Samsung GALAXY S5 Review

People approach me asking me what smartphone I think they should buy. What they normally want me to tell them is a yes or a no. I usually go a step further to explain to them why I think a particular smartphone is good for them after they share with me what their primary use for the smartphone will be.

What has the Samsung GALAXY S5 got to offer?

How does it compare to other phones in its category?

Is it the right phone for you?

Should you upgrade from your present phone to the Samsung GALAXY S5?

Samsung GALAXY S5 Review

I’m going to try to answer these questions. I have had the Samsung GALAXY S5 with me for two weeks now. This is not the first Samsung GALAXY phone I’ll be using. I’ve used the Samsung GALAXY S2, S3 and S4.

I know that many Samsung GALAXY S4 owners will be interested to know what makes the Samsung GALAXY S5 different from the GALAXY S4. I’ll share a bit of that too.

Hardware

The design style of the S4 and S5 are pretty similar. But the back of the S5 is matte, while that of the S4 is glossy.

Samsung GALAXY S5 - Hardware

The camera and a sensor that measures heart rate is at the back of the Samsung GALAXY S5 (GS5). The volume controller is on the left of the phone.

There’s the home button at the base of the phone, unlike on the S4, where the home button can be pressed for a few seconds to see the apps that are running at the background. On the GALAXY S5, to see the apps running at the background, you’ll have to push the physical tab to the left.

Long pressing the home button on the S5 launches Google Now. While the power button is to the right of the phone. The power button can also be used to wake up the phone when it is asleep or in lock mode.

The Samsung GALAXY S5 spots a 16 megapixel camera. That’s one piece that makes the Samsung GALAXY S5 stand out of the pack. The camera at 16 megapixel isn’t just packed with pixels, but the camera sensors do justice to all I throw at it. I am going to share more about the power of the Samsung GALAXY S5 camera later.

The Samsung GALAXY S5 uses a micro SIM. If you’re coming from an iPhone 5/5s, you’ll have to do a sim swap because the sim in the iPhone 5/5s is nano sim.

This is where I sometimes wonder why phone makers can’t just agree to one sim standard.

The GS5 has 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB internal storage (there’s a 32 GB version, but I have not yet seen that anywhere in the Nigerian market). There’s room to expand the external storage of the GS5 up to 128 GB! That’s huge. You can allow the SD card to be the default storage of your pictures and videos.

You can’t move apps to the external SD card. Even when you’re in Application Manager and you see that some apps are in the SD card, it is rather referring to the internal storage, which is 16 GB in this case.

You do not have all the 16 GB available to you, some of the 16 GB internal memory have already been used to store some Samsung default apps that you cannot uninstall like TouchWiz, S Planner, Email App and the others.

The battery of the GS5 is user replaceable. That means that unlike the HTC One M8, you can extend the battery life of your phone by buying an extra battery. However, there’s one feature of the GS5 that might make an extra battery useless. I’ll tell you about that in a moment.

Software

GS5 runs a modified Android 4.4.2 OS. When modified by Samsung, the user interface (UI) of the Android is different, and that UI modification by Samsung is called TouchWiz.

The version of TouchWiz on the GS5 is different from that of the GS4 and other previous Samsung GALAXY smartphones. It doesn’t look as chaotic, but smooth and clean.

S4 Notifications Samsung GALAXY S4 Notifications

S5 Notifications Samsung GALAXY S5 Notifications

You’ll notice this difference by comparing the notification of the Samsung GALAXY S4 and
the Samsung GALAXY S5, pictured above.

Camera

The camera of the Samsung GALAXY S5 has so many features. All I want to do is shoot a picture in automatic mode and post to Twitter or Instagram.

But the camera can do much more than that. In addition to the Auto mode, there’s the Beauty Face Mode, Shot and More, Panorama, Virtual Tour and Dual Camera.

The 16 Megapixel camera on the GS5 is good. In a previous post, I had mentioned that it is not about the pixels, but about the quality of lens and the sensor that is placed in the smartphone camera.

