29
Apr
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The Galaxy S4 was the most popular Android smartphone of all time. The Galaxy S5 will likely take that title soon enough. Say what you will about Samsung's choice of materials or its design aesthetic, its phones are incredibly popular and well-liked by a great many people. The Galaxy S5 won't cause the faithful to waiver, either - it's an absolute affirmation of the company's commitment to improving its flagship product with every generation. The Galaxy S5 may be iterative, but it's iterative in ways that matter.

The phone is faster, the screen is better, the camera is better, the software is better, the battery life is better, and it even feels better in your hand - Samsung has been hard at work in these areas, and it shows.

However, for all the good, there are caveats. Samsung's software suite is still hilariously bloated, with some legacy features and apps carried over since the Galaxy S III, many of which frankly have no place on a serious smartphone. Take one look at the nigh-innavigable settings menu and your eyes will glaze over. And the creaky, cheap plastic we've come to expect of Galaxy phones is still just as prominent, even if it isn't so slippery and slimy anymore. Samsung hasn't exactly been Johnny on the spot with OS updates lately, either, so who knows what version of Android your S5 will be running a year from now.

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A class-leading display and camera, though, along with a much quicker processor and improved battery life (plus waterproofing) are big gains over the Galaxy S4, big enough that I'd call the S5 a more significant iteration than the S4 was over the S III.

In fact, I'm quite enamored by the S5. Even with all its bloat and plastic, it's easier than ever to see why Samsung is reaping success after success with its smartphones: an almost obsessive devotion to improvement, even if it that does entail a handful of gimmicks coming along for the ride. I'd even venture so far as to say that Samsung skeptics might be tempted by this phone - it's that difficult to ignore.

The Good
  • Display: Best. Screen. Ever. Samsung's Super AMOLED HD panel is the finest display the company has ever produced. It is incredibly bright (and dim if need be), has superb outdoor visibility, viewing angles second to none, and the auto-brightness finally works right. There may be more accurate screens out there, but I can't say I care at this point - Samsung is too far ahead for it to matter.
  • Camera: Samsung's enlarged sensor on the Galaxy S5 produces absolutely great images (for a smartphone) when lighting is decent. The real-time HDR preview mode is super cool, too. It supports a huge array of video recording options, including HDR video, and the phase detection auto-focus really does work. Samsung's camera app is also highly usable and intuitive.
  • Battery life: The Galaxy S5 has among the best battery life I've ever experienced on an Android device. The standby life is staggeringly good, and even with that bright Super AMOLED display it really does seem to sip power.
  • Water resistance: Making a phone more resistant to the elements is hard to classify as anything but a positive, annoying USB port cover aside.
  • Speed: Probably the most noticeable upgrade over the S4 is in the realm of performance - the Galaxy S5 is fast. Not any faster than the HTC One M8 that I can tell, and maybe still a touch slower than the Nexus 5, but all in all, it's very quick.

The Not So Good
  • Bloat: TouchWiz, even with its much easier-on-the-eyes redesign, still has a lot of carryover bloat from the Galaxy S III and S4. Some of this stuff (air gestures, air view, smart pause, group play) is unabashedly useless and needs to be left behind. Just let it go, Samsung - no one is using this crap.
  • Fingerprint scanner: It's a nuisance to use and just feels like an afterthought. Apple's Touch ID is a simple, innovative implementation of biometric verification. Samsung's is just a new coat of paint on the same system that made the Atrix an overnight success. Oh wait.
  • Storage: 16GB, 10GB of which are usable. There is no 32GB model of the S5 available in the US on any carrier. In fact, the 32GB S5 is only available in Korea for the time being. Samsung, suck it up and make 32GB the standard level of storage - or make it cheaper - this isn't enough, especially when the camera takes photos that are 7-9MB apiece and video is up to 4K. SD cards are just an excuse for cheaping out on the storage we actually want at this point.
  • Plastic: It still feels cheap. Samsung, I beg of you, find a way to make your phones feel like they should retail for $700. Granted, it does feel nicer than the S4 thanks to the dimpled, soft-touch back.

Build quality & design

The Galaxy S5 continues in the Samsung tradition of being unapologetically plastic, and not in a good way. It creaks, it snaps, it groans - like every other Samsung smartphone I've ever used. Also, I dropped my review unit. Whoops. Don't tell.

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Once you're past the quality of the materials, though, the Galaxy S5 has many of the positive attributes its predecessor did - plastic grips better in your hand than metal, doesn't get freakishly cold to the touch, and keeps the phone relatively light. Deride Samsung's new band-aid-esque texture on the rear cover as much as you like, but I like it, at least from a tactile perspective. No more slimy, greasy Galaxy - the phone looks and feels relatively clean after a whole day's use. And in white the texture is barely noticeable from a visual perspective.

While they do look more than a bit alike, the design of the S5 does vary from the S4 in a few other significant ways. First, it's more squared off, similar to the Note 3. The home button is rounder. The patterning on the bezel is no longer a diamond weave, but little circles, matching the texture of the rear cover. The speaker grille is more flush against the display glass. The plasti-chrome trim along the profile of the phone now has pronounced banding, though not in the style of the "pages of a book" arrangement on the Note 3.

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The camera module has been squared off, as well, and there is a noticeable protrusion where the USB 3.0 type B port is located. Altogether, I'd say the S5 looks more chiseled than the S4, more masculine, even. I will comment that I'm not a fan of whatever happened with the bezels on the front - the amount of space between the display and the edge of the phone has increased substantially on the S5 compared to the S4, both vertically and horizontally. The S4, by comparison, looks purpose-built for compactness, a study in surface area efficiency. It's not a big deal, but it does make the S5 almost kind of look, well, older - albeit in that one, specific way. The growth in size from the S4, too, is substantial, so this wasted bezel space is more than a bit puzzling.

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Decidedly modern, however, is the newly-implemented multitasking button. Samsung has finally relinquished its death grip on the hardware menu button - allegedly because consumers were having difficulty finding items hidden in secondary menus only accessible by this key. While the buttons themselves are still mirrored from the standard Android implementation (multitask / home / back instead of the other way round, like it should be), the ouster of the menu button should be greeted with joy by most.

Another feature adapted from the Note 3 is the aforementioned USB 3.0 type B port. This port charges and transfers data more quickly when used with the included type B connector, though it works with the standard microUSB cables as well - just not as quickly as the USB3 spec part. With USB 3.0 type C - a universal adapter - on the horizon, I still question Samsung's judgment here, but I guess most people replace their phones quickly enough for it not be a major issue. This port is covered by a port cover, which are evil.

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Pop open the battery door and you'll find the familiar Samsung battery / SD / SIM arrangement. The battery must be removed to replace the SIM or SD card, with the SIM sitting in the bottom tray and the SD card above it. It's still a microSIM, too, as apparently Samsung isn't ready to hop on the nanoSIM bandwagon just yet. As with the S4 Active, the battery cover is lined with a silicone gasket compromising about 95% of that water ingress protection rating, so be sure it's snapped shut securely any time you decide to take it off.

Display

How Samsung continues to improve on its Super AMOLED technology frankly befuddles me at this point. The Galaxy S5 has the best screen I've ever seen on a smartphone, bar none. I can confirm this because it passes the ultimate test: small black text on a white background in broad daylight, at an angle, with extensive fingerprint smudges. The text remained readable even at very shallow angles on a sunny southern California day.

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That's because the S5 allegedly achieves an incredible 700 nits of brightness when set to automatic mode while outdoors. I compared it to an HTC One M8, which rather quickly failed the above test, and the difference in brightness and contrast was very noticeable. Not only that, the S5 maintained its visibility hugely better when tilted at an angle, horizontal or vertical, while the M8 quickly became almost impossible to see.

I can't imagine the S5's battery will last terribly long in this state of hyperbrightness (the effect of which is even further enhanced by the contrast of the Adapt Display mode), but the very fact that it can do it is downright impressive. We've all been there - covering our smartphones with our off hand to read a text message or an email. The Galaxy S5 is the first phone I've used where I'm not immediately tempted to do that.

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S4 vs S5 on auto-brightness in shade on a sunny day

The catch on this ultra-bright setting is that it needs to be in automatic mode - the phone's maximum luminance peaks much lower if you set the brightness manually (likely for good reason, such as your battery life). Thankfully, auto-brightness mode is now much brighter by default in most situations, so it's actually usable, hooray!

But the Galaxy S5 doesn't just do crazy-bright: it also does crazy-dim. At its lowest brightness, the S5's display is truly not visible outdoors, or even in brightly lit room. This level, unlike the highest brightness, can only be achieved by turning off auto-brightness and using the slider manually. The brightness is so low that you could easily use the S5 in bed next to a sleeping spouse in a pitch-black room. This really is a next-level screen.

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It's odd just how little Samsung is really saying about the display in its marketing materials, too - it has every right to be proud of what seems to be an incredible technical achievement. Given how easy it was to make fun of AMOLED's lackluster brightness, intense oversaturation, and resolution limits just a few short years ago, it's kind of shocking to believe it's now leading the mobile display race.

Battery life

How's this for battery life: 2 hours of screen-on time with mobile data... over the course of three days (as in 72 hours). I thought HTC's battery life on the One M8 was impressive. This is impressive-er. I don't know what HTC and Samsung have discovered or implemented that's giving such amazing standby longevity, but I am oh so thankful they've figured it out.

That said, I think the most heavy users will still be limited by their screen-on figure over any such improvements. If you're clocking in 4 or more hours a day of screen time - unless you're cranking that brightness way down and are on Wi-Fi constantly - you're probably still going to feel the squeeze as the sun sets. That's just kind of how things are without a larger battery, and while the S5's 2800mAh pack is nothing to scoff at, it's still 400mAh behind Sony's Xperia Z2. Of course, your mileage will vary, etc.

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For moderate phone users like myself, though, the S5 is absolutely liberating. I charged it on a Friday night and didn't have it back on the charger again until Monday evening, and still with a solid 5% to spare! Which according to Samsung is enough to get by for 12 hours if you activate ultra power saving mode. (More on that feature later.)

Of course, the Samsung faithful will point out as always that unlike pretty much any of the competition, the S5's battery is swappable, so there's that option, too.

A word of caution: I did have at least one incident in which my Galaxy S5 refused to go to sleep and lost 50% of its charge sitting overnight. There are numerous reports of similar behavior from users and reviewers out there, but no one seems to have pinned down one specific cause for the issue yet. Since rebooting the phone and charging it up again, however, the problem has not returned.

Storage, wireless, and call quality

It seems American carriers have all but given up on the 32GB models when it comes to Samsung phones - none are offering the Galaxy S5 in anything but the standard 16GB trim, which is a bit of a shame. Given the rather draconian restrictions on SD cards in Android 4.4, the microSD slot provides heavily asterisked headroom to users with lots of content on their devices. At this point, Samsung really should not be continuing to use the SD card slot as a reason to cheap out on internal storage - especially when the 16GB model ships with barely 10GB of usable space. At the least, Samsung should offer more competitive pricing on 32GB and 64GB models so carriers will actually stock them. As it is now, you have to buy a gray-market Korean Galaxy S5 if you want one with more than 16GB of storage in the US, if you can even find one. That is definitely a bit of a bummer, especially when phones like the One M8 are shipping with 32GB of storage as standard now.

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Wireless performance on my S5 review unit has been just what I would expect - excellent. I had no issues with signal or dropped calls, and data speeds on both LTE and Wi-Fi were consistently strong. The Galaxy S5 also supports Wi-Fi AC and has two antennas for MIMO to enhance wireless speeds, a feature HTC's One M8 lacks. I'm not sure it really makes much of a practical difference for most people, but the capability for more speed is always good, I suppose.

Call quality on the S5 I used was pretty normal, though Samsung's noise suppression was apparently pretty aggressive according to at least one person I talked to on the phone. It wasn't described as bad, just different.

