Galaxy S5 Review: a step in the right direction

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8.6 Above Average

The Galaxy S5 is as recognizable as ever, but features a water resistant design. Like always, the Galaxy is made out of plastic, but features top of the line specs such as a Snapdragon 801 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a 16 megapixel camera.

  • Design 8
  • Display 9.2
  • Performance 8.5
  • Camera 9
  • Battery 8.5
  • User Ratings (1 Votes) 8.4
First takes: I am a long fan of the Galaxy series, having owned the S3, S4, and Note 3, and now the S5. The phones just keep getting better internally and externally. The S5 boasts a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, a 16 megapixel camera, a fingerprint scanner, and water resistance; one of the top features on this phone. The S5 adopted the more squared look the Note 3 has and it fits in the hand great for a phone with a 5.1″ screen. The screen is as beautiful as always and TouchWiz is comes off more polished than ever.
Design: Like I stated above, the more square design looks great on the S5. It is thinner than its predecessors and it comes with a new style of back cover, covered in dimples. While some criticize this feature, I personally like it a lot. It’s a happy median between the Note faux leather back and the slippery plastic of the S4. On the front, Samsung has kept it’s front buttons (which I find necessary for my sanity and a smartphone these days) and changed the menu button to a multitasker. I find it more convenient than double tapping the home button, so this is an impertinent.
Charcoal black is standard along with white on the Galaxy series and it isn’t any different with the S5. The S5 comes with an IP rating of IP67. It is completely dust proof and can be submerged under 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. This is possibly the greatest selling point of this device. The one thing Samsung got right was not sacrificing looks when making it water resistant. I strain resistant because it ISN’T WATER PROOF.
Along with the water resistance, comes a cover over the charging port. At first I was a little weary of this, because of previous experiences of them falling off and being lost, but I find myself actually liking it a lot. You don’t have to worry about lint, dust, and waterever else getting into your charging port and wrecking it, which has been a problem on Galaxy devices in the past. Samsung also found a way to bump up the screen size by .1″ in the same size chassis as the S4.
Design thoughts: Overall I think this is the best designed Galaxy phone in the series. People knock the plastic design, but I find that it takes impacts better and Samsung does it right by not straying from the path. The dimpled back is the perfect median and stays in the hand while not being a hindrance when being removed from the pocket.
Performance:¬† Samsung has updated guts in the S5 with a 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor and stuck with the 2GB of RAM, same as the S4. One of the major things that I think drags Samsung down in this category, is a lot of the gimmicky features and over animated transitions. The S5 got one thing right with subtracting the eye view and that extra bloatware, however their transitions seem to lag out of the box and don’t feel as fluent as it should be or as fluent as the HTC One M8. If you don’t mind seeing the transitions from app to app, I recommend turning them off, it speeds things up dramatically. One positive is that I don’t feel any drag on the device when multiple apps or games are open, which can be annoying constantly killing applications.
Performance thoughts: One thing I have learned in the past with the Galaxy series is that you shouldn’t expect great performance out of the box. For the average user, they probably won’t notice a stutter while going through the phone. For die hard smartphone users, it’s very noticeable. Make sure to remove the transitions.
Features: Aside from the water resistance, the S5 comes with a heart rate monitor, fingerprint scanner, and a huge 16 megapixel camera.
The heart rate monitor isn’t anything special, and isn’t a great selling point on this device. Any phone with a camera and a flash can download an app from the Play Store, however it is nice that it is built in to the device. My only complaint is the consistency. I find myself readjusting my finger multiple times before I get my heart rate.
The fingerprint scanner is in the same boat as the heart rate monitor. It is a cool feature, but not necessary. It is nice for verification on purchases, but for unlocking the device it is inconvenient and time consuming. If it was more like the iPhone where you just hold your finger over the home button, it would be better, however you have to slowly slide your finger across it.
The camera is a typical Galaxy shooter. What it makes up for in lack of quality in night shots is megapixels. I get great photos outdoors during the day and in well lit areas indoors with amazing quality. When the clock ticks over to night time, the camera has a hard time defining objects and things become fuzzy and lose quality.
Extras: One great add on is when you are on your phone or on an app, your call doesn’t take up the whole screen, it comes up at the top of the screen out of the way. While in a call, it also minimizes the call to a 1×1 square that you can move around on your screen. Identical to the new feature to be released on Android L.
One major change that I dislike is that shortcuts on the homescreen or no longer supported. All you get is the quick shortcut to the camera. I used this a lot on my previous devices and see it as a step back as far as lock screens go.
Conclusion: Overall the Galaxy S5 isn’t a surprise, and is a quality device. If you love or hate the Galaxy series nothing has been changed in a major way so your opinions are destined to stay the same. The screen is great as always and performance is hit or miss unless you go into the developer options and remove transitions. The design is nothing out of the ordinary for Samsung, but is definitely a step up from previous models. Samsung added good features with the water resistance, but also added unnecessary features in the heart rate monitor. Nonetheless, it is my favorite phone in the Galaxy series and is a step in the right direction.
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About Author

I skateboard, listen to metal, write on my website FWNED, autocross, and love messing with new phones. Currently I'm using a Pixel XL running Pure Nexus with ElementalX as my daily driver.