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Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

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The first half of the last two years has been all about the competition between HTC and Samsung’s new flagships. This year, the battle became testier than ever thanks to HTC calling out Samsung for what it perceived to be a lack of innovation and the continued use of plastics in its Galaxy S5. While you could argue that HTC is either wrong or right, there is no denying the continued success of all things Samsung, with the Galaxy S5 likely only continuing the trend.

We aren’t necessarily going to try to settle the battle between these two (that is up for you to decide in the end), but after having reviewed HTC’s new One (M8), it is now time for us to share our thoughts on Samsung’s Galaxy S5. Tim and I have spent three weeks with the phone, so as you can imagine, we feel like we have a pretty good grasp on everything it has to offer. And just like with our M8 review, we have tag-teamed this one.

This is our Galaxy S5 review. 

The Good


Specs

Much like Samsung’s previous flagship Galaxy S devices, the Galaxy S5 does not disappoint on paper. The device features a gorgeous 5.1″ 1080p Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (432 ppi), a Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, an Adreno 330 GPU, massive 16MP rear-facing camera sensor, 2.1MP front-facing camera, removable 2,800mAh battery, the world’s first dedicated heart rate monitor in a smartphone, a fingerprint scanner, expandable storage thanks to a microSD card slot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, 4G LTE connectivity, and finally, comes running Android 4.4.2.

As mentioned, on paper, this device should be an insane flagship from Samsung. As we have seen with other devices, specs are only a small portion of a much larger picture, though. From our time with the device, Samsung’s continuous assault on Android with loads of pre-installed software somewhat bogs down the performance of the Galaxy S5, but the specs clearly speak for themselves.

Before release, rumors had pointed to Samsung throwing in a QHD display (2560 x 1440) into the Galaxy S5, but that didn’t pan out. Whether that is a good or bad thing is hard to say, given that we don’t know quite yet how having a QHD display on a smartphone will affect battery life and performance.

Speaking in just terms of specifications for a smartphone, the Galaxy S5 easily has other handsets from different manufacturers beat out. -T

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Display

In a report released just days before the Galaxy S5 went on sale across the globe, DisplayMate called the phone’s display the “best performing smartphone display that we have ever tested.” I would have to say that I agree with that idea. This display is stunning to look at. The Galaxy Note 3 probably had my favorite display up until this point, but the GS5’s 5.1-inch FHD Super AMOLED display tops it. As an AMOLED, the colors aren’t oversaturated (a critique often expressed in the past when compared to LCD panels), but they certainly seem to have that “pop” that we love without looking unnatural.

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Brightness levels are outstanding, the different modes (Cinema, Standard, Dynamic, Photo) allow you to adapt it your current needs (Cinema is said to be the most accurate), screen sensitivity is as good as it is on any Android phone, and the viewing angles are some of the best we have seen to date. Videos look stunning and photo viewing will impress even the pickiest of pixel pros. This is the display you should want in all of your phones.

If you take a look at the comparisons (above-right) of the GS5 to the One (M8) and Nexus 5 at full brightness, you can see how much better the viewing angles hold on the Galaxy S5. When looking at all three from the top down, they all look mostly the same, but the tones on the GS5 come off a bit richer than the other two. My eyes tend to see LCD displays washing out colors, which to me is what we are seeing on the wood of the image on the LCDs of the N5 and M8, along with the grey top bar on the Droid Life home page.

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Pixel gurus, you will find the diamond arrangement (above) on the Galaxy S5 to be quite odd looking when spied at it through a macro lens. With that said, your eye can’t see this arrangement without a macro lens, so you won’t notice it when viewing the phone at a normal distance. Sure, it’s not a typical pixel arrangement like you would find on the One (M8), but it produces beautiful results. -K

Camera

The camera on the Galaxy S5 is very good for a smartphone. With its 16MP sensor, Samsung is once again leading the charge on Android when it comes to mobile optics. While the camera software has more features than you’ll probably know what to do with, Samsung has at least tried to hide most of them in a Settings menu so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. But if you want to adjust exposure, change to specific modes, use HDR, toggle flash, set a timer, detect faces, or shoot in burst mode, you can. It really is all there, plus Samsung will even let you download new shooting modes for those specific situations where you want to have some extra fun with your smartphone camera.

