The Samsung Galaxy S5 was launched at MWC 2014, Samsung’s long-awaited new flagship device and successor to the uber-popular Samsung Galaxy S4. Improving on a winning formula is always challenging, and Samsung has been keen to emphasise that the S5 is a product of customer feedback on previous iterations.
Lauched alongside the Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch and the Samsung Gear Fit, the new Galaxy phone from Samsung is set to go head to head with the likes of the HTC One (and the rumoured HTC M8) as well as the Sony Xperia Z2 and Google Nexus 5.
Samsung Galaxy S5: Size & build
The Samsung Galaxy S5 design is exceedingly iterative, bordering on the conservative. It feels solid in the hand, more so than –say- the S3, and there’s no creaking when flexed.
WATCH: Samsung Galaxy S5 hands-on video:
Weighing in at 145g it’s no featherweight, but won’t ruin the cut of your suit trousers. Vital statistics are 142mm, 72.5mm and 8.1mm thick. A silver ribbed ribbon surround is plastic, not aluminium, and the textured back is almost leatherette without being that crass. There will be four colour variants, charcoal, blue, gold and white.
Samsung Galaxy S5: Features
The new Samsung S5 featureset is where things get interesting – like the S4 with its eye tracking, Samsung has worked hard to get some standout features into the S5. We’re talking an inbuilt Heart Rate monitor (more on that later), a fingerprint sensor linked up to a global PayPal deal, IP 67 water and dust resistance as well as a slew of other improvements covered in detail below.
The fingerprint scanner in particular has been widely rumoured, especially in the wake of Apple’s TouchID commitment on the iPhone 5s, and here is something similar for Android users.
The scanner is located under the home key, which Samsung have done an excellent job of making look completely standard. To set up, swipe 8 times to register each print, up to three prints can be registered. In our initial tests the angle was critical, so bear in mind which hand you’ll be using.
Samsung has struck a ‘global partnership’ deal with PayPal to provide payments via fingerprint reader verification in 26 markets. It’ll be interesting to see the details on the ground in terms of who and where this will be accepted, but at least eBay shopping is likely to be slightly more secure.
Samsung Galaxy S5: Battery
The Samsung S5 comes fitted with a 2800mAH battery, which should be good for a day’s data and talkage - obviously that's something we'll be testing out in full as soon as we can get our hands on a full review sample.
Samsung Galaxy S5: Camera
Samsung made a beeline for the high ground in their Unpacked event, stating that the Samsung Galaxy S5 16MP rear camera has the ‘strongest smartphone camera on the market’. This is based on a variety of new functions, such as 4K video recording, autofocus in up to 0.3 seconds, delivering ‘SLR levels of response’ according to Samsung. Next there’s real time HDR that delivers ‘striking image intensity’ and realtime response, as well as the ability to view a ‘live’ preview image.
Finally, there’s selective focus, where you can capture images and change focus later in three ways - near, far and pan. During our brief hands-on, the HDR functioned well, as did the selective focus, but we’ll need to test the S5 in a variety of situations to be definitive. The front camera is a respectable 2MP for your video calling and accurate selfie requirements.
Samsung Galaxy S5: S-Health 3.0
Samsung made a big noise over one of the standout elements of the S5, the Heart Rate monitor built into the back of the handset, next to the camera flash. Hold your finger on the camera and get a readout of your HR. Our test unit made us pretty chuffed, with a resting HR of 51, we’ll have to conduct some real world tests to make sure that’s accurate.
Samsung Galaxy S5: Performance
The usual caveats apply to our hands on time, being both short, sweet and under controlled conditions. However, with a Quad core Krait 2.5GHz chip and 2GB RAM under the hood this was never going to be slow.
Samsung promises that connectivity is first-class, offering 802.11ac with MIMO support, and booster tech using LTE + Wifi in parallel to speed downloads where possible. The S5 also offers Ultra power saving mode at the other end of the spectrum, which dips down to very low power (black and white display, etc) to spin out more battery life when activated.
Samsung Galaxy S5: Verdict
There’s no doubt that the specs, build and power of the S5 will make it one of the top phones of 2014. HTC’s contender may change the balance of power here, but the S5 looked extremely strong in our brief hands on. We’ll be putting it through it’s paces and filling in the gaps as soon as, but this is definitely a phone to put top of your upgrade list.
Samsung Galaxy S5 release date: April
Samsung Galaxy S5 price: TBC