Five reasons why the Galaxy S5 is worth an upgrade over the Galaxy S4

by: J. Angelo RacomaApril 12, 2014

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is out in the market, and while it’s not the revolutionary upgrade that many were hoping for, the combination of familiar design elements and new highlight functionalities is a formula that has worked for Samsung flagship devices for several years now.

In our review of the Galaxy S5, we cited a few things that make the phone a formidable release. But is the jump from the S4 to the S5 big enough to warrant an update? While that decision ultimately depends on your preferences, needs, and wallet, here’s what we think are the top five reasons why an upgrade from the Galaxy S4 to the Galaxy S5 would be a good idea.

1. Build quality

Samsung Galaxy S5 IP67 water resistance

The Galaxy S5’s design is very similar to its predecessor, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re upgrading from the S4, you won’t find yourself struggling to adjust, especially with the similar sizes and form factors. Samsung made a few design improvements. Particularly, the dimpled back cover feels better than the glossy finish of the S4 (but may still be lacking compared to the premium feel of the Note 3’s faux leather).

An even better reason to upgrade is the Galaxy S5’s IP67 certification, which means the phone is water- and dust-resistant. It can withstand a 30-minute dip in up to 1 meter (about 3 feet) of water and still come out working and responsive. The build quality on the S5 is leaps and bounds better than the S4, which makes it a good upgrade if you’re looking for durability in a flagship device. The fact that you can use the device with confidence even during rainstorms or at the beach is great, compared to the super-thin bezeled S4, which squeaked and creaked under pressure.

2. Display

samsung galaxy s5 aa (13 of 36)

In terms of size difference, the S5’s screen is only 0.1 inch bigger than its predecessor’s, but it keeps within Samsung’s tradition of using Super AMOLED screens, which results in crisp and vivid colors that pop out of the screen. Color saturation can be adjusted according to your preference, however. And, as with other LED-based screens, you can squeeze out a bit more battery juice with the power-saving mode that switch to monochromatic theme.

It’s not just a bigger display. The S5’s display was actually praised by the experts at DisplayMate as the best display the team has tested. It’s even better than the Note 3’s and a clear improvement over the S4 when it comes to brightness and reflectance levels.

3. ISOCELL camera

Samsung Galaxy S5 camera app aa 1

The Galaxy S5 comes with a sensor using the new ISOCELL technology – in layman’s terms, each pixel is isolated from neighboring pixels, reducing artifacts and other problems common among digital sensors. That should result in theory in crisper images and less noise, particularly in challenging lighting conditions. Our photo tests produced very vivid pictures with good color reproduction. At the very least, the photos are perfect for posting on social media, and with a few tweaks and adjustments, your Galaxy S5 photography can reach the next level.

Some fun and useful features on the Galaxy S5 are the Live HDR and Selective Focus functionalities. Live HDR lets you preview the HDR output, so you can have an idea of how the image will appear with high dynamic range. Selective Focus, meanwhile, lets you adjust the focus after the photo has been taken.

4. Performance


Upgraded hardware often comes with increased performance, and while not everyone wants to be on the bleeding edge, the Galaxy S5’s Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5 GHz gives the device snappy performance. Any lags or stutters are often caused by the user interface, namely TouchWiz. But even that gets an upgrade, which is our final point below.

5. TouchWiz

Samsung galaxy s5 toolbox

Previous iterations of TouchWiz may have been plagued by stutters, but Samsung has tweaked and updated its user interface in the S5 to be more responsive. Samsung has also updated the UI with a better look and feel, such as the new settings icons, which may help with usability.

TouchWiz’ notable features like multi-windows and gestures are still present in this iteration. New enhancements include Toolbox, a widget that floats on top of the other apps like Facebook’s Chat Heads, giving users easy access to up to five apps.

Honorable mentions

Samsung Galaxy S5 finger scanner

Apart from our top five reasons, we think the heart rate monitor and finger scanner are useful additions, but may not be key reasons to upgrade just yet. For one, the heart rate monitor is something fitness buffs might find useful, although it’s not comparable with devices that continuously monitor your pulse. Meanwhile, the fingerprint scanner is the feature that has a bigger potential, especially in terms of security. However, we will have to wait until we get software updates that enable users to enter passwords with a finger swipe. Notably, PayPal has already launched fingerprint-based payments for use with the S5. Hopefully, other developers and companies will follow suit.