7 Simple Smartphone Camera Tips

The HTC One M8 and the Samsung GALAXY S5 are often compared as they were both released about the same time and they are both top of the tier smartphone.

I found myself initially agreeing with the argument that HTC put forward about the 4 ultra pixel camera that is installed on the M8 that each enlarged pixel captures over 300% more light than most leading 13 megapixel camera.

After comparing the S5 and the M8 camera together in many instances, I concluded that the S5 is miles better than the M8.

No contest.

Shot with the HTC One M8 Shot with the HTC One M8

Shot with the Samsung GALAXY S5

I went visiting Germany for the first time during the last two weeks and shot all my photos exclusively with the Samsung GALAXY S5.

I never missed or thought about going with a real DSLR camera. The S5 was sufficient. You can see some of the pictures I shot in full resolution here.

Display

The Samsung GALAXY S5 packs 1080 by 1920 pixels in a 5.1 inch display. The display is very bright and doesn’t impact the battery so much. I found that the battery lasts longer than the Samsung GALAXY S4.

It has a 2800 mAh battery that is designed to last 21 hrs (talk time). While I used it, I got a full 9 hours of social media, web browsing, email, a few phone calls and instant messaging.

As I don’t usually like my phone to die totally on me, I usually turn to ultra power saving mode when the battery is at critical stage.

Ultra Power Saving Mode

At 95%, when I enabled ultra power saving mode, it gave me an estimate of 11 days and 8 hours. I am able to make a phone call, send a text message, use the browser, calculator and
any other app that I select.

The Internet is active only when the screen in on. Once the screen goes to sleep, the data connection goes to sleep at this mode. Imagine being out late and you need to call a taxi on your phone or you need to make an emergency call.

Dustproof and Waterproof - IP76 Certified

The GS5 is both dustproof and waterproof. I need not immerse the one I was loaned into water, but I was at the Samsung launch and I captured on video on my Instagram page where the phone was being placed in a bucket of water. When the phone was brought out, it was still working.

USB 3.0

The charging port of the GS5 uses USB 3.0. That means that your phone charges faster and you’ll be able to transfer documents to and from the phone at a faster speed too.

Should you upgrade from the S4 to the S5?

There are few reasons you might want to upgrade to the Samsung GALAXY S5 from your S4.

One of the reasons will be if you want your battery to last several days on a single charge. Here, you do not have to carry a spare battery. All you have to do is to activate your ultra power saving mode.

The camera on the S5 is sharper (than the GS4) and comes with some newer features.

Another plus is that you can take the Samsung GALAXY S5 to the bathroom with you and not be afraid of water flashes or it falling in a bucker or pool of water while you’re bathing.

The Samsung GALAXY S4 lacks the waterproof feature. Other than these, you’re better of with your S4.

You might want to wait for the GS6 before you switch. These three useful features — battery that last days on a single charge, improved camera and dustproof plus waterproof — listed above are strong points to consider for non Samsung GALAXY S4 smartphone owners.

Bonus reason for going with Samsung:

They provide ADH warranty (Accidental Damage From Handling).

The ADH Warranty has been in place for some time now and previously enjoyed by Samsung GALAXY S4 and Note 3 users. But with the Samsung GALAXY S5, Samsung has introduced the ADH Premium.

According to a report by Businessday Nigeria,

“Under the Samsung Premium package, consumers will receive a substitute device in the event of screen or liquid damage to their Galaxy S5, at no extra charge.”

Isn’t that sweet? I broke the screen of my HTC One M8 while in the shower last night. Don’t
ask me what my phone was doing in the shower.

Cracked HTC One M8

But I have to look for the nearest HTC repair center in Africa or look for a local repair man to fix it for me and I will have to pay for it, as HTC is not officially open for business in Nigeria (I asked a friend in London and she told me an HTC official told her it would cost between £150 and £200 to fix).

If it were the S5 that got broken that way, Samsung is going to take the phone from me and give me a new one (as long as I register for the ADH under 30 days of purchasing the phone).

Does the Samsung GALAXY S5 impress you well enough to buy one?

Let me know in the comments.

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