When the Samsung Galaxy S5 was launched at MWC 2014 in Barcelona this February, everyone was really excited and surprised to see all the features added to the S5, such as the IP67 specification, heart rate monitor and fingerprint scanner. Merging two models into one (previously, IP67 specification was reserved for the Samsung Galaxy Active range, like the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active we reviewed recently) was an interesting step to take, but did it work? Find out in our Samsung Galaxy S5 review.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Review:
Design and Display:
The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 5.1″ Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080×1920. The super AMOLED is almost a standard for Samsung as it has been in almost all their high-end mobile devices for years. The screen has a good depth of colour, even in full sunlight.
The design of the Samsung Galaxy S5 review unit is somewhat keeping in style with the rest of the Samsung range. We found that despite some minor changes, the aesthetic hadn’t changed much since the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, with its silver bezel round the edge and plastic back which can be peeled away. The power button is on the right hand side of the phone, and the volume rocker on the left. The top has the 3.5mm headphone jack aswell as the IR sensor for the TV remote. On the bottom, there is a small cover which protects the Micro USB socket from dust and, most importantly, water. As mentioned previously, the rear cover can be removed to insert the Micro SD card, Micro SIM and the 2800mAh battery. The phone will remind you every time you turn it on to make sure the rear cover is firmly pressed in so that the rubber seal protects the battery and keeps its IP67 standard certification.
Running a Snapdragon 801 2.5GHz Quad-Core Processor with 2GB of RAM, the Samsung Galaxy S5 review unit has got a very impressive hardware. Responsive and very future proof, this will make sure that the S5 is still relevant in several years when your next contract is due (assuming you get it on a 2 year contract with any network). The rear camera is a 16MP camera with AutoFocus and is matched by a 2MP camera on the front for selfies and video calls.
One of the new features added to the S5 was a fingerprint scanner on the home button, similar to their rival Apple. This allows you to sign in with a swipe of your finger rather than fiddle with inputting a password or PIN. The process of setting up the fingerprint is very simple and only takes a matter of a minute or so. If you phone doesn’t recognise your finger, for whatever reason, you always have a backup entry method using a PIN or Password. In our test, we found that the fingerprint scanner worked very well, although could be a little tricky when the phone was wet.
The Galaxy S5 is jam packed with all sorts of connectivity ports and features: micro USB 3.0 (MHL 2.1), Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, WiFi Direc, DLNA, 4G LTE (Cat 4), NFC and IR Blaster to turn your phone into a TV remote.
With this impressive hardware, we didn’t expect the Samsung Galaxy S5 to have any problem with the benchmarks we set it, and we were right.
AnTuTu 4 Benchmark results:
Scoring a chart topping 36096 points (above the bar for the S5 already in the app), the S5 beat anything else on the market, including the HTC M8 (although the M8 only has a 2.3GHz Processor, as you saw in our review).
In the Graphics test, we ran both the OpenGL ES 2.0 and 3.0 test, as it is able to run both. For the OpenGL ES 2.0, the Samsung Galaxy S5 scored 5660, whilst for the ES 3.0 it scored 1702, both very respectable scores.
On the stability test, the S5 scored well with a temperature rise of just about 2 degrees C, and stability staying fairly consistently just below 200.
We also ran the Vellamo benchmark tool, designed by Qualcomm, and here too, the Samsung Galaxy S5 scored well, coming in second place to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with a score of 1148.
We also ran the Vellamo HTML5 benchmark, and here the S5 scored 1650, coming in at number 7.
In this Samsung Galaxy S5 review, we found that the TouchWiz UI has been updated to take advantage of the new hardware and features. The UI looks very neat with these new roundish icons and if the Settings Menu gives you any trouble, you can always set it to List, Grid, or Tabs view, for better handling. Running Android 4.4.2 (KitKat), it’s the most up to date and was just given a stability update by Samsung.
As with all Samsung devices, the Samsung Galaxy S5 comes packed with Samsung software such as S Planner, S Health, S Voice, ChatOn etc. Whether you want this or not, it’s there, and that’s one of the downsides to Samsung devices, it’s that it has what some may call Bloatware. On the other hand, some may really like the apps and find them useful, it’s a personal choice.
One new feature we found was a pre-installed KidMode app, which allows you to keep your phone , photo and apps safe when handing the phone over to a child. They will have a more child friendly home screen with restrictions on what they can run and buy, set up by the adult in advance.
One more app which appeared to be vaguely useless was an app called GeoNews. The idea of this app is to alert you of natural disasters in your area and give you advice on what to do if you’ve found yourself caught in one. Something that I though in Europe would be a bit of a waste as we aren’t near many geological fault lines and very rarely get tornadoes. However, I was quickly corrected when the app displayed a warning of an earthquake just outside Frankfurt, Germany. Although a small earthquake, it still offered links and advice on what to do if I was in the area or concerned for those in that area. The one saving grace of this app is that it can be turned off if not required.
In this Samsung Galaxy S5 review, we had great fun with the 16MP camera and trying out all its features. To say that it was complicated would be a little over simplified, but it certainly is feature full, with almost every aspect of the photos able to be changed and tweaked. One of the most useful features in the app is the selective focus, which allows you to focus on the foreground and blur the background. This allows for excellent artistic shots which you can then show off to your friends. The downside is, it’s not for portrait photos, as you have to be within 50 cm of the foreground and at least three times that from the background. We did manage to get a good shot to demonstrate this, focusing on the wall in the foreground, making the bush and flowers in the background blurred.
There’s no doubt that the 16MP camera takes some great photos and has some innovative features such as taking dual pictures with the front and rear camera at the same time, “Virtual Tour”, where you can shoot a picture of whilst moving round a room and it will give you a gif-like picture which you can then review. More modes are downloadable from the Samsung App Store too, making the most of the camera. The S5 16MP camera takes pictures at 5312 x 2988 pixels resolution.
Videos can be taken in full 1080p and even have the ability to zoom the sound in when zooming the camera, meaning it will try to amplify the sound coming from the area on-screen and dim the surrounding sound. The video function also has the ability to take slow-mo and fast-mo pictures, as will as smooth and stable pictures.
I didnt know where to put this Heart Rate sensor topic, but since its been placed by Samsung right beside the LED Flash, I think this is a good place to talk about it. Unlike apps which use your camera and LED flash to get an estimate reading, the Heart Rate sensor on the S5 will take an accurate reading, using technology found in the Gear smartwatch range and other high-end sports equipment.
The battery of this Samsung Galaxy S5 review unit is 2800mAh, which is less than the 3200mAh which came in previous phones such as the Galaxy Note 2. The form factor is also different, being less wide and slightly taller tan previous versions. Charging took approx 90 mins and lasted well over a day and a half with moderate use. There is a power saving feature, which will turn off all colour on the screen, turn off mobile network when the screen is off and stop all outward communication. This is a useful feature if out and about without a charger and you need to keep the phone alive for the taxi home, but maybe a bit drastic for everyday use.
Samsung have gone all out on this year’s flagship. I believe that this will be an excellent seller, maybe better than last years. With a very speedy processor and decent GPU, excellent (if complex) camera and dozens of useful (or not) software features, Samsung have certainly set the bar high with the Samsung Galaxy S5.