Audio and speaker

The Galaxy S5 uses the same basic Snapdragon 801 you'll find in the HTC One M8 and Sony Xperia Z2, so it also uses the same internal audio processing gear. As a result, the sound from the S5's headphone jack is absolutely great - Qualcomm is doing a stellar job with its Hexagon DSP, and music is sounding the best it ever has coming out of a smartphone. You won't be let down here.

The external speaker is another story. I'd go far as to say that it's actually a small step down from last year's speaker on the Galaxy S4. This, I think, has to do with the waterproofing on the S5. With that rubber gasket and presumably some form of water protection for the speaker driver itself, Samsung seems to be struggling to eek out additional volume. The S5 actually sounds a bit quieter than the Galaxy S4, though the difference isn't massive. The quality of the audio itself seems basically comparable to last year's phone.

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This is something of a letdown, as the Galaxy S4 never had a great external speaker to start with, though it was generally louder than those of its competitors (particularly LG, who continue to have among the worst external speakers of any major Android OEM).

Camera

The Galaxy S5's camera has something of a split personality. In favorable lighting, it produces the best images of any Android smartphone I've ever used. That full 16MP resolution is absolutely taken advantage of, and for the first time I feel like I can take a picture with my phone and crop it to frame subjects tighter or more interestingly. On any other phone, cropping an image immediately makes all that noise and processing extremely visible, and presto-amazo: you've got a ruined photo. On the S5, the 16MP resolution (photo resolution is 5312x2988) coupled with the larger sensor means more detail is preserved* and exploitable when it comes time for editing. (*Except in low light, where the S5 actually seems to excel in destroying detail.)

Start with this photo I snapped of BMW's upcoming hybrid supercar, the i8, being tested by journalists on a local road.

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Cool car, right? Too bad the photo was taken such that it's absolutely tiny - you can barely see it! Now, let's crop it to a more usable framing.

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Hey look - now you can actually see the car in some semblance of detail, and without having ruined the picture to the point where it's plainly obvious it was taken with a smartphone. Granted, go full zoom on any smartphone photo and you'll see issues - the texture on the foliage furthest away on the hill opposite the road in this photo, for example, is mushed up all to hell by the softening process Samsung employs.

Still, had I taken this photo with the One M8, cropping it this far would result in a totally garbage image. Crop room is important - especially when you're dealing with a fixed lens. 4MP would be fine if it came with a 4x zoom, but until then, I'd like all the pixels you can give me, thank you very much.

Unfortunately, the S5's camera then proceeds to fall flat on its face in low-light / night conditions - the results are downright cringe-worthy. In fact, the Galaxy S4 even takes better dark shots than the S5. Just look at these shots comparing the two phones, it's pretty obvious which is worse.

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That rather significant drawback aside, the Galaxy S5's camera really is quite impressive. Samsung's new HDR mode allows you to see what your HDR photo will look like through the viewfinder in real time - a feature no one else is boasting at this point. The HDR photos themselves are a major improvement over last year's, too, something Samsung is chalking up to the advanced image processing in the S5. That advanced image processing also allows the Galaxy S5 to use HDR mode while taking video, too.

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No HDR vs HDR

The Galaxy S5 does record quite an array of video, too - up to 60FPS at 1080p, 30FPS at UHD (2160p), and 120FPS for slow motion at 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8 playback speed (though only at 720p).

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HDR mode photo

Samsung's selective focus feature, similar to solutions by HTC and Google, allows you to take a photo and then decide how you want the focus to appear. Unlike those solutions, though, you cannot select a focal point - Samsung's implementation finds the object you are probably trying to focus on, and then allows you to select near, far, or pan focus modes. This is indeed more limiting, and while it is a "one tap" solution (once you select the proper mode), there is still substantial processing time required once you hit the shutter button. And it doesn't always work. Samsung says the focal point of the photo needs to be at least 1.5 feet from the camera, and the background at least 3 times further away from the subject than that. If it fails to render a selective focus photo, you'll get a toast notification saying so, but I think the error should be more prominent, to be honest, since it still takes the picture anyway.

The advantage to Samsung's implementation is that the resulting photos are full-sized - there is no loss of resolution, and there is no destruction of information when you save the picture in a particular focus "mode." You can go back and change it as many times as you want. HTC and Google's solutions, on the other hand, produce an edited version after the effects have been applied, and you're required to go back to the original if you decide you want to change the focus again later. Granted, Samsung's solution is nowhere near as customizable as Google's, and not as quick and easy as HTC's (you have to actually enable selective focus mode for it to work). Also, the files are huge - shots in selective focus mode are around 20MB apiece. The results, though, seem largely comparable to the other methods - here are images from all three. The top is Samsung's selective focus tool.

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Samsung has also integrated a new "remote viewfinder" feature into the camera app - just turn on NFC and hit the appropriate item in the additional options menu, and you can connect via Wi-Fi direct to another Galaxy device (I tried it with a One M8 and it just sent me to a dead Play Store link). That device then acts as the viewfinder for your S5, as well as a controller for all the camera features. This could be useful with a tablet, I guess? I'm not really sure I quite see what this is for on a smartphone, but it would make a lot more sense on a Galaxy Zoom or Galaxy Camera device.

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Fingerprint reader

I've not used Apple's Touch ID system on the iPhone 5S, but at this point, almost every review I've read compares it favorably to the Galaxy S5's swipe sensor, and all I have to say about that is: I would really hope so.

Right off the bat, even setting up the scanner was a bit frustrating - I had to go through the initial read process twice before I got it to record my print (you have to swipe numerous times so it can develop a good, averaged picture of what your fingerprint looks like).

Once configured, level of finger-moisture (read: "none" is the only acceptable answer) and angle right (it only works at a single angle, unlike Apple's Touch ID), the Galaxy S5's fingerprint scanner is fairly reliable. If you're like me and kind of lazy / not really paying attention when you go to unlock your phone, it's... not. On many occasions I've hit the lock-out limit, which then requires you to enter your backup password. By this point, you are likely ready to throw the phone at something and / or someone.

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The very act of using it is simply too much work when you have knowledge that Apple's Touch ID implementation exists. With Samsung's method, unless the phone is lying on a surface, you must use two hands to unlock your phone. One to hold it, and the other to press the home or power button and then slide a finger. I tried recording my thumbprint at an angle to allow for one-handed unlocking, but the thing is so finicky that once I had registered it I was rarely able to replicate the angle well enough to unlock the phone. With Apple's method, only your thumb is necessary, and all you have to do is press and release the home button - no sliding, it works at multiple angles, and only one hand needed to operate. Granted, Apple's method is also patented, and probably would require a larger home button than Samsung is currently using anyway.

This may all sound hyperbolic, but user experience is so key to this sort of feature - you turn on your phone's screen dozens of times a day (well, I assume you do, maybe not), and if this becomes an exercise in frustration versus one of simplicity, you are not going to associate happy thoughts with your Galaxy S5. This is almost certainly why Samsung has chosen not to have users set up the feature out of the box - they know it isn't very good. And further yet why the default period for the fingerprint scanner lock to activate is something like 10 minutes.

Call me old-fashioned, curmudgeonly, or demanding, but I sort of hail from the "do it right or don't do it at all" school of thought when it comes to features like this. The Galaxy S5's fingerprint scanner is simply not good to use. They brought it to market to compete with Touch ID on the iPhone 5S (which apparently isn't all that amazing, either), and considering how much Samsung has moved away from the "follow Apple" mentality in recent years, this is somewhat disheartening.

Samsung hasn't featured the fingerprint scanner in any of its major ad campaigns for the S5, either (at least in the US), which is telling, I think. For the tech-obsessed or the paranoid, this is a fun (slash frustrating) toy to play with. For the rest of us, stick to your pin code or your pattern - this isn't worth the trouble.

Funnily enough, Samsung actually rates fingerprint mode as "medium to high security" on the lockscreen options, with a password ranked as more secure ("high"). As you probably know, the scanner can also be used with PayPal (using a separate version of the app you have to update through the Samsung app store - yuck) if you so desire.

Heart rate monitor

Samsung's heart rate monitor is an interesting feature, one that really does stand out in the smartphone space as unique. Using a combination of infrared, visible, and witchcraft-light, the small cluster of sensor-things on the back of the phone alongside the LED flash can tell you how fast your heart is beating. Neat!

As far as I can tell, it works just fine, too. I compared results against a wrist-strap blood pressure monitor and the S5 generally was within a few BPM of the former's reading, though I did get a few erratic ones here and there.

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Positioning your finger on the monitor isn't foolproof, but once you figure out what angle seems to work (I find about 45 degrees off-center with moderate pressure is best), getting consistent and quick results is not difficult. The readings also generally matched with what I got from the Gear Fit (when it worked, which it doesn't always), which uses the same technology, just on your wrist instead of a fingertip.

While I am rather unclear on why you'd want to regularly measure your heart rate on your phone (as opposed to a fitness tracker like Gear Fit, which makes a bit more sense), especially when getting accurate results apparently requires you to be still and quiet, at the very least it's a fun, functional party trick. I'm also not sure how Gear Fit's hear rate monitor can be accurate while you're moving, but the S5's can't. A question for another review, I suppose.

But all in all, the feature seems to work reasonably well, even if I would personally probably never end up actually using it.

Waterproofing

The Galaxy S5 is rated IP67 - meaning it can survive up to a meter of water submersion for up to 30 minutes. In reality, numerous reviewers have shown it is capable of even greater depths and duration, but one meter and 30 minutes is all Samsung is actually promising. Because Samsung is not explicit about the level of protection from pressurized water jets (IP66 and 66K), either, I'd also advise keeping it away from powerful faucets, hoses, or even your shower. The effects of water damage aren't always immediately evident, so don't take the phone's immediate survival for a complete lack of liquid ingress.

This liquid protection, though, relies on your adherence to two basic responsibilities as an S5 owner: ensuring the battery door is fully shut, and keeping the USB port cover closed. As was famously illustrated with the S4 Active, it's the former that people really seem to have an issue with, and so the Galaxy S5 provides a reminder to check the status of the rear cover every time the phone boots up. I think that's a fair precaution. A similar warning for the USB port cover appears when the device is removed from a charger. These notifications cannot be disabled, though I wouldn't call them more than a minor nuisance.

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The "6" in IP67 also means the Galaxy S5 is completely dustproof, but personally I wouldn't go dropping it in a bag of flour any time soon - there are still plenty of nooks and crannies to gum up.

Waterproofing has probably been one of the most-requested smartphone features in recent memory, and given the current trend, I think it's here to stay. I will say, though, that the day we come up with a way to have a water resistant phone without using dinky little port covers for the data / power connections cannot come soon enough. Port covers are evil incarnate.

Overall, though, I think Samsung's doing a justice to consumers here - people break their $700 phones far too often as is, and protection from toilets / sinks / pools / beaches will likely save many a Galaxy S5 from an early demise, even if it does mean we have to deal with fiddly port covers. I honestly would not be terribly surprised if the next iPhone was water-resistant at this point.

Oh, and as someone kindly reminded me earlier this week, water ingress protection is not steam ingress protection. Just because something's IP67 doesn't mean you can take it in the shower repeatedly - steam can get places water can't. So be careful, and probably avoid spontaneous hot tub diving with your phone.

Software

Performance and stability

The Galaxy S5 is markedly faster than the S4, which is arguably among the slowest of 2013's flagship devices. Whether it was Samsung's TouchWiz or the Snapdragon 600 chipset powering it, I don't know, but the S4 simply did not age well. If there were one major consideration for making the jump from S4 to S5, I would have to single out performance. I used a Galaxy S4 as my primary phone for the past couple of months, and the speed (really, the lack thereof) drove me mad after coming from the superbly swift Nexus 5.