The UI in general, though, is much better than in years past. First of all, you can quickly access the camera from the lock screen of the phone with a simple swipe up from the camera icon in the bottom right corner. Once inside, you’ll see your shutter, video, mode, and gallery buttons on the right. On the left, you have a button for switching between front and rear cameras, plus three customizable shortcuts, and then a full settings menu. I’ll admit that there are too many buttons, but they aren’t necessarily placed poorly. And, once you take advantage of those three shortcuts, I think you’ll find the camera UI to be quite good. It’s nothing new or refreshing like Google’s new Camera, but it works.

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If you want to talk photo quality, look no further than the photo below, that Tim took. Can you see the amazing detail on that bug? If not, click here to see a crop. Thanks to the 16MP resolution, this is what the camera is capable of, something the HTC One (M8) will never be able to replicate with its 4MP sensor.

The rest of our samples show the brilliant color the Galaxy S5 is capable of capturing, how well it takes macro shots, its ability to capture a face, how well it takes landscape shots that contain different levels of shadow and light, and how its selective focus can create solid bokeh for a camera that only has a single lens (yes, we are looking at you, HTC).

I will say that Tim’s 16:9 shots all seem to have correct exposure and accurate color, while the photos I shot in 4:3 often look overexposed. I also ran into issues indoors while at the Trail Blazers’ arena where the camera couldn’t handle the crazy amount of unnatural light and gave me all of four acceptable photos out of 10-15. The rest of my results were perfectly fine.

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The Galaxy S5 features a couple of notable shooting modes that are worth pointing out too. You should most definitely download Surround Shot (Mode>Download), as this is a take on Google’s Photo Sphere. In the Settings menu, there is also a mode called Selective Focus, which allows you to refocus photos after you have taken them.

Overall, the camera on the Galaxy S5 did not disappoint. You may want to play with the exposure depending on the setting, but overall, the camera straight out of the box is capable of taking brilliant photos with high amounts of detail and punchy colors that are certainly share-worthy.

Removable Battery, SD Card Slot, and Wireless Charging

Samsung continues to stick with a handful of features that others continue to either ignore or move away from. First, they put a removable battery in the Galaxy S5, just like they have with all of their phones. This means you can swap batteries when in need, but also potentially change the look of your phone by tossing on a new back cover. Second, Samsung included a micro SD card slot as well, that holds up to 128GB cards. Google wants the SD card to die a quick death, but Samsung has realized that its users want the extra, removable storage. And last, Samsung has already created a line of wireless charging accessories (not quite available yet, though) because they realized the benefits of not having to plug in your phone each time, especially with the new flap that covers the charging port on the GS5.

It’s these little things that help Samsung phones stand out from others, in my opinion. I for one, love having expandable storage even if developers hate it. I also like being able to lay my phone down on a charging pad without ever needing to find a cable. -K

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Availability

As is tradition, Samsung continued to make the Galaxy S5 one of the most widely available devices in the entire world. Global launch took place on April 11, with roughly 125 countries having access to it. Here in America, all of the major carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint had the device on launch day, available for $199 on contract. The device to this day is still purchasable for the same $199 price on contract, but can be also picked up for $599-$649 off contract depending on which carrier you go through.

If subsidies or locked bootloaders aren’t your thing, there is a Developer Edition of the Galaxy S5 in the works, which is reported to come to Verizon and other carriers at some point down the road. As we saw with the Galaxy S4, there could also be a Google Play Edition of the Galaxy S5 coming, but there has been no word or confirmation from Google or Samsung as to whether it will actually happen.

With availability of the device so open across the world, it’s no wonder why Samsung is so strong in the Android marketshare numbers. -T

Accessories

Ever since Samsung started producing a single device in a single form factor for all carriers across the globe, an overwhelming amount of accessories have been available. With a single design, accessory manufacturers have flocked to their devices, so you are almost guaranteed to be able to find something you will like for the Galaxy S5, whether it be a new slim case, an ultra-protective cover, screen protector, or dock. And since everyone is producing Galaxy accessories, you will find them priced reasonably as well. The more options, the more competitive the pricing has become. -K

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Water and Dust Resistant

On the water and dust resistance scale, the Galaxy S5 weighs in at IP67. The 6 means it has complete dust protection and should be sealed fully. The 7 means that it is water resistant in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes. That’s not bad at all, especially if you plan on dropping your phone in a toilet, sink, or puddle of water occasionally/accidentally (not recommended). It should survive all of that over and over again, assuming you have the back battery cover and micro USB port cover sealed properly. Thankfully, Samsung will remind you constantly to check the seal on both of those locations in case you run into a situation where you need that Ip67 protection to come into play.

