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Review: Samsung Galaxy S5

May 9, 2014 • Reviews

Samsung recently released its newest flagship device, the Galaxy S5. With a number of improvements over the Galaxy S4, the unit is one of the best devices that the company has released in a long time. With a better screen, improved battery life and apps, the Galaxy S5 is definitely worth checking out.

Samsung's Galaxy S5 (image: Samsung)

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 (image: Samsung)

Design

Users will notice that the device is slightly bigger than the Galaxy S3 and S4, but it’s not bulky enough to pose a problem. On the contrary, it actually fits perfectly in the user’s hand. The regular buttons on the face of the model have remained in the same positions. The back plate of the device is now features tiny dots, which gives it a better looking finish. The redesigned camera is squarely in the middle, while the heart-rate monitor is situated directly underneath. In terms of weight, the unit is noticeably heavier than the S4, but once again, it poses no difficulties.

Battery

The new battery is partly to blame for the increase in weight, which comes in at 2800 mAh. It is much bigger in terms of power output than previous models, and will afford the user around 390 hours of stand-by time and 21 hours of talk time. While that may sound like a lot, Samsung has also introduced a featured called Super Power Saver, which affords the user an extra 24 hours for every 10% that remains on the battery. Once engaged, it turns the screen black and white, and shuts down all non-essential app functions.

Screen

The Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen is just as clear and crisp as the S4, and with the ability to display 16-million colours, users will get to see the full picture. The 5.1 inch multi-touch screen measures in at 1080 x 1920 pixels, and an approx. 432 ppi pixel density. For added protection, the screen is made from Corning Gorilla Glass 3 – which has become a bit of an industry standard. The display is super-responsive, and users will be hard-pressed to fault it.

Power

Making it one of the fastest smartphones on the market, Samsung stuffed the insides with a Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801 chipset, Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400 CPU and an Adreno 330 Graphics Processing Unit. It might sound like technical jargon, but users will immediately see why these innards matter once they start playing around. Users will also be treated to the latest Android operating system, Android OS 4.4.2 (KitKat), which changes the look and feel of Samsung’s TouchWiz User Interface.

Camera

Besides for the computing power, the camera is one of the best features of the device. Featuring a whopping 16 Mega Pixels, images have a maximum resolution of 5312 x 2988 pixels – which results in ultra-clear images. The device also features phase detection autofocus, and Samsung claims that the camera can autofocus on an object in a third of a second. Users will be able to record HD video and images at the same time, and record videos at 2160p@30fps.

Added features

For added security, Samsung has incorporated a fingerprint sensor on the front of the device. All that users have to do is swipe their finger over the indicated area to unlock the phone. It works well in theory, but users should carefully decide which finger they want to scan – as it could result in having to swop hands to complete the operation. For the health conscious, Samsung has built in a heart-rate monitor below the back camera. It’s a nifty idea, but reading your heart rate from a finger is never as accurate as the real thing.

Conclusion

With Samsung’s updated TouchWiz UI and Android’s KitKat, there are a plethora of features just waiting to be discovered by potential users. The device tries to explain all the features as the user navigates through the menus, but luckily most of them are self-explanatory. It is really one of the best smartphones on the market, but there are a couple of small niggles. The charging port at the bottom of the device is now covered by a plastic flap (to comply with IP67 certification – dust and water resistance) but it makes it difficult for usesr to insert the charge cable – especially in dark lighting.

Score: 9/10

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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