Samsung revs up for Galaxy S 5 launch, at Mobile World Congress Barcelona

It looks like Samsung's bringing the big guns to Catalonia

It's getting close to official Samsung's going to roll out the Galaxy S 5 on Monday, Feb. 24 in Barcelona, kicking off this year's Mobile World Congress with a bang.

Invites to the upcoming "Unpacked" event went out earlier this week, and Samsung isn't trying very hard to keep things obscure there's a superscript No. 5 right there on the invite. Note also that Samsung was nice enough to specify that this is "episode 1", which leaves the door open for events heralding the 976,031 other devices the company will no doubt release in 2014.

At any rate the notable thing here is that this doesn't fit Samsung's pattern for this type of major release. Last year's Galaxy S 4 launch was a stand-alone event, which meant that Samsung didn't have to share the stage with the raft of competitors that will be present at MWC. (It was also, as I will probably never tire of pointing out, farcically embarrassing, and The New York Times says that Samsung's planning to do a much less over-the-top presentation this time around.) There are usually rumuors about major launches at big shows like CES and MWC, but the past few years haven't seen many truly top-flight releases at those events.

This time, however, it looks like Samsung's bringing the big guns to Catalonia and it may have the stage effectively all to itself, given the paucity of rumours about other major releases scheduled for the show.

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So what do we know about what the Galaxy S 5 is actually going to look like? Not much is certain, of course, but most of the more reputable peddlers of information and gossip seem to be suggesting that it'll be more of an incremental upgrade over the Galaxy S 4 rather than a revolutionary new device. I'm leaning toward skepticism on rumors of 1440p screens and eye tracking, belief on tales of fingerprint scanners, and who the heck knows on scuttlebutt about a possible metal (rather than plastic) design.

It'll probably cost around $US200 with a new contract, and I'd imagine it'll be available on every major U.S. carrier, possibly around May, if TIME's Jared Newman is to be believed.

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The one thing that does seem pretty clear is that Samsung will beat HTC to market once again, with the well-known EVLeaks Twitter account pegging the release date for the HTC M8 for late March.

HTC has the odd problem of being better at the actual design of its products than it is at anything else, like marketing, dealing with the carriers and naming stuff, which has meant that it's essentially an also-ran next to Samsung. (Although who isn't, at this point?) I predict that the M8 will be a superb device that will nevertheless struggle because of some combination of the following factors:

Like the HTC One, in other words which garnered a ton of dazzling reviews and editor's choice awards, and sold like an Edsel.

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So while HTC will probably miss out on the chance to make a big splash at MWC, recently-Lenovofied Motorola has extended an intriguing invite to an event the day after the Galaxy S 5 launch. According to Android Authority, however, it's unlikely that Moto is planning to release anything at the event, saying that it's more probably a chance for CEO Dennis Woodside to talk up the acquisition and hint at future plans.

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Ex-Motorola owners Google aren't departing the hardware world completely, with rumors of an Android smartwatch continuing to percolate. Digital Trends has an in-depth roundup, the upshot of which is that we can look for a ton of Google Now integration and handy features like wireless charging. You know, if it's real, and if Motorola didn't snag it on its way out the door.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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