Customer Review

180 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Evolutionary Step Forward That Still Offers Plenty To Love, April 11, 2014
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This review is from: Samsung Galaxy S5 SM-G900H 16GB Factory Unlocked International Version - WHITE (Wireless Phone Accessory)
The Samsung Galaxy S5 offers more of an evolutionary step forward in Samsung's S series smartphones than a revolutionary new phone. There are plenty of new features and advances with the S5 but those who already own a S4 likely will not be rushing to get the S5. I'm coming from an iPhone 4S so the S5 offers a lot of new features for me and provides plenty to love.

FEATURES & UPGRADES FROM S4:

1. SIZE: The S5 is slightly larger at 5.59" x 2.85" x 0.32" and weighing in at 5.11 oz compared to the S4 at 5.38" x 2.75" x 0.31" and weighing at 4.59 oz. The S5 is lightweight and feels good in my hand.

2. DURABILITY: If there is one new feature on the S5 that is a game changer it's got to be the IP67 certification. IP67 certified means the S5 has total protection against dust and can survive being underwater for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1m or less. In order to be protected against water the S5 has a little plastic plug to cover the charging jack on the bottom of the phone. This needs to be in place and the back must be properly snapped into place to prevent water damage. I'm not about to test the IP67 certification however the guys at TechSmartt performed 2 water tests on the S5 that can be viewed on YouTube. First they let the S5 sit in pool at a depth of 1m for 1 hour, not 30 minutes. Second they sent the S5 through a normal wash cycle in a washing machine while in the pocket of a pair of jeans. In both tests, the S5 survived and functioned perfectly afterward.

The durability of the S4 came under fire after many people reported cracked screens after minor drops. Samsung stuck with a plastic back for the S5 but did improve upon the durability of the smartphone. In separate drop tests again conducted by TechSmartt, the S5 faired better than the S4 and better than the iPhone 5s. However the S5 didn't fair as well as the durably built HTC One M8. The tests are a decent indication but should also be taken at face value since there is no way to ensure each phone fell the same way.

3. SCREEN: The S5's new screen is nothing short of stunning. The S5 screen is 5.1" which is slightly larger than the 5.0" screen on the S4. The resolution remains 1080 x 1920 pixels so the pixel density is slightly less at 432 ppi. The screen does look noticeably better than the S4's screen and has richer colors, better contrast, whiter whites, and blacker blacks than my iPad 3 when viewing identical images.

Displaymate who extensively tests smartphone screens said the S5's screen is "the best performing smartphone display that we have ever tested." Displaymate's tests indicted the S5 screen is 22% brighter than the S4 and 13% brighter than the Note 3. The S5 also has outstanding color accuracy. In addition it features a Professional Photo Mode that provides an accurate calibration to the Adobe RGB standard, this is a rare feature in consumer displays.

4. CAMERA: The S5 sports a 16MP camera rear camera up from 13MP in the S4. The front facing camera remains pretty much the same at 2.1MP. The S5's 1/2.6" sensor is larger being closer in size to sensors from P&S cameras than smartphones. The AF is also speedier with the S5 due to its hybrid use of phase detection and contrast detection AF. The S5 is the first camera on a smartphone to use phase detection AF, which is commonly found in DSLR cameras. Other smartphones only use contrast detection AF that simply focuses by measuring the contrast between nearby pixels. This type of AF tends to be slower and not work well if shooting in situations where there isn't much contrast. Phase detection AF however focuses by comparing the actual light received by sensors.

COMPARING S5 & 5s IMAGES: Comparing daytime images shot with the S5 against images of the same subject shot with the iPhone 5s, the Samsung's images disappoint in spite of being 16MP vs 8MP with the 5s. At 16MP the S5's resolution is 2988x5312. The images are therefore at a 16:9 ratio. The iPhone 5s's resolution is 2448x3264. The images are therefore at a 4:3. When viewing images shot with the iPhone at 100%, they look sharp across the frame, even in the corners. Images shot with the S5 when viewed at 100% look oversharpened and blotchy. The center sharpness is passible but the edges are soft and the corners have absolutely no detail. If downsizing the images from the Samsung S5 so the lower number, 2448, is the same as the iPhone's the center sharpness between the 2 camera's images is almost indistinguishable but the edge sharpness and corner sharpness from the iPhone 5s blows away that from the Samsung S5.

