Samsung Galaxy S5 – Five Points Review

galaxy-main
Samsung introduced its latest flagship device, Galaxy S5 last month in Pakistan. We’ve discussed some of the key features of this device in our hands-on review, and now it’s time to know more about the best Android device available in the Pakistani market yet.

Let’s begin with the un-boxing and quick tour of the device:

The thing I used to hate about Samsung Galaxy S line up was the use of cheap-feeling glossy plastic. A premium device should have a premium feel too and no one is happy to get a plastic phone after spending a large chunk of money.

Fortunately this isn’t the case with Galaxy S5, as the latest flag ship device takes much inspiration from Galaxy Note 3.

Although it is still made of plastic, but the perforated rear panel and the ribbed chrome bezel gives it a superior feel and makes it easy to hold.

There’s one advantage of the plastic that the phone weighs just 149 grams, which is lighter as compared other flagship devices available in the market with metal chassis and back.

top-bottom

The screen size has been extended to 5.1-inches, featuring a 1080p Full HD Super AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3 protection.

The screen resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels equal to 432ppi, which makes the screen sharp and vivid. As expected the AMOLED display provides vibrant colors and helps you save the battery.

button-home

The viewing angles of this device are very nice and you can easily use it under the sun.

There is a brightness slider in the notifications area to quickly increase of decrease the brightness or you can use the auto mode. (It makes the screen suddenly too dark in the indoors so it is suggested to use manual controls).

sides

The layout of the device is almost the same as previous models with earspeaker, camera and sensors above the screen ─ physical home key (which double as a finger print scanner) along with back and multi-tasking touch keys below it.

Power keys is located on the right and volume rocker on the left. 3.5mm headphones jack along with noise cancellation mic and IR blaster are located on the top and a USB 3.0 port is along with microphone is on the bottom.

The port has a flap cover for protection against water and dust.

back

On the backside there’s the primary 16-megapixel camera along with a single LED and heart rate sensor just below it.

The camera is a little raised from the surface and when you put the device on a tablet a small hump is visible.

A tiny speaker grille is present on the bottom left. The sound quality is good but the volume is actually very low, not to mention that the speaker actually creates a lot of vibration as the back cover is tightly blocked for Water protection.

cover-inside

Under the hood there are battery, micro SIM and micro SD card slots. The back cover features a rubber border to ensure that water and dust can’t enter the sensitive parts of the device.

inside-out

The design of this device is very appealing and it seems to be durable.

Not to forget that Galaxy S5 is IP67 certified which makes it water resistant, which means that you can use it in rain and it could take a dive in water; but that doesn’t mean it’s fully water proof so don’t just take it with you for a swim.

Hardware & Performance:

Galaxy S5 packs a Exynos 5 octa-core (1.9GHz Quad + 1.3GHz Quad Core) processor, 2GB of RAM, 16/32GB internal storage with an option to use up to 128GB SD card. These specifications not only look promising on the paper but the actual performance of this phone is remarkably good.

Despite all those customizations to the Android operating system and the resource hungry features of TouchWiz UI, the normal operations of the phone are lightning fast. You won’t notice even a slight lag while scrolling through homescreens, browsing your favorite websites or playing a 3D game.

VoIP, HD videos and streaming all work just fine. Galaxy S5 is made for power users, but like many other Android devices it really gets hot when you are using multiple resources at a time, especially while you are playing a game.

Have a look at some of the benchmark scores:

screen-2

Software & User Interface:

Galaxy S5 runs on Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box with the latest version of TouchWiz UI. If you haven’t used a Samsung smartphone before, TouchWiz UI is the customization of Android with added abilities.

screen-1

The new UI features a flat design, but the gradients are still there. The toggles, smart gestures, multi-view, air-view and most of the other features remain unchanged.

