Samsung Galaxy S5 with Lollipop vs Galaxy S5 with KitKat: UI comparison

Guess what, we updated one of our Galaxy S5 champions with Lollipop! Well, we also have a backup one that is still running the TouchWiz variation of Android 4.4.4 KitKat on board. Curios as we are, we could hardly wait to put them toe-to-toe and check out what's changed and what's the same. That's right, it's time for a UI comparison!

Generally speaking, regardless of the OS version, the presence of TouchWiz is dominant. While Lollipop is almost a complete overhaul over KitKat, Samsung has only borrowed a few bits of Google's newest OS. Apart from the enhanced notification drawer, the Settings menu, and the overhauled Recent Apps switcher, we generally failed to notice any other stark differences. The bigger changes are the under-the-hood ones (mostly the default ART runtime, Project Volta, etc.), as Samsung has generally retained the same design language with just a few touches here or there.

We should also note that Lollipop running on our S5 felt a tad more snappier and less prone to lag. While KitKat showed a few hiccups here or there, its software successor surprised with its smooth performance. Yes, we were expecting the new firmware to fare better, and, boy, it didn't disappoint!

Without any more ado, let's explore the visual changes right below!

Notification drawer

Samsung has borrowed a lot from Lollipop as far the notification drawer is concerned. Your notifications are now listed as cards. The brightness slider has been merged with the toggles at the top, which further consolidates the looks of the drawer. Speaking of the toggles section, it now comes painted in a brighter and more vivid shade of blue. This might appeal to some, but we feel that it's less "contrasty" than the darker hue that is omnipresent across the KitKat variation of Galaxy S5's firmware. Also note that the drawer itself no longer sports a handle at its bottom, which further simplifies the looks. As a whole, the drawer now looks a little bit cleaner than before, and while it's still a bit overwhelming with information and buttons, it's a definite improvement over its KitKat counterpart.

Dialer, Contacts, Messaging

The white color that is widely-used as a background in many apps in Android 5.0 Lollipop is an AMOLED display's bĂȘte noire, but Samsung has decided that it should be used in its Lollipop build. That's why many of the system apps now come with a white background instead of darker one. A slew of default apps, namely the Dialer, Contacts, and Messaging, have been adorned with a Lollipop-y white background


Although the layout has retained mostly the same, the Settings app has also scored a white background. Alas! Apart from thisentirely visual change, the philosophy behind Samsung's tabbed interface has remained mostly the same. A pretty nice , yet somewhat hidden addition is the improved Running Apps tab in the Application Manager, which now provides you with a more advanced breakdown of your RAM, giving you a generally better understanding of what apps take up the most operational memory.

Battery consumption

The improved battery information menu that came along with Lollipop has landed on the TouchWiz variation of the OS. Galaxy S5 users will now know how long it will take to fully charge their device. When unplugged, on the other hand, it will show you an estimate of what battery life you'd be able to squeeze out of the juicer at the back. Nifty.

Recent Apps and active applications

Here it is, the overhauled Recent Apps menu that made a debut alongside Android Lollipop has been fully adopted by Samsung inside the brand new firmware for its flagship. The card-based carousel does not only show you all of your recent apps, but also all of your browser tabs, broken down to different swipable-cards.  Yes, it gets populated faster than its KitKat counterpart, which shows you separate apps only. Samsung has, luckily, not forgotten to throw in a "Close all" button in the recent apps menu of its Lollipop build for the S5, something that is not present in vanilla Android 5.0. You can still access your active apps from there, too.

Calculator and Clock

Both of these apps have also scored a little something something from Lollipop. The ones coming alongside Lollipop look cleaner, though both have also scored the white background.

Gallery and Video

Prepare yourself for yet another round of apps that have waved goodbye to the battery-friendly dark backgrounds and welcomed the trendy white ones. It might be a placebo effect, but the gallery in the Android 5.0 build feels a little bit faster than its KitKat predecessor, which is a a most welcome improvement.

Conclusion: Should you hold your breath for the Lolllipop update on your Galaxy S5?

Yes. Although it is not a big improvement over KitKat, the new Lollipop firmware for the Galaxy S5 is definitely worthy of your unprecedented attention. It's true that visually it's quite similar to the older TouchWiz, but the hidden improvements will surely breathe some new life in your slightly-dated Galaxy S5 and make it feel snappier. We are yet to test the new firmware more extensively, but or first look at the new firmware of the popular Galaxy S5 is definitely more than positive. 

Related phones

Galaxy S5
  • Display 5.1" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 2.1 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2800 mAh(21h 3G talk time)



1. shaineql

Posts: 522; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

Looks awesome ! And with latest touchwizz optimizations it runs like nexus

4. ciprian.ruse

Posts: 320; Member since: May 13, 2014

I can tell you for sure that it's no where near as smooth as a nexus. You need to test it for yourself. I have a Galaxy S5 with lollipop on it since a month a go and I also have my old Nexus 4 in the house.

8. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

A ROM from a month ago? Official or unofficial?