That said, the S5 feels no faster than HTC's One M8 (it might actually be a tinge slower), despite using a chipset clocked around 100MHz higher in the US. (The Galaxy S5 uses the AC variant of the Snapdragon 801, the HTC One uses the AB, which is slightly slower. [Source]) Running apps side by side on the two, neither was consistently quicker, though the One M8 seemed to load images more quickly on Wi-Fi, but just barely.

One thing that continues to irk me is Samsung's default mapping of the home button double-tap to S Voice. This feature causes a designed delay after hitting the home button as it waits for a second tap, meaning it takes a good half second longer than it should to go to the homescreen, making the user feel as though the phone is slow or lagging. Go into S Voice and disable the double tap feature, though, and the delay goes away. Samsung, honestly, how many people are really using S Voice? I see journalists left and right mistaking this home button mapping for "lag," and have since the Galaxy S III. Just turn it off, guys.

The one other performance hiccup I ran into was Samsung's My Magazine panel on the homescreen, which is abnormally slow to load when you swipe to or from it. I ended up disabling the feature.

As for stability, I ran into no abnormal crashes while using the S5 - it seems pretty solid. One odd behavior I did encounter was some kind of strange capacitive button glitch. On multiple occasions, for no reason, the back button was engaged repeatedly (I could feel the haptic feedback, even though my finger wasn't on the button). It would engage about 4 or 5 times, about 1 or 2 seconds apart, and then stop. This happened maybe a half-dozen times in my 2 weeks with the phone, and it is indeed rather strange, if relatively harmless.

UI and launcher

From a homescreen-visual standpoint, Samsung's new launcher doesn't look all that different from the old one. But don't be fooled - changes are indeed afoot.

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Pull down the notification bar and you'll see the quick toggle widgets have been redesigned to be circular on a flat turquoise backdrop, signaling the change in Samsung's TouchWiz aesthetic we first saw on the new Galaxy Tab Pro line.

The app drawer has been simplified, the tabs for apps, widgets, and downloaded apps are gone, instead replaced by a single 3-dot menu button in the top right corner, lending the drawer a cleaner look. Samsung has a whole lot more 3-dot menus peppered throughout its suite of apps, too, owing to the loss of the hardware menu button.

The app drawer now allows you to hide apps, as well, as opposed to merely disabling them. Finally, the alphabetical list view mode has been removed, because seriously who would ever use that.

The settings menu has seen a complete overhaul, and is now grid-based. I think Samsung's judgment here has been questionable at best. With all of the grid headers expanded, there are 61 settings icons to choose from. If you collapse the Quick Settings panel (all the icons in it are redundant), this number drops to a mere 49 different icons, but still: Samsung, this is too much. Switching to the list or tab views does almost nothing to help you navigate this labyrinth, either. Someone really needs to go in and figure out how to fix this, because right now it's bordering on irritating. Here is the current settings menu, pane by pane:

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The lockscreen should be largely familiar to you, and it has the same basic features you found on the S4 and Note 3 - minus lockscreen widgets, which Samsung has apparently disabled on the S5. Oh, and it doesn't say "Life companion" by default anymore, because Samsung probably realized that was embarrassingly corny.

The aesthetic of the new TouchWiz is largely similar to what we saw on the Tab Pros - lots more flat design, circles, and color blocking. For the most part, TouchWiz feels more out of the way than it has in previous iterations, and things just seem a bit less busy. Even Samsung's homescreen editing feels more... normal - long press on an empty area, and it zooms out to a management interface with icons for wallpaper, widgets, and home screen settings along the bottom, just like the Google Experience launcher. Interesting.

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Gone also is the multitasking interface that previously came up when you long-pressed the home button, because there is now a dedicated multitasking button which reveals an interface similar to the one in previous TouchWiz versions, minus the Google shortcut. Instead, long-pressing the home button on the S5 goes to Google Now, taking the number of required actions from two to one. Also interesting!

On the whole, I would say the new TouchWiz looks a lot nicer than the old one. It feels modern, fresh, and simplified (aside from the settings menu). Not to mention a lot faster. Sense 6, by comparison, does not give me quite this feeling, though this is an entirely subjective point, one that is very much personal. If it's me you're asking, though, I think the new TouchWiz looks better than Sense 6, and considerably. I love the bright, colorful tones and even the mildly corny bubble animation when you unlock the screen. I think Samsung is doing some legitimately good UI work these days. They've also made my job of reviewing easier by seriously cutting down on the number of gimmicky features to talk about.

But seriously, cut out the corny touch sounds, Samsung. I can hear someone using one of your phones across the room - that bubble "pop" is about as endearing as nails on a chalkboard.

My Magazine

My Magazine is basically BlinkFeed but worse. Not that BlinkFeed is a work of art, but Samsung really did just seem to do this because HTC did it. I'm not sure making it part of the homescreen UI by default was a great idea, as I imagine the number of people who are actually going to use it is fairly low. And when I say it's basically BlinkFeed, I mean a much, much more basic version of it. You have 13 news categories to choose from (no individual outlet curation) and a multitude of different social networks.

Screenshot_2014-04-29-14-03-30 Screenshot_2014-04-29-14-03-44

My Magazine is super-duper incredibly bare-bones, and all of the news aspect is actually supplied via Flipboard. When you tap on a story, it opens in the Flipboard app. My Magazine is basically a Flipboard widget. Except with fewer news sources, social networks, less customization, and no paginated animation. It also only holds one story for each news category in the widget, which seems, well, dumb.

Samsung, if you're going to try to kind of sort of copy a competitor's feature, don't do such a half-ass job. And if you do, don't enable it by default. My Magazine just isn't good - disabling it should be on your to-do list as soon as you get the phone. It is truly shameless UI fluff.

Camera app

Samsung has continued to refine its camera app, and I think it's currently among the best one shipping on any Android phone if you're really into taking photos. Samsung doesn't play to the minimalism Google and Motorola are pushing in their camera UIs, and this is one of those areas where I think it's OK to have a busy display. Cameras show a lot of information for a reason - because there are a lot of things you can adjust and settings you want to know the status of.

Screenshot_2014-04-29-14-11-16

Samsung allows you to place up to 3 customizable quick settings in the left toolbar of the camera app, with selective focus and HDR being the default two included (rightly so, I'd say, as both are pretty nice features). Tap the settings icon, and you get a large 4-column grid with icons to help identify specific settings quickly and easily. This is how a camera should be: all of the settings are readily accessible with a single tap - not buried in submenu upon submenu. It makes the camera on the Galaxy S5 incredibly usable compared to, say, the Nexus 5 or HTC One M8.

Screenshot_2014-04-29-13-52-48

The rear / front camera switch is the only other permanent button in the left toolbar. On the right, there is a video record button, the shutter button, and a mode button. Samsung has greatly simplified the modes on the Galaxy S5. All of the burst shot features that were previously discrete modes have been combined into a single mode called "Shot and more" - this includes the best photo, best face, eraser, drama shot, and panning shot modes. Take the burst sequence, and then apply the effect of your choosing immediately after the image is processed or later in the editing app. Samsung's software intelligently determines which of the modes can be applied to a given burst sequence.

Numerous other modes have actually been removed from the app (Samsung claims they were ones people rarely used), but beauty face, panorama, virtual tour [new], and dual camera remain. Other legacy modes can be downloaded from Samsung's app store, like animated photo, surround shot, sports shot, and sound & shot.

Virtual tour is by far the most interesting - think of it like a walking photosphere. Turn on virtual tour mode, and you're given a centering dot to position the first photo in the sequence. You can then turn left, right, or walk forward to take the next shot. You can continue in this fashion for up to 30 individual snapshots, which are then stitched into a video sequence. I have to say, this is actually legitimately useful. As someone looking for an apartment right now, being able to visit a place and do a quick walkaround with this feature gives me a way to organize a visual overview of a particular place without any extra work, as opposed to taking a bunch of photos and then sorting them out later. The stitching isn't perfect, and it doesn't work with HDR mode, but it can process 30 images into a 1080p video (MP4 format) in under half a minute. Basically, think of it like street view for your phone. I can't help but wonder if Google is working on a similar feature to augment the existing (and awesome) photo sphere mode in its own camera app. Granted, you could just take a video, but this results in a substantially more compact file (<20MB).

Gallery

Feature #1 I love about the new gallery? It finally puts all of your Google+ web albums into a single freaking folder. On my GS4, there are dozens of worthless date-labeled albums synced from my Google account. On the GS5, they're lumped into one big, happy folder like they should be (unless you're in the default Time view, which does sort them into dates).

Screenshot_2014-04-29-13-55-20 Screenshot_2014-04-29-13-55-27

The gallery app is also now much, much faster. That app was one of the slowest I'd ever used on the GS4, but the new version on the S5 is speedy as can be. The restyled app now has object detection, too - it can see scenery, documents, cars, and flowers. That's certainly a very specific selection. It seems to work reasonably well, though, apart from scenery, which included, for me, a picture of a chandelier, some headphones, and the ground. Well, I guess that last one could technically qualify (not that I'd call the cement "scenic").

The built-in editor doesn't really boast any interesting changes - there's a new "Enhance" button that basically makes some standard adjustments to your image to increase contrast and correct white balance and brightness, but I didn't notice much else going on there.

Ultra power saving mode

Everybody's really been talking up Samsung's ultra power saving mode, testing it, showing battery life screenshots, and everything else under the sun. So, in the interest of not being horribly redundant, I'm just going to keep this section to the basics.

Screenshot_2014-04-29-14-12-37 Screenshot_2014-04-29-14-13-18

Ultra power saving mode is quite neat - it throttles the processor and GPU, turns off animations, haptic feedback, Bluetooth, LTE, Wi-Fi, sync, turns the screen grayscale, lowers the brightness, reduces the display timeout, and gives you a much more limited launcher. You can only use a small selection of apps (Twitter and Google+ are supported for some reason, but no Gmail?), control almost no settings, and your notifications aren't synced. You can still use the stock browser app, though, and make and receive calls or text messages (via Samsung's SMS app, no Hangouts support).

Samsung estimates that per 10% of battery life remaining, you'll be able to get 24 hours of standby time in this mode. Impressive. All the data points I've seen basically say this is true, too, so I didn't bother with a full-on test of the feature.

Quick connect

Quick connect is Samsung's way of converging all your various wireless sharing and communication options with other devices into a single menu. The idea is quite good, in theory. In practice, it seems half-baked. It couldn't detect my PC's DLNA share despite being on the same network, though the phone itself was able to be discovered just fine. It did detect my Roku 3 as a potential mirroring device, but when I actually tried to mirror a picture or video to it, nothing happened. It also detected by Bluetooth speaker, so I guess that's nice. It couldn't find my Galaxy S4, though (all sharing features were on, and it's on the same network), nor did it know that my Gear Fit was connected.

Screenshot_2014-04-29-14-14-40

Considering that AT&T has opted not to include the S Finder / Quick Connect bar in the notification area on its model of the phone, the only place you can find Quick Connect mode is as one of the notification bar toggles, quite far down the list (there is no app or setting shortcut). Overall, it seems like a case in point for the overly saturated and poorly-explained state of sharing features on Samsung devices - Quick Connect doesn't really seem to help simplify anything, though it also seems a bit broken in its current state.

Private mode

Private mode is pretty simple - if you put files in the private storage area while private mode is on, and you then turn off private mode, those files are hidden. If you want to access them, you need to turn on private mode, enter your pin, pattern, password, or fingerprint, and then go to the private folder. An interesting idea, if a sketchy one, but there's undoubtedly demand for this kind of security.

Screenshot_2014-04-29-14-04-23 Screenshot_2014-04-29-14-04-40

It works with the gallery and file manager apps, as well as a few others. It's not exactly intuitive, though - going to a specific photo and opening the options drop down doesn't show the "move to private" option, you have to go to the grid view of an album and long-press photos for it to appear. It just is not very user-friendly, which pretty much ensures that most people will end up confused by it and thus not use it.

