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4/28/2014
12:20 PM
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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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Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
5/4/2014 | 9:34:55 PM
Re: Samsung Galaxy S5 Camera Failed on TMobile
Such kind of failure must be repaird and it's not something tolerable. Camera is one basic functionality of smartphone. A high-end product does not simple mean a bunch of new features and high price. The essential core is quality, quality and quality. 
GermanInTI
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GermanInTI,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/4/2014 | 1:39:01 AM
Re: Hold up there, Apple Fan boy.
How much Samsung pays you for cleaning up their mass on the net?

We discuss Samsung's failure not some bloody Apple's defect...

I have the camera failure problem and it is really not a good feeling paying a thousand and running behind the FK TMobile, please empathy but sure you still wont understand...
JasonK228
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JasonK228,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/29/2014 | 7:11:32 PM
Re: Hold up there, Apple Fan boy.
They were just "not so responsible" to me...not owning the problem and accused me of not knowing how to clear my camera cache.   Apparently, it matters what rep you get. 
JasonK228
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JasonK228,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/29/2014 | 7:10:29 PM
Samsung Rep DISAPPOINTED
After my dreaded "camera failed" message, I called Tmobile and they told me to call Samsung.  The Samsung Rep saod to clear my camera "cashay"...yeah, he really said it that way, and that it was a software issue.  After 1/2 hour of him talking to me like I was 5, he said he created a ticket and if the problem ever happens again, to call back.  This is BS...I NEVER had an Iphone camera issue.  Seriously disappointed.  If my Samsung camera crashes again, I'm going to be SERIOUSLY pissed...even more than now.  Horrible customer service.  He didn't even acknowledge it's a real problem.  Grrrrr!
JasonK228
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JasonK228,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/29/2014 | 6:23:48 PM
Samsung Galaxy S5 Camera Failed on TMobile
I got the "Camera  Failed" message.  I'm on the line with TMobile now.  Apparently, they've never heard of this issue.  Oh brother.  A reboot worked for me, but I shouldn't have to be dealing with defective cameras.  This is messed up. 
literacyisgood
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literacyisgood,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/28/2014 | 9:07:05 PM
Re: Hold up there, Apple Fan boy.
That's true.  And now some apple users are having trouble turning their phones on, due to problematic wake buttons.

And recently some apple users wiped their data because of some issues with the update to iOS allegedly bricking their device.

I'd much rather have a glitchy camera that will be fixed by a responsible company like Samsung.
literacyisgood
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literacyisgood,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/28/2014 | 9:03:06 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.

Oh, absolutely!  And apple should issue a recall for their sleep button problems!  I mean, you can at least use a phone with a glitchy camera.... you can't even use a phone that won't turn on.

Actually, no, I take that back.   Recalling these products is a massive overkill response, and over reaction.  No one's lives are endangered by these glitches.   If you phone is broken, bring it back and they will replace it.
ekholbrook
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ekholbrook,
User Rank: Strategist
4/28/2014 | 4:31:26 PM
Re: Where are these issues?
The images, yes, look better, but exactly how I wasn't totalyl sure at the end of the day. I took it out with me to my son's soccer game and basically came home and compared shots from this week and last week and you know what? The face was still too blurry from 50 yards away, it was grainy or blocky, the video was no better and I felt...  I don't know, let down somehow. 

 

The realtime HD mode was nice, but it tended to be blurry near the corners about 1/4 of the time (presumably where it merged the various exposures but while the center was ok, the alignment near the sides was not so great about 25% of the time).

Just like the ad, it has twice the resolution, but I just didn't see it in actual quality. Bigger, yeah, more pixels, yeah. But the "detail" to my eye looked weird. Blocky. Chunky. Almost like fake detail added in that the sensor "assumed" was there but really wasn't. I cannot explain it any better.

 

 
ekholbrook
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ekholbrook,
User Rank: Strategist
4/28/2014 | 4:24:32 PM
Owned the S5 all fo 3 days but
The problem from what I can tell was limited almost exclusively to Verizion which right there says that probably, just possible some bloatware verizon stuffed in the phone caused the glitch. 

I bought an S5 this past Friday. Coming from an S3 and iPhone 4s (and every iPhone) before that.

(side note: I thought the camera on the S3 was easily as good as the 4s, if not better)

Ok, S5: Camera was "ok", amazing to see images 5200 pixels across. But unfortunately much of the reason I upgraded to the S5 was blown up for several reasons

1) When actually viewing this image 1:1 the images appeared blocky, almost chunky in the fine details. Not blurry. Not noisy. Pixelated almost. Still, there was some decent detail, just not exactly what I was used to. 

2) Could not 95% of the photo modes to actually work. All the modes where it took several quick shots and then you could do cool stuff with them... nothing. Only option that ever came up was "best shot" or something. Ok fine. 3 days of trying everything, holding camera still, dog walking through, my kid jumping across the screen. Nuttin. Pissed me off.

3) Lens blur or whatever. Awful. Could only get to work 1/10th of the time, the other 9 times tooks nice photos, but kept tell me not enough contrast between foreground and background. About the only consistent time I could get it working was putting a cup about a foot from the lens, and shoot across the room. Pretty much nothing else worked. Outside, inside, upside, downside. 

4) 16gb internal storage. Ok, up to android 4.3, this was really no biggie, just plop in an external SD card and away you go with another 32 or 64gigs of space. 

With Android 4.4 you are dead. You are running like iOS where you cannot do ANYthing. It's like the external card is evil. Only 1 or two apps can write to it (the camera and the built in gallery). 

No quickpic, no file managers, nothing can copy to, delete from, etc etc, the external SD card. 

What is google thinking? Really. 

This last killed the phone for me. The only way do anything, filewise, on the external drive was, actually to plug in the cable to my PC and delete / move stuff. No more wifi, no more airdroid, no more dropsync, cheetah sync, quickpic, file manager. Nothing. It's iOS. 

I returned it, exchanged it for a 32gb Note3, and while I still have the same external SD writing issue, the internal SD card is fully writeable (which makes no logical security sense if that is Google's thinking -- block external SD where "stuff" is stored, allow fully writeable internal SD where presumably the OS and apps are stored). 

So I would highly recommend holding off on the S5 or ANY 16gb android device running 4.4. You will hate it. Google is shooting themself in the foot here and the only reason people aren't screaming yet is because 4.4 is just not widespread enough. Just wait. 

 

 
Thomas Claburn
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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.
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