Samsung Galaxy S5 hands-on and first impressions

February 24, 2014
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    MWC 2014 Coverage brought to you by: Bitdefender Mobile Security & Antivirus for Android.

    The first day of Mobile World Congress brings us the most anticipated device of the show and probably of the first half of 2014. The Galaxy S5 has just been officially unveiled by Samsung, but we were fortunate enough to get early access to it, so we can offer our first impressions and thoughts on Samsung’s new flagship.

    With a lot of wild rumors swirling around it, is the new Galaxy S5 everything you expected it to be? To find out for yourself, check out Josh’ take in our Galaxy hands-on preview video above, or keep reading for more details.

    Galaxy S5 hands-on image gallery

    Design: something borrowed, something old

    We were all expecting a big change in the design department, but unfortunately we are not going to get what we hoped for on the Galaxy S5. In fact, the front of the Samsung Galaxy S5 is very similar to the front of the Galaxy S4, and we wouldn’t be surprised if some less savvy users confused one device for the other. The biggest difference on this side is the absence of the hatch pattern present on the S4 – besides that, pretty much everything looks the same.

    It’s the back where Samsung has made the biggest changes to the Galaxy S5. After the Note 3 ditched the glossy plastic in favor of a texturized plastic mimicking leather, it’s time for the Galaxy S5 to move away from that long in the tooth shiny plastic. Instead of faux leather though, you get a soft-touch plastic with a perforation pattern, that reminded us a lot of the finish of the first generation Nexus 7. We have to say, this textured material feels nice in hand, though probably not everyone will appreciate its appearance.

    The Galaxy S5 comes in four colors: white, a charcoal black that looks more like a dark gray, gold, and electric blue. The most striking is the blue version, as you can see from our video and image gallery, but we imagine the gold model will turn some heads as well.

    Samsung placed the flash below the camera module, along with an infrared heart sensor, that we’ll talk about a bit later. On the bottom of the phone, you will notice a plastic flap that covers the USB 3.0 port – as rumors suggested, the Galaxy S5 is waterproof and dust resistant, boasting an ingress protection rating of 67.

    Overall, the S5 closely resembles Samsung’s older devices, from the button layout to the chrome sides, and the general profile. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, of course. And we’ll give it to Samsung: even with the 5.1-display and the slightly larger footprint, the Galaxy S5 still handles and feels great in the hand.

    A massive specs arsenal

    Samsung flagship devices are known for their top specifications and richness of features, and the Galaxy S5 is no exception. Starting off with a Qualcomm processor clocked at 2.5GHz, the processing package is completed by the 2GB of RAM. This latter spec may seem like a step backwards after the Note 3, but it’s not clear how big the speed advantage offered by that extra gigabyte of RAM is.

    The 5.1-inch display of the Galaxy S5 is virtually indistinguishable from the 5-incher Galaxy S4, given that both devices pack the same Full HD resolution and very close pixel densities. Colors are vibrant, blacks are super deep, and viewing angles are excellent.

    The Galaxy S5 packs a fingerprint sensor that’s integrated into the home key. This is a slide type sensor, so, to use it, you have to slide your finger slowly from top to bottom across it. You can record up to eight different fingerprints. We didn’t get to try this feature out extensively, but the fact that you have to move your finger across the sensor is a bit less convenient than the solution that Apple used on its iPhone 5S.

    One of the more special features of the Galaxy S5 is the heart rate sensor located on its back, near the flash. Just put your finger on the sensor, and using infrared, it will determine your pulse. The sensor seemed fairly accurate, but moving the finger slightly while measuring heart beats results in loss beats and incorrect reported rates.

    The Galaxy S5 comes in 16 and 32GB storage options, with the usual microSD card slot. The removable battery packs 2800 mAh. One of the coolest new features of the device is the 16MP Isocell sensor, which should make for some amazing pics. The S5 is the first device to integrate Isocell, a technology we’ve reviewed extensively here, that should reduce noise and bloom, even in difficult lighting conditions. The few test shots that we took with the device turned out great in the uneven light of Samsung’s MWC booth, and we look forward to trying it more thoroughly.

    Software: TouchWiz with a twist

    Just like with the physical design, Samsung made changes to the user interface of the Galaxy S5, but didn’t deliver the extensive revamp that we anticipated. Some elements have received new clothes: the toggles in the notification dropdown are now in line with the design of the TabPRO and NotePRO tablets. My Magazine is present on the leftmost homescreen, but the homescreen has remained unchanged. And the same can be said about the app launcher, which is the old TouchWiz we’ve all known for years.

    The Galaxy S5 features a redesigned settings menu featuring round icons similar to those that Samsung used in their MWC teasers from the past weeks. It’s a rather big change, and we think many users will need time to adjust to it.

    One neat new feature is the Ultra battery saving mode, which turns the screen to grayscale to save energy. In some cases, switching to this mode can double the remaining battery life. Samsung also revamped the camera app, with a simpler mode selector and easy access to the app’s many features and settings. There’s also Kids mode, PayPal mobile payment integration, and some other new features that we’ll go through in a separate post.

    Overall, TouchWiz on the Galaxy S5 is still… TouchWiz. We were hoping for a full-on redesign, but Samsung only touched the S5’s interface in some areas.