Not to generalize, but it does have the feel of many of Samsung's first-generation features: half-finished and convoluted. Try again on this one, Samsung.

Other Changes

As always, I'll try to provide you a general list of things Samsung has changed that you may not have otherwise noticed. Please note that I am comparing between an AT&T Galaxy S4 running the latest KitKat update and an AT&T Galaxy S5.

  • Like Sprint and Verizon's, AT&T's S5 doesn't currently include the Download Booster feature, though it allegedly will come in an OTA update.
  • Reading mode is gone in display options.
  • Since someone asked, the haptic feedback seems slightly less powerful than that of the Galaxy S4, but barely.
  • The "adapt sound" feature has been removed.
  • You can now select the default music effect control panel (Samsung's SoundAlive or the standard Android MusicFX).
  • Smart scroll is gone.
  • The air gesture for quick glance is gone, and air gestures are now called air browse.
  • "Edit after screen capture" toggle is gone.
  • Toggle for recommended apps toolbar in notification bar when headphones are connected has been added.
  • Toggle for increased ringer volume when phone is in pocket has been removed.
  • Dock and S View cover options have been removed (there is an S View cover coming soon, maybe it'll get its own app?)
  • One-handed operation mode has been added (a la Note 2 / 3).
  • The stock Downloads app has been removed (now managed in the My Files app, which has been totally redone).
  • Many stock apps have been given flattened-out makeovers, like the calendar, phone, calculator, gallery, etc.
  • There's a new note-taking app called "Memo," which presumably replaces S Memo.
  • S Note app has been added (from Note line).
  • Samsung Hub is gone.
  • Story Album is gone.
  • WatchON is gone (no more video store), replaced by Smart Remote app.
  • A few apps like Group Play and S Translator are no longer installed by default, but show as updates when you sign into the Samsung App Store. Beware - for some, once they're installed, they're system apps.
  • The floating toolbox feature from the Note 3 has been added.

Conclusion

The Galaxy S5 is a bit like a Corvette - if you can get past the plastic and the stigma (TouchWiz), it really is a great high-end smartphone. Well, it isn't as pretty as a Corvette I suppose. Well, maybe as pretty as a C4.

After spending a couple of weeks with it, though, I've come to love the Galaxy S5 in spite of its build quality and software bloat. Between the display, the camera, the water-resistance, and the battery life, Samsung builds a strong case on the merits for the S5 - I can't say I miss the HTC One M8 a bit after using this phone.

But like so many things, personal preference is what it boils down to. More than anything, Samsung's software and build materials keep away the naysayers, and there really isn't enough change on those fronts to bring around the diehard haters. But if you're concerned less with the aesthetic and philosophy and more with the on-the-ground experience, I think the Galaxy S5 will be a pleasant surprise, even for Samsung skeptics. It's not revolutionary, but Samsung shows that even when they're not trying to change the game, they can still legitimately improve in areas where some of their competitors are stagnating.

All that said, the S5 still isn't ideal. The lack of storage, the cheap plastic, Samsung's overloaded software, and its less-than-lightning-quick history with OS updates are all things to consider. If you're holding out for a more stock experience or premium materials, I'd wait and see what Motorola and LG are going to do. For the time being, though, I think this is the best Android phone you can buy on an "all things considered" level. The Galaxy S5 has a lot going for it, and I think Samsung has delivered its best smartphone experience to date.

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David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • grumpyfuzz

    Great review!

    • https://twitter.com/davidjkramer DavidKramer

      One of the best I have ever seen.

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  • Aooga

    That i8 looks amazing, but after reading this on jalopnik, every time I look at this car, I can't unsee this.
    http://jalopnik.com/the-bmw-i8-ate-a-porsche-911-1307154852

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      RIGHT? I told that to some of the other guys gawking and totally ruined it for them.

      • gh0st

        still one of the most futuristic looking cars around :-)

      • Aooga

        At least it won't be too hard to just paint over with black.

    • KlausWillSeeYouNow

      By Jove, you're right! :-O Never saw that before...

      • Aooga

        And now you'll never un-see it. You're welcome!

        • GraveUypo

          damn you.

          now all i'll ever see in this car is a 911 with a protective case.

    • Sootie

      Looks like you spotted chris harris taking it for a spin going from his youtube video (he mentioned a rexxy chase car which you can just see in the corner of the first pic of it)

  • TheUndertaker21

    totally agreed with your points, nice review. but talking about Plastic, Samsung may not change its strategy soon, even some of us may not like plastic, but the plastic phones are still doing great, and that's why htc wants to produce plastic phones. I think that Samsung cares only to prodcut sales rather than consumer's suggestions. anyways, I hope to See Galaxy S5 Prime!

  • Henrique Persechini

    "and maybe still a touch slower than the Nexus 5"

    wow, I stop reading device reviews for a few months after getting my N4 (still strong and loving it) and now a hyped flagship is not freakishly faster than last year's nexus? How weird is that!

    • Ryan Campbell

      I'm betting the difference is the stock Android without the Samsung bloatware Touch Wiz UI makes up the minor speed boost.
      Fewer sub-commands, faster performance of core commands...but that's just my untested theory.

  • Aooga

    So how "creaky" is this phone. I've had Samsung phones before and none of them have "creaked" or made any sounds like that.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Just twist it in your hands. They all do it.

      • Aooga

        Well my arm makes a cracking sound when I twist it. :)
        So it doesn't creak in normal usage, right?

    • EH101

      My S5 is admittedly in a case, but it has no creaks whatsoever. Just removed it from the case, still no creaks. I know creaks, my Note 2 creaked a ton but the S5 doesn't creak at all, even with twisting.

      • Aooga

        Good to know, thanks.

        • EH101

          No problem. If you have any other questions feel free to ask and I'll answer as best I can.

          • Aooga

            What carrier version do you have? You know, since you offered :)

          • EH101

            Lol. I have the Verizon version unfortunately.

          • Aooga

            Ah. Never mind then. I was wondering about the download booster, but only the tmobile version has it.

          • EH101

            Yeah, one of the many things I have to live without. Don't know how I'll manage. Oh well. :P

  • ithehappy

    Lovely review gotta say. Could you tell me how is the vibration strength? Same like S4, or stronger?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Slightly weaker. I kind of hid it there in that final list of bullets.

      • ithehappy

        Thanks.
        Weaker than S4, uff, this is killing me, best display, I so want this, but can't live with childish vibration.

        • Leonardo Farage Freitas

          "...can't live with childish vibration."
          Sorry, but I got say: Lol! :P

  • http://meatcastle.com/ Youre My Boy Bloo

    I am pretty sure that the majority of US M8s are also shipping with 16GB now that they have the expandable storage. You might want to check on that and possibly go make that edit...

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      There is no 16GB One M8 in the US.

      • http://meatcastle.com/ Youre My Boy Bloo

        Well fuck... That's emberassing. I just got the S5 and was looking at the M8 at the same time and when I asked the store clerk she insisted that both phones only came with 16GB of on board storage... I guess that is what happens when you take the word of someone who ended up working as a cell phone peddler...

    • MvP77

      No US M8 have 16GB. All are 32GB.

    • http://twitter.com/7Syon Eclectech

      Yeah, what MvP77 said. Good luck finding a 16GB HTC One M8 for sale in the US.

  • Nicholas Ruiz

    I love the guys at Droid Life but this review blows theirs out of the water. And finally someone besides me saying it has the best battery life. It goes on forever. Behind the Droid Maxx. Or so I have heard

    • A Skylit [S]unjΔy

      The Z2 has better battery life.

  • Mikeb3ll

    That screen!

  • Magnus100

    With only 16gb, this phone is an absolute "no buy"

    • Damien

      Yea being able to add extra space at your desire is crazy!

      • boxtor

        If there were no restrictions about installing apps on the micro SD card, you would have a point.

        • Damien

          With the s4 on official kitkat you can move anything to the external SD card?

  • smeddy

    Why, in 2014, are we talking about 2 hours of screen time for 2 hours or 4 hours of screen time a day as acceptable in any way?
    4 hours followed by daily battery anxiety is awful. Give us slightly bigger phones with 4000mah, or don't bother.
    I don't want to *have* to charge my phone every single night or be crippled without a phone.
    Great review by the way, and I still love my Note 3.

    • Aooga

      2 hrs over 3 days. That's much better than I've gotten with any phone (besides the Note 3).

      EDIT: Never mind. I didn't read the part where it was 4 hours a day.

  • http://twitter.com/7Syon Eclectech

    Finally a reviewer who actually loves the Samsung Galaxy S5! I knew someone was bound to like the phone despite the awful lag and plastic and Touchwiz and less than 10GB of usable space for apps.

    • flosserelli

      "...someone was bound to like the phone despite the awful lag and plastic and Touchwiz and less than 10GB of usable space for apps."

      I am imagining a retail store rep saying that to a coworker during a smoke break. Lol

    • RyanWhitwam

      You either haven't used one or simply dislike it because it's Samsung. It's a good phone.

      • http://twitter.com/7Syon Eclectech

        I've held it and used it. It's a little uglier than the Galaxy S4, has more bezel and exhibits lag like it's from 2012. Touchwiz is bloat central and I can't get over the fact there's less than 10GB of usable space for apps. It's puzzling since the 16 megapixel camera takes great pics and video but those files are very large as a result. They don't write to the SD card. I think you need to stop buying into the hype and Samsung's great marketing and realize they should've and could've done better. They literally phoned this one in.

        • http://cobravision.wordpress.com/ Cobravision

          Pics and vids DO write to the SD card. Most of what you wrote is counter to my experience.

          • Stone Cold

            With the changes in Kit Kat no more writing to SD

          • Luqmaan Mathee

            Some system apps can write to it.

        • PoisonApple31

          I haven't used the S5, but the camera must write to the SD card. I would wager its like the S4 where only some of the modes do not write to the SD card.

        • Ashish

          Lag like 2012? Yea now you're just spewing non-sense. The S4 lagged, the S5 is 100 times better. Take your pick of Android phones, they all they all have their strengths and weakness, but you just sound like a Samsung hater.

          Nexus 5 -- crappy camera, crappy battery life.
          Moto X -- crappy camera, subpar screen
          G2 -- Horrendous UI, inconvenient button placement
          S4 -- horrible lag
          M7 -- subpar camera, terrible ergonomics
          Note 3 -- battery life worse than its predecessor
          Droid Maxx -- same negatives as the Moto X, but the battery life more than makes up for all the negs
          S5 -- muffled speakerphone and the battery flap is quite a inconvenience
          M8 -- no review yet (Sitting at home in a box)

          Yes I've owned and used all those phones and my opinion is just that, my opinion. But in the Android enthusiast world everything seems likes it's Nexus or bust or just a general hatred towards anything Samsung.

          • hyperbolic

            Nexus 5 has an amazing camera. You can look in gsmarena.com and compare camera quality vs. the S4 you will see it's the same.

            Battery life is crappy I can tell you that.

          • Karlo

            Flash costum kernel

          • Akshay Gupta

            I would love to see a Sony there. It makes premium phone imo. But then that's my opinion.

          • Rhenan

            S5 - Horrendous UI, horrendous design, S lag.

          • Stephan Hall

            Good post. And they are all excellent devices.I disagree with the Nexus 5 having a crappy camera. Since the updates the camera is very decent. The Moto X has a very nice display! But your point is valid!

        • https://twitter.com/davidjkramer DavidKramer

          Unless you are using burst, the pics will write to the SD card. The reason the burst goes to on board storage, and probably the HD vid, is because writing to external mem takes time. Show me another phone that does it differently. Heck, even my Rebel cam has a hard time writing to the external mem. The camera uses the onboard system to buffer in that case though.

