NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Although a steady stream of advanced leaks made the announcement slightly less intriguing, Samsung has taken the wraps off its fifth-generation flagship smartphone as well as three new "smartwatches."
At a flashy presentation at the Mobile World Congress industry show in Barcelona, Samsung introduced the upcoming Galaxy S5 handset, the Galaxy Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit wrist computers.
As you might expect, the new Galaxy S5 is larger, faster and more powerful than any of Samsung's previous models. The phone sports a new 5.1-inch, 1080p, 2560 by 1440 (432 pixels/inch) Super AMOLED display, a 2.5 GHz Qualcomm (QCOM) Snapdragon 801 processor, 2 GB of RAM, Google's (GOOG) Android 4.4.2 (KitKat) OS and a 16 megapixel rear camera.
The new S5 is also dust- and water-resistant, has a larger battery and includes a pretty cool new "Ultra Power Saving" mode that turns the screen to black-and-white and turns off "unnecessary" features (not voice calling or texting) when the remaining battery reserve is very low.
Basically, these are the specifications and improvements that one would expect in a yearly refresh. But, to differentiate the S5 from competitors like Sony's (SNE) new S2 and the Google/LG Nexus 5, Samsung has included two interesting new features (new for Samsung anyway): fingerprint scanning and recognition to lock/unlock the phone and a built-in heart rate sensor with associated "S Health" fitness tracker software.
Of course, to go with the new fitness app, Samsung thinks you need a fitness device on your wrist as well. That's how its new smartwatches fit into the overall picture.
The Galaxy Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo both look a lot like Samsung's first foray into the smartwatch category last year. Both have a 1.63-inch (320 by 320 pixels) display and a dual-core, 1.0 GHz processor. The 2.0 MP camera has been moved from the strap to the actual watch body. The Gear 2 can also function as a standalone music player device.
The Galaxy Gear Fit is an all new, horizontal wristband design which, at first glance, seems to take some styling cues from rival Pebble's smartwatches. While all three new designs can function as health monitors, you can tell by the name that the Fit is the model that Samsung is targeting as its premier activity sensing device.
Fit has a curved, 1.8-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen,, Bluetooth 4.0, a timer, a stopwatch, heart rate and sleep monitors and can also receive notifications from your phone. On the other hand, Fit does not have a speaker or a camera. It would add too much to the size and weight.
All three new Gear watches run on Samsung's new Tizen operating system and not Android. Amazingly, it's hard to tell a difference. Samsung said the new watches all deliver superior battery life capable of two days of power on a charge rather that the first-generation one (if you were lucky).
All of Samsung's new devices will be released in early April in nearly 150 countries around the globe. Prices for all the new products are still to be announced.
-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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