Read our full Samsung Galaxy Alpha review.
The Galaxy S5 is an excellent handset, but Samsung may release an upgraded version soon. A KGI analyst predicted that there would not only be a Galaxy S5 “Standard,” but also a Galaxy S5 “Prime” too. The Galaxy S5 Prime would be more powerful than its sibling, though it has yet to materialize in any meaningful way. However, rumors of the device’s existence and impending announcement continue to spread.
Updated on 07-14-2014 by Andy Boxall: The Galaxy F, now referred to as the Galaxy Alpha, may launch in September.
Uncertainty surrounds the name, will it be the Prime?
While we’ve been referring to the higher spec phone as the Galaxy S5 Prime, there’s no indication this name will stick when (and if) it ever goes on sale. Other reports have said the phone is known internally as Project K, or alternatively, Project KQ. While this could be another codename, it’s interesting to note Samsung called its Galaxy S4 Zoom replacement the Galaxy K Zoom.
There’s also the chance the S5 Prime is linked to the long-standing rumor of a metal-bodied Galaxy F, which is also now connected to a phone known as the Galaxy Alpha. Three names, one phone? We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
When will Samsung release the phone and how much will it cost?
Early reports in the Korean media said Samsung was aiming for a June announcement, but this turned out not to be the case. A later report from Korea indicated the S5 Prime would start its “interoperability” tests the week beginning May 5. These tests are essential to ensuring it’s ready for sale, and it’s estimated they would take one to two months to complete, making a late summer announcement sound possible.
In mid-July, another Korean news report said Samsung has an August date set aside for the Galaxy Alpha (which could be the Galaxy F), all ready for a September release when it can battle Apple’s incoming iPhone 6.
On the subject of price, on May 12, a news report published by Korean website Naver said the S5 Prime would cost the equivalent of $880. This is around the same full retail price of the Galaxy S5, so expect it to be slightly cheaper once it reaches stores. On the same day, an advert for the S5 Prime showed up online in Hong Kong, where it was priced at around $650.
Will it be Samsung’s first Galaxy with a metal body?
The Galaxy S5 Prime, or whatever it’ll be called, will reportedly be a premium version of the current Galaxy S5, encased in a metal body rather than the plastic Samsung usually opts for its handsets. We’ve been hearing about Samsung’s plans to introduce a phone not made of plastic for a while, and the rumors were previously linked to the Galaxy F.
Early images of the handset were sent to PhoneArena.com, and reportedly showed the Galaxy S5 Prime, however, it featured a decidedly plastic back and metal (faux metal?) trim along the sides. According to the trusted source, the handset was undergoing testing, so it may not have been the final design.
Interestingly, Sam Mobile’s Faryaab Sheikh confirmed the images, saying his source confirmed the pictures. However, while the source confirmed the device existed, he could not confirm that it was the Galaxy S5 Prime or a member of the Galaxy S line of smartphones. In fact, Sheikh believes it’s the Galaxy Alpha. The last incarnation of the Alpha was the Galaxy S3 Alpha, a beefed-up version of the Galaxy S3.
At the beginning of June, phone leaker @evleaks published an image of a phone which may, or may not, be the S5 Prime. Actually listed as the Galaxy F, the accompanying tweet didn’t instill us with much confidence, saying “Another alleged image of the supposed Galaxy F.” The Prime and the F have been linked together since the rumors began, and are potentially one and the same.
The phone in the picture has a familiar shape, but the rear panel looks like it’s made from brushed metal, which extends all the way around the phone’s edges. There’s a chance it’s not actually metal, but rather plastic that looks like metal, a trick LG has recently pulled with the G3. Like the standard Galaxy S5, there appears to be a heart rate monitor next to the camera’s LED flash on the rear panel.
At the end of June, @evleaks came up with another image. It shows a phone which is identical to the one seen in the first picture, but with the display showing a different date below the time. This time, we’re seeing the entire phone, again highlighting the camera lens, heart rate monitor, and what could be a metal body. It’s a render, rather than a photo of the real thing, so there’s still something “fake” about the rear panel. Like the first leak, the phone is named the Galaxy F.