COMPARING S5 & 5s CAPTURE TIME: Both the S5 and the 5s are speedy when it comes to focusing and taking pictures. Holding the S5 in one hand and 5s in another, pressing the shutter buttons at the same time, then turning to take a picture of a new subject, pressing the shutter buttons again, and repeating this process several times, the iPhone 5s is a split second faster than the S5. It's not substantial enough to make big difference for most applications but worth knowing. The images from both cameras when doing so were in focus.

5. VIDEO: The S5 will shoot 4K videos with a resolution of 3840x2160 compared to 1080P videos with the S4. Videos look great with S5 and the stabilization works very well. Sometimes when recording the screen will look at little jiggly but in playback the video looks smooth. I have no way to test its 4K capabilities.

6. PROCESSOR: The S5 is a very snappy smartphone. This is due to the new Qualcomm's Snapdragon 801 chip. It features a quad core, 2500mHz processor which speedier than the quad core, 1900mHz processor in the S4. The S5's memory remains the same at 2GB.

7. STORAGE EXPANSION: I love that the S5 along with other Android smartphones allow storage expansion through a microSD card slot. This can be used for music, videos, books, pictures, and other files. It is also possible to move downloaded apps, not preinstalled apps, to the microSD card. To do so, go to Settings, Application Manager, SD card, and then select the downloaded app you want to move to the microSD card. The S5 will allow up to a 128GB micro SD card that is double the 64GB with the S4.

8. BATTERY & CHARGING: The S5 features a 2800mAh battery which is slightly larger than the 2600mAh battery in the S4. The S5 has good battery life ratings. The talk time of the S5 is rated at 21 hours while the standby time is 16.2 days. Being a new phone, I've been using it quite a bit. Even at that, I find that I only have to charge the S5 every 1 1/2 days. The S5's battery life is significantly better than my iPhone 4s which I had to charge at least once a day and better than my wife's 5s which has to be charged every day. Charging the S5 using the USB 3.0 Micro cable provided, the phone charges at a rate of 1% per minute with it slowing down slightly when the phone hits 80%. I'm able to fully charge the S5 when the battery is at 20% in about 1 1/2 hours.

9. CONNECTIVITY: The S5 features USB 3.0 connectivity for speedier transferring of files compared to USB 2.0 with the S4. It also features wireless AC. Wireless is extremely fast with the S5 if you have an AC router. It is about 4-5x faster than the wireless N on my iPhone 4s.

10. HEART RATE SENSOR: One of the more talked about additions to the S5 is the heart rate sensor on the back of the phone. The heart rate sensor seems to be very accurate from what I know about my normal heart rate. I haven't had any wild readings thus far. The phone has simple How To tutorial if using for the first time. The mistake I made the first few times using it was pressing too hard on the sensor. The result was an error message. The sensor only requires a little touch from your finger.

My complaint with Samsung's "S Health" app which the heart rate sensor is part of is that you are unable to use the heart rate sensor while using the exercise portion of the app. Sadly, that is when I'm most likely to use the heart rate sensor; when I'm running, walking, or hiking. Hopefully Samsung will change this in a future update. If the heart rate sensor is a feature you will use make sure you purchase a case with a large enough opening for your finger to touch the sensor. Some of the cases I've read about have a cut out only the size of the sensor. This makes it extremely difficult to get your finger in the opening in order to touch the sensor.

11. FINGERPRINT SCANNER: Another very talked about new addition to the S5 is its finger scanner to unlock your phone, make payment via PayPal, and purchase content with Samsung services. The S5 requires you to swipe your finger, starting above the home button and moving down through the center of the home button. With the iPhone 5s you simply place your finger on the Touch ID button. The fingerprint scanner works from any angle with the 5s. The design makes the 5s easier to unlock than the Samsung because it can be done with one hand whereas the design on the Samsung requires me to use both hands, one for holding the phone and the other to swipe my finger. With the Samsung you can assign different fingers to perform different tasks, like right pointer finger to make PayPal payment.