During my quick water test, I took the Galaxy S5 and dunked it for a minute or two in vase full of water. I then laid the phone on a table, dropped more water all over it and snapped some pretty pictures of the results. As you would expect, the phone survived and still works just fine to this day.

Keep in mind that the phone is water resistant, not waterproof. This is not the ultimate, survive-all, kind of phone, but it was built to survive some of those common situations I mentioned above. The fact that Samsung made it IP67 is a bonus in our book. -K

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Somewhere-in-the-Middle


Battery Life

It seems that Kellen and I differ slightly on how we feel about the battery life. I thought the Galaxy S5 did better than I had initially expected, but Kellen experienced rather dismal battery performance from his time with it. For the sake of fairness, since we both live in different areas and have the Galaxy S5 on different carriers (me on AT&T, Kellen on Verizon), we will say that the Galaxy S5 battery life hits par for the course. It is powered by a Snapdragon 801 with 2GB of RAM, while also lighting up a 5.1″ Super AMOLED 1080p display. Let’s face it, the battery, no matter its size, has its work cut out for it.

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While I personally was able to get a solid day out of the Galaxy S5 which included a normal day of work, errands, and late night grub runs (two sets of screenshots on the left). If I didn’t go anywhere throughout the day and then didn’t plug in the phone overnight, I could get a day and a half easily (mostly on WiFi). The battery life isn’t outstanding, not by any means, but it wasn’t bad either. It was just what you would expect from a device with a ton of features running in the background and top tier specs.

Kellen, on the other hand, had pretty terrible battery life to report, which can be seen in the two sets of screenshots on the right. It could be that Verizon doesn’t have great coverage in his area. As you can tell from his tests, his signal wasn’t green most of the time, so the battery life was likely suffering. Reports elsewhere tend to be more in line with my results, not Kellen’s. Battery life shouldn’t be something to worry about if you purchase the Galay S5.  -T

TouchWiz

For years, we have complained about the dated design and overwhelming number of features contained in Samsung’s TouchWiz skin atop Android. With the Galaxy S5, Samsung is finally giving us a major makeover that combines the design world’s new love of all things flat, while still maintaining a familiar TouchWiz aesthetic that long-time Galaxy owners will understand. It’s actually quite pretty for the most part, but the whole experience can still be overwhelming to someone looking to do the simple things. As is the case in most smartphone situations, and something Motorola proved to us is an organizational focus for its phones, less is more.

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As far as the look of the new UI of TouchWiz is concerned, I get the feeling that most of you will be satisfied. Gone are the Gingerbread-like columns and colors, in is the flatness. From the new notification pull-down circular icons to the revamped Settings menu and the somewhat-Android-guidelines-followed redesigns of core apps like S Health and the Gallery, Samsung has made steps towards a better Android skin. You will still be annoyed by bloopity blooping touch noises (please turn them off) and overwhelmed by the 37 categories in the settings area, but it at least looks much better.

Where we found problems with TouchWiz in the Galaxy S5 is where we always find problems. There are far too many settings (again, there are 37 to try to figure out), too much nature-noise non-sense going on, and still far too many features that we aren’t sure we will ever really need. Things like Toolbox, Multi Window, and One-handed Operation are quite useful in a variety of situations, but others like the Fingerprint scanner, Motion Gestures, and Air View just seem so unnecessary or half-baked. And what happened to really helpful features like app shortcuts and widgets on the lock screen? Why did Samsung allow Verizon to kill off Paypal fingerprint authentication? Where is Download Booster on most U.S. variants? Why can’t I swipe between the panels in the Dialer? Why is it so painful to create a folder on a home screen? Can we ease up on the bloatware? Why does Samsung insist on investing in their own Apps store when we have Google Play?

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TouchWiz has changed for the better in many situations, but again, the same overwhelming nature of it still makes it one of our least favorite Android skins. The Galaxy S5 is yet another phone that we would advise you install a 3rd party launcher on immediately. -K

Speaker and Headphone Output

Coming from an HTC One (M8), the Galaxy S5 was quite a step down in the audio department. I listen to music on headphones a lot throughout any given day, and when I notice that audio quality and overall volume is somewhat poor, it drives me from a device rather quickly. What the Galaxy S5 does well is that Samsung baked in its own audio settings, which allows users to control a very wide range of EQ settings. You have your presets like Rock, Hip Hop, and Classical, but it also has a variety of different artificial effects your music can be sent through. For example, if you want a more auditorium tonality to your music (with more echoes and open sounds), you can select Concert Hall. If you want a classic rock vibe, you can choose a Tube Amp preset, which brings sort of a warm and crunchy tone. As someone who spent years in a metal band, obsessing over tones and effects, I was somewhat surprised at how much of a variety I can choose from on the Galaxy S5.

