Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Led to This Executive Swap



For a phone that wouldn’t seem to have anything truly, unquestionably wrong with it, the Samsung (SSNLF.PK) Galaxy S5 was apparently problematic enough for one major player in the design of the phone to offer his resignation from the company. According to CNET, Samsung’s head of mobile design, Chang Dong-hoon, relinquished his position after the less-than-warm critical reception of the Galaxy S5.

Though Samsung has quickly and capably risen to prominence in the smartphone marketplace, taking the top spot globally for device sales, the warm love many reserve for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) products isn’t always as easily earned for Samsung devices. The Galaxy S5 was no exception. The device was reported to have flown off shelves at twice the rate of the Galaxy S4 on its first day at market according to CNET, but it was apparently not because of any style or feature upgrades.

Both CNET and TechCrunch reported that the Galaxy S5 criticized over its styling, which wasn’t majorly different from its predecessor except that it included a dimpled plastic rear panel of which many were not fans. A clunky fingerprint scanner that required a rather precise vertical swipe as well as a heartbeat sensor that will probably not come in handy for many users are among the other added features that may have helped the phone as bullet points on a spec sheet but hurt the device when it came to how useful or handy they were in practice.

It’s not as if everything was wrong with the Galaxy S5. It actually had a number of solid features. With NFC, infrared, WiFi, 4G LTE, a dual-connection download booster, and USB 3.0, it’s still a connectivity workhorse. With a 432ppi touchscreen and a 16-megapixel camera reportedly capable of shooting 4K video as well as a preview mode for High-Dynamic-Range photography, it also has strength in visual quality and content. Its reduced bloatware, hardware upgrades, and battery saving mode that can stretch 10 percent battery life out for several hours also make it that much more capable than its predecessors.

Nonetheless, the S5 got hit by criticism, and Chang gave up his position. But that’s not where it ends for him, as rather than leaving the company — though he offered to —  he was moved to become “Head of Design Strategy Team, the company’s corporate design center which is responsible for long-term design strategy across all of the Samsung Electronics’ businesses, including Mobile Communications,” according to Samsung’s statement received by CNET. So, Chang appears to be seeing more responsibility for design within the company, and that may not be a bad move.

Though the Galaxy S5 was at the wrong end of some criticism, Samsung hasn’t stopped being a highly successful player in the mobile market. Samsung’s earnings report for the first quarter of 2014 showed year-on-year increases in sales, gross profit, and net profit. And the enhanced debut of the Galaxy S5 probably didn’t help Apple decrease the gap in sales between it and Samsung, which TechCrunch reported grew in the fourth quarter of 2013. Of course, both Apple and Samsung have to worry about some of the until-now smaller competitors starting to encroach on their market shares as developing markets get on the smartphone bandwagon.

Filling in for Chang in his former position will be his former vice president, Lee Min-Hyouk, reports CNET. Having already been fundamentally involved in the design of many of Samsung’s smartphones, it can be expected that his taking over won’t result in any dramatic changes for the smartphones lines.

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