Samsung Galaxy S5 Review Scoring Summary
| Style & Handling
|Long lasting battery
|| Gimmicky heart rate monitor
|Useful fingerprint scanner
The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the best Galaxy yet and an all-round great phone. But Samsung really needs to sort its build quality out.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Full Review
Samsung’s Galaxy S range is so successful that the South Korean company could have probably just bumped the specs up and put a 5 on the end and the phone would have sold by the million.
Thankfully the company did a whole lot more than that though, packing in new features, changing the design and yes, also improving the specs. It was inevitable that the phone would sell well, but even with all these updates is it actually worth your money in the face of stiff competition from HTC and Sony? Read on to find out.
Let’s get the worst aspect of the Samsung Galaxy S5 out the way first: Its design. There was a time when a phone was expected to be plastic but those days are gone, at least when you’re talking about high end handsets. HTC, Apple and Sony have all switched to more premium materials and as a result their handsets really show up Samsung’s offerings.
The Galaxy S5 did little to remedy that. It’s still mostly plastic, albeit with a metallic edge. In Samsung’s defence it has at least freshened up the design. No longer is it inspired by nature, instead we get a slightly less rounded device with a perforated back cover. It looks and feels decent enough and stands out from other phones, both those by Samsung and competitors, but it’s still plastic and it pales in comparison to say the HTC One (M8).
It’s not all bad news though. At just 8.1mm thick the Galaxy S5 is fairly slim and it’s IP67 certified dust and water resistant, which makes it more durable than most competitors, aside from Sony, which started the waterproofing trend.
One area where the Galaxy S5 really isn’t lacking is power. With a 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB of RAM this thing really shines. It’s not really any more powerful than other top end handsets like the Sony Xperia Z2, but really it’s got more power than you’ll know what to do with.
As with any good flagship it’s also 4G enabled, so if you have a 4G contract you’ll be able to make use of blazing fast internet speeds even when there’s no Wi-Fi available, making a commute something that you’ll almost be able to look forward to, rather than a chore.
Samsung is still at the cutting edge of display technology and it shows in the Galaxy S5. Its 5.1 inch 1080 x 1920 Super AMOLED display has a pixel density of 432 pixels per inch, so it’s both big and sharp. But there’s more to it than that. It can be made incredibly bright and has very rich, vibrant colours that still for the most part look totally natural.
Better yet if you don’t like the balance it strikes you can change it through a variety of display settings which alter the contrast and brightness. Arguably this is the best phone screen we’ve ever seen and even if it’s not it’s certainly close.
The Samsung Galaxy S5’s 16 megapixel camera certainly impresses too. It’s capable of taking sharp pictures with accurate colour reproduction and there are also a bag full of modes and settings on offer, such as HDR and Virtual Tour.
It’s undeniably powerful but it’s not perfect. It sometimes seems a bit slow to launch and shots aren’t always as a sharp we’d hoped they’d be. When it works it really works but it can seem a bit unpredictable as to whether photos will come out well, especially when using autofocus.
The Galaxy S5 also has a 2 megapixel front facing camera and can shoot 2160p video at 30fps or 1080p video at 60fps. With those qualities on offer it’s a competent video camera too, but we’re not entirely convinced that there’s much demand for 2160p video yet.
Interface and Extras
The Samsung Galaxy S5 runs Android KitKat overlaid with TouchWiz. Historically TouchWiz has always seemed a little ugly to us but Samsung has cleaned it up nicely for the Galaxy S5, with redesigned icons and a new look which gives it a more pleasing appearance.
Samsung has also put two substantial extra features in the Galaxy S5. The first of these is its fingerprint scanner, which lets you swipe your finger across the home button to unlock the phone. It works pretty well but doesn’t seem quite as accurate or slick as Apple’s Touch ID. More excitingly Samsung has opened up the scanner to app developers, so it could potentially work in place of a login or payment password for any number of things, but most such uses are yet to materialise.
The other big new feature is a heart rate monitor. You’ll find it by the camera lens and, well, it seems to work, but it’s hard to imagine many people making much use of it. It’s also not accurate enough to get proper medical readings, so its usefulness is limited.
Battery Life, Memory and Connectivity
Phone makers seem to gradually be overcoming the battery life problem that plagues handsets and the Galaxy S5 has one of the best performing batteries we’ve yet seen on a phone. It’s a 2800 mAh unit and it’s quoted for up to 390 hours of standby time, 21 hours of talk time or 67 hours of music playback. In and of itself it will easily last a day or more of moderate use but when it does run low you can also activate Ultra Power Saving mode, which does its utmost to save power, right down to turning the screen black and white.
The Galaxy S5 comes with a choice of 16 or 32GB of built in storage and it also has a microSD card slot. For connectivity options there’s Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and infrared, so you’re fully connected.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the best phone Samsung has ever built and it stands up well to the other flagships out there. The days of the Galaxy range being the last word in Android handsets are over, as Sony, HTC and LG are producing similarly impressive phones, but if you’re a Galaxy fan you won’t be disappointed.
Even if you’re not, really the only let down here is the build quality. If the long rumoured metal Galaxy handset ever emerges it will be a force to be reckoned with, but for now this more than gets the job done.
Dimensions : 142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1mm
Weight: 145 grams
Screen size: 5.1” FHD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080)
Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080 display resolution
Pixels Per Inch (PPI) : 432
Processor: 2.5GHz Quad core application processor
RAM: 32 GB
On-board Memory: 16/ 32GB microSD slot up to 128GB
Camera: 16MP (rear) UHD@30fps, HDR, video stabilization
Operating system: Android KitKat 4.4
Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes/ Yes
Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/ Yes
Battery capacity: 2800mAh
Colours: Charcoal Black, Shimmery White, Electric Blue and Copper Gold.
Launch Date: Out Now