A Quick History of the Galaxy S Series: From the Galaxy S to S5
Since the release of the Samsung Galaxy S in June 2010, the critically-acclaimed series of Android-based smartphone handsets have undoubtedly increased in popularity.
The first Galaxy S device sold little over 24 million units while the Galaxy S III, which was released nearly two years later, sold over 60 million units – a number which has yet to be surpassed by the more recent Galaxy S4 and S5 devices.
It isn’t difficult to grasp the acclaim of Samsung’s flagship handsets, as by 2012, many iPhone users were growing weary of the lack of innovation taking place in Apple devices. Meanwhile, Android seemed like a competent and more open, customizable platform, allowing for certain freedoms that were, and still are, restricted by Apple.
While the first Galaxy S device wasn’t exactly an iPhone-killer, it wasn’t really intended to be. Rather, Samsung was enlightened to see that the smartphone was sold out during its first weekend on sale in Singapore.
The Galaxy S-Series Smartphones
Throughout the near-four years that the Galaxy S devices have been on the market, much more than just the size has increased. Mobile processors have gone from incompetent to lightning fast in just a few years.
The 5-megapixel camera featured in the original Galaxy S was “good for a phone camera”, but the 16-megapixel camera featured in the new Galaxy S5 is almost unbelievable. And most notably, the display resolution is now mind-blowing.
The original Samsung Galaxy S featured a 480 x 800p Super AMOLED display. At that time, television manufacturers were still trying to push 1080p televisions to the market, with the cost being much more of a concern for the display type than it is now.
Just four years later, the Galaxy S5 now features a full 1080 x 1920p high-definition Super AMOLED 5.1-inch display.
The Galaxy S: The Beginning of Something Beautiful
It all began with an Android 2.3.6 “Gingerbread”-powered slate with a single-core 1 GHz CPU and a 200 MHz PowerVR SGX 540 GPU.
The Samsung Galaxy S initially launched in Singapore on June 4th, 2010 and the positive reception began when CNET Asia gave the Galaxy S an 8.4/10 in their review. At the time, the Galaxy S was being compared to other Android smartphones such as the HTC Desire, the Sony Xperia X10, and the Nexus One from Google and HTC, and to Apple’s iPhone 4. TIME even listed it as #2 in its Top 10 Gadgets of 2010 column, with the 1st-generation iPad deservedly taking first place.
Samsung was breaking new ground in the smartphone space, presumably without even realizing it.
The Galaxy S2: “Vivid. Fast. Slim”
While many variants of the Galaxy S were released routinely, none compared to the more powerful Samsung Galaxy S II.
“Vivid. Fast. Slim.” was Samsung’s slogan to the handset that would succeed the original Galaxy S, and boy was it accurate. The Galaxy S II packed beautifully vivid colors on its WVGA Super AMOLED Plus display in collaboration with its sharp 8-megapixel rear camera and 1080p video recording support.
It even had a blazing fast 1.2 GHz dual-core processor.
The Galaxy S II would go on to sell 40 million units, a huge improvement over the 25 million original Galaxy S units sold, though much of this change was likely due to marketing improvements.
The Galaxy S3: The iPhone Killer?
Then, in 2013, Samsung shipped the Galaxy S III, which would go on to sell more than 60 million units, perhaps a reflection of the iPhone burnout many consumers were facing at the time.
The Galaxy S III featured a faster 1.4 GHz quad-core processor, which varied based on carrier, and even increased the screen size by half an inch. The 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display would boast a 720 x 1280p resolution, increasing the pixel density from the 218 pixels-per-inch featured on the Galaxy S II to 306 ppi – an undeniably vast improvement.
The Galaxy S III shipped with Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, which many tech enthusiasts consider to be the first great Android update. This new LTE-wielding Android slate was, to many tech commentators, the “iPhone killer”, and is arguably the cause of Samsung’s exceptional reputation in the smartphone market today.
The Galaxy S4: Sweet Like a Jelly Bean, Hardcore Like a Kit-Kat
Following the S III, the Samsung Galaxy S4 was released on April 26th, 2013 and is usually recognized for its gesture controls and expanded ability to track eye movements. It was initially shipped running Android 4.2.2 “Jelly Bean” and has since added support for updates all the way up to Android 4.4.2 “KitKat”.
While it awoke to slightly softer sales than its predecessor, the Galaxy S4 has still sold over 40 million units. Although a few gimmicks were added, supplementing a full high-definition 1080 x 1920p screen, the Galaxy S4 mainly seemed like a more refined version of the S III.
The 1.6 GHz quad-core Cortex A-15 processor, however, was much quicker than the dual-core processor featured in the 4G LTE variant of the Galaxy S III.
The Galaxy S5: May Indicate a Burnout, But Still Really Cool
Most recently, the Galaxy S5 released to less than stellar reviews.
To many reviewers, it seemed more like a poor excuse to launch a slightly revised model just in time for the expected annual release window. The burnout, it seems, that iPhone users were beginning to encounter in 2012 has returned to haunt Samsung. Albeit, the company hasn’t released sales numbers for their latest handset due to only being on the market since April 11th, it’s safe to assume that Samsung won’t be seeing Galaxy S III numbers this time around.
While the Galaxy S5 does include an improved build quality, dust and water resistance, and a fingerprint reader similar to that which debuted its popularity on the iPhone 5S, it just wasn’t enough to retain critical interest.
With hope, as the Samsung Galaxy S smartphones continue to evolve, they do so in a remarkable manner rather than simply trying to arrive at that annual release window that every mobile handset manufacturer seems to obsess over these days. It will be interesting to see what Samsung offers next year, as depending on the amount of innovation emphasized in the upcoming product, the Galaxy S6 could either make or break Samsung’s prestige in the smartphone market.