, Samsung has threatened to move out, only to quietly apologize the next day, citing pressure from work. Lately, Google has demanded more attention from its on-again, off-again lover, insisting that Samsung treats it in public the same way it’s treated in private. Just last month, it got so bad, they had to sign a legal document over shared property.

Samsung may want to succeed on its own, but the general public loves Samsung-and-Google, the couple. People want a slick device with seamless integration of Google services. Apple users love to complain about iCloud, Apple Maps, and jumbled mail services on iPhone, so why can’t Samsung promote its baby-cheek-smooth integration of Google services? Sure, reliable contact- and calendar-syncing doesn’t sound as sexy as “Snapdragon 800 processor,” but it’s exactly what jaded iOS users are looking for.

Samsung shouldn’t hide Android’s simplest, most elegant advantages. It should go back to the basics, and remind us why it fell in love with Google in the first place.

3. Improve Design (Significantly)

Browse expert reviews for the S3 and S4, and you’ll find the Galaxy line’s “cheap, plasticky design” mentioned every time. For a company that admits it’s better at hardware than software, it’s ironic that it can’t seem to nail the physical feel of the device.

There’s some hope here. Rumor has it Samsung will improve the quality of the Galaxy’s plastic shell, or even offer a premium metal version alongside its base model. Still, I expect the improvements to be more reactionary than revolutionary. Reviewers will tick the “improved quality” box, but the Galaxy S5’s exterior architecture probably won’t win any headlines. The iPhone and HTC One not only feel premium, they make stylistic statements—the sort of innovative construction that earns new customers.

As a leading smartphone manufacturer, Samsung should release a handset as beautiful as it is technically advanced. I’d love to be proven wrong, but for the S5? I don’t see it.

4. Focus On Real-World Battery Life

Samsung’s always gone big with power: Rumors point to a massive 3,200 mAh battery and possibly, new “rapid charging” technology. No doubt, Samsung will boast record-breaking talk time and days upon days of standby time, based on “stringent tests” in the lab (read: Wi-Fi off, airplane mode, display dimmed). The problem is that these numbers rarely translate to real-world use. The average consumer jacks up the brightness, watches HD Sochi videos over LTE, and wouldn’t know how to find a power saving settings screen if his Candy Crush Saga high score depended on it.

If the S5 manages to hold a charge about as long as its competitors, that will be an achievement, given that the screen must power 3,686,400 separate pixels (approximately five times as many as on an iPhone). But consumers won’t know that. When grandma is nursing 3% battery life at four in the afternoon, she won’t care how technically impressive Samsung’s display technology is—she’ll wish she had a few more hours of juice.

The 560 PPI headline will likely net Samsung a few more sales from enthusiasts, but at the cost of thousands more everyday users who don’t want to bother charging the device every night.

Samsung has the potential to make the best all-around smartphone on the market, but its priorities still aren’t in the right place. Oh well: at least we’ll get those pastries.

This article was written for TIME by Ben Taylor of FindTheBest. Check out Taylor’s past columns here.

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