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Samsung Galaxy S5 is a Glam iPhone Killer [Hands on]

It’s that time of year again – Samsung is officially trotting out this year’s upgrade to their ultra-popular smartphone. The Galaxy S5 is coming April 11, and the changes are – well, they’re significant in some respects, but also pretty minimal in some ways. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, right?

At 5.1”, the S5 is a little (and I mean a little) bigger, with pretty much the same 1080p Super AMOLED display. One place of improvement is the camera – it’s now a 16 MP camera with phase detection auto-focus, selective focus mode, and real-time high dynamic range preview mode, so you can figure out whether or not you want to use that feature before taking a picture. It also features Quick Connect, which allows you to share files quickly over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi Direct, the last one using the phone’s Wi-Fi radio to establish a direct connection to another device. There’s a fingerprint sensor for security (of course, can’t lose that arms race), as well as support for mobile wallets and secure password protection for PayPal, making the phone a safe and secure mobile payments device.

Under the hood, the Samsung Galaxy S5 features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with integrated LTE, along with a broad set of features from Qualcomm Technologies. To that effect, Connectivity has been tweaked to make 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connections even faster. The S5 is also optimized for all of the latest LTE networks in the United States across all carriers, and is the first smartphone yet to have 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO support, doubling upload and download speeds. Again, minor tweaks on paper, but they should amount to pretty significant changes when you’re actually using the device in comparison to the S4.

Samsung is also using the S5 and the new smartwatches coming out this year to push into the realm of fitness tracking. S Health is an app that you can use to record workout and diet information, and with the help of one of Samsung’s smartwatches, basic fitness data like steps taken and distance traveled. As for your heart rate, the S5 can monitor that all on its own with the use of a sensor located near the rear-facing camera.

Design-wise, the S5 hasn’t changed much. It’s still plastic, still has the same basic shape – again, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. That said, the battery case on the back now has a dimpled, textured surface, for better grip in case you’re one of the few who doesn’t slap a case on your smartphone as soon as you take it out of the box.

Speaking of cases, there are plenty of accessories to be found with the S5, including a Wallet Case, the S View Flip Cover, Wireless Charging Covers and Wireless Charging S View Flip Covers. The phone itself will come in black or white, and is set for a global release on April 11. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is coming to all of the major carriers in the United States – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, and MetroPCS. We don’t know about the price just yet.