Samsung Australia last night turned on a huge, glitzy party at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) to launch its new Galaxy S5 smartphone, with which it believes it can capture a bigger share of the Aussie mobile market – as well as three watch-like wearable devices for which it sees a promising future Down Under.
The S5, which replaces the current Galaxy S4, will be available in Australia from April 11 via all three of Australia’s major telcos, as well as direct from Samsung.
The new phone is priced at an eyebrow-raising A$929, if bought outright, rather than on a monthly plan.
Vodafone last night said it would offer the S5 on a $60-a-month plan with 3GB included data, double the usual 1.5GB.
Telstra will also market the Gear Fit – a $249 slender wrist-wearable device with a curved screen that links with a growing number of Samsung devices to measure footsteps, energy consumption and heart rate – all of which can be checked with a flick of the wrist.
Two other Samsung wearables, the $369 Gear 2 and $249 Gear 2 Neo smartwatches, which can tell the time and relay incoming phone messages, e-mail notifications and alerts, will be available at “selected” outlets and online.
(Unlike the first Gear products which worked only with Samsung’s Note 3 “phablet” when released late last year, the new range will connect to a wide range of Galaxy products, including the S4, CDN was told.)
Back at the MCA, Samsung was turning on a major show, introduced by four taiko-style drummers, then switching to a welcome by new CEO Jack Kwon – and with former Apple marketing whiz Arno Lenior, now Samsung’s chief marketing officer, showing flair and stagecraft as he demonstrated the S5’s many new features.
These include a new fingerprint recognition system which can be used to log on, to record your heart rate by planting your pinkie on a sensor on the back cover and checking the “s-health” personal fitness app – or to authenticate PayPal payments on the spot in some Aussie stores.
Westpac and CBA customers would be able to enjoy mobile “tap and pay” systems, Samsung said.
For beachgoers, Samsung boasts that the S5 is sand and water “resistant” – bury it briefly in the sand or drop it into up to a metre of water, and the thing will keep on working. Samsung employees on the MCA floor kindly dunked working S5s into a tank of water and rolled them in beach sand to prove this to any doubters.
A star turn on stage came from Olympic bronze medal winner and world champ Alex “Chumpy” Pullin, who confided that a Samsung Note 3 snuggled into his pocket had allowed him to film his training, correct errors, and keep track of his fitness and eating habits.
The hundreds of guests each left the MCA with a note from Jack Kwon promising them the future provision of an S5, with a “personalised introduction by a Samsung expert tailored to your specific lifestyle”.