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Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

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The Samsung Galaxy S series has been on the top since the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy S3 when it outnumbered Apple’s iPhone 4s when it comes to sales for the very first time. This year, Samsung’s 5th generation flagship made a big buzz during the 2014 Mobile World Congress. In order to remain competitive, Samsung has put some minor improvements to keep users buying this phone. We are lucky enough to secure a unit and able to review it. Would we recommend this phone? Find out and read on.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 specs:

  • 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16/32GB internal memory expandable via MicroSD up to 128GB
  • 5.1-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display (1080 x 1920 pixels) 432 ppi
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • IP67 – water and dust resistant (up to 1 meter for 30 minutes)
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • 16 megapixel rear facing camera with autofocus, image stabilization and LED flash
  • 2 megapixel rear facing camera
  • LTE, WiFi, WiFi hotspot, DLNA, WIFi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Infrared Port
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Nano SIM
  • 2,800 mAh Li-Ion battery
  • Android 4.4 Kitkat
  • SRP: P34,990 – Samsung stores and retailers; P29,999 – Kimstore; P31,000 – DB Gadgets
  • Status: Available in Samsung stores, retailers, online stores, discounted (or free) price under Smart or Globe postpaid plans

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HARDWARE AND DESIGN:

Most blog we’ve read said it does look like the Samsung Galaxy S4 only taller and thinner. We think it looks more like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 only smaller, lighter and thinner. Gone is the shiny back cover of the S4 and replaced it with a perforated matte back. It does make the make the phone more secure when holding as it prevent it to slip out of your hands. Nice touch! We saw demo units of the Samsung Galaxy S5 in color blue and we love it. It nice that they added some color options but we wish there could be colors to choose from though.

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The Samsung Galaxy S5 under water!
We tried submerging the Galaxy S5 on water for 10 minutes. It worked fine after getting it out of water.

DISPLAY:

Samsung still preferred to put a Super AMOLED display on the S5. AMOLED display tends to over saturate colors, a thing that we really don’t like about the S4 and especially the S3. We were a bit surprised that colors are now more natural and cooler on the S5. It is like an IPS panel than AMOLED.

FEATURES, SOFTWARE AND PERFORMANCE:

This may be the longest part of our review since Samsung has put so many features on this phone. We tried some of them and here’s what we think.

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92 bpm?!? That high! The author has hypertension anyway.
Heart Rate Monitor:

None has ever thought to put a heart rate monitor on a smartphone and the S5 is definitely the first. The Heart Rate Monitor is found on Samsung’s own pre-installed app, S Health. We are not actually health buffs so we don’t know if the Heart Rate Monitor is accurate. We tried it a number of times and it does work fine.

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Fingerprint Scanner:

The fingerprint scanner is hit or miss. The fingerprint scanner of the Galaxy S5 can do more than just unlocking the phone. It can be used for online payments too. Compared to the iPhone 5s, unlocking the phone using the fingerprint scanner on the S5 is different. You have to swipe your finger to unlock the phone. When we swipe a little faster it doesn’t recognize our fingerprint. We do think a software update must be needed to fix this.

 

Software:

Just like its predecessor, there are two kinds of Galaxy S5, the one with a 2.5Ghz Quad Core processor and an Octa core processor (a 1.9GHz Quad Core Cortex A15 processor and 1.3GHz Quad Core core A7 processor). The one that we have here in the Philippines is the 2.5GHz Quad Core variant. It performs better than the S4 obviously thanks to its cleaner UI and slightly better Qualcomm processor.

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Touchwiz, Samsung’s UI on top of Android 4.4 Kitkat has a slightly new look. It is generally plain and cleaner than the older versions. You’ll notice the new UI from the drop down notifications and the setting menu.

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Gaming:

With its slightly better processor, playing graphic intense games like Dead Trigger 2 is better. Loading time is faster and lags are very rare.

CAMERA:

The S5’s camera has been bumped up to 16 megapixels (from 13 megapixels of the S4). Samsung has also loaded the camera with so many features. Overall, photos taken from the 16 megapixel camera is better than its predecessor but  we’ve seen even much better shots from the Nokia Lumia 1020, Lumia 1520 and Sony Xperia Z1 and Z2.

Sample photos:

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Sample photo using the Select Focus feature

CONNECTIVITY:

WiFi reception from the S5 is better probably the best we’ve seen. Our WiFi router at home is located at the 2nd floor in a study room full of obstructions. But the S5 managed to get 2 bars downstairs far from the study room. Our unit here is Globe locked. Unfortunately, we can’t test our Smart SIM here. Globe LTE, in all fairness, has improved tremendously for the past couple of months covering many areas in Metro Manila. We got decent 7 to 12Mbps on the areas with Globe’s LTE coverage.

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Speed test taken at Bonifacio High Street in Taguig City.
BATTERY:

Battery is just average but better than S4’s battery. We opted not use the power saving mode or even the new Ultra Power Saving mode to test how long will the phone last on a single charge everyday. You all know heavy smartphone users we are. Playing Dead Trigger 2 for hours, 2 hours of Skype video calls, 1 hour of regular phone calls, texting, Viber calls, watching You Tube videos, LTE on, WiFi on, and GPS on gave us 7 hours of battery life with 12% remaining in the tank.

VERDICT:

Would we recommend this phone? If you are a Samsung Galaxy S3 or S2 user, we think its about time that you get the S5. If you are using an iPhone, please do get the S5. A bigger screen is always a plus. If you are using a Sony Xperia Z1 or Z2 and the LG G2 please hold on to your phone. Trust us, it is better than the S5. Your Sony Xperia Z1 or Z2 has better build quality, better looking and better camera. It is wise for LG G2 users to wait for the LG G3 which will be announced soon. There’s no need for Galaxy S4 users to upgrade to S5 as well.