Most Powerful Galaxy smartphone Ever :Samsung Galaxy S5 review

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It’s 11th April and the Samsung Galaxy S5 is finally in the shops. That’s given us plenty of time to consider whether this is the best Samsung Galaxy phone ever (which it is) or merely an update to the S4 (which it is).

Look and feel
First things first. How does it look? It’s recognisably a Samsung Galaxy S phone, and from the front it’s very similar to previous S series phones. It’s still plastic. But the back of the phone is different. It’s a perforated casing that looks very smart and comes in a choice of 4 surprisingly tasty colours – Charcoal Black, Electric Blue, Shimmery White and Copper Gold. We were so relieved to see that Samsung hadn’t adopted the hideous fake leather look of the Galaxy Note 3 that we’d have welcomed anything. But really, we like this new look a lot, although it doesn’t match the sexiness of the HTC One M8.

When we said that the case was perforated, we didn’t mean that it was full of holes. In fact, if ever there was a phone that is so not full of holes it’s the S5, and that’s because it’s water- and dust-resistant with an IP67 certificate. That doesn’t mean that you can take it swimming, but you can take it out in the rain without worrying. And if you live in Britain, that can only be a good thing.

There’s something else that’s new, and it’s a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home button. That’s cool, and it looks like this is the way of the future for all phones. The S5 requires a swipe rather than the simple click of the iPhone 5s, but it works well enough.

The S5 comes with a 5.1 inch Super AMOLED display with 1920 x 1080 pixels and it’s simply stunning. Super AMOLED delivers the brightest whites and the darkest blacks, and the effect is quite extraordinarily vivid. It’s perhaps not the most subtle display, but the vast majority of users will love it.

Overall, the S5 is a large phone – larger than the S4 even though the screen size is virtually the same – and it’s heavier too. It’s not as heavy as its metal and glass rivals from other manufacturers, but it’s still heavy.

Fitness features
On the back of the Galaxy S5 you’ll find a heart rate monitor, situated just below the camera lens. This is the first heart rate monitor to be built into a smartphone. Woo! But is that what the world’s smartphone users most wanted? You can already buy heart monitors – you’ll find them on the bottom shelf at the pharmacist, next to the verruca cream. We haven’t noticed queues of people waiting to buy them. But perhaps we’re wrong. Perhaps this will be a game changer. Because Samsung is also heavily pushing its new Galaxy Gear Fit smart watch. The Gear Fit is poised to revolutionise exercise, according to Samsung’s press release, so yeah, it looks like we were completely wrong about this. Sorry.

Fast photography
The Galaxy S5 has an uprated camera too. It’s uprated to 16 megapixels, and it has the world’s fastest autofocus in a camera phone, being able to focus in just 0.3 seconds. Selective Focus let’s you keep the subject sharp and blur everything else, like the pros do. Also impressive is the way that HDR mode works in real time, so you can see exactly how your photos will look. The camera can also shoot 4K video.

We have to say that this is one of the very best cameras on any phone. It definitely beats HTC’s UltraPixel camera for sharpness.

Fast connectivity
The S5 also comes with a new faster version of Wi-Fi and is 4G compatible. The Download Booster uses both your Wi-Fi and 4G connections to increase the data speed to the maximum possible.

Fast everything
In olden days, the fact that the Galaxy S5 has the fastest processor ever – the Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5GHz processor with 2GB of RAM – would have been a headline feature. Now it’s just one of the specs. All of the latest 2014 superphones have massively powerful processors – mostly the same Snapdragon 801. This new processor can deliver some tangible benefits when playing CPU-intensive games, but for everyday user interface stuff it simply isn’t noticeable. In fact, navigation can sometimes feel slightly laggy, which is astonishing for such a high-powered machine. Sort it, Samsung!

Samsung has certainly packed a lot into the S5. The device runs Android 4.4 KitKat with Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface overlay on top. The S4 was already bloated with gadgets, and the S5 has even more, with the new fitness features topping the headlines. There’s the S-Voice personal assistant as well as the Google Now personal assistant.

The phone comes with either 16GB or 32GB of built-in memory and you can add up to 128GB of extra memory via a microSD card. That’s a lot of storage.

Battery life
Battery life is the elephant in the room for modern smartphones. Who cares what your smartphone can do if the battery is dead? The S5 comes with a new Ultra Power Saving Mode which turns the display to black and white and closes all background features. This can keep the phone alive for 24 hours if necessary. We would have called it Life Support Mode, but that’s why we’re here writing about phones instead of making them.

If you don’t resort to such desperate measures, you’ll find that the Galaxy S5 can get you through a day of heavy work, but not more than one day. You’ll be plugging this animal into the power socket every night if you’re anything like us.

Samsung is heavily pushing the fitness features of the S5 as part of its strategy to sell us all smart watches. Will that happen? We don’t know, but probably not. What then, is the S5’s killer feature? The fingerprint scanner? The fast autofocus? The new colours? Here at S21, we’re struggling to see whether the S5 really has a killer feature, or whether it has a killer cocktail – a blend of everything just being perfect.

We don’t see a wow factor here, and that could be a problem for sales of this device. It’s obviously a brilliant upgrade for owners of the S3 or S4, and it will surely meet the needs of users without reservation. But will it thrill them? Only they and their Galaxy S5’s heart monitor will know for certain.

Samsung Galaxy S5 features include:

  • 16 megapixel camera with LED flash, autofocus, face detection, smile shot, digital zoom, UHD 4K video recording
  • 2 megapixel front camera with 1080p HD video recording
  • Display: Super AMOLED, 16 million colours, 1920 x 1080 pixels Full HD (5.1 inches) capacitive touchscreen
  • Music player
  • Integrated handsfree speaker
  • GPS, Glonass, Beidou with Google Maps
  • Messaging: SMS, MMS, instant messaging, email
  • Processor: 2.5GHz quadcore
  • Memory: 16GB or 32GB plus microSD memory card slot (up to 128GB), 2GB RAM
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, micro USB 3.0, 3.5mm audio jack, MHL 2.1, NFC, ANT+
  • Sensors: Gesture Sensor, Fingerprint Sensor, HR Sensor, Hall Sensor, Accelerometer, Geomagnetic Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Light Sensor, Barometer, Proximity Sensor
  • LTE 4G, HSPA+ (850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100MHz), EDGE / GPRS (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900MHz)
  • Size: 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm
  • Weight: 145g
  • Battery: 2800mAh battery
Filed in: Computer Hardware, Mobile Launch, News, Technology News

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