In short, our top five reasons to upgrade from the Galaxy S4 to the Galaxy S5 involve some evolutionary updates that have made it a better phone, in terms of build quality and usability:

  1. Build quality – IP67 water and dust resistance, and a better feel
  2. Display – Vivid colors, AirView, higher brightness
  3. ISOCELL camera – Crisp and vivid images, selective focus, live HDR
  4. Performance – Snappy performance, consistent with being Samsung’s flagship device
  5. TouchWiz – Optimized user interface, keeping TouchWiz’ suite of features, but without lags and stutters, plus a few multi-tasking enhancements
  6. Honorable mention – Heartbeat monitor and fingerprint scanner have good potential use case scenarios, but will need software upgrades or app support

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  • tobaniyi

    You have definitely made me consider getting a Samsung S5…. Now I am envious and I don’t even have an S4 :'(

    • DR.Jones2

      You should wait for one of these devices. 1.) One plus one made by Cyanogen Inc, 2.) Nexus 6. both phones would be affordable. Devices you should be considering HTC ONE M8, and Sony Xperia Z2 premium quality device for the same price as samsung.

      • tobaniyi

        Interesting… I have read reviews and it seems Samsung does not make the best devices. They however have the best support, especially here in Africa with 2 year warranty. My Samsung Note 10.1 froze a while back and everything I tried failed. I took it to Samsung and found out the board had power issues and it was replaced since I was still under warranty (the device was a little more than a year then)… But thanks for the headsup though :)

        • K

          True…samsung has the best support overall (if you take all countries into consideration) among android phone makers.

  • Luka Mlinar

    You say reasons to buy i say reasons not to buy. The ugly big brother of the S4 that has a band aid fetish. Minor performance upgrade, still bloated UI and copy of an Apple gimmick. They are getting worse year by year yet people are buying more and more.

    • K

      It looks better than the S4 and the back is also less slippery, and touchwiz though still bloated compared to other phones’ skins, seems comparatively lighter than in S4. Also that had qualcomm 600 if i remember correctly, and this has 801.

      • Luqmaan Mathee

        Actually TouchWiz now uses the same amount of space that Sense does.

        • K

          Thats even nice then, isnt it.

          • Luqmaan Mathee

            I agree improvements are always welcome

    • Nathan Buffington


      • John

        At least it has thicker bezels & thicker body, plus they should’ve gone for a carbon fiber textured/leather textured/matte plastic back.

      • Luka Mlinar

        If Apple did that you would gladly troll it to the end of times. God forbid we upset a Samsung user :D

        • Nathan Buffington

          Listen I use a Nexus not a Samsung but its just a design. Put a case on it like a smart phone user and shush.

          • [S]unjay Burn[s] Red

            I want my phone to look sexy without a case like the Xperia Z2, Z1 and HTC One.

          • Luka Mlinar

            Oh come on. I shouldn’t have to put a case to hide a ugly design.

      • MITM

        U mad or nah?

        • Nathan Buffington

          Totes mad

  • Suhail Al-Tayea

    I just played around with it yesterday at the show room. I was disappointed and its not as good as i expected. Since its wider with wider bezels it is not comfortable in my hand comlared to my lg g2. I also compared the pics i took on the s5 with the ones i took with my g2. On the surface the s5 looks better but when u zoom in the pics there is no comparison with the detail conpared to the g2! Although the g2 has 13 mp comlared to s5 16 mp, i gues the OIS makes a huge difference. Im just gonna wait for the lg g3 to come out. I think it will be worth it!