Unfortunately, these presets don’t exactly make your music sound any better. To top it off, I found that the Galaxy S5 didn’t get loud enough for me or feature a “full” enough sound. I was left wanting more bass or more mids, longing to have HTC’s BoomSound software on the device. The One (M8) features fantastic speakers for when you want to not wear any headphones, and of course, the Galaxy S5’s single speaker can’t live up to that. Sure, the GS5’s speaker gets plenty loud, but the sound just isn’t as close in the quality department to HTC’s. -T

Health Features

When Samsung announced the Galaxy S5 with heart rate monitor and its new line of Gear wearables, I was really excited to dive head first into this new fitness-focused ecosystem. I can tell you right now, that after using its set of fitness features, that I have already stopped using because I have other fitness products I prefer. With that said, it’s something that can be improved over time and could be very useful to some who don’t already own fitness trackers, so don’t completely write it off just yet.

The Galaxy S5 comes pre-loaded with S Health, the hub for most of your fitness categories like pedometer tracking, exercise records, heart rate and food logs, coaching, weight management, and your profile. The pedometer is a tracker that needs to be turned on each day, as it won’t track your steps otherwise (automatically). The Exercise option allows you to track things like running, walking, cycling or hiking. Running is where most of my testing took place. You can take your heart rate using the built in heart rate monitor (Samsung says this is a first for a smartphone). And if you would like to fully take your fitness tracking to the next level, can keep a diary of your food intake, manage your weight, and even use Samsung’s coach-like feature that tries to motivate you to workout more.

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I took the Galaxy S5 on a run that used GPS and the phone tracked my run very well. The pace was spot on with my other trackers, plus it gives you a heat map of your pace throughout, tells you speeds, elevation, and will even let you take a picture to put a memory with your workout. The calories burned count was in the ballpark of where it should have been as well. During runs, you can set goals, use an audio guide, and add music, just like any good fitness tracker would do.

The heart rate monitor works, I think. Since I don’t have another heart rate monitor to compare it to, I can’t exactly say that it is bad. I can tell you that the phone does a hell of a lot better job than something like Samsung’s Gear Fit. As you check your heart rate regularly, Samsung logs them, tosses them in pretty graphs, and really keeps tracks for the most part to help you monitor performance. If you don’t have a heart monitor, this is at least an option.

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My problem with S Health generally comes back to all of the work required to maintain everything. Beyond the sluggishness of the app, it just seems like you are constantly having to tell S Health every single little thing about your life. From keeping up your weight to counting calories for each meal to telling it to start tracking steps to dealing with a faux coach to attaching third party apps to bringing in info from a Gear device to checking your heart rate. It is a lot of work that I found I didn’t have time for. Samsung has updated the app several times over the last couple of weeks, though, and even added a new Sleep tracking app that can pull in info from Gear wearables, so it’s clear that Samsung is fully invested in this new healthy ecosystem. If you are needing the structure of a fully-featured fitness tracking solution, this may do an acceptable job. It will also keep you from having to buy anything else since the Galaxy S5 tries to do it all. -K

The Not-so-Good


Design

The design of the Galaxy S5 just feels like a step in the wrong direction for mankind. The phone is abnormally large when compared to what Samsung did with last year’s flagship phone. They squared it off, making it uncomfortable in the hand. They tossed on a slippery, dimpled exterior coating. They increased bezels dramatically. There is this really obnoxious flap that covers the charging port that will likely break within two months of use. And the faux-metal rim job is nothing but an ugly disaster that makes the whole package look and feel cheap.

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Last year, Samsung bragged (and rightfully so) about how they had made the Galaxy S4 smaller than the Galaxy S3, but upped the screen size and shrunk the bezels. This year, they barely bumped up the screen size from 5.0″ to 5.1″, yet added 6mm of height and another 3mm of width. I’m not saying that they needed to work some miracle and create a smaller S5 than S4, but why the huge jump in size?

