Samsung Galaxy S5
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.