ET Review: Samsung Galaxy S5
Many have already dismissed the S5 as being too similar to the S4. This could very well be its biggest shortcoming.
Most of the improvements to the S5, however, are under the skin.
Visibly, the most important change is the dimpled back cover. It’s still plastic but has a pleasing texture which is robust and does not show fingerprints or smudges. The screen is just a bit larger than the S4.
Around the back is the camera in the usual centred position and under is it another module which houses the LED flash and heart rate sensor.
Interface & Touchwiz
There are a number of changes to TouchWiz. For starters, it has flatter icons and a simplified settings page.
It also feels smoother and leaner. We were pleasantly surprised to see that many usual applications like WatchOn, Polaris Office, Scrapbook, SNote, S Translator, Group Play are not preloaded — you can choose to download the ones you want. The capacitive buttons also see a slight change — the menu button is gone, replaced with a multi-tasking button.
Menu options can still be accessed with a long press on the multitasking button. As before, the multi window feature can be accessed by a long press of the back button.
The super amoled screen used in the S5 is a tad larger than the outgoing S4 while retaining the 1080p resolution.
The screen is gorgeous: bright, vibrant, has unparalleled viewing angles, terrific sunlight readability and colours that pop. It is one of the best displays you will find in a mobile phone. As an added bonus, it can be blindingly bright or really, really dim (if you’re reading at night).
Waterproof & Dustproof
The Galaxy S5 is IP67 certified. This means that it is completely impervious to dust and water (can be immersed underwater up to a depth of 1metre for 30 minu t e s ) .
Waterproofing has its own advantages — you don’t have to worry about the odd spash of water, sweat or the accidental dunk into water.
The removable back cover forms a protective seal around the delicate bits. The back cover and flap covering the USB 3.0 port need to be tightly closed for effective waterproofing (and the phone reminds you of this).
Performance & Battery
The S5 is a fast phone. It scored 24079 in Quadrant and 38,301 in AnTuTu (compared to 12937 and 24,039 for the S4). We could easily run through the day (7am to 10pm) on a full charge with up to 20% battery left over. You can also switch to ultra power saving mode. This applies a simple grey theme (reduces display power consumption), reduces the number of apps you can use and turns off data when the screen is off.
The camera in the S5 superb — really no other way to put it. We test a lot of smartphones and this one sits at the top of the heap. Some of the camera firsts include video recording in UHD resolution (3840 x 2160 pixels), live HDR and picture effects (see what it looks like before capturing), selective focus (change focus after capturing a photo). The only thing they should have added in the camera is optical image stabilisation.
The fingerprint scanner built into the home button requires you to swipe your finger across it — like the scanners built into some laptops.
Apple’s implementation in the iPhone 5S is far better because you don’t need to swipe. However, Samsung’s scanner is PayPal certified which means you can use it make payments apart from just unlocking the phone. Besides, other payment apps will also be able to use the finger scanning feature.
There’s a new remote viewfinder mode in the camera interface: pair the S5 with another Galaxy device using WiFi Direct and it can act as a live viewfinder and remote for the S5. This is a seriously cool feature.
The heart rate monitor measures your heart rate fairly accurately but is more of a gimmick since it takes a while to measure and requires you to keep still & quiet.
It could come in handy if you intend on using fitness apps but a heart rate monitor is more useful in a wearable fitness band rather than a phone. It seems as if it was just added to make the specification list longer.
The S5 will leave a lot of people wondering if Samsung is playing it too safe. They could have easily done a better design and premium materials.
As a result, many will complain very loudly about the lack of desirability, especially when compared to iPhone 5S and HTC One (M8). This is the S5’s biggest failing. In all other aspects though, the S5 is a winner.
5.1-inch (1080 x 1920) super amoled, Octa core, 2GB RAM, 16GB + micro SD (up to 128GB), 16MP rear + 2MP front cam, NFC, WiFi, A-GPS, IR emitter, IP67 certified, fingerprint scanner, USB 3.0 + MHL, 2,800mAh, 145g
PROS: Amazing screen, superb camera with several unique and useful features, waterproof despite removable back panel, fingerprint scanner
CONS: Expensive, visually very similar to Galaxy S4, finger scanner can only register three fingerprints