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Galaxy S5 Camera Problem: Samsung Eats Crow

Just one day after releasing an ad touting the GS5's camera over the iPhone's, Samsung must replace some devices due to faulty cameras.

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There's something to be said for karma. In a commercial on April 24, Samsung compared the iPhone's camera unfavorably to that of the Galaxy S5. On April 25, word broke that Galaxy S5 owners are being forced to return or exchange the GS5 due to camera problems. That's gotta sting, Samsung.

Most of the 60-second ad (below) boasts about the GS5's features, such as the 5.1-inch HD screen, water resistance, and, of course, the camera. Comparing two images side by side -- one taken with the GS5 and the other with the iPhone -- Samsung says the GS5 "snaps photos with twice the resolution of the iPhone." That is correct -- the GS5 features a 16-megapixel camera, while the iPhone 5s has an 8-megapixel camera.

But, as most photographers will tell you, megapixels aren't everything when it comes to cameras. A multitude of factors play a role in creating a good image, including the sensor, the size of the pixels, focus, the lens elements, image processing, and so on. Samsung didn't lie in its commercial, but choosing only one aspect of the camera for comparison certainly isn't telling the whole story. (Technically, Samsung could say the GS5 takes photos with four times the resolution of the HTC One, which has a 4-Ultrapixel camera.)

[Want more on Samsung's latest smartphone? Read Samsung Galaxy S5: My First Week.]

Just 24 hours later, Samsung had egg on its face. Galaxy S5 owners are reporting problems with the camera. Support forums indicate users are seeing an error message, after which the camera crashes and cannot be reopened. The rest of the device functions fine, but once the error hits the camera app, it cannot be fixed. Restarting or resetting the Galaxy S5 does not resolve the problem.

"Samsung is committed to providing the best experience for customers," the company said in a statement issued Friday. "We have learned that a limited number of Galaxy S5 devices may have an issue that causes 'Camera Failure' pop-up error message. We ask that customers affected visit their carrier for service under Samsung's standard limited warranty." Owners of defective Galaxy S5s can exchange them for new handsets at their carrier store. The return/exchange should be fairly straightforward, since most units have been in the market for less than 30 days. The devices in question were distributed mostly in the US and Canada.

"We have discovered that the issue has been seen in a very limited portion of early production Galaxy S5 units," Samsung explained Monday, "and was caused by complications in the ROM (Read Only Memory) component which stores the information necessary to operate the camera." Samsung did not say how many units were involved, and it did its best to downplay the issue.

Have you experienced a problem with the GS5's camera? Let us know.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
4/28/2014 | 3:10:06 PM
Re: Samsung nipped problem in the bud
This is yet another reminder not to be the first in line to buy a new product. Every hardware maker has issues at some point and they tend to surface when new models are introduced. Wait for v2.0 if you can or a least for a month or so.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/28/2014 | 2:42:00 PM
Re: Samsung nipped problem in the bud
By trading one defective phone for another? They need to do the responsible thing and initiate a recall until it gets sorted out. Relaunch later.
Shane M. O'Neill
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
4/28/2014 | 2:29:15 PM
Samsung nipped problem in the bud
I'm eyeballing the S5 as my next phone. But even though this is a significant camera glitch, it doesn't hold me back because Samsung came clean quickly and is offering trade-ins for defected phones.
IW Pick
User Rank: Apprentice
4/28/2014 | 2:10:35 PM
Hold up there, Apple Fan boy.
If we are going to compare Apples and Galaxy, lets do it with some justice.  

Samsung Identified the issue, and immediately said, return the phone, we will give you a new one.

Compare that response to Anntenna Gate!  "You are holding the phone wrong!"  "Come get your free bumper"  NOT, come get a new phone!

I will take the former response compared to the later!



User Rank: Apprentice
4/28/2014 | 1:43:27 PM
Yeah and Apple is doing the same thing for their home button. A bigger issue i'd say.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/28/2014 | 1:23:17 PM
Where are these issues?
My Verizon S5 has had no problems, save the cover of the USB port falling off (fixed with super glue).


The only thing I noticed with the camera is that it's a VAST improvement on the S3's -- quality (BUT NOT CONTROL) on par with newer dedicated PnS cameras. Where exactly are these "issues" occurring?
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