  • jaydub110

    I have the GS4A & I am getting the Xperia z2 way better IMO

  • michael morris

    Just upgraded to the S5 from the S3 and I have to say this phone is amazing. The back which everyone has complained so much about looks nice and feels amazing compared to the cheap glossy plastic that I’m thrilled to be rid of. The new version of touchwiz looks and feels much more refined and professional than the older versions. Finally the battery life just blows my mind compared to the horrible performance of the S3. Overall I could not be happier

    • Tuấn Ankh

      People complain about the back because it’s Samsung who did it.
      I mean seriously, how many people complained like that when the first Nexus 7 came out? All I saw and heard people saying was “this looks nice”, “this feels good”, “this feels very nice”. And when Samsung does it, oh well…

      • DR. Jones2

        Nexus 7 suppose to be affordable, so it is okay for ASUS and GOOGLE to cut corners, but with Samsung galaxy s5 you paying $600-700 may be more, for that monet you should be getting premium phone. For that much of money i would prefer HTC, or Sony. those two make better device than Samsung. When i held HTC one 2014, my note 3 feels like cheap and not premium.

        • guest232323

          If HTC and Sony make such better phones, then why can’t they even begin to compete with Samsung and Apple both? Their place in the phone market is on borrowed time unless they do something amazing and different.

    • Lilith_Black

      As a user of S3, I have to ask: not factoring in the ultra power-saving mode, w/o rooting and getting rid of the bloatware, does S5 overheats/lags/crash for no apparent reason frequently?

      S3 and S4 did that for me ><

  • Android Developer

    Am I the only one seeing a sub-title says “TL;DR” ? Just above the sentence “In short, our top five reasons to upgrade from the Galaxy…” ?
    What does it mean?

    • Infrared

      It means “Too long, didn’t read” :)

      • Android Developer

        looks like a mistake with HTML formatting tags. The only thing that was missing is ” .
        Hey how come I can’t type those signs?

        • Mur

          TLDR most definitely means Too Long; Didn’t Read. :)

  • patrick

    Does anyone know if the S5 Google search bar with always listening feature(“Ok google”) can be ported over to the S4? I think it would be a nice feature to have. I know i can get it on GEL but not a big fan of the big icons and the inability to reduce their size. Hopefully someone can do it.

  • satsmine2k4

    The S5 is definitely a worthy upgrade over the S5, it’s way more than an “s” upgrade, but sammy sammy oh sammy you could have made the looks a bit more appealing… S5 is a great piece of hardware but it doesn’t look good:(

  • Milton

    Really? A rip off of a rip off?

  • TheloveofA

    To be honest i wasnt really into S5 or other word Disappointed. but for some reason this phone had grow on me ! i play around with it at the Samsung store and have to say it feel and look so much more better!

  • abazigal

    While I am certainly not expecting Anandtech-level of analysis, I overall find this article extremely generic. It would be nice if the author could go into specifics (say, give personal anecdotes on how he finds the new processor better, or how Touchwiz has improved).

    I also find a number of the points raised very questionable, and would like Android Authority (or any of the folks here) to comment.

    1) Ars Technica is reporting that the heart-rate monitor has an accuracy rate of 50% at most (i.e.: 1 out of every 2 times you measure your heart-rate will not be accurate), I would argue that when it comes to medical equipment, all the more you need to come as close to 100% accuracy as possible. So either you do it right, or you don’t do it at all, so you don’t saddle people with a heart-rate measurement device that misreads their vitals and mislead them as to just how healthy they are. After all, what good is a measurement device you can’t even trust to “just work”?

    2) Anandtech shows the iPhone 5s beating the S5 is several benchmarks. This despite the 5S coming out half a year later, and despite many people loving to crow about how their beloved Samsung phones have more RAM, more cores, faster clock speeds etc. And note that those tests are largely resolution-independent, so you can’t claim that the S5 has to push more pixels.

    3) Ars Technica is also particularly scathing when it comes to the look of Touchwiz, which they feel to be a mishmash of 3 different design languages. Granted, whether you love the look of an OS or not is largely an issue of personal preference (look at how divisive ios7 was), but are people here entirely okay with that?

    4) I recall a large hoohaa over concerns of privacy and security when it was known that the iPhone 5s was going to include a fingerprint sensor in its phone. Surprisingly, criticism has been fairly muted when the S5 decided to do the same. People have even advocated allowing 3rd party apps access to the fingerprint scanner API, despite this being a potential security risk (this is the same platform that gave us flashlight apps which track the users’ locations, after all). Why the apparent double standard?

    Discuss. :)

    • gommer strike

      You couldn’t have said it better, regarding heart-rate monitor.

