NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Today is the day Samsung smartphone fans have been waiting for. The Galaxy S5, the company's newest flagship device, is being released worldwide. The big question is how it matches-up with some of the other leading superphones on the market - including HTC's One (M8) and Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone 5S.
The Galaxy S5 is larger, faster and more powerful than any of Samsung's previous top-of-the-line models. The phone sports a new 5.1-inch, 1080p, 2560 by 1440 (432 pixels/inch) Super AMOLED display, a beefy 2.5 GHz Qualcomm ( QCOM) Snapdragon 801 processor, 2 GB of RAM, Google's ( GOOG) Android 4.4.2 OS and a 16 megapixel camera on the back.
New S5 is also dust and water resistant and has a larger rechargeable battery. It includes an "Ultra Power Saving" mode that changes the screen to black-and-white and turns off "unnecessary" features when battery power is very low.
Reviews of pre-release samples has been mostly quite positive. PC Magazine calls the Galaxy S5 "America's best-performing smartphone, bringing excellent voice quality, a terrific camera, speedy performance, and the best screen we've seen on a handheld yet." Stuff says it's "The most feature-packed phone on the planet" and Laptop Magazine says the new phone "combines a near-perfect display, powerful camera and unique fitness features in a water-resistant design."
In person, the S5 is slightly - and I mean very slightly larger than last year's S4. Unless you hold both phones next to each other they look and feel quite similar. What first struck me is the handset's perceived low weight. The S5 is a lot lighter than it looks and lighter than the rival iPhone 5S or the new HTC One (M8). The new display really is beautiful.
On the other hand, there are some interesting tear down test results just published by Anandtech.com. The testers compared the Galaxy S5 to a number of high-end smartphones including the iPhone 5S, HTC One (M8), LG G2, Sony ( SNE) Xperia Z1S and older Galaxy S4, Google Nexus 5 and HTC One (M7).
The published results were nothing for Samsung to brag about. The new Galaxy S5 came out on top in only two of the 39 tests that Anandtech performed. The latest HTC One (M8) surpassed the new Samsung phone in a number of the tests. (You can read our review of HTC's One M8 here.) But, Apple's iPhone 5S came out as the big winner in the exhaustive testing sweeping the competition in most categories.
Today is also international release day for Samsung's new matching smartwatches. The Galaxy Gear 2 and the Gear 2 Neo both look a lot like the first-generation of Galaxy smartwatch. 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 with 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. It's interesting to note that all three new watches are powered by Samsung's open-source Tizen operating system and not Android.
We plan to have our full reviews of the new Galaxy devices next week.
Written by Gary Krakow in New York.
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