NEW YORK (
Samsung's Galaxy S5 is coming! Samsung's Galaxy S5 is coming! But will it arrive on time?
More than one Korean source is reporting Samsung is having problems making enough new camera modules to meet worldwide demand for a promised launch date of April 11.
Samsung announced its new flagship Android phone on Feb. 25. At the time it said the GS5 would have lots of nifty features including Google's (GOOG - Get Report) Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) OS, a 5.1-inch, 1080p, 2560 by 1440 (432 pixels/inch) Super AMOLED touchscreen, a 2.5 GHz Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon 801 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a super, 16 megapixel camera on the back.
The camera seems to be threatening Samsung's deadlines. According to ETNews, the company is having a yield problem. It seems not enough "acceptable" camera lenses are being produced to meet what Samsung believes will be number needed at launch.
The Web site reported that Samsung's 16 million pixel camera module lens is created by combining six-pieces of plastic parts -- one more piece than the existing 13 megapixel camera lens. Exact alignment of all those tiny parts is essential in making a proper camera. Get it wrong and the optical distortion will be very obvious the the user. Adding additional lens elements makes perfect alignment even more difficult.
In today's super-heated smartphone marketplace, size is everything. Even though the actual number of plastic injection parts is constantly being increased, overall module thickness must be kept the same to keep ahead of the competition. So creating a slimmer smartphone means camera module thickness must actually be reduced despite the additional complexity.
Current Samsung production lines are reportedly yielding somewhere in the 20% to 30% range of acceptable new camera modules. That means overall production plans may not meet Samsung's plans for the upcoming worldwide launch, which may force the company to roll out the new smartphone on a region-by-region basis.
At the beginning of the month, another Korean news site reported Samsung also was having problems producing enough biometrics modules for inclusion in its upcoming flagship model. The new modules' fingerprint-scanners will reportedly go a few steps further than what is included in Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 5s.
The Galaxy S5 will allow users to use a fingerprint swipe to unlock their phones, open specific folders and complete mobile payment transactions.
Samsung has reportedly hired a third-party company, Circletec, to help with the biometrics module production.
AT&T (T), Sprint (S), affiliates Boost and Virgin Mobile, T-Mobile (TMUS) and subsidiary Metro PCS as well as Verizon (VZ) are among the U.S. carriers that have announced plans to market the Galaxy S 5 as soon as it's ready for release.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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