Like a frog in a cooking pot, I didn't notice that rumors about the Samsung Galaxy S5 had really hit the boil until it was too late. But now, with steaming clouds of hearsay and a distinct aroma of scuttlebutt in the air, all that's left is to hope that the results will at least prove savory for the consumer. (Side note – can any readers tell me whether frog legs are any good? I'm curious, but also a little scared.)
The revelation, at CES, that the Galaxy S5 would be revealed in early spring seems to have been the tipping point, and the rumors have been flying thick and fast since then. PhoneArena says that the S5 will have an enhanced, fast-charging battery, which is a good thing because a widely circulated report from SamMobile says it has “confirmed” a power-hungry 2K (1440p) screen.
That particular report also says there will be a mini model (safe bet), camera-centric “zoom” model, a la the S4 (possibly), and – perhaps most interesting – says that the flagship model will be available in both a metal and a plastic version. That sounds vaguely familiar, for some reason.
None of this is certain, of course – Trusted Reviews quotes a Samsung executive, identified and on the record, as saying that “I don’t believe Samsung will go down the route of making a metal device just because other manufacturers are.” TR interprets that as a denial that they’ll do it at all, but I think it’s possible to read this as “we’re going to do it, but not just because other companies are.”
Either way, the internals ought to be pretty impressive - along the lines of 4GB RAM, powered by a 64-bit octa-core processor, depending on who you believe, though rumors of a 4K screen almost have to be groundless – a 2K screen’s already getting well into overkill territory for a 5-inch-odd screen – one would think that 4K would simply be too much added expense and power draw for minimal reward. Still, the 16MP camera with hardware image stabilization sounds very possible.
The upshot – right now, it looks as though the Samsung Galaxy S5 will be the most advanced Android phone on the market when it comes out, packing a bewildering array of features (some useful, some not), the most powerful hardware, and the latest version of Android. It’ll debut at some absurdly themed press extravaganza, if history is any guide, probably sometime in March, and go on sale the next month. All of this, of course, will change when the next batch of rumors goes public next week.
It’s tempting to lump the background radiation about a possible Nokia-designed Android device in with the other hardy perennials of the Android handset world, like the Facebook and Amazon phones – it’d be interesting for a number of reasons, we periodically hear rumors about it, it never ever happens.
Whether or not the phone is a real project, you’ve got to admit that Normandy is a great name for a first foray into new territory.
Being in PR for Google Glass must be a tough gig – while the now-famous headware is an inarguably impressive piece of kit, it’s also the butt of a not-inconsiderable amount of humor:
What’s more, it’s also become a lightning rod for much more serious backlash over privacy, with businesses banning them from their premises and commentators of various stripes decrying Glass as fundamentally intrusive and uncivilized. (NSFW, though more efficient, language.)
Given that, it seems like Glass’ PR people have a full-time job already. So when news broke recently about a facial recognition app called NameTag that attempts to pull up subjects’ online dating profiles and cross reference them with the National Sex Offender Registry, I can imagine that their reaction wasn’t one of amused detachment.
As the addendum to the article notes, Google is at great pains to emphasize that their developer policy bans apps that use facial recognition technology “at this time.” NameTag’s creator says he will bring the app to a different platform if Google’s policy doesn’t change.
At the distant opposite end of the privacy spectrum, this week also saw the public debut of Blackphone – a joint project of hardware startup Geeksphone and encrypted communications provider Silent Circle that promises to protect your privacy against the numerous governmental, commercial and criminal threats to it.
Seems like a great idea. It is, however, probably not the best idea to characterize the problem of digital privacy as “enslavement” – as Blackphone does in its promotional video - when there is, you know, actual slavery still happening in the world.
That aside – the principle of building encryption for phone calls, SMS, video calls and file transfers into the basic DNA of a modern smartphone sounds like a good one. But there are huge questions hanging over the product, including the absence of any hardware specs, pricing or a release date, and whether or not customers will have to pay additional subscription fees for Silent Circle’s encryption services. Hopefully, full answers are forthcoming at the Mobile World Congress, where the Blackphone is set to be officially unveiled. Maybe with some marketing that isn’t stupid and offensive.
Email Jon Gold at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.