Samsung tells the Galaxy s5 design Story

Feel that plastic, the dimpled back and tight sealed water-resistant and durst proof smartphone. A lot of hard work and design decisions were made by the Samsung design team to come up with this final Galaxy s5 design. True fact, to most people now, smartphones are either iPhones or “a Galaxy”.

[signoff predefined=”Movie Review Signoff” icon=”icon-cog-alt”]Our major aims were usability, friendliness and a more humanistic design. We wanted something with a pleasing feel … and better grip. If we used metal, [we felt] the designs felt heavy and cold .But with plastic, the texture is warmer. We believe users will find [the device] both warmer and friendlier. This material was also the best at visually expressing volume, better at symbolizing our design concepts. -Senior Product Designer Dong Hun Kim [/signoff]

gs5interSamsung has always been criticized by most tech enthusiasts for using polycarbonate plastic materials on their flagship phones unlike HTC and Apple that have stuck to high-grade Aluminum, something we talked about in length in our in-depth review of the Galaxy s5. Speaking to Engadget Dong Hun Kim said that the Galaxy s5 is now a  fashion product, and that smartphones are no longer a cold slab of technology.


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When you put the Galaxy s3 and s4 side by side you would hardly find a difference in their physical designs, but there is something about the new Galaxy s5 that combines the design of the old Galaxy s2 and the Galaxy s4. Looks like Samsung went back to the basics at some point. This especially true when you turn the phone at its back, the Samsung Software Mr Wang designer goes on to say that:

[signoff predefined=”Movie Review Signoff” icon=”icon-cog-alt”]”It’s not as if one specific feature screams ‘back to basics.’ It’s the entire experience — you just feel it throughout. In the past, we’ve tended to put a lot of emphasis on fancy, showy features … things that you might only use once or twice a year, but here (in the GS5), there’s a new focus on core features [like the camera, the internet browser, sharing]. We made sure these worked better, worked well. That’s the spirit of going back to basics.”[/signoff]

The guy in-charge of the software development told Engadget that they had to refer a lot to the hardware design in order for the software to work but he also confesses some dirty design laundry saying that “At the start, we were like spies.” Desperate for a peek at more finalized hardware, when the designer finally got to see the hardware, the first impression was “fun” — but she was far more enthusiastic than it sounds when I write ‘fun’. Samsung clearly wants the Galaxy s5 users to feel the various textures and finishes within the user experience of the phone.


s5vaporThe senior colors material and finish (CMF) designer Hyejin Bang totally agreed with her counterpart saying the smartphone is something people are going to use and her while  team wanted to give the phone a metallic sheen, they also wanted to make sure it looks friendlier, softer. In what can be disputed by many, she surprisingly refereed to the final, tactile finish as lambskin, made to “give off a variety of finishes” in light.

Am wondering if this will sway all the Galaxy polycarbonate plastic haters. Of course this includes am still no sold on idea of passing off Plastic materials as premium on flagship smartphone.


Just like most companies there are always processes involved in making the final product using target audiences, that tell the company the most used features on their smartphones, Min Cho’s job — as director of product marketing explains that the number one purchase driver for people that bought Galaxy s4 was the viewing experience. It is clear people love giant screens and it’s also the number one reason people have left iOS to Android he explains. He also said it’s interesting to hear that Samsung’s research comes to a similar conclusion, and certainly explains the trend in ever-larger displays.


[signoff predefined=”Movie Review Signoff” icon=”icon-cog-alt”]”Samsung’s user research encompassed 3,000 Galaxy S4 users globally. With some participants, we followed them, 24 hours a day, for several days. they wanted to participate. A lot of people want to help to create new experiences — for themselves.”[/signoff]

Galaxy S5 design


If there is one thing Samsung has always been proud of was the numerous features they bundled into their phones. We noted in our review of the Galaxy s5 that the company is now pulling back on the unnecessary software fluff they had in the Galaxy s3 and s4 and I still think there is more room for improvement. It sounds like the design team got the feedback.s5sketchcam

“Prior to the GS5, our camera app used to have over 15 modes. Back then, we wanted to brag about it, but now we’ve identified what the majority of Galaxy phone users want,”  Samsung has stripped most of the garbage modes out and made them an optional separate download for the power users

The company admits that since the Galaxy s2, they have shifted from designing for techies to designing for a larger audiences the biggest of which are none technical. That’s probably one of the things Samsung has to balance. And with a wider range of customers, according to Wang, the team felt increasingly responsible to this (likely less vocal) segment.

Wang says that power users will always go the extra mile to find the hidden complicated functions. However, for older users, smartphone beginners or anyone with disabilities, the company knows they will use the phone differently. That’s where a lot of the software design and UX work has gone into, adding a new “easy mode” that scatters the screen with giant contact tiles, and a camera app that shows you how an HDR photo before and after it’s taken. If you look at gimmicks like the  heart rate monitor, that more for the layperson than the tech fan.

Samsung makes phones for almost all mobile OS platforms from Android, Windows Phone and Tizen. Cho says “The way we see it, this is only the beginning.”


[label]An adaptation from an Engadget Interview [/label]