Sam­sung Galaxy S5

Australian T3 - - RATED -

Sam­sung’s lat­est con­tender has ditched the bloat­ware in a bid to take on the likes of the HTC One M8. Is it up to the chal­lenge?

Pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions of Sam­sung smart­phones have been crit­i­cised for be­ing too plas­tic and those look­ing for some metal are go­ing to be dis­ap­pointed. The S5 is made en­tirely from plas­tic apart from the dap­pled leatherette back. Hav­ing said that, it’s a step up from the S4 and feels, 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 phone on the larger and thicker end of the scale. It weighs 145g, mak­ing it lighter than the One M8 (160g) and the dif­fer­ence is no­tice­able when hold­ing both.

There are phys­i­cal but­tons to com­ple­ment the touch­screen. There’s a vol­ume rocker, on/ off switch, and you’ll find the home but­ton in­tact, now doubling as a fin­ger­print scan­ner. To set it up you’ll need to scan your fin­ger 14 times and once you’re done, you’re in. Un­like the iPhone 5S, you need to swipe your fin­ger down the home but­ton rather than hold your fin­ger on top of it. It’s a pain and you have to get the an­gle right or it’s a no-go.

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 S5 is wa­ter and dust re­sis­tant. Note: re­sis­tant, not proof.

At 5.1 inches, the screen on the S5 is slightly big­ger than the S4’s 5-incher. Res­o­lu­tion is 1080 x 1920 with 432ppi. As men­tioned, it doesn’t match the One M8, Nexus 5 or the Xpe­ria Z2 for pixel count, but it’s a daz­zling screen. Icons ap­pear pin­sharp and menus pop. Videos are pixel-per­fect, stut­ter free and su­per-smooth. In short, the screen’s a joy. Sam­sung has stuck with AMOLED tech and the screen is the big­gest bat­tery drain, but it’s a pay­off we’re happy with.

The S4’s ex­ces­sive bloat­ware has been re­moved and the in­ter­face is cleaner with a very

‘Ap­ple’ feel. You’ll find sub­tle up­dates to the no­ti­fi­ca­tions pull down - it now in­cludes S Finder (Sam­sung’s an­swer to Spot­light search) and Quick Con­nect (Air­Drop). There’s also multi-win­dows ported over from the Galaxy Note range.

Sam­sung’s ad­dressed the power is­sue with a beefed-up ver­sion of Sony’s Stamina mode named Ul­tra Power Sav­ing mode. Switch it on and the screen changes to black and white and re­stricts ap­pli­ca­tions to just the es­sen­tials. It’ll also turn off mo­bile data when the screen is off and Wi-Fi and Blue­tooth are a no-go. That’s handy if the 2800mAh bat­tery - a slight boost com­pared to the S4’s 2600mAH - is tee­ter­ing in the 10 per cent area. You shouldn’t need it too much, though. We’d eas­ily make it to the end of the day with the screen on mid-bright­ness, brows­ing the web and watch­ing the odd video.

Un­like the One M8, Sam­sung has upped the cam­era’s pixel count to 16 megapix­els. New to the mix is the su­per-fast aut­o­fo­cus which lives up to its claim as there was no lag what­so­ever when tak­ing pic­tures. Also new is the se­lec­tive fo­cus fea­ture. Turn the mode on, se­lect a fo­cus point and take a pic­ture. It’s sim­ple and pro­duces some in­ter­est­ing pic­tures. Un­like the One M8, you se­lect the fo­cus be­fore tak­ing the

4K video is only fu­ture-proof­ing,but if you have the tech, why not put it in?

pic­ture but you can choose from three fo­cus op­tions post-snap. It’s not quite Lytro but it’s a nice fea­ture.

Video-wise, Sam­sung ticks the 4K box with the abil­ity to cap­ture 3840 x 2160 UHD clips. It’s re­ally only fu­ture-proof­ing at this stage, but if you have the tech, why not put it in, eh?

S Health is one of the big­gest up­dates to land on the S5 and, es­sen­tially, it’s En­domondo mixed in with MyFit­nessPal. The app will mea­sure run­ning, walk­ing, cy­cling and hik­ing. You can set your goals based on dis­tance, time or calo­ries and it’ll track it all and award you medals once you’ve reached your goals. It also fea­tures a heart rate mon­i­tor. Place your fin­ger over the sen­sor on the back of the phone and you’ll be given a read­ing. It works around 60 per cent of the time, but isn’t al­ways ac­cu­rate.

The S5 also fea­tures the new Qual­comm Snap­dragon 801 quad­core pro­ces­sor, with clock speed of 2.5GHz, mak­ing it a touch quicker than the One M8. Whizzing around An­droid KitKat 4.4.2 was a breeze and we couldn’t get any slow­down.

Along with 2GB of RAM, there’s ei­ther 16GB or 32GB op­tions that can be ex­panded up to 128GB via the mi­croSD card slot.

The S5 nar­rowly takes the crown. It can’t beat the One M8’s styling, but its fea­tures just put it over the top. Over to you Ap­ple. $929, sam­sung.com/au

The S5 is a big im­prove­ment over the S4’s looks. Not sure

about that gold, though Love Gor­geous dis­play. Great fea­ture-packed cam­era. Quad­core pro­ces­sor flies along Hate Pla­s­ticky de­sign. Heart mon­i­tor and fin­ger­print scan­ner are un­re­li­able T3 Says The best An­droid smart­phone on the mar­ket. But only just.

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