Samsung Galaxy S5 – first look review [video]

by , Smartphones 10/04/2014
Samsung Galaxy S5 review

Samsung’s latest flagship phone has finally landed. The new Galaxy S5 has a slightly larger display, a more powerful 2.5Ghz processor and an improved 16Mp camera that can take a photo in just 0.3 seconds.

All of the above certainly make the S5 standout from the pack and, while it would be nice to see Samsung opt for a more premium metal finish (alas it’s plastic once again), it’s clear that the new phone is an immediate rival to the likes of the iPhone 5s and new HTC One (M8). We pick out the key features of the S5 so you can decide if it’s the right phone for you.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 – first look video review

Samsung Galaxy S5 – five key features

A souped up camera – Samsung’s Galaxy S5 has a 16Mp camera with a superfast autofocus capable of capturing shots in just 0.3 seconds. The high speed means you’re less likely to miss any shots while the cameras clever features, including a selective focus, gives you plenty of control over the final image.

Ultra power saving – Samsung claim that the S5 can stretch its battery life so you’ll still get 24 hours of use from the final 10% of capacity. Doing this will really reduce the phones functionality but it’s a reassuring feature if you’re ever out and about and have forgotten your charger. We’ve tried out the Ultra Power Saving mode in the office and can confirm it does make the battery last longer, though we’ll reserve judgement on how it compares to similar modes in other phones till after we’ve finished our lab tests.

Fingerprint sensor – Samsung’s Galaxy S5 has a fingerprint scanner that works much in the same way as Apple’s iPhone 5s. It’s easy to register your fingerprint – you simply drag your finger across the phone’s home button ten times – and I’ve yet to experience any recognition problems. You can register up to three fingerprints and even link your PayPal account so that you can pay with the swipe of a finger.

Fitness-focused features – in addition to an updated S Health app, the Galaxy S5 comes with a heart rate monitor. Just place your index finger under the phone’s LED flash and you’ll be informed of this most vital of statistics. I’ve yet to compare this to a medical device, however, I have tested it against the Gear 2 and Gear Fit and all recorded similar heart rates.

A sharp 5.1-inch screen – the display is little different to the screen on the S4. This one is slightly larger (5.1-inches vs 5-inches) but it has the same 1920×1080 resolution. What’s important is that it’s extremely crisp and sharp and responds accurately to touch. I’ve also found the onscreen keyboard particularly easy to use.

Galaxy S5 versus Galaxy S4

The S5 (right) is noticably larger than the Galaxy S4.

Which? expert view – ‘easier to use, with an excellent camera’

Mike Plant bylineI’ve been using the Galaxy S5 for a few days now and it’s fair to say that I’m impressed. Its simplified interface makes searching for specific settings a lot easier than it was on the S4 and the device is far less cluttered with bloatware – the annoying and unnecessary apps that manufacturers insist on adding to their phones.

However, there’s no getting away from the fact that Samsung’s plastic aesthetic is starting to look inferior to its metal-finished rivals – most notably the HTC One (M8) and iPhone 5s. The S5 is still a good looking phone, albeit a little on the large side, but I would have loved to see Samsung create a thing of real beauty.

It is however hard wearing, with the smartphone meeting military-like standards of dust and water resistance. Handily the phone will even tell you if its backplate isn’t quite flush with the screen, so you’ll always know the phone’s innards are protected. The speedy camera is to be applauded too – gone are the days where you’d have to leave you’re loved ones grinning away while your phone’s camera focused before eventually taking the picture.

Finishing off a great experience is the S5′s S Health fitness app that I’m keen to try out in more depth. Expect a closer look at that, and a full and comprehensive write-up of the phone based on our test lab verdict, in the coming weeks.
Mike Plant – writer

More on this

Samsung Galaxy S5 price comparison – where to get the cheapest deal
Gear 2 smartwatch – the perfect companion to your S5?
Galaxy S5 versus HTC One (M8) – which phone would you pick?

19 comments

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Roger

Is it too much to ask how good it is to uses is it as a phone?

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M.Deacon

.. er, pardon? :-)

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Brigsy

That was just a noise

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jon k

you say the phone is hard wearing but the screens for the s3 and s4 cracked very easily. Is this phone the same or have samsung finally rectified this defect?

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MikeF

Can’t view the video – not supported on my Android device!

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Bill

Why do you never supply a receiver sensitivity assessment.
Some of us live in rural areas with poor coverage.
The vital comparison we need is sensitivity – will it work when we need it.
It is not just the quality of reception but whether we have it at all.

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Bill

I should have added to the above comment.
We need a comparison with Apple iPhone of sensitivity – how well it works when coverage is marginal.

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Andy

Why the obsession with appearance? The function is what counts, not whether its plastic.

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David Rosenthal

Helpful review on the Samsung S5, although I’m happy (unlike your reviewer) with slim, hard-wearing, lightweight plastic!

It is a pity that people presenting your reviews don’t always use Standard English. Check the irritating and incorrect repetitions of ‘predecessor’ in this example.

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Keith Cheesbrough

I’m interested in battery life. Currently using Galaxy 3 mini & charge doesn’t last 12 hours – & I hardly use it. Previous ‘phones (BlackBerry/Nokia/Vodaphone) have lasted days before recharging !!

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ataner

I bought 5000mAh batery from ebay, they came in a pack of 2 with an external charger, my son plays games and it last at least 12 hours. Normaly lasts a day or so, i use internet a lot.

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Roger B

I agree that the point of a phone is to make and receive calls. Battery life is very important as already commented, older phones would work for days without a charge. The modern so called smart phones hardly go one day, no good at all. Go away for the weekend without the charger ? no chance. I am sticking with my old Samsung and charge it every 3 days if I remember. Too much silly technology for the sake of it at prices most cannot really afford.
I read in the Telegraph a while ago someone said that modern phones promoted technology we don’t need at prices we cannot afford, too true. These are all nonsense appliances.

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dew

How easy is it to see the screen outdoors? I use my S3 Galaxy Mini mostly outdoors. Even on dull days I have trouble seeing if it’s on or not, much less the screen details. Much worse than the Nokia I used to own.

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Paul Davidson

Its the best by fare . Can I have a free one thank you.

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Ian Wright

Does the S5 come in the mini version?

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Crusher

I have s3 and cant even see the video!

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Roger Sparling

Another of life’s luxuries that I cannot justify or afford.

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Andy

I’m surprised you don’t mention what, for me, is the biggest plus for this new phone which is that it is dustproof and water resistant (IP67). So often companies won’t fix a phone under warranty because it is “water damaged”, even though this may be just because a bit of condensation over time has tainted the metal of the usb port. To have a mobile that is water resistant means no more having to worry about rain, damp conditions etc. I work on boats so this is an even more massive plus for me!

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Andy

OK, a first look, but people sometimes base their snap buying decision on first looks [hence, I'm bound to say, the iPhone]. How the waterproof polycarbonate [yeah, it's plastic] case..? Useful. How about the bigger screen up against its latest techie rivals..? How about internet performance..?

But, then again, I already know the most important thing about any latest high performance smart phone. It means that the ones they replace just got quite a bit cheaper on a contract. I use an S2 and have been absolutely delighted with it. I’ll probably jump to the S4 next year, or maybe a Galaxy Note, so that I can use the internet without donning my specs.

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