As for the shape of the phone, I can tell you right now that if you are going to make your phone this big, you better think about rounding it off some. HTC understood this with the One (M8) and Motorola clearly did with the Moto X. Round things feel better in your hand. The Galaxy S5, has rounded corners, yet somehow feels so squared off that it’s uncomfortable and at times awkward to hold.

Bezels are bezels. We hate them, you hate them. The Galaxy S5 has an extra amount of bezel when compared to the Galaxy S4 or other flagships of today (not counting the One (M8)). Since the phone grew so much, I really would have not liked to see this much bezel hanging around.

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My complaint with the flap that covers the charging port is two-fold. But first, understand that I am fully aware that it is needed in order to make the phone water resistant. I get it, I get it. The problem with the flap, is that it is very difficult to maneuver out of the way of the massive USB 3.0 cable that is used to charge the Galaxy S5. It is also as difficult to re-attach the flap. It takes some real wiggle-work in order to get this thing in place. Finally, I am actually surprised in my three weeks of testing that it hasn’t broken off. If this flap lasts you two years, I would be shocked.

Finally, Samsung removed the gross, glossy coating of previous phones, instead going with a dimpled, almost matte finish. It looks a lot better, but it has been slippery in my testing. Also, the faux-metal rim around the phone – come on, Samsung, you can do better than that. This phone is just begging for a case like no phone has begged before. -K

Performance

Now comes the sad part, which if you would have asked me when we traveled to New York to see the Galaxy S5 for the first time, I would have called you crazy. The overall performance and multi-tasking capability of this device is rather embarrassing and hard to comprehend. As we said in the specs section up top, this device features next-gen hardware – a Snapdragon 801 processor clocked at 2.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, an Adreno 330 GPU, and runs Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat. Even with these specs, the Galaxy S5 seems to lag and stutter all over the place, with issues most apparent when switching between applications. I have had the device completely freeze at least a few times when web-browsing on the Chrome browser, as well as just skimming through my Twitter timeline clicking on external links. The new multi-task button also fields a solid 2-second delay before popping up your list of recently used apps. My worst nightmare came to fruition when I was playing a game called Impossible Road, making it all the way to around the 40-50 level checkmark. At that time, the Galaxy S5 stuttered momentarily, sending my ball completely off course into the oblivion, with no chance to recover it. Is that experience something I want from a 2014 flagship? Absolutely not.

Should we blame TouchWiz for this outrage? With nothing else to directly point the finger at, we say yes. The reason most people would instantly blame Samsung’s skin is that if you were running plain vanilla Android on this device, it would have the potential to fly. What’s worse is that the Moto X, a device with specs from two years ago, appears to handle and perform with less hiccups and frustration. Could the performance somehow be tweaked in an update to the Galaxy S5 to allow it to perform better? Absolutely.

It’s not all bad, though. When taking pictures with the Galaxy S5, I didn’t seem to notice any lag, allowing me to snap shots and get all of the right moments with no problems.

In the end, I was asked by a reader that if I was forced to choose one device from 2014 to have for a full year, would it be the Galaxy S5? From my experience with the phone’s performance alone, I can easily say there is no way I could handle these types of frustrations for any long period of time. Sorry to say, but once this review is up, I don’t think I will ever touch the Galaxy S5 again as a daily driver. -T

Other Notes


  • Fingerprint scanner:  As mentioned above, the Galaxy S5 has a fingerprint scanner. It can be used to unlock your device, authorize Paypal payments on some versions, and login to your Samsung account. It is pretty limited in its current form, so there really isn’t much to share about it. This really isn’t a selling point of the phone or an area you should really care much about. I can’t imagine many of you utilizing it often, especially since it can be rather finicky. To see it in action, check out our “how to” in the video section below.
  • Bloatware count:  I counted at least 19 pre-installed bloatware apps on the Verizon variant of the Galaxy S5, while Tim found at least 15 on the AT&T model.

Video


Unboxing and Quick  Tour

25+ Tips and Tricks

5 Reasons the Camera is Better Than the HTC One (M8)’s

How to:  Setup the Fingerprint Scanner

Gallery


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The Verdict


The Samsung Galaxy S5 is by all means a perfectly good smartphone. This isn’t a major reinvention of the previous year’s model, though. While the display is out-of-this-world good, the rest just sort of feels somewhat unremarkable. The camera is good, not ground-breaking. The water resistance is nice, but nothing new to phones. Battery life is acceptable, not DROID MAXX-like. TouchWiz’s design has changed for the better, but still causes too much phone lag. And the whole phone design feels extremely dated and out-of-touch.