10. ciprian.ruse

Posts: 320; Member since: May 13, 2014

Poland BNL2 firmware and it wasn't released for OTA but it's on sammobile if you go to firmwares/G900F and you will see that was released on December so I flashed it via Odin then.

14. iushnt

Posts: 3103; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Did u rese thet device after flashing ROM through Odin?

17. ciprian.ruse

Posts: 320; Member since: May 13, 2014

Ofc... Clean install all the way.

37. sachouba

Posts: 266; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

BNL9 is waaaay faster than BNL2... You should test it.

24. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

Nexus 4? Yet to receive Lpop on my mobile. In any case not much interested considering issues with xposed.

48. remsammi

Posts: 12; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

After I watched my friend's Nexus 5 stutter through scrolling Spotify and saw the Great AT&T Nexus Recall, I don't think I want my TouchWiz device to be "as smooth as" the Nexus beta devices. Heaven knows they aren't smooth.

26. ZEUS.the.thunder.god

Posts: 1114; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

I would say that Samsung has done a really good job as far as looks are concerned.

2. ciprian.ruse

Posts: 320; Member since: May 13, 2014

I'm on it since BNL2 firmware was out and I don't feel any difference in terms of smoothness. 5.0 BNL9 still weights 1.4 GB archived when you download it from sammobile and compared to HTC M8 firmware that weights 440 MB simply sais it all. Also the huge memory leak that is present in Lollipop until google releases 5.0.3 or whatever to fix it will get on your nerves because memory RAM is getting stressed and also the drawer redraws from time to time. This may be my last Samsung device if they don't skin down touchwzz and optimize stuff as it should be.

3. shaineql

Posts: 522; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

According to posts i have read on XDA by Senior developers , Samsung fixed memory leak in their 5.0 roms . Also , 440mb is because HTC brings nothing new compared to Nexus. Go Hard or Go home.

5. ciprian.ruse

Posts: 320; Member since: May 13, 2014

My user name on XDA is ciprianruse88 and if you search my profile you will see that I have almost 10K on the tanks meter and I can assure you that nothing is fixed. I have been running L on my S5 since a month a go and I see how it behaves.

7. ciprian.ruse

Posts: 320; Member since: May 13, 2014

Also there are custom ROM's in android development for Galaxy S5 that have around 500 MB after developers debloat them so that you can imagine how much bloatware stock firmware has. As for HTC saying that brings nothing to the table is not true and you should think two times before posting.

9. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

It's actually true. HTC changed very little of their UI from KK to LP.

15. iushnt

Posts: 3103; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

I think u hate Samsung and prefer HTC..

18. hafini_27

Posts: 949; Member since: Oct 31, 2013

It is true that Samsung puts lots of unnecessary things running in the background on their phones. I watched a lots of speed test videos and even test them myself. They lack in multitasking power and slower than HTC Sony or LG's

27. ZEUS.the.thunder.god

Posts: 1114; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

exactly. Also many of the features offered in various custom Rom`s are built into TouchWiz. Its just that it looked cartoonish and had memory issues. If all of that is fixed it would be awesome.

6. antonioli

Posts: 200; Member since: Sep 08, 2013

So, now the background is white. Cool...

11. greenelektron

Posts: 537; Member since: Sep 10, 2014

If this ciprian guy is telling the truth, sammys ui still sucks.

19. shaineql

Posts: 522; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

Trust me he is not , i just installed note 3 lolipop leak and its runing as fast as nexus 5 , even faster , im selling my nexus as soon as i find buyer. No need for it anymore.

20. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Five dollars!

32. kalloud

Posts: 155; Member since: Jun 21, 2012

Do you sell it for 100$ ?

23. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

Very informative comment. Please keep sharing your highly valuable inputs.

12. redmd

Posts: 1935; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

So hopefully the battery did not worsen with the white motif in tow.

31. tahirk

Posts: 25; Member since: Apr 10, 2014

Exactly, that's what I think. That much of whites on AMOLED, battery killer.

13. bursahandphonesamsung

Posts: 16; Member since: Jan 13, 2015

its cool hope the battery not getting hot...

16. jpkelly05

Posts: 110; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

I still think "What is cool, is up to the user!" It's your phone. Make it yours and do what you want. Don't get caught up on what a developer says between 2 manufacturers, and no offense is meant here. Dev's are awesome! But for some of us, not all, an unrooted POS Bloated device is all we need, with a lot of cool apps and launchers available. I have gone both routes (Rooted with ROM & Stock). Both work well. Dev's see a lot more of what a device can be or should be but for some stupid reason... manufactures just do crappy things to appease carriers (or it could be the carrier itself)... and some more than others.

21. Cyberchum

Posts: 1066; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

I wish that not just Samsung, but other android OEMs will add black background option alongside the mostly used white. That's where android with all its flexibility and customisability is lacking.

22. TA700

Posts: 83; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

I prefer KitKat's UI, hopefully someone would provide a theme for it when eventually I have to update for under the hood changes.

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