Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) archrival Samsung (SSNLF.PK) finally unveiled its highly-anticipated Galaxy S5 smartphone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today, reports Apple Insider. As was suggested by the many rumors that circulated before its release, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 features a fingerprint scanner embedded under the home button. However, unlike Apple’s iPhone 5S Touch ID sensor that requires that the user press their entire fingertip down, Samsung’s device features a narrower sensor that works by having the user swipe their fingertip across it.
Although Apple was obviously ahead of Samsung with its iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner, Samsung may have beaten its rival in the race to create a smartphone coupled with a wearable tech device that offers health-monitoring features. As noted by Apple Insider, the Galaxy S5 includes a built-in heart rate monitor that detects a user’s pulse via a sensor on the rear casing. Samsung also preinstalled several health-monitoring applications on the Galaxy S5, including apps that keep track of a user’s exercise and eating habits. The health-monitoring apps can be further enhanced by a separate wrist-worn device called the Gear Fit.
Several industry watchers have speculated that Apple is developing an iWatch with health-monitoring capabilities that will operate as a peripheral device to the iPhone 6. According to insider sources cited by 9to5Mac, Apple first assembled a team of fitness and medical sensor experts last year in order to develop an iWatch or similar health-monitoring device. Other medical sensor expert hires made by Apple have also been confirmed. For example, earlier this month NetworkWorld discovered that Apple had hired Marcelo Lamego, a medical sensor expert who previously worked for a company that specialized in non-invasive medical technologies similar to the heart rate monitor used in Samsung’s Galaxy S5.
More recently, 9to5Mac reported that Apple’s next mobile operating system iteration, iOS 8, will include a health-monitoring app codenamed “Healthbook.” The health-monitoring iWatch rumors were further bolstered when the New York Times discovered last month that several Apple executives met with officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December to discuss “Mobile Medical Applications.”
Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone also includes several hardware innovations that may make users more comfortable about using this device while they exercise. Samsung has ditched the glossy plastic casing seen on previous iterations and replaced it with a dimpled texture rear casing that feels less slippery, reports The Verge. However, the Galaxy doesn’t just feel more rugged — it is more rugged. As noted by The Verge, the Galaxy S5 is water and dust resistant and can even withstand being put underwater for up to thirty minutes.
Besides the fingerprint scanner, health-monitoring technologies, and durability improvements, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 also includes several typical smartphone spec upgrades. The S5’s screen size has increased to 5.1 inches from the S4’s 5-inch screen size and the camera has been upgraded to 16-megapixels. According to Samsung, the battery life of the Galaxy S5 has been improved by 20 percent compared to the last generation smartphone. The Galaxy S5 also features a faster 2.5-gigahertz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM. Although Apple could soon top the Galaxy S5 with its upcoming iPhone 6, Samsung’s latest flagship device has definitely raised the ante in the two companies’ fierce smartphone rivalry. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is scheduled to become available in April.
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