Look, the Galaxy S5 is a phone that will sell in the millions, we know that. Samsung knows that. They didn’t do anything here to wrong their current or potential customers. Many of you will buy it, love it, and likely think that it is the greatest piece of technology ever built. You know what? There is nothing wrong with that. If you want to watch videos on a stunning display, take fabulous photos, and use a phone that is in an ecosystem that has clearly won the world over, by all means do it. Buy the Galaxy S5.

This just isn’t the phone for me (or Tim it sounds like). I want more than just a beautiful display. I don’t want all that bezel or size. I don’t want a physical home button or TouchWiz’s lag or all that bloatware. I would take the camera, but others have capable cameras. Where is that thing, that is trying to draw me in? Maybe there isn’t supposed to be one? Or maybe it’s coming in the rumored premium version of the Galaxy S5 later this year. Or maybe it will be here in the Galaxy S6.


Links:  Galaxy S5 deals at eBay | Amazon

  • http://www.fleetavenue.com.au Andre Villalba

    Holy Cow! What a great review. Fantastic stuff – I now know all I need to know about making the purchase of my next mobile phone! Thanks Kellex. One thing I’d like to note is the compatibility issues that the Samsung S5 has with the Mazda Cars – I was told they’re probably working on this but for some reason, they’re easier to sync with other android phones (and for some reason they love Windows Phones). Any thoughts on this?

  • http://www.droidmaverick.com/ Droidmaverick

    So far S5 is pretty good. I personally like the display and download booster only.

    source: http://www.droidmaverick.com/

  • Ethan Thorne

    Losing S5 contacts is a pain. Thanks to Dr.Fone for Android, you can recover Galaxy S5 deleted contacts or other data due to carelessness, or retrieve lost contacts due to Android operating system update.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufPYOUGlG5Q

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  • Amanda

    Great review! I just go my galaxy S5 and I’m really happy with it. I thing I’ll give it to my son. Do you guys use cases for the device or do you use it without one? I want to get my son the first case here, Hope it is good for kids http://www.spotga.com/2014/05/galaxy-s5-cases-for-kids.html

  • mcdonsco

    Having used this phone extensively now and now knowing touchwiz HAS TO BE the entire reason for all the lag, it should have been in the not so good category, not the somewhere in the middle one.

    The lag is what’s causing me to return it and go back to a g2.

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  • disastrousrainbow

    It’s kinda sad my Droid Maxx (latest model) performs silky-smooth compared to this new “flagship.” Sure, the camera’s not as good and the display is serviceable, but where it counts (design, battery life, performance), I’m glad the Maxx is stacking up well against all these new phones.

    • rodney11ride

      with you on this… went from a Gnex to a maxx hd and have yet to here good things about battery performance on these new machines. getting upgraded to kitkat this week just tops it off. BATTERY is at the top of my list. two days is so nice.

  • mcdonsco

    I’m having a helluva time deciding between this and the M8.

    Had the S5 for two weeks and swapped for M8…had the M8 now for about 3-4 days and I’m already considering going back to the S5.

    The M8’s REALLY TOP NOTCH build quality is actually causing me to lean more toward the S5 as well as I dont want to ding it, its beautiful. Where as the S5, ehh, not as worried about it (asthetically speaking and functionally, easily replacable / repairable parts on the S5 vs solid aluminum not easily repairable body on the M8).

    S5 camera IS better (despite DL’s take on it against the M8)…removable battery, good for me as almost every day I’ll need to charge either of then midway through my day.

    Grrr….I want BOTH! FOR $300 each! Not gonna happen, but damn.

    Wish I was on at&t so i could have GPE / Nexus / 1+1 choices etc.

    Was looking at buying via eBay a grandfathered unlimited data plan for at&t (the one thing keeping me on Verizon, I use a LOT of data), but then found at&t is throttling those after 5gb’s…no thanks.

    Also, noticing the S5’s transition from WiFi to 4g and back is a LOT ssmoother than the M8 (keep getting no signal errors on the M8 during those transitions which happens often at my house due to large property).

    Seems its coming down tonwant I want, vs what’s practical. Want the M8, but the S5 is proving to be more practical with the single exception of the speakerphone.