      • Frettfreak

        I had one. took it back after 13 days. HUGE, laggy, and completely uninspiring. and i REALLY wanted to like it. I was genuinly excited when i got it.. but as i used it more and more, i realized that it was just meh. Great screen though, battery life was good, it did everything good, there was just absolutely zero joy in using it.

        • cmdrdredd

          You must be an amateur because even my mom can figure out that turning OFF S-voice and turning down animation scale helps speed up the device.

  • Naga Sridhar

    No video review for this one??

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Next time!

  • n_a_v

    Another great review by Android Police. Stuff like this is what differentiates you guys.

  • Danny

    I don't get the inconsistency across reviews on performance and battery life for this device.

  • Sean Cummins

    "...but personally I wouldn't go dropping it in a bag of flour any time soon..."

    On-on! Anyone?

  • Stanley Chan

    Great reviw David. I miss the video review...

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Next time. I was sick last week and basically ended up having no time to do a video for this one.

  • Michael McIntosh

    traded mine in for a M8 so I could have root and unlocked boot loader. Greenify/new kernel....the s5 still had better battery :(

  • minica

    Great review! also, the 300SEL looks great too!

  • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

    Great review David. Just one question though: Where did you see mentioned that the S5 has two antennas for MIMO? I've always wanted to find a website that disclosed this information on smartphones, as it is valuable information to me.

    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      I saw that in pocketnow review

      • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

        Do you remember if they had a source?

        • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

          I don't know, maybe try asking Michael Fisher?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      It's in my S5 reviewers' guide and I believe even on Samsung's website.

      • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

        Is that something usually found on reviewers' guides? If so, I would like to humbly request that AP includes that in their specs on phone reviews. Thank you! :)

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          Not typically, it was actually kinda random. The guides usually don't get very technical.

  • talhamid

    Sorry - the 'improvements' you mention in TW or WISH it had - they're all there in Sense 5.5 and Sense 6. HTC One (M7) runs like a dream on Snapdragon 600 while S4 was a slow, buggy mess (I've used both). There is no matching the speed of Sense, it's almost as fast as AOSP Android. Sense 6 is also bright and colourful in the right places. The cloud integration in its Gallery app has been there for ages.

    I am stunned at how the HTC messaging app loads mhy 7000+ messages instantly while every Galaxy I have used (including Note 3) took several seconds every time. And NO, the home button lag does NOT go away after disabling S Voice. And then as an added bonus there is that lovely power button lag too. By contrast, One (m7 and m8) wakes up instantly every time.

    While the question of elegance is clearly subjective, what I am saying is this: the reviewer clearly hasn't used Sense 6 as much and therefore its not fair to discredit it against TW repeatedly, especially after mentioning so many HORRIBLE UI decisions right in this review from Samsung. HTC One has been knocked for its cameras in reviews around the web but to call it slower than S5 and preferring TW over Sense despite the useless features, horrific settings menu, and the me-too My Magazines app that has its own gift of lag? .

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I've used both phones in equal amounts. And Sense 6 is no faster than this new iteration of TouchWiz, not that I'll be convincing such a fanboy.

      • Mozaik

        Here is your proof of Samsung unoptimized touchwiz and sometimes it lags too specially in gallery app , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DChf8nhi2tM .

        • Guest

          David's a big fan of the S5, he had it "blowing away everything else" before it was even announced, and he generally doesn't like to admit when he's picked the wrong horse.

        • Frettfreak

          the s5 is always just a hair slower in app opening speed. LOOK AT TEH VIDEO AROUND THE 1:45 mark... seriously David.. you cant DENY THE LAG!!! and the 3 minute mark... pretty much the whole video

          • https://twitter.com/davidjkramer DavidKramer

            Pffft, dude, you are talking fractions of a second. I have read other reviews where other systems beat it almost consistently. Problem? You are talking tenths of a second or even hundredths. Come on, in almost all cases, you would never even notice the diff. I will be watching for stabilization issues though. So far, so good.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          Most of the differences in this video are absolutely tiny. I never said the S5 was quicker than the M8, but calling this "laggy" is a bit hyperbolic. The multitasking behavior seems to be a designed pause, but acting like this is some huge issue is ridiculous.

          Clearly in the realm of multitasking, HTC's implementation is quicker. That is a single activity.

          If people want to get stirred up into Sense vs TW fights over this crap, be my guest. I couldn't care less, honestly.

      • Frettfreak

        I generally like what you have to say but you are OBVIOUSLY a samsung (boarderline) fan boy. My m7 was WAY more speedy and faster than even the s5 that i had.

        • Damien

          Pitty about the rest of the phone.

        • Stephan Hall

          I've had limited experience with both the S5 and M8. The s5 felt like it was in slow motion...sorta irritating. The M8 felt snappier and had that fluid quick response like I have on my Nexus 5. That's a kudos to HTC sense considering the N5 runs pure Kit Kat! I'm just saying!

  • godutch

    I am fine with the plastic. Actually I prefer plastic to the more "premium" materials, plastic is light and strong and inside they use very premium magnesium for a frame, so the phone is light and very rigid. But I won't buy a Samsung smartphone as long as they keep that ridiculous mechanical button. It looks like something leftover from the stone age. (and I really hate touchwiz too, and it still looks like something leftover from the gingerbread or even froyo days but at least you can change that)

  • blairh

    I liked my S4 Active last year but I'm so tired of the S-Line right now. It needs a redesign IMO. On-screen buttons, more curved backing and plastic done right (N5) or Kevlar. TW needs a larger makeover. Smaller footprint. Lighter not heavier. What a disappointing flagship lineup this year IMO. (S5, M8, Z2.)

  • bill hader

    LG G2 !!!

  • Konstigt2

    No mention of wireless charging? Even more interesting with that waterproofing (covered up micro USB)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Only available with rear covers you have to buy after the fact.

      • http://cobravision.wordpress.com/ Cobravision

        Also, not yet available for purchase. Really Samsung?

  • Kostas

    Great Review.
    How does it stand next to a Note 3 (screen size aside)?
    Do you have an estimation on when a hands on or full review on OnePlus One will be featured on the blog? Thanks :)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Review of the OnePlus One will be some time in the next few weeks, though I won't be reviewing it.

      • Kostas

        Thanks for your reply

    • Clifford Rebelo

      I'm a Note 3 user and my girlfriend just got the S5. I've been playing around with it for only a short time but I can tell it's definitely quicker than the Note. Then again the Verizon Note 3 is still on 4.3 Jellybean and the S5 is on Kitkat so that may be the difference right there. Overall I'm liking the new Touchwiz and Kitkat very much. I love my Note 3 but I tell her all the time that I'm pretty jealous of her new phone. Now just waiting for the Note to be updated to 4.4....thinking about flashing the leaked rom though. If you're thinking about getting the S5 I wouldn't hesitate.

      • Kostas

        Thank you for your input. My gf has the international version of Note 3 with 4.4.2 and its really nice. I 'm guessing it will receive the new touchwiz update at some point. That settings menu though :/ ...

        • Clifford Rebelo

          Haha yeah it's pretty awful. I don't spend too much of my phone time in the menus though so it's something I can look past for now.

        • Ashish

          This is probably the only time Verizon has improved a phone, because this is the settings menu on a Verizon S5...

      • Ashish

        I disagree. During moments of high memory usage the Note 3 is still fast because of the 3GB or ram where the S5 slows down a tad bit. Both phones being the Verizon versions.

  • Dave

    Why people hate touchwiz ? Has someone ever said why it is bad or we all just hate it because we can?

    • Jens Christensen

      Have you ever had a device with Touchwiz on it? Then you'd know.

      • Dave

        I have 3.

    • Stanley Chan

      Wen u root, clean and customize with wanam , you have a nice rom.

  • jesuguru

    Not doubting, just making sure, for low-light pics is there a low-light (night mode) setting and was it tried? I know on my Note 2, low-light performance is awful on auto, but on low-light mode it's actually pretty decent.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      It's totally automatic now, unless you want to manually unable the night anti-shake. I tried with and without, the results are basically similar.

  • Dan

    "The patterning on the bezel is no longer a diamond weave" whaaa? diamond weave? Oh, hey. Look at that. My phone has a diamond weave on the bezel. Neat.

  • Kashmieer

    This has slightly smaller battery than Note 3 and it gets 2 hours SoT. I think that it is awful. I am getting 4+ SoT on my Note 3 with Wifi-3G mixed.

  • Chris

    Ok here's something that bugs me with all reviews on all sites. The reviewer always comments how fast the new phone is. This used to be relevant, but now? How much faster can phones get. The S3 was pretty fast.

    I think what's happening is the older phones slow down over time as they're loaded up with apps, and then this new clean phone seems super fast because your year old phone with full storage is slow. Can we compare a new S4 to a new S5? Or even a new S4 to an old S4 maybe?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Not even close to true. Phones do slow down over time, but there is still plenty of room for improvement in terms of speed.

      • Chris

        Maybe you could do a look back on this phone in 6 months? Maybe record some stuff now that it's new, and do the same things 6 months from now...see how it compares. I'd be super interested in that.

  • Lukács Attila

    Excellent review, thanks!

  • RTWright

    Good review, but you need to get off of the anti-plastic bandwagon that every Joe and their mother gets on against Samsung. I don't see you reviewing other OEM's like this. Only Samsung, it's always about how cheap they feel and you even went as far as to say they creak, the groan, which we all know is bs.....! I've held and used an S5, the only things I agree with you is the stupid Bloatware and the 16GB limited storage for a device of this level.

    Over 90% of the high end phones are made of Plastic, get over it! Over 60% of us put them in some kind of protective case anyway, so what difference does it really, honestly make? NONE! With how phones are outdated within 6 months of release due to such rapid development in this industry, half of us probably don't even keep one past the two year mark, some even shorter than that. I've read here how some of you buy the next phone every year so you can have the latest and greatest. To me that's a bit much, but hey, it's your money.

    My next phone isn't a Samsung S5 either, because I've already decided on Sony Z2, which IS a better phone than the S5. But again it's made of plastic, has 16GB ( Hope to see a 32GB by the time I am ready to purchase it ). But I'm not going to complain about it. It's high time people get over themselves and stop wanting everyone to do the iPhone/HTC metal crap just because it quote on quote LOOKS better... That's all it is, is looks!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      The difference is that Samsung's plastic isn't very nice. Nokia uses nice plastic. Blackberry uses nice plastic. LG has occasionally, too (I think the G2 feels cheaper than the S5, though). Even HTC's plastic phones (One X) have generally been very nice.

      Samsung's plastic feels cheap, sounds cheap, and therefore I have to assume it actually is pretty damn cheap. The S5 is a step up in that department, but Samsung really does need to work on it, because their phones simply don't feel premium. I don't think that means metal or something exotic by necessity, either. Plastic done right would be fine.

      • http://www.Mikereviews.co.uk/ Mike Brown

        Agreed. my HTC One X felt great, it didn't creak if twisted. The S3 & S4 are both more flexible, and they creak when twisted. I haven't played with an S5 yet, but I can believe that it's another "creaker"

        • MicroNix

          How many people are into "twisting" their smart phones? I have an S3 that I really need to squeeze the back cover on to make it "creek". Is that something that bothers me? No. Why? Because it doesn't "creek" when I use it, only when it is abused.

