A newer, faster Samsung Galaxy S5 model, which includes a number of updated specifications, just went on sale in South Korea but is not likely to be released in the U.S. anytime soon.
The newly announced Galaxy S5 LTE-A by Samsung Electronics Co. (KRX:005930) appears to be the long-rumored Galaxy S5 model to feature a QHD (2560 x 1440 resolution) display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset and 3GB of RAM, all features that consumers had vainly hoped would be announced in the original Galaxy S5.
Following the February announcement of the Galaxy S5, rumors about a device called the “Samsung Galaxy S5 Prime” circulated quickly. We predicted in May that the Galaxy S5 Prime, now confirmed as the Galaxy S5 LTE-A, would probably not be available in the U.S, and this assumption appears to be accurate. The Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE-A will launch exclusively in South Korea. While an exclusive launch does not mean that Galaxy S5 LTE-A won’t be available in other markets at some point, here’s why consumers should not expect the device to be released in the U.S.
U.S. Doesn’t Have the Proper LTE-A Technology
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chipset, which powers the Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE-A, makes the device compatible with the latest LTE-Advanced mobile networks. The LTE-A mobile communication standard connects electronic devices to the Internet wirelessly at faster speeds than most common networks allow, and with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 the Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE-A supports upload and download speeds of up to 300 megabits per second (Mbps).
The Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE-A will make its debut on the South Korean carrier SK Telecom, which supports maximum LTE-A data speeds of 225 megabits per second. But LTE speeds around the world still average only about 75 megabits per second. A few U.S. carriers, such as Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and T-Mobile US Inc. (NYSE:TMUS), have begun experimenting with LTE-A speeds, but the protocol is still far from a nationwide standard.
Previous LTE-A Models Weren't Released in the U.S.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE-A is the second device of its kind. Samsung launched the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A model in June 2013, following the April 2013 announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S4 LTE-A was the first device compatible with LTE-A networks, which then supported data speeds of up to 150 megabits per second. The Galaxy S4 LTE-A first launched in South Korea, but also became available in European countries such as Sweden and Germany. The Galaxy S4 LTE-A was not released in the U.S. because American mobile carriers do not have established LTE-A networks like some Asian and European countries.
Samsung’s LTE-A Models Are Prototypes of Sorts
The limited release of the Galaxy S4 LTE-A and now the Galaxy S5 LTE-A indicates that Samsung is using certain markets to test the viability of such devices. Consumers can likely expect to see the new features introduced on the Samsung Galaxy S5 LTE-A to be included in future Galaxy flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S6. Notably, LTE-A with 150 megabits per second speeds now comes standard on the Samsung Galaxy S5 after the Galaxy S4 LTE-A proved successful overseas and more mobile networks began adopting LTE-A connectivity.