Samsung Galaxy S5 review

Samsung, at the MWC 2014, held the ‘Unpacked 5’ event in which it came-up with one of the much-awaited smartphones of the year –the Galaxy S5. Well, it can be called an upgraded version of its predecessor –the GS4, but it still lacks some handy stuff.

Does the Samsung Galaxy S5 have enough strength to deal with its rivals? Let’s find out in the full review below.

PROS

  • Excellent display
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Removable battery and microSD card slot
  • Good camera

CONS

  • Poor and cheap design
  • Awful pics in low-light
  • Annoying TouchWiz UI
  • Not-so-handy heart-rate sensor

DESIGN

The Galaxy S5 comes in four colors- Charcoal Black, Shimmery White, Electric Blue and Copper Gold. Unlike the HTC One M8, its body is made of plastic, and thus feels cheap but lightweight in hands.

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The phone has a little-bit curved body, but not that much, if compared to the GS4. Its bezels are slightly bigger than that of its forerunner, but that doesn’t matter. Galaxy S5 is meant for single-handed use and I love the fact that my fingers can get from point of the screen to the other without stretching my hands.

On the front we have a Super AMOLED 5.1-inch display (we’ll talk about this later). An earpiece along with the sensors and a 2 MP front camera sit above the display. You will also find a Samsung branding below the earpiece.

Beneath the screen, you will find the usual home button with a shiny silver lining, a return key on the right and the app-switching (multi-tasking) key on the left. The replacement of the menu key (as found on the Galaxy S4, Note 3 and Samsung’s other devices) with the multi-tasking key is one of the most important changes Samsung did to the Galaxy S5. But still you can open the menu by holding the multi-tasking key for a few seconds.

The volume rockers sit on the left side of the device and the power/lock/un-lock button can be found on the right side.

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A 3.5 mm audio-jack, a secondary microphone and the Infrared blaster on the top.

The USB 3.0 port (covered by a flap –to resist water flow into the port) and the primary microphone at the bottom.

Now we come to the back. Actually, we thought that the GS5 would come with a faux-leather back as seen on the Note 3. But Samsung did a new thing. Galaxy S5 has a removable back cover which is totally covered with numerous tiny dimples. So, don’t expect the back cover to catch fingerprints or smudges, unlike the glossy back of the GS4.

You know that we’ve got the gold one, a.k.a. the ‘band-aid’ edition since the golden back cover along with the dimples, almost looks like a band-aid.

If you flip the back cover, you will see a lining running around the center of it. It certifies that the phone is IP67 certified –it means that the phone is dust resistant and can be immersed in water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.

We don’t know how, but the audio-jack is uncovered, but Samsung still calls the GS5 -water-resistant.

At the back, you will spot the 16 MP auto-focus camera and a heart-rate sensor along with the camera’s LED flash sits below the camera. Another Samsung branding can be noticed in the center. The main speaker is placed in the lower-left side.

DISPLAY

If we compare Samsung Galaxy S5’s display with that of the Galaxy S4, the GS4 wins. Here’s how.

Galaxy S5 –

  • 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display (1080 x 1920)
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 432 ppi (pixel density)

Galaxy S4 

  • 5.0-inch Super AMOLED display (1080 x 1920)
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 441 ppi (pixel density)

So, we can clearly see that GS4 has more ‘ppi’ than GS5 and more the pixel density, higher the picture clarity.

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But still, we have no issues with Galaxy S5’s display as it is very smooth and responsive, but the one thing that everyone wants to avoid is present –the fingerprint magnet.

USER INTERFACE

Samsung Galaxy S5 was one of the first phones to run on Android KitKat, the first one being Google’s Nexus 5. As always, GS5 also comes with Samsung’s completely customized TouchWiz UI.

The lock screen shows basic stuff like time, date, etc. and has a camera shortcut. It cannot be further customized but you can change its wallpaper.

When you unlock the phone, you can see the plain and simple icons. Primarily, you can scroll between 4 tabs –My Magazine, Home and two other tabs. You can disable My Magazine, if you don’t find it useful. Samsung could have added a feature like LG’s KnockOn, and then the GS5 would be lot better.

If you drag down the notification bar and then tap the gear icon (settings), you would be amazed and confused to see the loads of icons and you’ve to go a long way down to reach the bottom. These icons can be arranged in both grid and list form. We’d be happy if Samsung could arrange these things in a neat and simple way.

Some pre-loaded apps include the Google’s Chrome, YouTube, Drive and more. Samsung’s apps include SmartRemote, S Health, S Voice, etc. And yes, the Galaxy S5 comes with Google Now.

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“You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover”… So let’s see what the Samsung Galaxy S5 has for us under-the-hood.

UNDER-THE-HOOD

Samsung Galaxy S5 is available in two variants –with different processors, one is powered by Samsung’s Exynos chip and the other comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor. We’ve the Exynos version in hands, which is octa-core (quad-core -1.9 GHz + quad-core -1.3 GHz).

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The phone comes with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal memory which is expandable up to 128 GB. It is fueled by a 2800 mAh long-lasting battery which lasted for almost 8 hours (gaming + normal usage).

CAMERA

Galaxy S5 comes with a 16 MP primary camera with 0.3-sec auto-focus and LED flash. We’re happy with the camera as it takes great shots outdoors. We also love the Selective Focus feature in which you can blur a specific area (background or foreground).

When we used the camera indoors, where lighting was a little-bit low, the Galaxy S5 disappointed us, except when we used the flash along with it.

The Galaxy S5 can also shoot 4K videos. The video recorder also supports slow, fast and smooth motion.

FINGER-PRINT SCANNER

Samsung Galaxy S5’s home button has an interesting feature. It comes with an in-built finger-print scanner. When Apple’s iPhone 5s and HTC’s One Max became the first devices to come with finger-print scanning technology, we knew that GS5 would definitely come up with one.

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You can make the Galaxy S5 index three fingers –it can be any of your fingers or fingers of other people –like your family. To use the finger-print feature, you will have to use the Fingerprint Manager. Once you have setup, you are ready to go!

If your GS5 is locked, press the home button and swipe your registered finger from top to bottom (make sure your finger is straight). You can remove this feature if you find it as a waste (it’s primarily removed).

HEART-RATE SENSOR

Galaxy S5’s heart-rate sensor is a part of Samsung’s S Health app. To use this feature, first open the S Health app and fill out the necessary details. Finally you can see three apps –Pedometer, Exercise and Heart Rate. Tap on the Heart Rate icon and then place you finger on the sensor at the back (below the camera), keep still. Then the device will show the number of times you heart beats per minute (BPM).

I used the heart-rate sensor only two times. First time is showed 72 BPM -which is normal. The next time, it showed 61 BPM. I don’t know if my heart-rate changes so frequently, but whatever it is, I didn’t like this feature.

The Pedometer’s mechanism of calculating steps is actually funny. If you keep the GS5 in your pocket, it will surely shake (go up and down) -as you move. So, 1 shake = 1 step; you could actually prove it. Take out the phone from your pocket and shake it, shake it, shake it and see that you have traveled 3 steps!

WRAP UP

If you own a Samsung Galaxy S series smartphone and want to upgrade, the Galaxy S5 is definitely the best choice. You should definitely own the GS5 if you’re a fitness freak and if you’re wearing one of those Gear(s). If you’re a Samsung fan but don’t want a plastic phone like the GS5, then you should wait a while, a metal-successor to the flagship is coming (most likely) very soon.

By Anand Baburajan – Google+
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