      Why even put it there, if the thing isn’t even accurate. For a $700 phone, that monitor had better be accurate. I don’t want a useless toy or gimmick to raise the cost. Absolutely correct. Do it right, or don’t do it at all. We are not your beta testers, YOU ARE, Samsung. How much does an actual heart monitor cost anyways? And by that, I mean a device that a doctor can get behind. Is it too much to expect, really? If so, then again why start dipping into the medical field if we are entering territory that we have no right to?

      Same thing for the fingerprint sensor. I spent a good day with the iPhone 5S fingerprint sensor and the thing *works*, and worked 100% of the time. Easy to use and within 2 seconds of my thumb resting on it, unlocked the screen. That’s what security’s all about(barring someone cutting off your thumb or holding a gun to your head to unlock your phone).

      And I’m hearing that the Samsung fingerprint sensor doesn’t even work half as well, nor as simply(you have to swipe downwards with your thumb). The thing is fraught with detection issues. Samsung, please don’t do something just because Apple is.

      Regarding UI inconsistencies. Only really power users like us would really care. The average Joe/Jane notices it sure, but does it matter? Not really. My niece just picked up an S5 and she loves it to death.

      • Jerry Rich

        “gommer”, For someone like you that brags about owning a BLU Tank T190i GSM Phone wouldn’t be considered a power user.

        • gommer strike

          I don’t know what you’re referring to, but I’m flattered that here you are, 2 months later into the conversation thread. For clarification I own and use an HTC One(M7).

  • John

    Not worth even from a S3.
    1. Not 4GB RAM(The S5 only have 2GB which is same as the S4[note 3 has 3GB]);
    2. Not 1440p screen;
    3. No significant improvement for CPU performance;
    4. Battery capacity still less than expected.

    • Jerry Rich

      You need to practice more if you’re gonna be a good little troll.

  • Amadeus Klein

    It is worth it on Sprint at least over the S4… The addition of the “New” lte bands in particular make it better, actually being able to have usable data inside a building is a major jump…. (That is if course assuming those bands of LTE are rolled out in your area)

  • Not1Not2Not3

    I upgraded to a galaxy s5 from a s4 and let me tell you that this is one of the best decisions that I have ever made. This phone it’s awesome! I was very skeptical @ first but it was so worth it. I’m not sure what Sammy did to make the already awesome screen of the s4 look better but the screen on my S5 looks 10x better than the S4. I could go on and on about how awesome this phone is but long story short, BUY THE GALAXY S5!

  • Dr.jones2

    These are the some of the ridiculous reason i have ever read to upgrade to a S5. S4 with kitkat = S5. no need to upgrade, Android Authority team has lost their mind.

    • Jerry Rich

      Yeah Dr Demento, S4 and KitKat and you can shower with your S4. Try that and you’ll realize you have a dead S4.

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  • Thullraven

    Everyone complains about the band-aid look. Well, the S5 seems to be a good device. That said, I would have a case or cover on it like I do all of my devices. I do it for the most practical of reasons. If a device costs 600 or 700 dollars, shouldn’t you want to protect your investment? Just makes sense to me.

  • Kanaan Awira

    Why Samsung doesn’t release Galaxy S5 LTE-A in any other markets other than South Korea.?

  • youcancountonthomas

    One feature my friend uses often is the easy to silence ringer. Put it in your pocket, the EZ touch button get’s pressed by your shirt pocket, and the ringer stops without notice. To restore the ringer, simply scroll through an amazing list of menus, reactive, put in your pocket, and the ringer switches off again. Pretty cool feature, if you don’t want to recieve calls.

  • toiletduck

    skipping and waiting for Galaxy S6! ;O)

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  • Johnny

    it has a flap on its charging port ! i knw it is to help the IP67 certification but i rather not upgrade to a phn with flap i’d rather stick to s4 until samsung releases s6 and of course widout a flap ! i mean samsung should hav release alternate versions of s5 like they did for s4 and s4 active for those who want waterproof phns ! i m bit of a couch potato its not like i m gng hav deal with the dust or water resistance any time soon . samsung should be more considerate about their all their customers instead of just a particular group . i m a big fan boy of samsung and their technology but i would never appreciate tht flap . my bother has s5 and he doesnt like the flap too