Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

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Samsung Galaxy S5 Hardware

Digging into the mechanicals, straight away we're going to point out that we're not all that fond of Samsung's insistence on sticking with the chromed, plastic trim edge that's strapped around the GS5.  Though it does do a nice job of giving the phone a bit more grip on the edge of the device, frankly it looks kind of cheesy and detracts slightly from the overall feel and build quality of the GS5.  It's not a huge issue by any measure in our opinion and the GS5 still feels and looks great; it's just the spot where we wish this phone was a bit more refined.

The back casing of Galaxy S5 is a totally different design aesthetic now ,with what Samsung calls their "Modern Glam Perforated Patten."  Frankly, it has sort of a "pleather" feel to it but we like it.  The surface really grabs nicely in the hand, resists scuffs and looks great in our opinion. Certain colors in the finish might not be your cup of tea but the charcoal black unit we tested looks sharp, as does white and blue.  We're not sure about the copper color but we'd have to see if first-hand to comment.

And of course there's the Galaxy S5's new 16MP camera with LED flash and the heart rate monitor, situated on top of the back of the device with a small bump out for the camera optics.  This new camera does a fantastic job with stills and also shoots UHD video at 3840X2160 resolution.  The heart rate monitor is kind of nifty too and it functions quite accurately with Samsung's S Health app as we'll show you shortly.

Volume rocker, power button and I/O placement on the device are all in our preferred locations, unlike what we had to tolerate with the HTC One M8's top power button positioning.  However, the GS5's speaker port located on the back of the device easily gets muffled in your hand and the audio quality, unlike the HTC One M8, is uninspiring.  Now that we've heard how good a smartphone speaker system can actually sound with the One M8, we're spoiled.  In this area, the GS5 doesn't compare.  Is it a big deal?  Not in our opinion.  It's just one of the trade-offs with Samsung's new flagship.  You get proper power button placement and a shorter device with a bit more screen real estate on the GS5.  The One M8's power button placement and taller profile take a lot of getting use to but the sound coming from its speaker system is impressive and actually something you might enjoy.  That said, most folks don't expect their smartphone to offer great sound fidelity and are ready to rock out with a set of ear buds, so we'll chalk this one up to a very minor let down for the GS5, in our humble opinion.

Another, you either love it or hate it sort of design choice the Samsung team made, is the Galaxy S5's protected microUSB port.  This tethered cover is required to keep the GS5 water and dust resistant and preserve its IP67 resistance compliance rating.  Personally, I don't mind it.  For others, this could be a minor to major annoyance.  Interestingly, Samsung has a semi-standard synch and charge port here.  Standard microUSB cables do work just fine for charging and synching the GS5 but if you utilize the included USB 3 microUSB cable with its extended port connector, you'll get full USB 3 throughput over the connection.  Nice, and it could come in handy for transferring those 4K video files the GS5 is capable of shooting.

And Samsung is still one of the few smartphone manufacturers that offers a user serviceable battery.  In this case, just peel off the back cover of the device and you get access to the Galaxy S5's larger 2800mAh battery and the phone's dual tray microSIM and microSD card slots.

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Dave_HH 7 months ago

I REALLY like the new GS5. It pretty much hits my entire wish-list of features.

ChrisFarscapeFredKim 7 months ago

Didn't they find the figure print scanner faulty?

Dave_HH 7 months ago

No, it worked rather well for me. I didn't have an issue. Maybe there was a firmware update or something that fixed it because mine just worked.

MCaddick 7 months ago

To me, this seems like just another slightly evolved mee-too 'meh' phone.

Sure, its capable, but really offers nothing you can't get on just about every other current phone.

And the usual samsung cheap-ass construction leaves me cold. When I pay this much for a phone I expect it to feel premium, not junky plastic. They should take a leaf from Nokia's book and spend a lot more time on materials and physical design.

One last thing I'd love to see from Samsung is a straight google experience phone with none of their shovelware pre-installed (and non-uninstallable)

sevags 7 months ago

Not really a fan of this phone... Ascetically it isn't pleasing which is unfortunate because the Galaxy line hasn't been attractive since the SII. Hardware wise it is exactly as expiated which isn't Samsung's it is the whole industry. But compared to offerings like the HTC One M8, Oppo Find 7, One+1, LG Flex G and a few others this phone really doesn't stand out. Great phone yes, worthy of my cash no,

NickModrowski 7 months ago

I'm more than happy with my nexus 5.

Dave_HH 7 months ago

MCaddick and sevags, have either of you actually picked up and worked with a GS5? It's easier to dismiss it just looking at pictures but I can tell you the construction isn't "cheap"... The new back casing is solid and it feels durable. Granted, the silver trim ring around the edge of the device isn't great though. Still overall, it doesn't "feel" cheap by any means. It actually feels premium (to me) and performs that way as well.

MCaddick 7 months ago

Compared to almost every other phone out there, samsung phones ARE cheap and plasticy.  They are designed to 'shatter' when dropped to help dissipate the energy when hitting the floor.

To claim that they aren't flimsy, nasty feeling, and cheap shows a lack of YOUR experience with any good phones.

There are lots of plastic phones, and they ALL feel better than samsung's galaxy line.  Pick up a Nokia lumia 920/1020/1520 and you'll immediately see how a polycarbonate phone CAN be solid, and yet light and feel great.  Even the iPhone 5c with its 'apologetically plastic' design feels great.  Samsung phones just feel nasty and this is borne out simply by every serious review of the product clearly stating this. 

I cann't fathom how anyone could say the 5 feels 'premium' when it so obviously does not.

infinityzen1 7 months ago

Slightly lower build quality?! Dave, that is such an understatement. Samsung phones are complete garbage on build quality compared to HTC and Apple. Even the GS5 feels lower quality then just about every other top tier device.

Plus the software is completely skitzo. Who needs two or three versions of every program? All of them looking and acting different. The settings and control menus don't follow the same pattern ether, some are google style, some touchwiz, and some that new Samsung style.

Dave_HH 7 months ago

Sorry, Infinity, I disagree. Again, have you actually picked up a GS5? Build quality and materials are much better than the GS4 in my opinion. It's not the level of the HTC One (M8) but it's not bad.

And I don't see anything "skitzo" about the UI, honestly.

sevags 7 months ago

Dave: No I have not held one in my hands yet but I really don't need to. I don't mean to say the GS5 is cheaply built but compared to the high end competition with metal bodies plastic and chrome plastic is always going to be "cheaper". Yes fit and finish does count for a lot but this day in age my laptop is made out of metal not plastic and I want all my devices that way. I am at the point where I would probably take a cheaper built metal phone than a higher quality plastic phone. A GS5 Lite can go with plastic but the full fledged GS5 should have been metal. In the end no after how great this phone is there are already better alternatives on the market.  

pjckmen 6 months ago


Very interesting post. really informative. of all the blogs I have read on the same topic, this one is actually enlightening. Thanks 

infinityzen1 7 months ago

Unless there was a recent update that changed things, the UI is a blend of three different styles.

alexlee 4 months ago

Samsung did amazing job in this 4.4.2 , They almost redesigned Android KitKat with a ton of features and modifications. This is quite possibly the best custom UI over a stock Android in the market today.

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CarsonTiffany 2 months ago

I don't deny Samsung Galaxy S5 is a superphone, but the plastic cover remaims one flaw of the phone,though, it is easier to change battery.There is need for us to strengthen the phone with sturdy cover.My friends recommend one to me: He also gave me the Coupon/ Promo Code:CCSTAFF2014,you can have 10% discout once your order excess $20. Pls note the coupon is only valid before Dec. 27.

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