Just before the second @evleaks image was published, PhoneArena.com posted another selection of photos, claiming they showed the Samsung Galaxy F. Unlike the site’s early images, what’s interesting is the phone’s rear panel resembles the above render, rather than the Galaxy S5’s perforated panel seen before. It’s still not clear whether the S5 Prime and the Galaxy F are one and the same, but it’s rapidly beginning to look that way.
Screen production issues may limit release
The Galaxy S5 Prime may be quite difficult to come by, should it finally make it on sale. According to an anonymous source inside Samsung, the company is going to produce the phone in limited quantities, mainly due to how much it costs to produce the AMOLED 1440p screens likely to be fitted to it. This strategy reminds us of Samsung’s decision to not release the Galaxy Round outside South Korea, so we should prepare ourselves for a similar situation to arise with the S5 Prime.
How about the S5 Prime’s spec list?
Spotted on Indian import site Zauba, a posted manifest reveals four SM-G906K – believed to be the S5 Prime’s model number – units as having been shipped from South Korea for “R&D purposes.” The handset was also spotted on a list of devices supported by Olleh TV, an on-demand video service run by KT Corporation, the largest South Korean carrier. Unfortunately, it was taken down almost instantly, though some users were able to get a screenshot of the listing.
The image accompanying the listing is a Galaxy S5 covered in a Spigen case, so the name could simply be a placeholder. In addition, Android Authority pointed out that, based on Samsung’s precedent, the “K” at the end of the model name would signify a version of the handset for KT Corporation.
We’ve also seen a similarly-named version of the handset, the SM-G906S, at GFXBench. Having since been taken down, the test revealed the main hardware for the latter version of the handset.
Galaxy S5 Prime specs:
- 5.2-inch 2560 x 1440 display
- 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor
- Adreno 420 GPU
- 3GB of RAM
- 32GB of storage
- 16-megapixel camera
- 2-megapixel front-facing camera
- Android 4.4.2 KitKat
Unfortunately, other than the device’s model number, the import site doesn’t reveal much else. Keep in mind that this kind of movement is routine for companies that test handsets with different carrier specifications, so it might not be indicative of a forthcoming release.
An anonymous source chatting to the Korean media has also discussed the phone’s specification. A 5.2-inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel display is once again mentioned, along with a hint Samsung will follow its usual strategy of releasing region-specific hardware. This often relates only to the processor, and it’s suggested the Korean version will use Samsung’s own, brand new octa-core Exynos 5430 chip.
The Hong Kong online retailer where an early advert for the Prime was spotted also published a short spec list. These included a 5.1-inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel screen, a Snapdragon 805 processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 16-megapixel camera. The model number for the phone was the SM-G906S, which has been linked to the S5 Prime several times.
Other possible features include a co-processor for managing audio encoding, decoding, and equalization, plus the introduction of Intel LTE chip on the international model.
Whether the mysterious phone makes its way to market as an LG G3 challenger, or if the components and design end up being used on a future Samsung device such as the Galaxy Note 4 is still an unknown. Samsung’s Mobile supremo J.K. Shin said in an interview there was “no such thing” as a premium version of the Galaxy S5, but confirmed the Galaxy Note 4 would arrive later in the year. Of course, this doesn’t mean Samsung won’t introduce another high-end range of Galaxy devices.
Whatever happens with the S5 Prime, we’ll keep updating you on the rumors as they appear. Past updates to this article are detailed below.
Updated on 07-02-2014 by Andy Boxall: Two more images supposedly showing the Galaxy F have been leaked, complete with an S5-like design and possibly, a metal body shell.
Updated on 06-04-2014 by Andy Boxall: Another image, this time a press-style render, supposedly showing the Galaxy S5 Prime has been leaked. This time through the @evleaks Twitter account.
Updated on 05-19-2014 by Williams Pelegrin: Alleged pictures of the handset have cropped up. As such, take them with a grain of salt
Updated on 5-14-2014 by Andy Boxall: More rumors have appeared indicating the S5 Prime will launch soon, plus there is talk of how much the phone will cost.
Updated on 5-12-2014 by Williams Pelegrin: The Galaxy S5 Prime was seemingly spotted as a listing on a website, though not much else
Updated on 05-06-2014 by Andy Boxall: Reports say Samsung is readying the S5 Prime for its final tests ahead of announcement, but add that it may have a limited release once it does go on sale.