SEOUL: The latest version of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy smartphone went on sale worldwide Friday, days after the electronics giant announced it was facing a second consecutive quarter of profit decline.
The Galaxy S5 has a lot riding on it to steer the South Korean firm’s profit-making machine back on track as growth in smartphone sales slows, with mature markets like North America and Europe near saturation.
Reviews of the S5 have mostly concluded that it is one of the best high-end smartphones on the market, but there is also a general consensus that it lacks the “wow” factor needed to differentiate it from its predecessors and competitors.
“It can swim, but it won’t make any waves,” was the verdict of the Wall Street Journal, referring to one innovation in the S5’s waterproof covering.
“The Galaxy S5 is a good phone. It earns an unreserved recommendation,” said the Washington Post.
“But the truth of the matter is that there’s really nothing here that’s worth breaking your contract to buy,” it added.
Samsung’s mobile unit has been the driving force behind the record profits of recent years, and it needs the S5 to perform well as a retort to doom-mongers who say the company lacks a clear strategy to flourish in an increasingly competitive, saturated market.
Samsung made more than 30 per cent of all smartphones sold in the world last year, nearly twice the share of its arch-rival Apple.
But on Tuesday, the company estimated its first quarter operating profit at 8.4 trillion won ($7.96 billion), marking a second straight year-on-year decline.
In a sign of the challenge the company faces, the S5 was priced lower at its commercial launch today than the previous S4 model.
Research firm IDC estimated the average selling price of smartphones will fall to $265 globally by 2017 from $337 in 2013 and $387 in 2012.