I’ve had the Samsung Galaxy S5 now for around 2 weeks – enough time to put it through its paces and see if it can keep up and hopefully improve my productivity. Yes, it’s an upgrade from the S4, but not a huge one. There are three things I really love about the S5 : performance boost due to hefty new 2.5GHz quadcore processor, IP67 which means that rain or pools or toilets won’t kill it and the improved battery life.
I’ll go into more detail about the Galaxy S5 below.
Whilst there may have been disappointment around the lack of change of the S5’s overall appearance to the S4, I believe Samsung have stayed with the same formula because they think it’s the winning one. From a distance, the devices appear exactly the same but when you look closer you’ll see that the S5 has a slightly larger screen (0.1″ larger at 5.1) and is 0.1mm thicker and 15g heavier. Even though, in general the S5 is larger than the S4, you can hardly feel the difference.
The major aesthetic change has been the replacement of the glossy back cover with a perforated polycarbonate design. While not ground breaking innovation, the new dimpled back does provide for better grip of the S5.
Samsung should consider a glass or metal backing in the S6 to give it the premium look and feel that Apple and HTC have adopted. The Samsung Galaxy S5 doesn’t feel like a cheap device, but when you compare it to the iPhone 5S and HTC One M8, it does appear to be the cut-price model.
The Heart Beat Monitor that itself had no heart beat
The new heart beat monitor will appeal to those who are concerned about their health and fitness. Located underneath the camera, the monitor checks your heart beat through measuring light and frequency as you press your finger on the camera flash area. Unfortunately I was not able to get this to work at all and obviously don’t think much of it. Whoever was testing this at Samsung needs a new job, not related to testing technology.
Fingerprint Security Reader works
Samsung have also incorporated a finger print scanner that unlocks the phone by sliding a finger (can store up to three fingerprints) – this is different from Apple’s fingerprint reader which is simpler to use as you just have to tap and not slide. From testing out both side by side, Apple’s was better at detecting fingerprints and you could store up to five fingerprints.
S5 is ready for a swim!
The last main change that Samsung have introduced is an IP67 rating for the S5. This means that the device is fully dust proof and can be submerged in up to 1 metre of water. Because of this, the USB charge port is now waterproofed and has a cover. I like the idea of the S5 surviving a rainy day or an accidental drop in the toilet (I’ve never ever done this with any smartphone to date). The IP67 rating is also handy when wanting to capture some fun moments in the pool.
For those with Google accounts, setting up a new Android device is mostly a breeze – Mail, Contacts and Calendars sync seamlessly on the S5. For the iOS convert though, things can get a bit confusing. For one, there are two AppStores : Google PlayStore and Samsung AppStore. The latter features proprietary Samsung apps made especially for Samsung accessories like the Samsung Gear Fit (which I am currently reviewing). Other points of confusion to those new to Samsungs and Android are there are also two voice commands, (Google Now and Samsung S Voice), two browsers (default Internet browser and Google Chrome) and two mail apps (default mail app and Gmail). Whilst these don’t critically impede use of the Samsung Galaxy S5 on a daily basis, it is annoying.
I’ve sent this feedback to Samsung a few times, and I hope, soon in a software release or at least with the S6, they will consider user experience over trying to one-up Google in a space that they just cannot win.
Samsung please provide ONE best app and function to reduce confusion and frustration.
Samsung have bumped up it’s lithium ion battery from 2600mAh on the S4 to 2800mah on the S5. Combined with Google Android Kitkat and Samsung’s new TouchWiz interface, you can really notice the increased battery time. With the S4, I’d be able to get a full day’s worth of life. With the S5 however, the battery lasts for almost one day and a half. Big big win for people who are on the road and do most of their business online.
Phone Call Quality
Call quality on the S5 is good with my friends and family saying that they could hear me loud and clear.
While the megapixels on the camera has been increased from 13 megapixels to 16 megapixels on the S5, I still believe that Samsung could do better in this area. My biggest gripe with the S5 camera is that it still doesn’t perform that well in lowlight conditions where photos appear slightly dull with a green tinge.
Here’s an example and comparison against the iPhone 5S:
— Arnold Aranez (@mr_gadget) April 21, 2014
Despite the above, in daylight, the Samsung Galaxy S5 does take sharp vibrant photos. The S5 also comes with a swag of manual controls to get the shot closer to what you really want. You can controls settings for:
- Burst shooting
- Face Detection
- ISO (up to 800)
- Tap to take pics
- Selective focus
The camera also features 5 shooting modes : Auto, Beauty face for portratis, Shot & more for action, Panorama, Virtual tour and Dual camera. For those who crave good bokeh, you can get some bokeh fix by using the selective focus feature. Take note that this is not actual lens depth of field but software generated. Good if you dont’ have your DSLR handy.
In terms of video, the S5 can record full HD videos (1920 x 1080) and handy options like limiting the size of MMS, slow motion, fast motion and smooth motion. There is also stabilisation available.
With a 2.5Ghz quadcore Qualcomm chip under the hood, how can the Samsung Galaxy S5 not be fast? Apps start up instantaneously and there is just about zero lag when switching between apps. The only thing that I saw takes more than 1 or 2 secs was the software depth of field function (selective focus) on the camera. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is one of the fastest Androids on the market, although some web experts are hinting that the S5 could even be faster if the TouchWiz UI was optimised more. http://www.anandtech.com/show/7903/samsung-galaxy-s-5-review/7 I agree. As mentioned above, I think Samsung would face less criticism if they just launched their phones with vanilla Android.
What I like about the Samsung Galaxy S5:
- IP67 dustproof and waterproof rating
- Fingerprint unlock function
- New grippier back
- Blazing fast 2.5Ghz Quadcore Qualcomm processor
- Expandable memory to 128GB microSD
- 5.1″ HD AMOLED screen
- One-handed use function
- Upsized 2800mAh battery from 2600mAh on S4. Lasts for more than a day!
- Ultra Power Saving Mode – allows the battery to last for more than 10 days
What can be improved on the Samsung Galaxy S5:
- Camera for lowlight conditions
- Rationalisation of apps such as browser, mail, photo viewer, App stores and voice commands. Having two of each (one from Google and one from Samsung) is annoying and confusing to new users
- Placement of the power button on the top right hand side which is where I hold the device all the time
- Metal curved styling around the device seems dated
- No default flashlight app
- No default stocks app
- Turning on Airplane mode takes 4 touches – it should be on the top shortcut menu
- Only 3 fingerprints can be stored – should be able to store minimum of 4 to cover both thumbs and pointer fingers
- Heart beat monitor does not as intended
Summary of the Samsung Galaxy S5 Review:
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is only a slight upgrade from the S4. There aren’t massive improvements except for performance and battery. I’m especially impressed with the new Ultra Power Saving function – who can say no to a smartphone that lasts for more than 10 days on one charge?! (limited functions though) I am still frustrated by Google and Samsung battling eachother on my Galaxy screen, especially when I’m actually trying to be productive and fast – having two apps for some of the main functions instead of one doesn’t lend itself to great user experience. Please, one surrender! My preferred S5 would have vanilla Android running it and not TouchWiz which clearly does not have the same performance and tuning resources building it like Google has.
Mr.Gadget Rating: 8/10