Samsung is believed to be on the verge of releasing a premium version of the Galaxy S5, a device with iPhone users squarely in its crosshairs. Is a GS5 with a metal back capable of crushing the iPhone for good?
Prolific leaker @evleaks has posted an image to Twitter which he claims are a leaked press shot for the unannounced but heavily rumoured Samsung Galaxy F, aka the Galaxy S5 Prime. The image shows a familiar looking phone with a golden brushed-metal battery cover. The device is rumoured to have a QHD AMOLED screen (2560x1440) and improved CPU and 4G speeds.
But considering Samsung only just released the Galaxy S5, you’d be right to wonder why it would bother superseding its latest flagship phone. Will Samsung annoy its loyal fans and cannibalise its own GS5 sales with this newer model? Maybe, but it has a bigger fish in its sights.
Who in the world wants an S5 Prime?
Smartphones play a number of important roles in our lives. They are time-keepers, business tools, entertainers and our central contact hub with the rest of the world. For many of us, they are also key status symbols — and it is here where Samsung struggles to impress next to Apple’s iPhone.
Take for example data visualisations pulled together by MapBox, which show Twitter activity by platform across cities in the U.S. If you zoom in on Manhattan in New York, you’ll notice that CBD is rich with iPhone users, while tweets from Android devices dominate the poorer surrounding suburbs.
A similar pattern is seen in less wealthy places too. A scan of Indonesia also shows pockets of iPhone use in the major cities, but Android use across regional areas of the country.
There is also this (rather small) survey by Pew Research Center which shows that iPhone users tend to have higher educational qualifications and live in a home with a higher household income.
The takeaway for Samsung is that people with higher incomes are still choosing an Apple over a Samsung, despite the meteoric success of the Galaxy phone range and the numerous technical advantages these phones have over an iPhone.
So, can it kill the iPhone?
Back in the days after Apple announced the first iPhone, the term ‘iPhone killer’ became a popular buzz term on tech sites. Every new device with a touchscreen and an MP3 player earned the title for a short while — time enough for sales to prove that said device wasn’t the iPhone killer after all.
Samsung’s use of metal and a super high-resolution screen suggest it is hoping to do what no other company has managed to successfully do before — be the phone in the pockets of people who rely on their iPhones for boosts in social status.
Unfortunately for Samsung, toppling the perception that iPhone is the top choice for the rich and famous is going to take more than a metal back and upgraded specs — just ask HTC. In fact, ask Nokia too, who owned the premium phone market in the pre-smartphone era with phones like the 8800 Arte and the Vertu phone brand (which it has since sold off).
To win this war, Samsung will need to back its premium phone with some very clever marketing — something much better than this effort for the Galaxy Gear. It will need strong carrier support too, but more than anything it needs iPhone users to feel left out in the cold with their current phones and in need of an upgrade to something new.
This will certainly be an uphill battle.