    Grrr…why can’t someone make a perfect phone for me? :-)

  • Steiner925

    It’s a good review, but I am experiencing 0% lag. I’ve had the phone since it came out for Verizon, and I am loving it! I loved my GS3, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one! I don’t care about a rumored GS5 coming out in June which will probably be double the money of this one either. Proud GS5 owner!!

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  • Anthony Johnson

    Well I like
    most of the features of my 2 week old Galaxy S5 but it is little annoying to
    remove the flap of charging port in order to plugged the Charger in it. Don’t
    know when they will launch the official wireless charging case. Well I recently
    purchased a wireless charger along with receiver for my device at price much
    lower than the cost of official one and its working absolutely fine.

  • Dezmond

    Galaxy s5 is the best phone ever made..!!!!!!! i love it.

  • A2theC

    Obviously this isn’t the phone for you, probably want a newer nexus….
    I don’t get what people are saying when they say this phone “feels dated” or “out of touch” ???

    I think people are just disappointed that the phone isn’t revolutionarily different and better in unimaginable ways, I think they are expecting too much. The point of this phone is less crap, and better of what worked with the last phone, which overall I’d say they did pretty good overall improvement with exception of not having a GPE with no TWz. Phones have been minor improvements one after another for years, they don’t change much at all. Given the technology available it unrealistic to expect more at this time, other than obviously software optimizations, which even Google themselves are dropping the ball in many peoples perspectives with the whole KK-SD-gate debacle.

  • Razma

    my friend just got one, and immediately upon using it I was like, what’s with the extreme lag? It was really noticeable, especially compared to my Moto X, which after like 8 or so months is still buttery smooth

  • Carl

    Tried all latest, today in store I got demo units of Galaxy S5 & HTC M8.
    First M8, most frustrating thing is that huge bezel at bottom.
    Next GS5. Screen looks superb, but look at the rest. But on this phone, what was amazing, the store rep set up the fingerprint reader. What an absolute farce when comparing to the iPhone’s.
    I didn’t like either, so I’m gonna wait for iPhone 6.
    It has the world in it’s hands now, produce a 5 inch device with super screen tech, built out of beautiful aluminium, a great camera & light.
    Should clean up, hope it’s worth waiting for.

    • joejoe5709

      Apple had the world in its hands in 2011. I’m not so sure that’s the truth anymore. But if the iPhone6 kicks butt, they can still get a lot of that strength back. If anything, I’ve seen Android stalled out a little bit the last 12 months so it’s anyone’s game.

  • WallBreaker

    i disagree with the feel in the hand, feels and looks much better than the slimy plastic gs4. Otherwise everything else seems spot on.

  • LionStone

    Actually a pretty kind review…without mentioning the camera-gate issue. :-)

  • The Dude

    IMO a biased conclusion. The lag on TW is nowhere near that bad, its all being blown out of proportion. Have you considered the fact there may be people who actually like TW’s UI, as startling as that may be to some of you?

    The S5 is lighter, smaller, more durable. I hate this trend of equating metal with build quality. S3/S4 are built like a tank and will survive a drop much more than any metal/glass phone. The first thing people do is put a plastic case on their shiny M8 anyway, and it ends up being just as ‘ugly’ except its larger. The very real advantages of the device – lightness, construction (including being waterproof), removable battery, additional software features that some may find useful, are being downplayed because of a personal bias against TouchWiz.

  • RoadsterHD1

    Sounds like the S5 is a huge fail. Maybe Samsung has gotten to big to care about it’s customers and their likes and dislikes. We have been telling Sammy for years to lose the physical home button and yet it’s still there year after year. Bloatware and skins are OUT-OF-CONTROL!!!

  • Jonathan Bunch

    Seems like Samsung may actually be starting to lose their grip on the android ecosystem, and its awesome

  • blairh

    I mean this is the most respectful way possible. A lot of misplaced commas in this review. It’s very distracting while reading.

    One thing to point out about the S5 is that wireless charging requires you to purchase a different backplate, and that is just LAME.

    Overall conclusions sum up my feelings about this phone. Great screen, camera. TW needs a larger overall. I had the S4 Active last year and this phone is very similar. I would have liked a complete redesign with a rounded back, a better feeling plastic backing like my Nexus 5, and no flaps please. Hated the flap on the Active.

    S5, M8, and Z2 are all letdowns IMO. Big, heavy, uninspiring. These 2014 flagships make me appreciate my N5 that much more. N6 should be killer. Ditto iPhone 6.

