The Samsung Galaxy S5 Is Already Obsolete

One of the big problems with the recent Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF  ) Galaxy S5 launch is that, from day 1, it was already being made obsolete by the rumors of the imminent launches of more premium variants. This is in stark contrast to longtime competitor Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) which launches its phone products on a fairly predictable yearly cadence, so customers never have to fear unwittingly buying a product that'll become obsolete in just a few months' time. 

This lack of Apple-like product launch predictability -- particularly after the Galaxy Tab Pro fiasco -- could be causing undue trepidation among Samsung's customer base and may be negatively impacting Galaxy S5 sales. 

The Galaxy S5 "Prime" rumors didn't help 
Ahead of the Galaxy S5 launch, there was rumor after rumor spread about the internal specifications, display resolution, and chassis material of that phone. Shortly after the S5 launched, a flurry of leaks surrounding a Galaxy S5 "Prime" -- which promised a higher resolution screen, faster internals, and a metal chassis -- began to hit the news en masse.

Of course, a phone with the rumored S5 "Prime" specifications (sans the metal chassis) was ultimately launched solely for the South Korean market (known as the Galaxy S5 LTE-Advanced). However, even before that phone went for sale, there were already rumblings of a premium Galaxy F phone.

The Galaxy F makes customers' brand-new Galaxy S5s seem obsolete
The alleged Galaxy F -- which rumors suggest will launch slightly ahead of the iPhone 6 -- is set to pack a 5.3-inch 2560x1440 display, a Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM  ) Snapdragon 805, and a metal chassis. Given that customers have now been inundated with these leaks and rumors, can you blame them for being hesitant to buy the Galaxy S5, even though the S5 is widely regarded as the best Android phone on the market today? 

Now, that's not to suggest the Galaxy S5 isn't selling well -- it's holding its own against the various Android offerings according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech -- but in some regions, like Great Britain, the freshly launched Galaxy S5 is still being outsold by Apple's relatively old iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s.

Could the Galaxy F help fend off the iPhone 6?
If Samsung really does launch a Galaxy F alongside the next generation Galaxy Note in a bid to fend off the next generation iPhones, the question will be whether this will be effective. Frankly, it's unlikely that people are buying iPhones over the Galaxy S5 because the iPhone has an aluminum chassis.

Whether Samsung sells a phone with a chassis made of metal, faux metal, plastic, or bamboo, the odds are good that most users are going to put that phone in a leather or plastic protective case anyway. The chassis/physical design of a phone, at least at this point given how mature this market is, is a second order effect to things like the strength of the marketing message, the performance, app ecosystem, and quality of the included software. 

Foolish bottom line
Though Samsung continues to be a mobile powerhouse and generates massive operating profit, it's starting to become clear that the race to try to displace Apple at the high end at all costs is taking its toll. Samsung is apparently shortening the life-cycles of its mobile devices and keeps trying to pack in feature after feature in a bid to compete.

While only time will tell, it's possible that the mere thought of the existence of a Galaxy F is taking an undue toll on Galaxy S5 sales. 

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Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (58)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2014, at 12:38 PM, wroboeye wrote:

    I am on my 3rd SamsungS5 in two months. Poor reception, lack of connectivity and delayed emails forced me to ask for two replacements from AT & T. I wasted a lot of time with AT & T while they read their little matrices trying to figure it out. I could use my Blackberry or my wife's I Phone right next to the Samsung S5 which read no network available. It created quite a problem when I was on call for hospital. Oh, they don't give you a new phone for either replacement and if you need the phone in 24-48 hours, you pay the overnight shipping. Is this another device from the Land of the Not Quite Right that rushes to create output that lacks in quality and workmanship?

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2014, at 4:38 PM, jaredb79 wrote:

    The title of this article sounds like a statement, a factual statement. After reading the article, I realize it's simply a title to grab your attention and not based on facts at all. How can you say the Galaxy S5 is obsolete based on rumors? Very poor writing, just relied on sensationalism.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2014, at 4:44 PM, ellenwood wrote:

    The fact of the matter is this column has come about making fun of naive women......fools for men they thought cared for them. And have sought to use their careers and affiliations to further to commit crimes.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2014, at 4:51 PM, ellenwood wrote:

    I was under the impression that the state and federal, judicial system was created to enforce people's rights. Not ,partake ,participate ,assist , conjure, derail, or harm a plaintiff. Does it matter because I'm asserting my rights?

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2014, at 5:02 PM, gwtx2 wrote:

    Love my S4.

  • Report this Comment On July 06, 2014, at 10:33 PM, tabascoz28 wrote:

    After rooting the s5, I will be keeping this thing for a while. I can use it for 2 days without worrying about a charge. If I just use it as a phone I can make it last for about 5 days. Yes 5. 5.3 might be too big for me as 5.1 is good enough. 4k screen doesn't impress me on a unit that small. Metal will be covered by rubber and plastic anyways. Root makes all the difference.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2014, at 2:00 AM, zippero wrote:

    With the Samsung CEO Lee Kun-hee apparently brain-damaged from his recent heart attack (no oxygen going to his brain for a minute or so), it's pretty clear Samsung's top execs are in panic mode and are flailing about trying to do the impossible, which is uncommoditize their already-commoditized Android smartphone line-up. In typical Korean fashion, not a single creative solution is being considered. The only thing they've set their minds to do is actually (I'm not joking) accelerate commoditization by starting price wars with all the new Chinese Android OEMs like Xiaomi, Lenovo, Huawei, etc. while adding a metal chassis to the Galaxy S5, as if hardware and not Samsung's weak ecosystem and overall quality were the reason the S5 was trailing the iPhone in the first place. Well, Korea Inc. is about to lose big-time against China Inc. and Apple, and this will be more interesting to watch than any World Cup final for sure. Finland's prime minister, Mr. Stubb, recently publicly blamed Steve Jobs for Finland's inability even at this late date to recover from the 2008 financial crisis, because the iPhone had destroyed Nokia. Well, S. Korea's president Park will soon be blaming China and Apple too for destroying S. Korea's economy by destroying Samsung, S. Korea's main money-maker.

  • Report this Comment On July 08, 2014, at 7:22 PM, 20kleagues wrote:

    Samsung has a lot of institutional pressure to make its own products "obsolete" because it is constantly innovating on the hardware end. Not only does Samsung do R&D on capacitative touchstreens, camera sensors, CPUs, and a slew of other component areas, but it typically manufactures its own components and has tight control over the supply chain. In other words, Samsung can afford to make its own products obsolete--because it is constantly coming up with new component technology and manufacturing it. Other companies would love to have Samsung's "problem". Interestingly, the key component in iPhones, A-series chips, were co-developed with Samsung and are sourced from Samsung plants. Companies like Apple that rely on other companies' tech can't simply turn on a dime and crank out a new product as trends change. Apple is trying to get away from Samsung--for starters, it will source its 20-nm wafers from Taiwan Semiconductor, which will bring a windfall to TSMC come Sept with the new iPhone launch, but it relies on so many companies for key components, like the Exmor camera sensor from Sony and touchscreen panels from Sharp. Thing is, while Apple does have strong control over its supply chain, companies like Samsung that both develop and manufacture their own stuff have even better control, and can introduce new products with key innovations as they see fit. Better to have your products become obsolete because of your own products, than because of other people's products.

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Ashraf Eassa

Ashraf Eassa is a technology specialist with The Motley Fool. He writes mostly about technology stocks, but is especially interested in anything related to chips -- the semiconductor kind, that is. Follow him on Twitter:

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