BARCELONA, SPAIN—Forgot every rumor you've heard about the Samsung Galaxy S5. It doesn't come in two models, it's not really a new design, and it doesn't look like Touchwiz is changing anytime soon. At Samsung's "Unpacked 5" Mobile World Congress press event, we got a change to play with Samsung's newest flagship. Before they arrive by the truckload to your local smartphone purveyor, we figured we'd give you a sneak peek at the company's latest.
Have you seen a Galaxy S4? Good, then you're most of the way there. Before the launch of the Galaxy S5, Samsung blamed the lower-than-expected sales of the Galaxy S4 on the similar appearance between it and the Galaxy S3, but unless you flip the S5 over, the S4 and S5 are nearly identical. From the front the S5 is a clone of the S4, except it's a little bigger. The removable back is really the only place Samsung has made changes. The "brushed plastic" back of the S4 has been replaced with a weird "perforated" golf ball pattern. It doesn't really look any better in person than it does in pictures—it just seems strange and out-of-place on an electronic device. While the look of the back is new, on the materials front it's still the same old hard plastic. The public demo units got greasy really quickly.
Like the NotePro and TabPro, the Galaxy S5 switched the hardware button set from Menu, Home, and Back to Recent Apps, Home, and Back, which brings Samsung a little closer to the recommenced Google layout. The S5 got things backwards, but at least the menu button is finally dead.