      • k2hsharpe

        i remember when i got my S1 and assembled it - i was appalled by the micro thin plastic back. I have a vague memory i may well have also twisted the handset to see how stable it was - and it may have creaked. I immediately regretted my purchase. But after a little while i realised that stuff is tough as i could ever want, and light as i could want. Like most sensible people i quickly put a case on it. And never though about either of those things again. Because they simply aren't an issue. Why any one would NOT put a protective case on their expensive phone is beyond me? As is why they would want to mechanically deform the handset just to make it squeak? Cos with or with out a case - i have never found these handsets squeak under normal daily use. Since then i've had the S2 and now the Note 3. Sure, the Note 3 back is just as scarily thin but feels somewhat better in the hand - but who nortices it, and who cares? Like always, I've got a good protective case on it. Can't see it, can't feel it - don't care.

        with respect, the thing i've noticed over the past few years is that the main group of people that constantly complain about "cheap plastic" in the Galaxy range are review writers such as yourself. The plastic used is not cheap. And none of the people i know that actually have one thinks it an issue. Low weight, durability and removable backs all take precedence. And from memory, when readers take time to respond to online articles like this - actual Galaxy phone owner / users most often respond in favour of the plastic. The people that complain about are most often those that don't own / use them,. And the journalists of course. It grows tiresome. Very tiresome.

  • Frettfreak

    Had the s5 for 13 days and took it back to get teh g2... what a great decision. I was honestly super under-whelmed by the s5. there wasnt any point in time that i picked it up and said "wow, this phone is awesome" sure it did everything OK. But honestly it was SLOW in certain areas (possibly purposly slow but still slow) like hitting the home button, multitasking, my magazine (all had a second or 2 delay before things came up). They will sell millions and its certainly not a bad phone, it made me relize that Samsung has nothing i want (not to mention that they are trying to forget about android with tiezen and that just BS... they would not be where they are today WITHOUT android so F them)

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Why on earth would you trade it for a G2? That actually makes literally no sense, especially when the G3 is being announced at the end of next month.

      • Frettfreak

        yeah.. i am well aware. Problem is i had already traded in my m7 and there was no way to just get that back and wait. i HAD to get a different phone at that point and wasnt happy with the s5 at all. So i figured all i had was 6 months MAX on this phone (have tmo JUMP) so why not. I thought i would be going backwards but really, i love this phone SO MUCH more than the s5 its ridiculous.

        But yeah.. i know technically it wasnt the samrtest, but i had no other options that i was interested in (had HTC for 2 years and all though i love them, just wanted something different and there were just a few things i didnt like about he m8 - mostly the size and camera)

    • Clifford Rebelo

      If you go into the Developer Settings and turn off all the animations or set them lower you'll see a big difference. I set them to OFF and it's all instant when things come up.

      • Frettfreak

        Are you the same guy i had this conversation with on another site? Seriously? If not you people need to realize that you shouldnt have to gimp your phone (especially one with specs like this) for it to run smooth.

        • Clifford Rebelo

          No that definitely wasn't me. I never looked at it as gimping the phone, it's just something I've always done. I personally don't like all the animations and transitions so figured I'd pass that info along.

          • Frettfreak

            ah. sorry then (it was a painful conversation to have). I can see where you are coming from. I personally love the animations, i think it make the user experience better, but i understand how that would make the phone a bit quicker.

  • trob6969

    The writer of this article should stop lying. The S5's "cheap" plastic "creaks"?! Lol. Just another 'me-too' reviewer echoing the same nonsense that only other internet 'tech' reviewers say and just like them, won't/can't give any reasons why dent and scratch prone aluminum is better. And I can give MANY more scenarios that Samsung's touchless features would come in handy than I can for a fingerprint reader yet Touchwiz is the one ridiculed. What functionality does a fingerprint reader add that your standard run-of-the-mill numeric passcode doesn't? Now THAT'S a gimmick.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I could bend over backwards to say literally nothing bad about this phone and I still think Samsung fanboys would find something to moan about. I agree: the fingerprint scanner is, mostly, a gimmick. It also just kind of sucks.

      As for the plastic, it feels cheap. Accept it. Move on with your life. It is not the end of the world, it just happens to be the truth. Nokia's $100 cheapo X phones feel more premium than a Galaxy S5. Samsung could do nicer plastic, but it would come at the expense of cost and weight. They choose not to, but they are rightly still criticized for it, because it is a compromise.

      As for the touchless controls, they are disabled by default now and buried deep in the settings menu for a reason. It's cool that you think they're useful, but it's obvious even Samsung doesn't really care about them, considering they haven't been expanded or updated in any way since the Galaxy S4, and one of them has actually been removed (quick glance).

      • Frettfreak

        LMAO!! IMO, its not the fact that its plastic. There are phones that are plastic that feel premium, its the way they use plastic. i think you hit the nail when you said it creaks and moans. IT DOES!

      • trob6969

        Do you realize WHY the old plastic Nokia phones feel like they are made better? Because they are noticably heavier! Heft is what gives the impression of 'better' build quality. Now with that being stated, how can one smartphone feel more premium than another when BOTH have virtually no felt weight in the hand? Its all about perception thats why you 'think' one is better built when in reality it isn't...and how often would you say the average person uses a screwdriver or a hammer? Almost never yet pretty much every household in the world, except maybe in third-world countries, has BOTH! Why? Because they can be VERY useful when a time comes that calls for them. Just like Samsung's touchless features...think about it.

        • Frettfreak

          wow man. Relax dude.. glad you like plastic. You are OBVIOUSLY in the minority and thats ok. but trying to convince others in the comments section of a review is not gonna get you anywhere. I agree with the weight will make it feel more premium, but do you know why the M7 and M8 weigh so much and have the "premium" feeling down?? Cause they are made of metal. so... yeah, to MOST people, a slightly heavier metal phone feels much more premium than a light plastic phone.. cause it is.

          • trob6969

            Lol. No need to relax, just trying to put some logical thinking in the conversation...actually the M7/M8 metal has nothing to do with it feeling premium. Quick question: which would you say IS actually better built, the iphone 5 or Galaxy S4? Answer that in your head BEFORE you click the link and watch the vid i put here: iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 destruction test: http://youtu.be/w1dFUBCXlQc

          • Maxime Henrion

            Hahaha, this video is so retarded. The mere concept of such comparisons, "Which of these two smartphones would resist longer to adverse conditions that both aren't equipped to handle anyway?" is not overly useful to begin with but they outdid themselves here. When comparing water resistance, they leave the clock going on for the S4 because the screen is still on, even though it mostly displays garbage at this point, and is probably already unusable since a long time. I'm sure all S4 owners will be delighted to still be able to use their smartphones as flashlights after dropping them in the toilet bowl.

            We also have no indication that the iPhone just didn't enter sleep mode and turned its screen off - that is a very obvious thing to take care of for such a test, but I just don't have any proof it has been taking into account...

            Anyway, thanks, this nearly made my day.

          • Frettfreak

            agreed. Video doesnt mean anything. so the s4 can last longer in water that its not rated for than an iphone can that isnt rated for it either. doesnt mean ANYTHING.

          • trob6969

            Lol. C'mon now! You seem to be trying really hard not to see what's obvious: like you said "neither one is made to withstand water" with that being said, the S4 STILL holds up to it pretty well and much better than the iphone. Even though iphones are sealed tight with no removable backcover, it still got water under the display but the S4 didn't get any! With those results how can you not see that Samsung's phone is built better than Apple's? Lol. Let's be real!

          • Maxime Henrion

            And you seem to be trying really hard not to understand the meaning of my comment - in fact, you are 100% successful at it :-).

            Take a deep breath, sit back, turn off the fanboy mode and maybe read what I said again? You will realize I never stated that the build quality of the S4 is inferior, superior, or even equal in quality with the iPhone 5. (To be honest I don't even care in the slightest as I dislike both phones).

            What I'm saying however, is that this video is a load of crap that doesn't attempt to answer a useful question to begin with, and yet, still manages to screw it up royally, comparing phones over criterions that don't matter to the vast majority of people, and failing at it. Once again, neither phones are water resistant, so I really, really couldn't care less that the iPhone got water under the screen and that the S4 did not. More importantly: it tells us NOTHING about the build quality of the respective devices.

            I think the crux of the issue here is that you don't understand the meaning of "builld quality" and somehow equate it with sturdiness. Well I've got bad news for you, those are two different things.

          • trob6969

            Really? You use the term 'fanboy' without understanding the meaning. The term refers to someone who upholds an unwarranted high status or refuses to admit when a product or even a person is proven with solid evidence to be inferior in some way to others. Now does that fit you or me? Again: lets be real.

      • Android Developer

        Why do you want a smartphone to feel different?
        Most of the important things on a smartphone is being smart.
        There are also other things made of plastic that you touch every day. Doesn't mean they don't do their job well.
        examples: mouse, door knobs, phones, most of the things you touch in your car, ...
        Don't get why plastic feels cheap to some people. Plastic is everywhere already.
        Plus, as many always say, metal is not better than plastic as a cover for smartphones, and people actually prefer non-metal panel to put on top of the device, so this isn't a good argument.

  • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

    I just love how I can tell whenever david is writing a post xD There's a succinct blatancy to it all that makes it oh so enjoyable.

  • Chris

    Does no one realize you can download a FREE app on the play store to measure heart rate? It just uses your camera's flash...anyone with a flash on their camera can measure their heart rate without some random crap stuck on the back. Stupidest thing I've seen added to a phone.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I'm going to go ahead and just venture a guess that it's A.) not as accurate, and B.) a lot harder on your battery.

      • Chris

        Thanks for the replies dude. I really like an interactive writer.

        Please look it up. If you search "heart rate monitor" on the play store, it's the first result. It's called "Instant Heart Rate," and there are others like it.

        It is very accurate. You only use it for a few minutes at most (more like 45 seconds) so it doesn't hurt your battery. Maybe you can bring this to people's attention? Let me know. Thanks.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          45 seconds!? The S5 sensor takes 3-5 seconds if you position correctly. That definitely has an effect on battery, and probably even more so on the longevity of the LED.

          • Chris

            It doesn't take 45 seconds to read your heart rate. I meant you probably wouldn't use it more than 45 seconds (get heart rate, hold it for a bit to watch it).

            Maybe you can download that app and write an article comparing it to the S5's sensor. I would be really interested.

          • shojus

            And if you move while it's taking a reading it prompts you to try again... Such a great piece of hardware that can't read your heart rate while actually doing something? Hmmm

          • Frettfreak

            i could rarely get the HR monitor to work on my s5.... dude... your a fanboy. accept it

          • iKrontologist

            Oh yeah.... let us guess "If you have to think or learn how to do it... it's too hard for you"! .......you really need to get a job or be institutionalized so everything gets done for you. Now that's what iDiots like you think is the simplest way of doing anything. Have it all done for you, so you don't have to tax your brain too much! :D

            Do you even understand the technology behind Samsung FDA Approved Cardiac sensor? Do you know it's the exact same technology Samsung makes for heart rate monitors in hospitals and doctor's offices? Maybe you understand the principles behind Near Infrared (meaning it's visible red light) Photocell/LED pairs and how they work as heart rate monitors. But..... you're about as technology minded as a chicken running around with it's head cut off looking for it's brains! .......you should seriously think about getting a job with your good buddy and fellow Samsung hater..... Ron Amadeo! ;-P ....he's even dumber than you are!!!

    • firesoul453

      It takes way to long and my gs4 heats up a lot while using it. Its very much a bettery hog.

      • Chris

        Works great on my Note 2

  • fillyo75

    I love my S5, best phone i have ever used. Sure, M8 has better build quality, but outside of that, screen battery life and overall package cannot be beat right now.

  • Panam

    I just got my S5. Before syncing back contacts and installing permission greedy apps (like the FB app), I am trying to get back the level of privacy protection I am used to achieve with previous Android phones. Remember the flashlight app?

    As it turns out, “don’t be evil” Google has rendered this impossible. Google removed App ops support in recent Kitkat 4.4.2 “to fix security holes”. (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/dec/20/android-apps-permission-app-ops).
    Ridiculous. This feature now simply ceases to work on non-rooted devices. Google wants it
    that way for reasons that don’t require too much imagination. Ok, no problem. I’ll
    just root the device.
    Here comes PITA No. II: Thanks to Samsung Knox, there are apparently good chances to lose my warranty if I do so (eFuse warranty void flag).

