Samsung's Galaxy S5 boasts a variety of new features, but does it have what it takes to prevent users from jumping back on the Apple bandwagon when the next generation iPhone with a potentially larger-screen is launched?
The new flagship Android smartphone is being rolled out worldwide on Friday amid an increasingly tough environment for smartphone makers as the industry moves toward commoditization.
The phone's stand-out features are its ability to survive when submerged in water, or to act as a heart-rate monitor for personal-fitness tracking. There is also a fingerprint scanner for biometric screen locking – a feature introduced by Apple in its iPhone 5S last year.
The design of the device, however, has left much to be desired, say market watchers. The phone, which is a tad bigger, thicker, and heavier than its predecessor, is essentially made from plastic and has a dimpled faux leather exterior, which some say doesn't look or feel "premium."
"I was expecting more in terms of the industrial design, but I think Samsung has done a better job in presenting a differentiating experience with the S5 than it did with the S4," Wayne Lam, senior analyst, wireless communications at IHS told CNBC.
"With features like the heart-rate monitor, Samsung is aiming to make the device almost like an active lifestyle companion. It speaks to Samsung's broader ambitions of being a lifestyle brand," he noted.
Kiranjeet Kaur, senior market analyst at IDC says while the new features are positive, they are not "ground breaking."
"We still have to see what new positive additions come to iPhones later this year. As per rumors, it is going to be a larger screen phone. So between the new features of Galaxy S5 and a larger screen 'iPhone 6', my guess is that larger screen iPhone would grab more eyeballs," she said.
Apple's next generation iPhone, set for release by September/October, is rumored to sport a 4.7-inch display – notably larger than the iPhone 5's 4-inch display, but a touch smaller than the Galaxy S5's 5.1 inch screen.
Tom Kang, research director at Counterpoint Research says if Apple delivers on a bigger screen iPhone, Samsung's latest offering may not be a convincing enough proposition for users.
"The Apple brand is very strong. A third of android users who previously owned an iPhone switched because of screen size. If the screen size problem is solved, they are most likely to go back," he said.
Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group added, "If Apple significantly updates the design of the iPhone it could leave this latest Samsung phone in the dust."
Samsung, like all other smartphone manufactures, faces the grand challenge of consumer upgrade fatigue. With devices nowadays offering incremental improvements compared with previous models, users are less inclined to break their mobile contract to upgrade to a newer device.
In order to deal with such pressures, Samsung appears to be pricing the Galaxy S5 lower than its predecessor S4, according to Kang, who has collected pre-order prices for the device from around the world.
"It reflects the trend of smart phone commoditization – Samsung will have to learn to create profits at a lower price point," Kang said.
Earlier this week, Samsung said it's on track to post its second straight quarter of profit decline, as slowing smartphone sales growth continued to weigh on earnings.
The South Korean tech giant estimated that its January-March operating profit fell by 4.3 percent to 8.4 trillion won, slightly below an average forecast of 8.5 trillion won, according to Reuters.