My wife has the iPhone 5S so I've setup both and unlocked the phones with both. Both are easy to setup. The Samsung allows you to register 3 fingerprints whereas the iPhone 5S allows 5. Here is where I buck the trend of all the tech writers complaining about the reliability of the S5's fingerprint scanner. While I prefer the design of the iPhone's fingerprinter scanner, the S5 more reliably scans my fingerprint to unlock the phone. The only time I've had a problem unlocking my S5 with the fingerprint scanner is while I'm running; I just can't get a smooth enough swiping motion. Outside of running, the fingerprint scanner on the S5 unlocks my phone on the first try 90-95% of the time. I haven't needed more than 2 tries. The iPhone in comparison only unlocks the phone on the first try about 75-80% of the time and sometimes I need 3 tries to do so.

12. ULTRA POWER SAVE MODE: This is a great feature to have if your battery is getting low. Switch on the Ultra Power Save Mode to maximizes your remaining battery life. This feature switches to a black and white mode, turning off all colors. It also restricts background data and allows only low power communications like texting and calling.

I've started to use the Ultra Power Save Mode overnight to conserve battery life, no sense in letting the battery drain as the phone just sits there for hours. I still receive texts and calls. After I disable the mode in the morning I have to update my email and weather. Switching to Ultra Power Save Mode, the battery only depletes by 1% overnight! Not in the Ultra Power Save Mode the battery loses 5-15% overnight.

PROS:

1. Amazing looking screen. Displaymate says the S5 screen is "the best performing smartphone display that we have ever tested."
2. IP 67 certified. Protection against dust and water immersion up to 1m.
3. According to drop tests from TechSmartt the S5 is more durable than S4 and iPhone 5s.
4. Professional Photo Mode for screen that calibrates it according to Adobe RGB standards.
5. Uses a hybrid between phase detection and contrast detection for accurate and speedy AF.
6. Shoots 4K videos.
7. Very fast processor. The S5 is snappy.
8. 10.85GB of free storage space on new 16GB phone. Allows storage expansion up to 128GB through microSD card slot.
9. Heart rate sensor that is easy to use and seems to be accurate. The sensor is good for those who exercise or benefit from closer monitoring of heart rate for health reasons.
10. Features wireless AC connectivity. 4-5x faster than wireless N.
11. Fingerprint scanner works more reliably for me than iPhone 5s.
12. Good battery life. Rated at 21 hours of talk time.
13. Ultra Power Save Mode maximizes battery life. Great if battery is running low or for overnight use.
14. Unlocked version doesn't have all the bloatware that is present on the carrier versions of the phone. The carriers typically preinstall many of their own apps which are the same or similar to Google's apps that come preinstalled.

CONS:
1. Has plastic back instead of more durable aluminum unibody like the HTC One M8.
2. Disappointing image quality for a 16MP camera. Not as good as the 8MP camera on the iPhone 5s. Daylight images are oversharpened, blotchy, have soft edges, and no detail in the corners.
3. Design of fingerprint scanner requires me to use both hands unlike iPhone 5s which I can unlock with one hand.

SUMMARY:
Samsung's new flagship smartphone the Galaxy S5 is a wonderful phone. I've only had iPhones up until now but was seeking specific features, features that the S5 had. I love having the larger 5.1" screen. It is fantastic looking, having more vibrant colors, better contrast, and whiter whites and blacker blacks than my iPad 3. Another feature that sold me that the iPhone 5S is lacking is wireless AC. It provides very speedy downloads and internet experience. Of the upgrades from the S4 the IP67 certification and increased durability have to be the most significant. The S5 has very good battery life, is very snappy with its 2500mHz quad core processor, and the Ultra Power Save Mode is a nice addition.