  • FreedomIsNotFree

    Yeah, not going for the S5 although I was initially intrigued. The Moto X still rocks, but I wish it had more processing power for opening excel documents. That’s really the only issue I have with the device.

  • InclusiontoInnovation

    I really appreciate the review. I am a Samsung fan (previous Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Note 10.1) but I feel like Samsung “phoned it in” on the S5. Nothing about the S5 makes me regret have a Nexus 5.

  • MichaelFranz

    As always a great review guys. One thing i think everyone is failing to notice is that any issues with the S5 CAN BE FIXED!!. Yesits anooying it wasnt this way out of the box, but these”lag issues” which i’ll admit i’ve seen on mine arent nearly all that terrible. But they are software based and can be fixed with software updates. Instead on complaining here, how about we all do the logical thing. Call your carrier and complain, call samsung and complain, If enough people do t hey are bound to listen and do something about it. Say you’ll leave them for HTC, thats the last thing they want.

    Do be part of the problem, be part of the solution.

  • Mort

    “…faux metal rim job…”

    *chortles*

  • JeffColorado

    Android Central did a comparison of the S5 and Nexus 5 cameras…The Nexus 5 destroys it in lowlight, and in detail in some normal light shots as well. The S5’s camera impresses me a lot less than I expected it to. I expected it to be the best of any Android phone.

  • northrode

    Yes, thanks so much for an honest review. No one has mentioned the touchwiz lag that I know is always there. My G2 is still the best phone for me right now.

  • jakster
    • jakster

      i meant to write it as S5 named by consumer reports

  • Elias

    Something must seriously be going wrong in the TW development. My Note 3 is flawless in every scenario I have ever put it in (and that is with factory software–unrooted and fully TW) I used to experiment with all different ROMs on my GNexus and Note 2 (Beanstown is the best)–NONE of those ROMs compare to how fast my unrooted Verizon Note 3 is (including bloatware). How is it that in “refining” TW it became bigger, slower, and less functional? Samsung really needs to figure out how to really make an optimized package to sell to their millions of customers. I bought a TabPro 10.1 and it is gorgeous (dat screen) and very fast in most aspects of performance (rooted). The thing is I like Samsung for the raw hardware and I LOVE android so I have been in Samsung’s camp for the past couple of years but THEY BETTER NOT EF UP THAT NOTE 4.

  • jtc276

    One thing that I’m really happy you guys covered and hope you continue to cover is audio quality. Nobody else other than GSM Arena touches on it and they usually do it in a way that’s over my head. I’m glad your write up compared it to the M8 and basically straight up said that the S5 isn’t as good and, if you’re looking for audio quality (which I am), you should go with the M8. Otherwise, a great review through and through, very specific, and completely honest.

  • cjohn4043

    I honestly feel like Samsung made this phone so much bigger just so next year when the S6 is announced, they can “trim” the phone down and brag about how much it was trimmed.

  • joejoe5709

    Nice! I like this phone a heck of a lot more than the HTC M8 overall. But I’d look loooong and hard at the G2 before getting the GS5 especially if the price was right. And I have to think if the G2 is that close already, the G3 will walk all over the GS5. Just you watch… If were in the market for a new phone, I’d wait to see what Moto and LG bring out this year before going with any current phone including the GS5.

  • George Colyer

    I would pass on this phone too. I’ve had the Note 3 since December and TouchWiz sucks. It stutters and lags constantly. That stupid home button is always sticking and gets on my nerves big time. I got it for the screen size, camera and stylus. If LG’s phones keep improving like the G2 and they come out with a Note 3 competitor with a stylus or something that works as good I wouldn’t have a problem jumping ship. The S5 design is also a step back in my opinion. I’m also not really concerned about the water resistant thing even though I’m in Portland

  • http://www.DavidPat.com David Pat

    I can’t leave the battery life of my Droid MAXX.

    • joejoe5709

      The Note 3 and G2 come really close.

    • RoadsterHD1

      I hear you. I’m a heavy user and I always have my MAXX on “high performance” everything turned up. I can’t kill the battery in one day. I download videos and movies, surf the web, take pix, watch movies at least 3 hours a day. The battery just keeps going. The MAXX comes with wireless charging too. The performance is better than most Quad-core phones. I never get any kind of lag at all. Minimal skin too. Great Android experience if you ask me.

  • Nicholas Ruiz

    Lots of hate in here. I have liked every S device I have had.

  • Raghav Kapur

    HTC M8 FTW

  • Mark Lebbink

    hehe rim job :)