Samsung Galaxy S5 review

Samsung Galaxy S5 review

T3 5
  • Samsung's new flagship Android smartphone is finally here but has the Korean brand done enough to impress? Check out our Samsung Galaxy S5 review

    Samsung Galaxy S5 review

    Love

    • Updated design
    • Camera innovation
    • Cleaner UI

    Hate

    • Too big for some
    • Slightly delicate
    • Unreliable sensors

    It's finally here, the Samsung Galaxy S5. A couple of months after its initial launch at MWC in Barcelona, Samsung's latest contender has ditched the bloatware in a bid to take on the likes of the HTC One M8, Apple iPhone 5S and Sony Xperia Z2.

    We've been playing with the new handset day and night for the past few days and we've been terrifying ourselves with the new heart-rate monitor and scanning our digits with the fingerprint scanner. We'll be updating our review shortly with more thorough testing including how it works with the Samsung Gear 2 and Samsung Gear Fit.

    As we've mentioned, Samsung's latest offering is facing some stiff competition. Last year, we named the HTC One our smartphone of the year and this year HTC has produced and ever better phone, Apple's still going strong with its iPhone 5S and who knows what 2014 could bring in the form of the rumoured iPhone 6. Plus there's the Sony Xperia Z2 which is due to land shortly and looks set to be its best smartphone yet.  So let's get down to it and find out if the Samsung Galaxy S5 is up to the challenge. Article continues after our Samsung Galaxy S5 unboxing video

    Samsung Galaxy S5: Size and Build

    Previous iterations of Samsung smartphones have been criticised for being too plasticky and for those looking for some metal, you're going to be disappointed.

    The S5 is made entirely from plastic apart from the dappled leatherette back. Samsung seems to love making things that look like other materials - the sides look metal but they're plastic. The back looks like leather but it's leatherette.

    Having said all that, it's a step up from the Samsung Galaxy S4 and we quite like the design. We expected the back to look cheap and tacky but it is, in fact, a pleasing texture and, dare we say it, premium - a word not often used to describe Samsung smartphones.

    Vital statistics are 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm making it a smartphone on the larger and thicker end of the scale. Its weight comes in at 145g, making it lighter than the robust HTC One M8 (160g) and the difference is noticeable when holding both phones. It's heavier than the S4, which tipped the scales at 130g, and dwarfs the iPhone 5s with a heft of 122g.

    As with the S4, there are physical buttons to complement the touchscreen. You'll find the home button still in tact and this also now acts as the fingerprint scanner - more on that later. There's also a volume rocker and the on/off switch.

    The headphone jack remains at the top of the device alongside an infared port. On the bottom you'll find, under a hatch, the sharing port. The reason for the hatch? The Samsung Galaxy S5 is IP 67 water and dust resistant. Note: resistant, not proof.

    The new Samsung Galaxy S5 is available in four hues; charcoal, blue, gold and white. The blue and gold look a little on the tackier-side of the spectrum but each to your own. We'd recommend the charcoal.

    As we've already mentioned, this is a large phone. Testament to this is the fact that on our first run we managed to drop it. Take a tip from us, get a case.

  • Samsung's new flagship Android smartphone is finally here but has the Korean brand done enough to impress? Check out our Samsung Galaxy S5 hands-on review

    Samsung Galaxy S5 review

    Love

    • Updated design
    • Camera innovation
    • Cleaner UI

    Hate

    • Too big for some
    • Slightly delicate
    • Unreliable sensors

    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. Article continues after the Samsung Galaxy S5 unboxing video,

    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

    If you're wondering how the S5 compares to the competition, check out our Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Apple iPhone 5s head to head.

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    • Video
      Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

      Does the new beat the old Galaxy? Here's the specs showdown

    • Video
      Samsung Galaxy S5 concept render

      What will it look like and how will it's specs stack up? Here's our unofficial Samsung Galaxy S5 concept render

      01:34
    • Video
      Samsung Galaxy S5 hands-on video

      We get our mitts on Samsung's latest smartphone

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