Samsung’s Galaxy S5 inches up in size, scans fingers, focuses faster

The Galaxy S series has been a huge success for Samsung, tallying more 200 million units sold, according to company president and CEO JK Shin. Samsung expects those numbers to rise with the Galaxy S5, the latest iteration of the flagship phone, unveiled at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday.

The Galaxy S5 retains some of what has made its predecessors so popular. Most notably, it looks almost identical to the S4, just slightly larger, measuring 5.1 inches across instead of 5. A Super AMOLED screen with 1080p display takes up the majority of the face of the device. New to the Galaxy S5 is an updated home key complete with fingerprint scanning, built into the button rather than the screen, that can be used to unlock the device or verify online purchases. (Apple fanatics are typing their snark about the fingerprint scanner so fast that their keyboards are smoking.)

Though Samsung talked about the importance of design, it didn’t make a whole lot of changes to the S5. It did add waterproofing, and the Galaxy S5 is IP67-rated for water and dust resistance, meaning it can be submerged in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Other than that, the Galaxy S5 will look familiar to anyone who has seen or had a Galaxy S device. Perhaps the familiarity plays to Samsung’s advantage.

Mobile World Congress 2014 has already shown a trend toward improving smartphone cameras, and Samsung’s Galaxy S5 was no different. The latest model includes Phase Detection Auto Focus, an advanced form of auto focus – usually found in DSLRs – that helps focus faster. Samsung claims this as a first for a smartphone camera. Other photo features include: Real-time High Dynamic Range (HDR); Selective Focus Mode, for blurring parts of the picture; “Shot and More Mode,” for after-shot recommendations to make a better photo; and an effects studio.

Samsung ‘s Galaxy S5 is also the first of the Samsung lineup to get the S Health suite, including the “world’s first” built-in heart rate monitor, a nutrition guide and tracker, and a fitness log. Many of these tools mirror popular fitness and health apps, but Samsung hopes people will choose to remain within the Samsung ecosystem.

If you’re not one for running, you can also get your speed thrills with the Galaxy S5 without moving. Samsung insists the Galaxy S5 is optimized to get the most out of 4G LTE. It’s also the first smartphone with Wi-Fi MIMO support, which Samsung claims will “provide up to twice the download speeds for faster browsing and streaming.”

Samsung knows it doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel with the Galaxy S5 thanks to the success of the Galaxy S line. It’s added enough improvements to make the Galaxy S5 interesting, if not all that innovative. The Samsung Galaxy S5 has been confirmed by AT&T and Sprint. It will be available on the Sprint network in April 2014.