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