Samsung Galaxy S5 Review: Delicious Pasta With Needless Sauce

Every year, I wait patiently for the new iPhone, the new season of Game of Thrones and MWC (where a lot of Android flagships are announced). Over the last few years the reason has changed but the excitement is still there. Thanks to the rumor mill, there’s not much to really look out for in a launch event than to confirm what you’ve read and may be to settle that bet with your friend about that absurd feature which was hyped before the launch.

Samsung phones don’t really instigate the same passion as something from HTC or even Sony nowadays but this time was different. The days before the launch brought us minimal promo images with flat icons for the event. Some journalists took it as a sign that finally TouchWiz would be more minimal on the looks and less on the bloat as well.

Sadly, that’s not what happened. What we got was a fantastic update of internals and hardware. But no new UI, no weight loss, nothing. A lot of people felt like the S5 didn’t bring enough new stuff to the table. I’ll disagree. In fact, I think the S5 might have even gained some unnecessary weight.

My week with the S5 has surely been an interesting one, as you’ll find out below. As always, the question remains: Is the S5 better than the previous generation or the current flagships? The answer is not nearly as complicated.

The Hardware And Specs

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The Indian version of S5 comes with an Exynos 5422 octa-core processor that’s made up of 1.9 GHz A15 quad-core and 1.3 GHz A7 quad-core processors. The international version of S5 has Snapdragon 801 processor with 4G/LTE while the Indian version only gets 3G bands. Samsung’s in-house octa-core processor is no slouch and you won’t see any slowdowns compared to the international version.

The only problem with Exynos is that it gets hot, sometimes for no reason whatsoever. I experienced the heating issue when I was reading in the Play Newsstand app. Although I have to admit, it is more “warm” than “hot”. You’ve also got 2 GB of RAM, and Mali 628T MP6 GPU (Adreno 330 elsewhere) churning the graphics. Underneath the sealed back cover you’ll find a single SIM slot and a micro SD slot that supports cards up to 128 GB. On the software side, you’ve got the latest version of Android – KitKat 4.4.2 along with Samsung’s TouchWiz skin. Check out the complete spec sheet here.

The front of the device is largely dominated by the 5.1 inch 1080p Super AMOLED screen. At the bottom you’ll find the home button that has a fingerprint sensor built in and capacitive multi-tasking (used to be menu) and back buttons on either side.

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The soft touch dotted back feels nice to hold. At 134 grams the phone is really light and thin. It is too big to be comfortably used in one hand (S3 was the last Galaxy phone to do that) and the thin edges sit sharply in the palm of your hands. It’s a $700 phone that looks like every other $300 samsung smartphone out there. That is until you turn it around. The dotted back creates friction and doesn’t slip out of the hands easily.

The camera sits in the middle of the back plate and protrudes out a little. Below which you’ll find a single flash and a heart rate monitor.

Samsung got the power and volume button placement right. The power button sits about a quarter way down from the right side and is easy to get to no matter you are left or right handed.

The volume buttons sit on the opposite side. A lot of newer, especially budget and Sony phones have the power and volume keys on the same side, which leads to confusion.

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Finally, at the bottom you have the micro USB charging port protected by a plastic flap that needs to be closed if you’re planning to go on some 1 meter deep under water exploration for no longer than 30 minutes.

Screen

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Galaxy S5’s 5.1 inch 1080p (432 PPI) Super AMOLED screen is one of the best I’ve ever seen. It is right up there with the Retina Display. I found the text to be even sharper on S5’s screen than on iPhone 5s. Watching HD YouTube videos, playing games like Asphalt 8 makes for an amazing experience on the S5.

After using the iPhone 5 and Moto G, reading on the larger high-res screen was an absolute delight.

Camera

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S5’s 16 megapixel camera is another thing that blew me away. The camera’s performance in day light is nothing short of spectacular. Some of the shots I took in a well-lit cafe in the middle of the afternoon could as well have come from an entry level DSLR.

One of the best smartphone cameras I’ve ever used.

Low light performance isn’t as amazing though. There’s still a lot of noise when using flash at night. The images are still clear, not as much grainy, but the difference between day light and low light performance is quite literally day and night.

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Just like every other corner of Galaxy S5, the camera app is overflowing with features. Some gimmicky, some useful. The app has Picture Stabilization turned on by default. A useful feature, sure, but you’ll have to hold the phone still for a couple of seconds after you take the shot.

Just go in the settings and turn it off. It makes the camera really snappy. All you selfie clicking folks will be happy to know that the 2MP front facing camera produces great images as well.

The app has a lot of photo editing features. But the feature set doesn’t compliment the photo quality. I’d suggest you use something like Aviary or VSCO Cam to click and edit images.

Last updated on 03 February, 2022

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