    Thank you Google, thank you Samsung, I’ll definitely consider buying some shares. You
    successfully tackle even the most stubborn of your privacy concerned users by
    creating the perfect no-opt (and broken) system when it comes to privacy protection.

    • SSDROiD

      Did you realize there's a very, VERY easy solution to your problem? 1. You could've bought an Android phone that isn't Samsung if Samsung Knox bothers you. You could've not bought an Android phone if the fact that Google hasn't implemented App Ops yet bothers you. I really don't see how anyone else is to blame but you in your situation. I am starting to get a feeling that you might be a troll, though, as all of this has been clear for months for anyone doing research, so this might be my last comment to you.

  • http://cobravision.wordpress.com/ Cobravision

    I actually like the fingerprint scanner and it works very reliably for me with one hand. Of course, that was after some experimenting and following suggestions from online forums. But Samsung has done nothing to help people make it work. If you only follow the tutorial (which is most people) it won't work properly and implies you need two hands (which isn't true). It's very much like early Android -- "this feature is awesome -- IF you know how to use it".

  • MO

    great and awesome review.

    samsung please fix your TouchWiz issues
    and never remove the button :D

    • Android Developer

      Which button? the home button?

  • Cory Crew

    Sounds like I would love the AOSP version but with samsung's camera modifiations

  • Smansung

    He says that his battery life lasts him 3 days, I feel like the battery life on my phone is not nearly as good. When I leave my phone on standby mode on wifi the battery goes down to about 60 within 5 hours. Is this normal or is my battery bad.

  • jamesfuston

    Here are a few reasons I returned the S5 and went back to my Nexus 5 with GPS issues:
    - As mentioned in the article, the S5 camera is TERRIBLE in the dark. HDR, stabilization, it doesn't matter. It's just bad. 16MP of (software) stabilized HDR produced unreadable text across a small room, where the Nexus 5 HDR was crystal clear. It's not okay to leave true OIS off a camera like this.

    - I don't know why hardware keys on Samsung phones cause input delay, but they do. Noticeably. (no, I'm not talking about the S-voice home button delay)

    - Samsung cranked the scrolling acceleration WAY up. It scrolls so quickly that everything chops and stutters when scrolling through content. Even in Carousel, which is specifically designed NOT to skip and stutter.

    - Very blatantly noticeable delay when trying to scroll on websites that are not cached.

    - Delay when pressing lock button to wake device. I had a Note 2 that did the same thing and the S5 is better, but it's still something that will irk you coming from a N5.

    - Keyboard lag. This is absolutely not okay. Several times (using the Google keyboard) the S5 would completely miss the fact that I hit a key, resulting in auto-correct completely garbling the word.

    Three complaints that I can't blame Samsung for:
    - Using Google Now Launcher (Google Now > My Magazine, and I've gotta have my 4th row of apps on the home screen), engaged Ultra Power Saving Mode to play with it. Turned UPSM off to find that all of the apps had been removed from my home screen except for (Samsung's) dialer.

    - Battery was LEGENDARY during the weekend. I could use the phone all day Saturday and go to bed with ~73% remaining, but come Monday (or any other work day) the battery would drain ~7% an hour with absolutely no use. It's like it wanted to stay on my home wifi and couldn't stand the office connection.

    - I really don't use my phone's camera during the day. It's probably 4 pictures at night to 1 during the day. Don't hear me saying this camera is bad, this camera is just awful for me.

    Also, when I called Google's NEXUS hotline (855-83-NEXUS) they took my N5's IMEI and transferred ownership of it to me so I could RMA it, even though I bought the phone from some dude on Craigslist. EVGA is the only other company that's provided me with customer service of that caliber, and I don't buy GPUs from anyone else now.

    • Frettfreak

      1000% agree with everything. Took my s5 back and got a G2 and havent regretted it ONCE.

      • jamesfuston

        I'm glad to hear that. I was trying to decide between the G2 and the S5 originally, since the G2 is $200 cheaper at AT&T. The battery life of the G2 is very impressive, that's what lured me in. Unfortunately, my experience with the S5 sent me screaming away from anything with a 3rd party skin. This renews my interest for the G3 if Motorola hasn't already taken my money on the 13th; however, I loved the Moto X, so that's probably definitely going to happen.

      • Damien

        Why get a g2 when the g3 is less then a month away????

    • k2hsharpe

      my Note 3 has shocking keyboard lag. If i switch the phone of anfd back oin again it mostly goes away. Mostly. Until it slowly rebuilds in intensity and i have to switch off again. If i'd experienced this before i purchased - it may have been a deal breaker. I don't believe the screen is as responsive as my previous phone the Galaxy S2. Nor is the wi-fi as stable as the S2. And to rub salt in my woiunds - an OTA software update made the camera less clear, more like the S2

  • Alex James Simon

    You forgot to mention the phone can charge 0-100% in less then 2 hours, I've left it for 20 minutes on the charger before, I came back and it was up 20%, about 1% per minute.

    • Android Developer

      I don't think the charging is linear. I wish it was, but I don't think so.
      Shouldn't it take even less, now that it uses USB3 ?

      • Alex James Simon

        That is what I'm saying it charges extremely fast, I'll leave the phone on the charger at like 20% come back an hour later to find its at around 70-80%

        • Android Developer

          Still waiting for the Graphene tech to truly make a difference in battery charging time.
          According to what I heard, using it would reduce battery charge time to less than a minute...

  • Major Suave

    "Plastic: It still feels cheap"

    Maybe it does, but I work at a software developement company and we use about 80 different mobile devices. 10 % of the devices have some cracks on their screens. 100% of the devices with cracked screen are not made of plastic.

    Plastic "feels" cheap but it bends and absobrs shock very well. On the other side of the fence there is aluminium. It is more rigid and does not absorb much. leaves it all to the glass.

    On the plus side, aluminium foil is great to cook food.

    • berthamdonovan

      Eva . I can see what your saying... Robert `s comment
      is surprising, last thursday I bought themselves a Infiniti from making $7905
      this - 4 weeks past and-also, ten-k last month . with-out a doubt this is the
      easiest-work Ive ever done . I began this 8-months ago and right away started
      to earn minimum $82 per/hr . official website R­e­x­1­0­.­C­O­M­

  • willizen

    Well Apple's touchID actually is great and pretty darn reliable. I can't remember the last time it didn't register my right thumb. But if there is one feature I'm a little jealous of as an iPhone user, it's that amoled screen. I don't want a screen that large, but I am a sucker for amoled. Love the saturation and contrast, and it's great to hear that Samsung has worked on the weaknesses.

    • tim242

      I own an S5. I just bought a 5S to try out, for the second time. Touch ID is much better after the 7.1.1 update. However, the iPhone experience leaves much to be desired. I have a MacBook Air, and wanted to like the iPhone. But, it has a long way to go to match Android flagships. TouchID is great, but can't make up for the lack of functionality in other areas. I have the finger scanner disabled on my S5, as it is a joke. But, the rest of the device more than makes up for that.

  • Mark bennison

    It's plastic. So it's lightweight. Simples

  • https://twitter.com/HomerS66 lightstorm66

    i'm really astound that supposedly smart people behave so clumsy when it comes to the fingerprint scanner of the Galaxy S5.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss1m_REsEeo&list=UUgd4ILPETW7nG1tSttVdSmQ

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      If you have to "know how to use it," it's not easy enough to use.

      • iKrontologist

        I bet you have a hard time putting condoms on too! lol..... you are one helluva fat headed moron for sure! Get a different or go work for CrApple Insider. Maybe become a nun who doesn't know how to put condoms on either! ;-P Too difficult to figure out the proper procedure for that or even what the holes in their heads are for and not enough brains to figure it out on their own. Let us know if you ever figure out how to get a girl pregnant? ....might want to wait to get married, try a whore first to figure out if you really know how to use what little tools or brain power to you have to figure that out too! ^_*

  • Avijit Ghosh

    Live HDR -" a feature no one is boasting at this point".

    No one?

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nemesis.cameraholoplus

    I'm sad nobody noticed the live HDR here.

    • https://twitter.com/HomerS66 lightstorm66

      Live HDR in After Effects ...

      • Avijit Ghosh

        After Effects is just a name. Yes it used to apply the effects "after" the photo was capture and before it was saved, but from version 3, it just shows everything live.

        • iKrontologist

          So many features that are relevant to those knowing what Samsung's latest own buckets of R&D Dollars and Engineering have accomplished with 1st ISOCELL release. This CMOS sensor puts Samsung ahead of Sony in innovation as well as now being the largest CMOS Sensor Fabricator in the World.

          Will Sony be missing their business? You better believe it and no doubt this is the primary reason Sony has found that they can't compete with Samsung on memory and processor chip fabrication, smartphones, TV's, Stereos, Notebook Computers and now..... CMOS sensors! lol.... so they sold off or separated TV Division, Killed their computer division so they could concentrate more R&D spending on Cameras and CMOS. But is it too late? Yes.... because ISOCELL is only the tip of the ICEBERG about to Deep Six the Titanic Sony CMOS Sensor Empire!

          The dude should be pistol whipped with his own lame Android Police weapon here! ;-P .....fat F*** headed moron he is!

          The reason is so apparent, if you know anything about ISOCELL features and how it relates to Samsung's Top Rated Fabrication Process. It all relates to Samsung's State of the Art Fabrication Process and being able to embed the phase detection AF sensors in their photo cell array with full 4 sided gates in smaller sensors. Phase Detection Arrayed sensors are easy to do in large DSLR Sensors. But why hasn't a company like Sony been able to put them into phone camera sensors like Samsung just did? Why can't Sony apply fully gated deeper well photocell technology for better BSI? Because they are not near as good or advanced as Samsung's Fabrication Process!

          The Live HDR is not software trick either. It's all hardware related to ISOCELL and the more professional features it brings with it. So good is ISOCELL that Samsung is already licensing away some of Sony's best customers. After Effects? lol.... yeah that's all Software Magic and isn't even being done on the camera itself prior to taking the shots. It's only a live preview of potential outcome. Samsung Live HDR is giving you just that. A live shot of the results! .....and anybody into photography recognizes the benefits of that. But this writers one of the biggest Anti Samsung iDiots on the entire planet. He's lucky his brains aren't mush with the Crap Lies and Ignorance he's exposing on this lame review!!!

          • Avijit Ghosh

            Calm yo tits, nobody's talking isocell or sony here. Yes it's a software "Trick", (it uses OpenGL) and a good one too, for those who want to have Live HDR and cannot afford a $799 Galaxy S5.

            What part of this is difficult to understand?

            You may not know it, but you're attacking a poor app developer as if he just sued Samsung over Live HDR. I'm hurt by your attitude.

          • iKrontologist

            Not attacking you...... lol.... trying to support you. Sony for the first time in over 15yrs lost the #1 CMOS Sensor Spot to Samsung. Who primarily got into CMOS photocell sensor production for the Automotive Industry over 20yrs ago. Also.... I'm just pointing out the difference between hardware features and software features is all. Because many believe Samsung's Live HDR in ISOCELL aren't do to real hardware innovations! .....which they are! ;-)

  • Cameron Scott

    Probably one of the best (thorough, yet concise--fun, informative) reviews I have read, ever...great work!

  • Jillxz

    No deal for me. !6GB only is a deal breaker. Nothing less than a 32GB even if it comes with a SD card slot. I want that on board memory.

  • iKrontologist

    On Android Police, we can always depend on another moronic Anti-Samsung Hateraide filled Bloatware Review! .....the writers here really should take their sorry arses down the road the greener.... cheaper metal products of Applewellian iUnderworld of Depravity and Ignorance of iDiots showboating their ignorance.... like David Ruddock has done here on this review!

