April 10, 2014

Are you getting the real Galaxy S5 ? [ The latest flagship smartphone by Samsung ]

The latest flagship "Galaxy S" series smartphone by Samsung will be releasing worldwide tomorrow. It was first announced at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) held in Barcelona this February.

Different variants of the device are being released in different markets of the World. The criterion for different hardware choices is only known to Samsung; mainly connected with marketing and pricing.

The variant announced for India on March 27 is based on a Exynos octa-core processor. Samsung likes to call the chipset as Adonis Prime2 which contains a 1.9 GHz A15 Quad-core + 1.3 GHz A7 Quad-core + Intel XMM6360 Modem. So the SoC is equivalent of the Exynos 5420 found on Samsung Note 3. We will discuss more on that.

Meanwhile the Indian variant has some popular features missing compared to the Global Snapdragon 801 2.5 GHz processor based variant. Some say it's unfair. Is it?

Exynos variant (SM-G900H) - What's missing when compared to Snapdragon variant ?

1. No LTE available

The variant SM-G900H sold in India has no LTE modem, while the Snapdragon variants like SM-G900F have LTE Cat 4 (150/50 Mbps).

Samsung justifies the omission of the LTE capability, citing the non-availability of LTE networks in India. Although India has some TDD-LTE band 40 networks, but not many smartphones unlike the example of iPhone 5S/5C support it.

Instead the Indian Galaxy S5 has a Intel XMM6360 modem for 4G (HSPA+ 42Mbps). The modem also supports EDGE and MIMO support.

2. 64 GB microSD slot instead of 128 GB slot

The Exynos variant available in India will be having 64 GB microSD slot when compared to 128 GB available on the global Snapdragon variant.

While this will be mostly no issue for users who don't use memory cards beyond 64 GB, some may like to take it as a pride issue considering the hefty price for the phone in India. 

3. Download Booster (LTE + WiFi)

Samsung has included a feature named Download Booster in the Snapdragon variant. The idea is to reduce download times when one has to download a large file urgently. It works by utilizing both LTE and WiFi channels to download a file faster, which is really innovative feature.

Since the Exynos variant for India doesn't have LTE, this feature may not available in the same context. But whether it combines the available 4G (HSPA+) with WiFi to achieve such a boost is not yet clear.

The Snapdragon variant is known to have a new WiFi feature called 2x2 MIMO; Which basically means the phone uses 2-antennas and 2 WiFi streams of radio waves to download faster. Adding to that the WiFi (ac) standard on the phone makes it a lot faster compared to other smartphones.

Although the Samsung India website doesn't mention the MIMO feature exclusively, some teardowns of the Exynos device have revealed a Broadcom BCM4354 chip which supports 2x2 MIMO.

What's good and exclusive to the Exynos variant ?

1. Audio Processor by Wolfson

The Indian variant of the Galaxy S5 has the latest audio processor by Wolfson Microelectronics. The audio SoC is WM5110E, which is a Quad-core HD audio processor with low-power capabilities and Ambient noise-cancellation (ANC) and Acoustic-echo cancellation (AEC).  

The WM5110 also supports Studio-Master HD sound and can playback 24 Bit/192 KHz audio files.

It is specifically designed for "always-listening" voice command activation, to the likes seen in a device like the Motorola Moto X. This is possible due to it's low-power capabilities which doesn't tax the phone's battery.

2. Octa-Core processor with HMP

The Exynos 5420 processor with the big.LITTLE HMP configuration enables the operating system to utilize all the 8 physical cores at the same time. HMP stands for Heterogeneous Multiprocessing. In this model, tasks with high computational intensity are handled by the BIG cores, i.e the Quad 1.9 GHz A15 while the less intensive process like background tasks are handled by the LITTLE cores, i.e the quad 1.3 GHz A7. Also the A7 cores are designed to save power.

[Note that theoretically it's is possible to upgrade a non-HMP Octa core processor (eg.non-HMP Exynos 5420 to HMP processor via software ]

Some benchmark test results conducted by GSMArena indicate that the Exynos variant Galaxy S5 performs better than the Snapdragon variant. But these days such tests cannot be fully relied upon when the manufacturers itself admit to cheating on benchmark scores.

But still the combo of 1.9 GHz (4-core) + 1.3 Ghz (4-core) in HMP configuration can be expected to perform better than the Snapdragon 2.5 GHz 4-core in number crunching and graphics handling. Note that real-life experiences for users is somewhat subjective matter and can deviate from benchmark scores.  

The Samsung Galaxy S5 [ Exynos variant SM-G900H ] will be go on sale on April 11 at an MRP of Rs.54,300. The unlocked Snapdragon variant is available for less than USD 700.

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