On the other hand settings menu is completely changed with circles assigned to different tasks instead of the list view. It’s actually very difficult for me to scroll and find my desired function but you can always use the quick settings to make the process easier.

screen-3

Galaxy S5 comes with fewer apps pre-installed as compared to previous models, other than the stock Google apps there Samsung proprietary apps like S Health, SVoice, ChatOn, Smart Remote and My Magazine.

screen-4

The heart rate sensor embedded on the backside of the phone actually uses the S Health app to monitor and log your information and the IR blaster on top is bundled with the Smart Remote.

I like this feature the most, because with Smart Remote you don’t need any other remote for TV, AC or your Music player etc.

screen-5

TouchWiz UI is actually is a major performance drain but the tweaks and some cool features make it worthy and fun to use.

Camera:

Camera on Galaxy S5 is one of the major attraction of this device.  It features a 16-megapixel rear camera, with optional stabilization. Unfortunately the megapixel count for the front camera is just 2, but it works good for selfies and there are many tweaks to make you look even more beautiful.

camera-sensor

The primary camera bundled with an easy to use camera application makes it a great performer. The photos taken with auto-settings are detailed and sharp.

The quick auto-focus takes a friction of second to quickly focus your subject and take the photo while they are moving. Sometimes you may encounter a little lag while starting the camera application but after that taking photos is quick and easy.

The low light performance of the camera also above par. I guess it is safe to assume is that Galaxy S5 camera is one of the very best smartphone cameras to date.

The default settings for video is 1080p, but you can record 4K Ultra HD videos at a resolution of 3840×2160 with this device.

The quality of video is also impressive and it produces sharp details. You can also tweak the settings to record slow motion video or other effects.

camera-ui

The interface of camera application is quite easy to understand. Tap the screen to focus on a particular subject and then press the shutter key on the right to take photo.

On the left hand side you will find some quick action icons, which you can replace with mostly used features by drag and drop method by opening the settings menu on the left.

Galaxy S5 comes preinstalled with “Selective Focus” feature, it lets you take a shot and select the focus point after the photo is taken. You can toggle among different focus points to see what suits you best. It is actually quite similar to Nokia refocus, except the fact that in many situations the image is saved but you can’t apply focus to it (I hope that Samsung will fix this issue with a software update).

There are lot of options to play with for both front and back cameras, you can create panoramas, take dual shots or make a virtual 360-degree tour and share it as video.

The gallery allows you not only see your photos but to quickly enhance them or apply different effects to make them more attractive. In short I am much impressed with the camera performance of this device and will recommend you to get it if you’re buying a phone for photography.

Sample Images Taken by Galaxy S5

Have a look at some of the sample shots, click on the image to view full size:


20140502_173010

20140502_173329

20140502_191650

20140502_191711

20140502_171243

20140502_194753

20140504_141649

20140506_191024

20140517_163546

20140517_170647

20140517_170713

20140517_171208

20140517_171602

20140517_171652

IMG_20140424_161524

Battery Life:

Galaxy S5 is packed with a 2800mAh removable battery, which should give a good 24-hours backup for most of users. On the other hand power users may get a little less time but the battery performance of this device is acceptable.

battery

Other than the regular power saving mode, which restrict background apps and lower the brightness, Samsung has introduced the Ultra Power Saving.

Taking benefit of the AMOLED screen, this feature disable most functions of the device and switch the display to monochrome mode. This feature is quite handy in times of emergency and can extend your phone’s battery up to many hours. The catch is that your phone will get a little slower and you wouldn’t be able to use most of the functions.

Pricing & Availability: 

Galaxy S5 from Samsung is priced in Pakistan at Rs. 75,000 and comes with 20 GB of free internet from Ufone that will remain valid for one whole year.

galaxy-s5-final

Verdict:

Galaxy S5 is a remarkable device, which comes with many improvements over its successor. Samsung may have disappointed many fans by sticking to the same design layout, but the water and dust proofing along with fingerprint and heart scanners are welcome additions.

The hardware performance is above par and the camera is a great performer, not to forget about the colourful screen which consumes less battery and provide sharp images.

Yet the plastic feel and high price tag are deal breakers. Samsung is a renowned brand but considering the competition the company should have priced this device a little low. Still if you have a flexible budget and you’re brand conscious this device is the best you can get.