- 2800 mAh battery rated at 29 hours of talk time, up to 13 hours of internet usage, 77 hours of music or 14 hours of video playback.
- It supports a micro SD card of up to 128GB for extra storage.
- 2MP camera on the front for selfies and video chats. 16MP camera on the back with LED flash. More on this later.
- The glass on the display is Gorilla Glass 3, strongest yet and scratch resistant.
- It only weighs 5.11 ounces which is roughly the same as a deck of playing cards.
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Special Hardware Features
Although, I am not a nurse or doctor, I assume the accuracy is pretty close if not dead on. I did compare it to other heart rate monitor applications found in the Play Store and the consistency was comparable to four different applications. But I’m wondering if you caught what I just said there. I compared it to 4 other apps already in the Play Store. You may be asking yourself “How did I do that if the S5 is the first phone with a dedicated heart rate sensor?”. It is true, the S5 is the first phone with a dedicated heart rate sensor but there have been apps in the Play Store and they use your phone’s camera instead of a dedicated sensor. These same apps work on the S5 using it’s camera as a sensor. These apps work on almost any Android device that has a camera and a flash. I tested them on the S4 and Moto X as a comparison for this review. All tests were within 4 beats per minutes of each other on any given device. I know I said a lot to make this point but Samsung has a great marketing department, but you don’t have to buy an S5 to be able to test your heart rate on Android.
Samsung, however, did make some changes to their button layout. They kept there oval shaped home button in the middle, and two capacitive buttons along the sides. On previous devices, the left capacitive button was a menu button though. On the Galaxy S5, it is now a recent apps button. Tapping it will show you a list of applications that were recently opened and (probably) still running in the background. But the menu button isn’t gone for good. To access the menu button, you now long press the recent apps button. This will bring up the menu of the current app you are viewing, that is if that app still has a menu. The back button is still a back button, nothing more special there. And long pressing the back button will bring up the Multi-Window app, if it is activated in the settings.
One piece of hardware that we cannot forget to comment about is the battery life. After 6 days of measurable usage, I feel very confident in giving the Samsung Galaxy S5 a high mark in the battery department. I am a moderate to heavy smartphone user on a day to day basis (especially when using a review unit). With that being said, If you consider your self anything less than a moderate user, you will without a doubt have no worries with the 2800 mAh battery in the S5. During the 6 day period, I averaged 15.5 hours of usage, with the screen on for an average of 3 hours, and with roughly 19% battery life left at the end of each day. Doing the math, I could have gotten another 3 hours of battery life from that remaining percentage of battery power. That adds up to an average of 18.5 hours on a full battery. More than enough for a full, regular, day.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 comes loaded with the most up to date Android operating system to date which is Android Kit Kat 4.4.2. And in pure Samsung fashion, they have overhauled it as much as possible with the Samsung tweaks that they like to call TouchWiz. Without getting onto the soapbox of the differences (good or bad) between manufacture tweaks, let’s just say that I find Samsung’s to be one of the more intrusive.
Samsung does bring a few notable apps to the table though. For example, a fingerprint scanner. Being that the scanner is connected to the home button on the front of the device, Samsung did choose one of the best locations. It’s been tried in other places. Motorola put a fingerprint scanner on the top with the Atrix. HTC put one on the back with the HTC One Max. Neither of those places proved to be the sweet spot. So did Samsung find it? Yes and no. While the home button is probably the best location because you can reach it easily, it was not implemented as well as it could be. To use the fingerprint scanner on the Samsung Galaxy S5, you will have to swipe your finger down over the top of the home button, and the recognition is spotty.
To set it up, you must first get the phone to recognize your fingerprint 8 times. It will warn you if you scan to quickly or if it was a “failed” scan. But even after training it 8 times, when you go to use it, it’s only about a 75% success rate. It’s worth mentioning too that right now, out of the box, the fingerprint scanner can only be used for two things: unlocking your phone or confirming a PayPal transaction. This is a software limitation, so more uses should come with application updates.
One other software application that has been added to Samsung’s bag of tricks is their app called Toolbox. With Toolbox enabled in the settings, you can choose up to five different application shortcuts to be accessible from anywhere at anytime (except while using the camera). Toolbox is a “hovering” dot, if you will, that is translucent most of the time, always on the top of any screen you are viewing, and can be moved anywhere on the screen. The trick is, it’s always there when you need it. When you touch the toolbox dot once, the five shortcuts you’ve chosen from its settings will dropdown onto the screen. You would choose one just as you would from the app drawer or your homescreen, and that app will now open center stage. The fact that you can choose any application, and not just Samsung applications, makes me that much more excited to use the Toolbox. Had it been limited to just Samsung apps, the Toolbox app itself would have been DOA.
Samsung has always tried to revise their looks overall with changes in the icons and other colors throughout the entire phone. They haven’t slimmed down on their customizations of Android, not even in the slightest bit, but they have made it easier to look at. Making your phone “your phone” by customizing it is easier once you’ve learned the proper touch. To learn how to modify the wallpapers and homescreens, as well as other software tricks, take a look at the software tour where I dive into 10 or so of the better parts of the Samsung Galaxy S5.
I’m torn. Honestly, I am. As an advanced Android user, I know how to pick out the nit picky parts of the S5 that just aren’t right. There are several of those with the S5. But on the flip side of that coin, I know that Samsung has done a very good job at marketing their devices, they have literally sold millions. Therefore, there is a really good chance that you already own an older Samsung device. With that being said, if you have a Samsung device already, you will notice improvements in both the hardware and software of the Galaxy S5. However, if you are coming from another device such as HTC, LG, Motorola, or even Apple, I can’t suggest that the S5 should be the phone that makes you change manufactures.
All fanboy-ism aside, I’ve owned Samsung products and I still own some now. But I’ve reviewed many others and know that in comparison to whats available out there today, the Galaxy S5 just might let you down. The software is not as responsive as it should be. It hesitates to respond when you touch any of the buttons along the bottom. A delay out of the gate will only get worse over time. Yes software updates can improve it, but the longer you use it and the more apps you install or memory you use, hesitation will continue to exist.
The three best things about the S5 is the camera, the battery, and the screen. The shots are beautiful, and they have done a good job of refining and limiting the settings in the camera software. The screen is 1080p and beautiful. At 5.1 inches, you will definitely notice a difference in clarity against the competitors. The size of the phone, however; it’s just uncanny how much larger the device is despite only gaining one tenth of an inch in screen size. They added certifications to be water and dust resistant, they didn’t have to, but they did. And in the end, it helped make a larger device. The flap covering the USB charging part is very annoying in the way that it just simply will not get out of the way. The battery will definitely last you a full day or longer, I have nothing negative to say on that topic.
I think that if you already own a Galaxy phone of any type from Samsung, the S5 will not let you down. Because you are already use to the Samsung ecosystem, you will not have a problem using this one. If you already own a phone from another manufacturer, you will probably be just a little disappointed and have to settle with it for a 2 year contract.
All the being said, the hardware is great and the software can either be changed or improved over time. If you know how to replace the annoying parts yourself, more power to you. If you want to learn some of those tricks, just let me know. I can recommend the S5 only if you are willing to change the software or your upgrading from a phone that is more than 2 years old and super duper slow.