While the camera focuses and captures images very quickly, its image quality is disappointing for a 16MP camera. I love that I can cheaply pick up a 32GB microSD card to store pictures, music, videos and even transfer apps onto, something I couldn't do with an iPhone. Having used the fingerprint scanner in the iPhone 5s and S5, I prefer the fingerprint scanner with the Samsung because it works more reliably for me. I highly recommend the Samsung S5 for anyone looking to upgrade or in the market. It may not be revolutionary enough to make S4 owners jealous but still is a mighty impressive phone.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 21, 2014 10:04:44 PM PDT
This person's review was so detailed and let me know how little I really know! The time they took to give the review was much appreciated!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 25, 2014 10:22:14 AM PDT
Seriously? This review looks like a cut and paste from a Samsung brochure. It's not a review, its a sales pitch.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2014 10:56:54 AM PDT
Gleicy F. says:
I also want to express my appreciation for the review. I don't think is a sales pitch at all, and if it is, well... Its a darn good one. I have an iphone 4s and looking for an upgrade. Love the comparisons. Thanks for the review.

Posted on Jun 3, 2014 10:40:44 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 3, 2014 11:04:58 AM PDT
etm says:
Gebauer: Can you please elaborate/verify which model are you talking about? Is there an H model? I am aware of SM-G900 F, I,K,L,S,M,A and T but not H. Will this work as a PHONE in both the US and Europe both in 3G and LTE (4G) networks? Did you try to install applications including games in the SD card without rooting or can only transfer videos and pictures taken? Can you use the SD card as a thumb drive and transfer files to/from the phone's internal memory? I ask these questions because I have had bad experience with an Xperia with similar advertised attributes - thanks.

Posted on Jun 16, 2014 12:40:30 PM PDT
Wow! Wonderful review fo the S5; I love detail when I'm looking for phone quality. It is so much easier to decide on a product with such detail!

Posted on Jun 25, 2014 9:30:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 25, 2014 10:02:45 PM PDT
WOW! That was a really well written review! You should do that for a side job. Thank you for putting so much into this review. It was extremely helpful and I am in the market for the S5 - but couldn't decide if I should go with that one or get an iphone5S. I'm almost positive it'll be the S5 from what I've read and heard (along with your assessment). It's sounds like it will be lots of fun to learn how to use this to it's full capacity. Thanks again for the excellent review!

Posted on Jul 6, 2014 8:17:08 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 6, 2014 8:18:38 PM PDT
This phone has the Exyon Quad Core; 1.9GHz,1.3GHz processor not the snapdragon 801.
So the review is not accurate.

Posted on Jul 10, 2014 5:11:51 PM PDT
@Phil_whiteboy: Yup it's a sales pitch for sure.

@Lee: He probably gets paid for that already

@JJG:
Wow, this review was filled with a lot of BS. Specially about fingerprint scanner. I have used both devices, and the 5s is WAY better in terms of recognition on first try and ease of use. The S5 seems to have the same technology as laptop fingerprint scanners do, where you have to carefully align your finger at just the right angle to get detected properly. Even after aligning it perfectly, it failed about half of the time for me. The battery stuff was totally advertising too.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 11, 2014 1:16:00 PM PDT
JJG says:
So Afzal what you're basically saying is if someone has a different experience with a product than what you have and writes a review of the product it must be a fake/paid review because NO ONE's experience with a product could be different than yours. Your experience should be universal for everyone.

Let me get this straight Afzal and Phil_whiteboy. Samsung, one of the largest companies in the world, who is one of the top manufacturers worldwide of smartphones which annually produces one of the most popular smartphones in the world with their S series and has annual sales in the billions of dollars needs to pay someone to write a review on Amazon. Really, that is what you saying? The notion is laughable and downright idiotic. You sound paranoid and close minded.

If you have knowledge to share about the S5 why don't you spend your time and write a nice thorough review of the product. Let me see, in all our product knowledge you've only written 8 reviews and have amassed a single helpful vote. Yes, only one.

If the battery life isn't like you thought you would be or the finger print scanner reliability disappoints next time maybe you should ask for tips.

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 12:38:30 PM PDT
L. Vo says:
Thanks for the review. It addressed my concern about the image quality taken from the phone as I had GS4 before, and I wasn't impressed with it. Does GS5 video camera blur when you moving while recording?
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