Samsung Galaxy S5 Review - HotHardware

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

4 thumbs up
The Android smartphone wars are heating up here in Q2 with Samsung, HTC and soon LG releasing flagship devices targeted at luring in enthusiasts and mainstream consumers who might be looking to upgrade to the latest technologies and screen sizes.  We just gave you a detailed evaluation of HTC's One (M8) for 2014 and today we're here to bring you our view of Samsung's new Galaxy S5 Android superphone.

At Samsung's Unpacked event in February, we got some early hands-on time with the Galaxy S5 and what impressed us then is what impresses us now, now that we've had a few weeks to live and work with the device in house.  The first thing that stands out is its beautiful 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display.  Then you're treated to the snappy, fluid responsiveness of its beefy Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor.  But, as we've come to find out with HTC's One (M8), there's a lot more to a smartphone than just a pretty screen and a screaming-fast mobile processor under the hood.  It's a damn good start though.

In practical use, the definition of a "superphone" would be a well-balanced combination of high quality industrial design, functionality and a feature set that's backed-up with top-end horsepower and solid battery life.  It's not easy to hit all those targets in one device and not make at least a couple of compromises somewhere along the way.

So does the Samsung Galaxy S5 live up to the build-up?  Better still, is it merely just equal to the sum of its parts or are we talking true Android greatness here?  Let's have a look.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Review - HotHardware.com


Our Full Video Review With Detailed Demonstrations

Samsung Galaxy S5
Specifications & Features
Display: 5.1" FHD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080)
Processor: 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 with Adreno 330 Graphics
OS: Android 4.4.2 (KitKat)
Camera: 16MP (rear), 2.0MP (front)
Video: UHD@30fps, HDR, video stabilization, Video Codec : H.263, H.264(AVC), MPEG4, VC-1, Sorenson Spark, MP43, WMV7, WMV8, VP8
Video Formats: MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM
Audio: Audio Codec : MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/ AAC+/ eAAC+, WMA, Vorbis, FLAC
Audio Format: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, WMA, AMR, AWB, FLAC, MID, MIDI, XMF, MXMF, IMY, RTTTL, RTX, OTA
Camera Features: HDR (Rich tone), Selective Focus, Virtual Tour Shot, Shot & More
Additional Features: IP67 Dust- and water-resistant
Ultra Power Saving Mode
Download Booster
S Health 3.0
Quick Connect
Private Mode
Kids Mode
Google Mobile Services: Chrome, Drive, Photos, Gmail, Google, Google+, Google Settings, Hangouts, Maps, Play Books, Play Games, Play Newsstand, Play Movie & TV, Play Music, Play Store, Voice Search, YouTube
Connectivity: WiFi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac HT80, MIMO(2x2),
Bluetooth: 4.0 BLE / ANT+
USB 3.0
NFC
IR Remote
Sensors: Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, Hall, RGB ambient light, Gesture(IR), Finger Scanner, Heart Rate sensor
Memory: RAM: 2GB
Internal Memory: 16/32GB
microSD slot up to 128GB
Dimensions: 142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1mm, 145g
Battery:

Priceing:
2800mAh
Standby time: 390 hrs / Talk time: 21
$149 - $199 on contract with all major carriers

Just quickly scan of the Galaxy S5's spec list and you're treated to a veritable laundry list of the latest technologies.  First, Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 801 with Adreno 330 graphics is the processor on board the GS5 and it in and of itself is a sizable upgrade over the Snapdragon 600 found in the previous generation Galaxy S4. However, the list goes on from there, and the upgrades are substantial almost on every front.  The highlights are a larger 5.1-inch full HD Super AMOLED display, (which is probably my favorite enhancement on board the GS5), a new higher resolution 16MP camera (capable of shooting 4K UHD video), the latest 802.11ac MIMO WiFi technology, USB 3, and a larger 2800mAh battery.



Cap all of those upgrades off with IP67 dust and water resistance (IP stands for "Ingress Protection" - there you learned something), similar to what was built into the Galaxy S4 Active and Samsung clearly has given consumers a lot to look forward to in the Galaxy S5.  Let's investigate the GS5's hardware design cues, build quality and software complement next...

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I REALLY like the new GS5. It pretty much hits my entire wish-list of features.

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Didn't they find the figure print scanner faulty?

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No, it worked rather well for me. I didn't have an issue. Maybe there was a firmware update or something that fixed it because mine just worked.

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To me, this seems like just another slightly evolved mee-too 'meh' phone.

Sure, its capable, but really offers nothing you can't get on just about every other current phone.

And the usual samsung cheap-ass construction leaves me cold. When I pay this much for a phone I expect it to feel premium, not junky plastic. They should take a leaf from Nokia's book and spend a lot more time on materials and physical design.

One last thing I'd love to see from Samsung is a straight google experience phone with none of their shovelware pre-installed (and non-uninstallable)

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Not really a fan of this phone... Ascetically it isn't pleasing which is unfortunate because the Galaxy line hasn't been attractive since the SII. Hardware wise it is exactly as expiated which isn't Samsung's it is the whole industry. But compared to offerings like the HTC One M8, Oppo Find 7, One+1, LG Flex G and a few others this phone really doesn't stand out. Great phone yes, worthy of my cash no,

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I'm more than happy with my nexus 5.

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MCaddick and sevags, have either of you actually picked up and worked with a GS5? It's easier to dismiss it just looking at pictures but I can tell you the construction isn't "cheap"... The new back casing is solid and it feels durable. Granted, the silver trim ring around the edge of the device isn't great though. Still overall, it doesn't "feel" cheap by any means. It actually feels premium (to me) and performs that way as well.

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Compared to almost every other phone out there, samsung phones ARE cheap and plasticy.  They are designed to 'shatter' when dropped to help dissipate the energy when hitting the floor.

To claim that they aren't flimsy, nasty feeling, and cheap shows a lack of YOUR experience with any good phones.

There are lots of plastic phones, and they ALL feel better than samsung's galaxy line.  Pick up a Nokia lumia 920/1020/1520 and you'll immediately see how a polycarbonate phone CAN be solid, and yet light and feel great.  Even the iPhone 5c with its 'apologetically plastic' design feels great.  Samsung phones just feel nasty and this is borne out simply by every serious review of the product clearly stating this. 

I cann't fathom how anyone could say the 5 feels 'premium' when it so obviously does not.

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Slightly lower build quality?! Dave, that is such an understatement. Samsung phones are complete garbage on build quality compared to HTC and Apple. Even the GS5 feels lower quality then just about every other top tier device.

Plus the software is completely skitzo. Who needs two or three versions of every program? All of them looking and acting different. The settings and control menus don't follow the same pattern ether, some are google style, some touchwiz, and some that new Samsung style.

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Sorry, Infinity, I disagree. Again, have you actually picked up a GS5? Build quality and materials are much better than the GS4 in my opinion. It's not the level of the HTC One (M8) but it's not bad.

And I don't see anything "skitzo" about the UI, honestly.

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