    Where does Android Police dig up these iDiots like Ron Amadeo and David Ruddock up at? CrApple Head Monster Quarters? Who all think they know everything there is to know about a Samsung product, when they absolutely know NOTHING AT ALL! ......especially this moron about Samsung. When he espouses his completely and utter ignorance of their entire end to end parts to production divisions, sub divisions, joint ventures, construction, banking, ship building, skyscrapers (w/ stronger lighter concrete because Plastics make it so on the higher floors of Burj Khalifa in Dubai), etc. I mean Samsung invented the technology to build the tallest skyscrapers and largest floating structure in the history of mankind in "Prelude FLNG Project"!!! ;-P ......which is being completed right now in Samsung own largest #1 Shipyard in the World! lol....

    Ask David Ruddock about Cheil Industries or Prelude or Burj Dubai and Kingdom Tower and he won't even know Samsung is responsible for them!!! ahahaha.... now that's the epitome of ignorance!

    Now how about Polycarbonate; which to him it seems, is fine when other companies use it. But when the #1 Award Winning Samsung Cheil Industries spends Mega Big Bucks in Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) to develop the Space Age Polycarbonates that out perform metals or any other materials for a given use. This idiots only knows how to talk dirty about Polycarbonates Samsung has developed that are used in Jet Fighters to Bugatti Veyron's Polycarbonate Removable Roof and Samsung own Eco Friendly eMX Electric Concept Car. What's so ridiculous about that? The very same Award winning Infino Brand PC used in all of them is is made by SAMSUNG CHEIL INDUSTRIES..... the World Leader in R&D Spending on lightweight, durable, flame retardant, scratch resistant, optically clear to colored polycarbonates!!!

    Yet to hear these asswiped morons talk, only the cheap arse low grade soft aluminum in iPhones is any better?!? WTF? lol... this idiot can't have a college degree from anywhere else than some online crap college!!!

    This moron is so lost up his own arse paddling up stream it's pathetic. Samsung is selling more smartphones than Apple, Nokia, HTC, Sony and Motorola combined and he's got the nerve to insinuate they don't know what they're doing???? mwahahaha..... And this imbecile is still in denial of the simple facts. Samsung uses their own more expensive engineered plastics because it fits being REMOVABLE.... to change the battery, SD and Sim card all protected inside that #1 Award Winning Cheil Industries Infino Brand PC used in their eMX and Bugatti Veyron's convertible roof!

    So go tell the Saudi Royals Samsung used cheap plastic to make lighterweight, reinforced concrete they'll be using to build Kingdom Tower and tell Bugatti to quit using that cheap plastic in their super expensive Veyron Convertible. Maybe suggest they use Apple's cheap arsed Alumigate soft Aluminum instead. Because apparently Apple knows how to convince iDiots like this writer that: 1. Cheap Soft Pot Metal is somehow better quality than the Infino Brand Polycarbonate Samsung and Bugatti use in their State of the Art Automobiles. 2. That Apple.... a let's pretend "We Know How to Make Better Polycarbonate Plastic.... than the #1 Automotive Industry Materials Supplier in the World.... in Samsung Cheil Industries!!! lol.... and that without spending one single dime everzzzzz..... on Plastic R&D!!! David F******* Ruddock You Need to Fire Yourself from Android Police and go get a job as a janitor in an Apple Store!!!

  • iKrontologist

    David Ruddock has to be the most incompetent reviewer I've ever encountered. The guy couldn't even do an ounce of research on the simple fact that Samsung has been in Biometrics with fingerprint sensors, facial recognition, voice recognition and multiple method biometric authentication for over 12 (twelve) F******* YEARS vs Apple a little over 6 months.

    Samsung's Secure Access Door Locks alone have been getting installed in Enterprise, Government, Military and Secure Access for over 12yrs? And this idiot is was working harder on proving them bad than proving them good. What kind of jackass hillbilly low life, can't do a little digging into Samsung's history? I mean people and top notch organization most likely including Apple have used their Secure Access Door Locks without a single complaint till now. YouTube is loaded with Samsung's both Slide and Touch ID door locks even using CrApple Store Bought technology from Authentec, before CrApple freaked out over Samsung launching Authentec Sensor according to Samsung's filed first patent in the Home Button of Galaxy S3!

    Yeah.... exactly!!!! Samsung had planned on using a Touch sensor on Galaxy S3. But then Apple swooped in and bought Authentec out from under them. In fact Samsung had a Round metal ringed Touch sensor on this battery operated door lock sensor:

    Which is the exact same technology used in iPhone 5s! ......but yet iDiots like this moron claim they couldn't figure out how to use a slide sensor, never even tried a the copied Touch Sensor on iPhone 5s, but was able to determine that Apple's sensor is better and easier to use? WTF?!?! Worst Review of a Samsung Product since Ron Amadeo blew chunks here on Galaxy Note 10.1! ......so what I want to know is who the F*** owns Android Police? Maybe CrApple..... 'eh???? ;-P

  • Matt

    I have the S5. A lot of its flaws can be fixed, and it does have flaws. If you have ATT or Verizon, sorry, it can't be rooted and the bootloader is locked down. And touchwiz is still incredibly awful compared to the stock google experience. However, put a new launcher on there, a new icon set, a new lockscreen, and it's like touchwiz never existed. Disable the bloat (or hide it with your new launcher) and that goes away, too. When you get the phone down on a hardware level, it's actually really nice. Software can be fixed, or at least hidden - hardware is forever. That's the reason I returned my One M8 - that 4mp camera was never going to be the camera I needed it to be, and google's new selective focus app removes their 3d advantage, anyway.

    • iKrontologist

      It's been rooted already! lol.... Touchwiz is awful compared to stock Android? Oh man another dildo that doesn't even understand what Touchwiz is all about or even what it does and doesn't do. M8 has two cameras, but they are not for 3D use. Is it's cameras pretty much worthless? Compared to ISOCELL every smartphone camera is worthless that includes the fact Touchwiz is an integral part of the S5's camera features. Without Touchwiz..... half the hardware features in Galaxy S5 won't work!!! ....but if the garbage talk from iDiot Apple fans to try and keep Samsung from totally blowing all their competitors put together completely out of the water with ignorant claims about Touchwiz seem to be failing, whether anybody realizes it or not! lol...... over 400 Million Samsung smartphones will be sold this year vs 170 Million projected for all CrApple's iPhones sales put together. In fact for the 3rd year in a row, Samsung will again out sell all iPhones, Nokia, HTC, Sony, Motorola combined! NOW THAT'S WHAT YOU CALL GLOBAL DOMINATION!!!

      • Matt

        The ATT and Verizon versions (please read) have not been rooted, you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

        The M8 has two cameras precisely for 3d use, the second one is a depth sensor. (i.e. 3d, as opposed to a 2d "flat" photograph with no depth info)

        If touchwiz is so integral, why does the google camera app work just fine? Oh no, I'm missing out on "beauty shot", how will I survive?

        I don't know where the hell you got that I was an apple fanboy, especially considering I didn't bring them up once in my comments. I switched from the M8 (an android flagship) to the S5 (another android flagship).

        Seriously we're all dumber for having read your post. Ugh.

        • iKrontologist

          I'd never buy a phone from Verizon in the first place. But we all know it's inevitable that the boot loader gets unlocked, because no Samsung phone has ever failed to be rooted eventually. I've rooted every Samsung phone I've ever owned. Of I'm not stupid enough to buy one on Verizon either!!! ;-P

  • Spumz

    s5 screen not lighting up when I receive a text message- help?

  • https://twitter.com/davidjkramer DavidKramer

    Just picked one up after years......actual YEARS of having a Blackberry Curve. The only thing I find detrimental, the thing is the size of a small Notebook....which is completely a good thing as well. Geez, I might put away the HDTV for web surfing. Getting to know the software and deleting the bloatware will be the next step. As for that, got to get something to block all the ads.....for years I have been spoiled. Do not see any ads, boom, begin surfing the web and there they are! 10 out of 10 so far. As for the case...embedded the SF in a Otter Box and now it is like a little tank with rubber cushioning!

  • Sadie

    Great review and very helpful. But my phone gets sooo hot! Why? It is either going to melt my thumbs or my face... depending on what I'm using it for at the time.

  • http://www.dailynewscompany.com/ dailynewscompany.com

    detailed and comprehensive review thanks for sharing

  • maya

    I got my phone the same day that it came out. Just a few days ago I noticed the lens shattered. I never dropped it or any thing. I have a good cover on it. So I looked it up online to see if other people have had the same problem and yes they have I'm not the only one. It's a very thin glass.. now Samsung wants to change me $70.00 to fix it but how do I know it won't happen again. Not even a month and I can't use my camera and that was one of the main reasons why I wanted this phone. I don't recommend it

  • http://www.asuntest.com Golden Chen

    Samsung Galaxy S5 leather flip cover with 5 colors. white colors seems best choice.what`s the color you`d like? Coffee, black, blue ?

  • Eashan

    Why did Samsung get rid of the menu key and changed it to multi-tasking button? I loved that more than anything! Samsung should not listen to hue and cry of brainless customers! :/

  • Eashan

    Samsung Galaxy S5 is the best phone in the world and S5 Prime will beat it

  • David Martin

    It's certainly the best Android device available in the market. But, when I went through a post http://www.onlinephonecontracts.co.uk/blog/samsung-galaxy-s5-vs-sony-xperia-z2-detailed-comparison/ I had to change my mind as Xperia Z2 is better than the S5 in terms of overall design, appearance and battery life.

  • Aidans4

    Anyone who used an S4 and was familiar with the system emoticons (not the green faces but the iphones Emoji app kind of faces on the keypad) perhaps could shed some insight as to why, A. They are sent VIA MMS and B. The S5 gets to send them as a normal SMS, BUT an s4 is unable to see them? They come up as ???

  • Gadget2us

    Great samsung s5 leather case

    • Gadget2us

      reliable

  • Ann Frolova
  • Mj Thompson

    I'm using galaxys5 this is the second one its
    incurring 3 or 4 times the data that I normally use I'm not doing anything different also turned off background it says I'm connected to WiFi but yet have no data connection it takes forever to do we download apps it gets really hot have to wait for it to cool down help cause my s3 was way faster and I had over 100 apps I hardly have any on this one and I only had a few when this started happening

  • Zakhmi Dil
  • COBRACHOPPERGIRL

    So this is the $600 phone the 1% uses.... the first to lose their heads in the next revolution...

  • Backslap_Bob

    The other downside is that Samsung won't allow lockscreen widgets with the phone and the vibrate alerts are way too weak, even on the highest intensity settings.

  • pizzamannetje

    "Finally, the alphabetical list view mode has been removed, because seriously who would ever use that."

    Me :-(

    It's very fast with the letter shortcuts and thumb scroll.

  • nick

    It is a big improvement over the S4 imho.

    ( http://goo.gl/ZDTX1N )

  • bjc

    Why did they remove alphabetical list view for the app drawer?? This was a bad move. If you have tons of apps, you can hit the letter that corresponds to the app you are looking for, not having to scroll through a bunch of pages of stupid icons. This needs to come back.

  • gacl

    It is ridiculous to complain about the plastic when almost everyone wraps them in some kind of case.

  • http://www.dpstreaming.fr walid mouzouri

    thanks for such a knowledgeable post. Film streaming - musique - Film en streaming - musique rai

  • gradyphilpott

    Apple must pay reviewers to call the Samsung cases "cheap plastic," because that really is not a apt name for one of the lightest, strongest, and most durable materials available. It's proper name is polycarbonate.

    Tech reviewers are supposed to be smart, so they aren't incapable of googling polycarbonate and if they aren't good spellers, then they can at least copy and paste.

    So, the reason I'm left with is payola.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycarbonate

  • Teds Dunn

    I think some of the features here are available at older models. https://vid.me/PL5

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