Product Review: Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung’s newest device in the phone arsenal is the Galaxy S5 smartphone. Overall, the Galaxy S5 builds on Samsung’s already impressive line of devices.

Samsung Galaxy S5 in Box

Specs

The Samsung Galaxy S5 sports a 5.1 inch Super AMOLED screen, and one of the fastest processors you’ll ever see.

ANTUTU Benchmark Galaxy S5

The Galaxy S5 weighs a mere 145 grams, which actually seems lighter than my Nexus 5 because of the S5’s small form factor.

SamsungvNexus

Of course, the S5 features a removable back with battery and room for up to 128GB in expandable storage.

S5backremoved

S5backremoved2

The back seals on the new Galaxy S5, which gives the device a water-resistant effect. I’ll admit, I didn’t test this feature for my review, but there are plenty of videos showing protection.

Performance and handling

The Galaxy S5 definitely performs well. Of course, the device has Samsung’s Touchwiz launcher, that’s easily replaceable with the Google Experience.

S5’s camera is simply amazing, and offers a number of different camera modes depending on your pleasure. You can really see the performance difference between the Galaxy S5 and Nexus 5 cameras.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5 Scene Shot

Nexus 5

Nexus 5 Scene Shot
Although both cameras work well — the Nexus 5 is running the new Google Camera — the 16MP camera in the Galaxy S5 sends your head spinning with the amount of detail and quality of the picture.

GS5camera

Camera lovers will definitely love this camera. Now, if we could only get an optical zoom . . .

Other features

The Galaxy S5 has a few other nifty features, including the most talked about fingerprint scanner.

GalaxyS5fingerprint

You can see some more of the speed and “skills” of the Galaxy S5 in this video:

Should you buy this device?

Overall, if you’re looking for a sleek new phone with bells and whistles, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is the phone to get. This is especially true if you love SD cards and removable batteries. Unfortunately, I should mention that the S5 doesn’t have built-in Qi (wireless) charging, which I think is a necessity for any device, but especially phones. You can buy a wireless charging cover on Amazon ($29.99), but I’m not sure how it will affect the water and dust resistance.

A lawyer’s experience

You don’t have to take my opinion on this though. I asked Nichole Moisant, a lawyer and iPhone lover, to give a short review of her experience as a convert from iPhone to the lovely Galaxy S5:

I was #teamapple for 6 years. When I started referring to my iPhone 4s as “my phone with a cord,” because it was always plugged in and charging, I knew it was time for an upgrade.

I use my phone as a mini-tablet. I spend 50% of my day in courtrooms using my phone to look up cases, docket new dates, and to catch up on email/drafting while waiting for other attorneys or judges. I rely heavily on Google apps (Gmail, Calendar, and Drive) to make my office more mobile and “courtroom” friendly, but I also use a client management software. My iPhone 4s was long overdue for an upgrade — it was dying before lunch most days and limited my productivity while waiting on other attorneys/judges, because there was always disconnect between my Google apps, my client management software, and my iPhone.

When I started shopping for new phones, I knew I wanted three things: bigger screen, longer battery life, and a better camera. I also wanted a phone that seamlessly connected my Google apps to my phone and made my down time more productive. For me, the Samsung s5 met all of those requirements. Though it took me a few days to learn the new system, the transition has been easier than expected. I knew I would love the S5’s screen size, external battery option, the fact that it would sync with my Google apps, and the impressive camera, the most pleasant surprise has been the apps available on my Android.

With Apple, I routinely paid $2.99-12.99 for apps that ranged from photography to calendaring to PDF editing. With my Samsung, I have found the same apps (or apps that are incredibly similar) that I was paying for in the Apple Store for free in the Google Play and Samsung stores. Having access to free apps has made my S5 even more of a workhorse while I am in the courtroom.

When I am out of the courtroom, the photography apps, fitness apps, and lifestyle apps have made my weekends more enjoyable.I am still slightly awestruck as to the balance of function and features on the S5— it can track my daily steps, edit a Word document, and pull up the open Chrome tabs on my PC. It can take better pictures than my DSLR camera and edit them with free apps. I can work on my phone all morning and not have to sit next to an outlet at lunch while I charge my phone.

After 6 years of #teamapple, I am officially #teamandroid.

Nichole also followed up with this Tweet:

And the verdict is . . .

The cons

Samsung’s Touchwiz launcher is excruciatingly painful to use, as are some of the native apps. It’s hard to compare the Nexus 5’s dialer with Samsung’s, but because I’m partial to my Nexus setup, I lean that way. Regardless, I couldn’t stand the Samsung messaging app, and any prolonged use of the device would have got me looking for a much better text messaging program. Perhaps Hangouts, but who knows.

The S Health app is cool, but you can find most of the features in other applications, and in my opinion, the heart rate monitor is the only “necessary” portion — replace that on your device with one of these. The S5 has other sensors too, such as a barometer, that will enable you to use the phone with a number of different apps.

I’m on board with fingerprint scanning, and the Galaxy S5 does it right, sort of. There’s obvious flaws in the program (sometimes as many as 5 swipes to enter), and reports that the security is already cracked. Those are obviously worries with any lockscreen security, so I wouldn’t put too much flavor into that broth.

The S5 has covers over all the important pieces, which adds to the water and dust resistant protection.

S5 Charging Port Cover

I’m not really a fan of these types of covers, especially if they’re made from flimsy plastic. My HTC Droid DNA had a similar cover, but the flap broke off after about 3 days of use and charging.

Finally, even though I love bigger screens on phones, the Galaxy S5 felt too big, perhaps too awkward. I wasn’t alone. One of my associates (with bigger hands) who also checked out the phone felt the same way. The S5 only has a slightly bigger screen, and actually less of a profile, but the phone still felt too big.

The pros

Generally, if you love Samsung’s line of devices, you’re going to love the Galaxy S5. If not, look elsewhere.

I liked the call quality, and the speaker’s sound was decent. The audio quality is one thing I love about Samsung’s overall designs. Despite placing the speaker on the rear of the phone, so you have to cup your hand to project sound back, Samsung gives the speaker enough “umph” to actually hear the audio.

The S5 has an impressive battery. I’m sure Samsung’s “power saving mode” helps, but I left the phone on the counter for 2 days and found it still had 25% battery. Admittedly, I didn’t use the device, but still, even my Nexus 5 can only survive about 20 hours.

Update: I should have added a little statement about one of the S5’s coolest features, multitasking. Certain apps have the ability to operate at the same time, and run side-by-side with each other.

Multitasking S5

Simply drag the app into the multitasking window to view two applications at once.

Multitasking S5 Windows

If I had a complaint about multitasking, I would say it’s just not too useful on a small screen. I’m sure the function is great for tablets.

The window sizes are adjustable depending on which screen you need.

Samsung produced a quality device that I think many attorneys will love. If you’re in the market for a new device, the Galaxy S5 could be a contender.

2 Responses to Product Review: Samsung Galaxy S5

  1. Just swapped my galaxy nexus for the S5. I like the S5, but it’s not mind blowing compared to the nexus. The screen is beautiful and everything works as expected. I’m holding off on putting cyanogen mod on although I miss it terribly as there is a bunch of bloatware on here comparatively.

    • I have to agree. I like the Nexus experience for the most part, but there are a couple of cool extras in the S5. I also didn’t mind the bloatware, especially since most of it you could disable.

Let's discuss this (you can use Markdown in your comment)

Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.