    Check out our other coverage for more information on the Galaxy S5 and the new Gear 2 and Fit smartwatches!

    Comments

    • AndroidBoss

      So this is the new metal material? Wow.

    • wat

      It is shit. fucking shit. Too small etc.

      • AndroidBoss

        Well, its kinda lame for every new flagship to be an inch bigger…

        • Blowntoaster

          everyone could do with an extra inch…
          the phones I mean…
          bigger is better. :)

    • AndroidBoss

      Touchwiz looks better but there will still be some lag.

    • Diastianto Giga

      welldone sony. you win this time. form factors of design, and practicality

      • AndroidBoss

        F Sony designs and glossy backs.

      • AndroidBoss

        And that Sony UI that has been updated yet.

    • Nice123

      Where’s the other model. There’s tewo right? I hope the other model is much better than this.

      • AndroidBoss

        What’s wrong with this? I bet you wanted the display. Who gives a shit about 2k, 1080p is alright and at least the battery is a little better. Also, we get a better camera, better version of Touchwiz, waterproof hardware, better processor, and a nicer hardware. What were you expecting otherwise? I was expecting a metallic hardware, but this thing looks alright. Also, metal hardware might come on their “F” series, not the S series.

    • asd

      They look ugly

    • Brendon Brown

      And it will still sell in the millions…

      • Blowntoaster

        PROoooooVINCE!!!!!

        • Brendon Brown

          IS JY VAN SUID AFRIKA AF!! :D moet net nie vir my se dat jy n blou bull is nie :D

          • Blowntoaster

            Nope. Born in the Cape. In Ceres. SERIAAS! Province all the way…
            But not living there. ;)

            • Brendon Brown

              Oh, thats too bad. The Sharks will kill everyone this season though .. Jake White

    • esplana28

      Ugly! Sony for the win!

    • Aar0nC

      What a disappoint… I guess I’m just getting a new screen protector and waiting it out till next year… Good job Samsung

    • Amine Elouakil

      http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BhQwHHUCQAAVYm5.jpg

      Is Samsung for real ? The Z2 is much better! and wtf the lag in native apps is still there wow such fail really…

      Z2 or the One for me at this point, we shall see in a couple of weeks who’s getting my wallet.

      • JZ Aamir

        Fully agree! Z2 or M8 for me! Samsung screwed up the design while adding features which could have been placed right. Not the mention the Camera’s hump. Fugly!

      • Diastianto Giga

        teksturnya kaya hansaplast LOL

    • Mike Bastable

      Now looking around the web, at all the various sites, I see huge amount of pre prepared articles pushing the strengths of the various minor hardware improvements to be found in the S5. This indicates that Samsung allowed a large section of the tech press access before launch. This is new and suggests nervousness from them… reeks of damage control really. No matter what I think about this company I am right when I decide (after a quick viewing of the recent products of all the other OEMs) that this refresh round is underwhelming in its ambition and execution.
      I also sure that this is the first time a shoddy plastic back a la Samsung can be called “towel like”, lol

    • Otto Andersson

      I want to hate Samsung for not changing much, but I still think they are the better choice over most phones. The physical home button is a must for me because I constantly hit the home button when typing on stock. Besides, they have a good record of upgrading their software even if it is later than I’d like.

    • Heisenberg

      I’m not really impressed by this phone. Worse specs than Note 3 & Galaxy J, no real changes to TocuhWiz and that heart rate scanner just below the camera looks ridiculous.

      • Aniruddh

        Bro, the only thing that’s ‘worser’ than Note 3 is the RAM. And 3GB is overkill. iPhone 5S for instance competes with Note 3 with like half the specs.
        As far as touchwiz goes, it’s clear that Samsung ain’t giving up on it. The heart rate scanner does not look ridiculous. Really. It looks like some ultra-cool futuristic scanner. Ok, that was too much.
        The only complaint from me is the fingerprint scanner.

        • Blowntoaster

          I think someone should fiddle with the setup of the fingerprint scanning a bit. sure you can make it work one handed, or the way one wants it to with a bit of fiddling. the way you set it up, is the way it’s going to work, judging by some review videos on the “Tube”.

    • jenei

      Can we get the wallpaper?

      • Blowntoaster

        go search “S5″ on Zedge…found it there.

    • Blowntoaster

      @BogdanPetrovan:

      is the Chihuahua picture still there in the sensor/image test? *#0*#, select Sensor -> Image Test…
      did you guys check? been on every Samsung phone that I have checked since the GS2.
      :-)

    • Michael Dennique

      Man I really would love to win the Gold or the Charcoal Grey S5. Being disabled and all the new software (health) will help me tremendously. My old Samsung is too old to use any more and is was time to buy a new one but just can afford it being on disability. So hopefully I might win this mobile..

    • tony solinan

      Sammy,S5,or the new HTC one, or m8,or maybe an LG gpro2,or LGG3, and let’s not forget the sonyZ2,I’m waiting until April, then whatever’s in the stores in R.O.Ireland,I will go for,I’m probably going for S5,but only if it’s in the shops by april!

    • khadir

      best prix for Samsung Galaxy S5 16GB in amazon

      SM-G900H WHITE $574.98

      http://goo.gl/ccCMaJ

      G-900H Black $571.01

      http://goo.gl/tL6Kg8

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