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Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport Review

A new Galaxy S5 variant is now available exclusively from Sprint. What does offer? We find out, in this Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport review!
September 3, 2014
If you’re on Sprint and seek a premium, durable, and responsive smartphone with a great camera, then the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport is something you should seriously consider.

Samsung is known for releasing numerous variants of its flagship device. In the case of the Galaxy S5, you have the premium Galaxy S5 LTE-A, that is available in South Korea only, the mid-range Galaxy S5 Mini, the rugged Galaxy S5 Active, from AT&T in the US, and now, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport. Falling somewhere in between the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy S5 Active in terms of ruggedness, the Galaxy S5 Sport is exclusive to Sprint. How different is the Galaxy S5 Sport from its namesake? We find that out, and more, in this Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport review!

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Bulky, rubbery, and colourful, are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind when you first pick up the Galaxy S5 Sport. It is slightly heavier, thicker, and bigger all around than the original Galaxy S5, with a rubbery build material, that should offer a little more impact resistance.

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You do get the same perforated design on the back, and the placement of the power button on the right, and the volume rocker on the left are the same. What is different on the Galaxy S5 Sport is the button layout below the display, which are now all physical buttons, identical to what you’d see on the Active iteration, replacing the capacitive back and recent apps keys.

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If you thought that the Galaxy S5 didn’t have a premium feel, you’ll likely feel the same about this variant also. But, the red version used in this review, which is more of a metallic burnt red, does look really good.

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Like the flagship, the Galaxy S5 Sport comes with a beautiful 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display, with its 1080p resolution resulting in a pixel density of 432 ppi. The display experience is largely the same, with bright and vibrant colours, deep blacks, and good viewing angles. You’ll have a great time doing anything on this display, be it reading text, watching videos, or playing games. Samsung’s display prowess really shines through once again with the Galaxy S5 Sport.

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Again, not much is different from the Galaxy S5 when it comes to hardware and its performance capabilities. You get what is still one of the best processing packages currently available, with the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, clocked at 2.5 GHz, the Adreno 330 GPU, and 2 GB of RAM.

Considering what we’ve seen from other devices with similar specs, you’d expect a silky smooth performance, and that is exactly what you get here. Multi-tasking is a breeze, the device flies through the TouchWiz UI, and the gaming experience is wonderful as well. Even with the feature-packed user interface, lag and slowdowns were rare and far between.

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You get 16 GB of storage, but with Android, TouchWiz, and everything Sprint adds in, that number essentially comes down to around 10 GB. Luckily, the Galaxy S5 Sport also features microSD expansion, up to 128 GB, so memory shouldn’t be that much of an issue. All connectivity options are available, but there is a microUSB 2.0 port, instead of USB 3.0 that was found the Galaxy S5. The fingerprint scanner is also missing, but holding true to its sporty nature, you do get a heart rate monitor located on the back of the device.

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The Galaxy S5 Sport packs a 2,800 mAh battery, which performed admirably. I managed to get around 18 hours of battery life with moderate use, that involved around 2.5 hours of screen-on time. If battery life is a concern for you, the battery of the S5 Sport is also replaceable, so you always have the option of carrying around a spare.

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The Galaxy S5 Sport features the IP67 rating for protection against dust and water, but unfortunately not the MIL STD-810 certification for impact resistance that you get with the Galaxy S5 Active. So while it may look and feel like its more rugged sibling, unfortunately, the protection offered isn’t that much more than what you’d get with the Galaxy S5.

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Once again, you get the same camera experience as you would with the original Galaxy S5, with the S5 Sport also featuring a 16 MP rear shooter. The image quality is fantastic in good lighting, and while it lacks colour in low light situations, it still grabs a better image than what you’d get with most other smartphones. The camera can also record video at 4K resolution, which looks really good.

The camera app is also the same as any Samsung flagship, and packed with a bevy of features, including HDR, Panorama, and Dual Shot, just to name a few. Some may disagree, but I believe that this is one of the best software experiences you’ll get on a smartphone camera.

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Everything said and done, the only aspect that is a bit of a let down is the software. The Galaxy S5 Sport is running Android 4.4.2 Kitkat, with of course, the latest version of TouchWiz on top, with all its staple features, such as Multi-Window, power saving mode, and S-Health.

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But, the Galaxy S5 Sport is a carrier exclusive device, and Sprint has a huge influence on the software. The homescreen is cluttered with applications that provides free trials, or links to apps that can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. You’ll see even more of this once you go into the app drawer, where you will find almost four pages littered with applications and promotions. Beyond the extra apps, there are a few things that consistently run on the home screen, like the Sprint floating button, called Sprint Fit Live, that let’s you get into the health portion of the phone. There is also a page turn animation sitting at the top of the screen, that takes you into additional fitness applications.

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The big draw with the Galaxy S5 Sport is of course its affinity to health and fitness. You get the standard S-Health suite, that lets you track or steps, and monitor your heart rate during a workout. While the fitness sections mentioned above are packed with applications, or links to download applications, you will find a lot of overlap, with a lot of the apps offering the same features. While the idea of having fitness front and centre is great, the execution does leave something to be desired.

Display5.1-inch Super AMOLED, 1080p (1920 x 1080), 432 ppi
2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801, Adreno 330
2 GB
16 GB, expandable
16 MP ISOCELL sensor, LED flash, 2.1 MP front
2,800 mAh
GPS, GLONASS, microUSB 3.0, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 LE
3G, LTE Cat. 3 2X2 MIMO
Android 4.4 Kitkat
144 x 74 x 8.9 mm, 158 grams

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The Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport is available exclusively from Sprint for $99.99, with a 2-year contract.

So there you have it – the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport review! While the Galaxy S5 Sport borrows its looks from the the Galaxy S5 Active, the protection it offers is closer to what you’d get with the Galaxy S5, than its more rugged sibling. Also worth mentioning is the Sprint bloatware that is packed into the software, that does let down the overall experience a little bit. But, if it’s a look that you like, and appreciate the slew of fitness apps pre-loaded, the Galaxy S5 Sport does offer everything you’d expect from a Samsung flagship. A fantastic display, top of the line specifications, great camera experience, and good battery life may be more than enough to overlook the few negatives.