Introduction


For a few years now, Samsung has been the dominant player on the Android smartphone market. Ever since the Galaxy S II, the giant from South Korea has established itself as a relentless alpha that is in no way willing to share the prey with others. Instead, other companies have been left fighting over the leftovers, fighting for survival in this Samsung world.

Such is the market landscape in early 2014, but it seems like we're starting to see the first signs indicating that this unbalanced status quo may be coming to an end. Some of the major Android competitors, like Sony or HTC, for example, are beginning to gain momentum with consistently strong offerings such as the Xperia Z2 and the One (M8), while it feels like the announcement of Samsung's Galaxy S5 earlier this year couldn't really spark the massive media and consumer hysteria that usually accompanies Galaxy S phone launches. Could 2014 really be the beginning of the end for Samsung's Android hegemony? Has the company finally grown weary, to the point that it can no longer keep the comfortable lead it's been enjoying thus far?

Hardly. Enter the Galaxy S5 – Samsung's 'back-to-basics' flagship smartphone, designed to rethink the company's whole concept when it comes to the look, feel and features of its top offering. Sure, the phone's introduction didn't cause a tsunami of enthusiasm, but it seems like the Galaxy S5 is one of those products that actually has to be experienced in order to be rated correctly. Indeed, this time around, Samsung isn't trying to impress users with its traditional 'everything plus the kitchen sink' approach. Instead, the company has tried to pack fewer, but more meaningful goodies – features designed to actually benefit your experience with the phone, not complicate it.

Has the company succeeded in this heavy task? Is there enough to be loved in the Samsung Galaxy S5 for it to preserve its leading position? All of this shall be answered in the following lines!



Design

With its new Glam look, the Galaxy S5 tries to keep the warmth and approachability of Samsung's typical design language, while adding a touch of class.

To be honest, appearance has never been a strong characteristic of Samsung's Android-powered products. As if the company realizes that, the South Koreans have been tweaking and changing the exteriors of their top smartphones with almost every new generation. Last year, the Galaxy S4 launched with a glossy plastic design, but the Note 3 brought forth a different take on that style – a faux leather look for the plastic back cover. That new design language made its way to some of the other phones and tablets of the company, but thankfully, with the Galaxy S5, Samsung is once again looking for that new visual style that would give its flagship phone a much-needed boost in the design department.

Behold, the Glam look! Samsung's new design for the Galaxy S5 ditches the faux leather for a new rubbery plastic finish with a nice, dotted pattern. It's an inviting design with a warm and comfortable feel. Moreover, it's a design that actually looks quite good and eye-catchy, especially in the more expressive blue and gold color variants (besides those, the Galaxy S5 is also available in black and white). In terms of grip, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is pretty decent – it's by no means as slippery as some of its metal competitors (hello, HTC One (M8)).

Size-wise, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has grown quite a bit from the relatively compact footprint that its predecessor had. While the display has only grown by 0.1 inches, the dimensions have increased from 5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches (136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm) in the Galaxy S4 to 5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches (142 x 72.5 x 8.1) in the GS5. All in all, the phone has become significantly bigger, but it's still comfortable to work with, as it sits nicely in the hand. In terms of weight, the Galaxy S5 tips the scales at 5.11 oz (145 g) – a bit heavier than the 4.59 oz (130 g) of the GS4, but oh well, we guess all the new goodies hiding under the hood are to blame for the bigger dimensions and added heft. Even then, however, the Galaxy S5 remains lighter than some of its top competitors, like the HTC One (M8) (5.64 oz (160 g)), and the Sony Xperia Z2 (5.75 oz (163 g)).

Besides the sizable 5.1" display, the front side of the Samsung Galaxy S5 houses the earpiece and Samsung's logo, positioned near the top edge. Below the screen, there are the physical Home key (doubling as a fingerprint scanner), and the touch-sensitive Multitasking and Back keys. In contrast to most other Android makers out there, Samsung is refraining from using on-screen navigation buttons, leaving the entire 5.1" display available to system and third-party. We actually tend to appreciate this, since we don't like it when there's a thick, black bar taking up precious screen space, as it is on the new Nexus, One and Xperia smartphones. Of course, this benefit will become less important in the future, when more and more applications begin to take advantage of Android 4.4 KitKat's Immersive Mode, but at the current time, having every pixel of your screen available to your content is definitely a good thing. But back to the physical keys and their execution – the home button, as well as the volume rocker and the power/lock key all function really well. They are easy to find by touch alone (the power key could be a bit better in this respect), while they also have that nice, clicky feel, making them pleasant to use.

The volume rocker of the Samsung Galaxy S5 is occupying its traditional place on the left hand side of the phone. The same goes for the power/lock key that's found on the right hand side. The top edge is where you'll find the 3.5 mm headphone jack, as well as the IR blaster, while the bottom side houses the securely covered microUSB 3.0 port.

So, the Galaxy S5 features a microUSB 3.0 port – that's all very cool, but why does it have to be so tightly closed? Well, that's because the Galaxy S5 is water- and dust-resistant! With its IP 67 certification, Samsung's new flagship is completely protected against dust particles, while immersing it in water of up to 1 meter deep, for up to about 30 minutes, shouldn't cause any damage to the phone's internals. The GS5's main rival in this area is the Sony Xperia Z2, which sports IP 58 certification. What this means is that Sony's phone is not as perfectly secure as the GS5 when it comes to dust (although it still has a considerable degree of protection), but it can go deeper than 1 meter of water, and for longer periods at that. Still, we here at PhoneArena want you to know that we are in no way suggesting that you give these features a try! Just enjoy the comfort of knowing that you can safely put your phone on the table, with no danger of it being rendered useless, should you accidentally spill a glass of water (or something else) over it...

The back side of the Samsung Galaxy S5 is where the new, 16 MP camera resides. Naturally, the slightly protruding camera is accompanied by an LED flash, as well as the Samsung logo and the loudspeaker, but there's also something else... Right next to the LED flash is where we find a brand new feature – a dedicated heartrate sensor! Whether it works well and if it's more beneficial than all those apps claiming to detect your heartrate accurately, though, you'll get to know in the software section of the review.

As a whole, we commend Samsung for coming up with the so-called Glam design of the Galaxy S5. It's both a practical and good-looking solution that retains the main virtues of the company's traditional design, while giving a nice boost to the appearance aspect as well. And, when we factor in the added benefit of water- and dust-resistance, the Samsung Galaxy S5 shapes up as a truly-compelling offering from a design standpoint.


Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5

Dimensions

5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches

142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm

Weight

5.11 oz (145 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

HTC One (M8)

HTC One (M8)

Dimensions

5.76 x 2.78 x 0.37 inches

146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm

Weight

5.64 oz (160 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Dimensions

5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches

151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Sony Xperia Z1

Sony Xperia Z1

Dimensions

5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches

144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm

Weight

6.00 oz (170 g)

LG G2

LG G2

Dimensions

5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches

138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Google Nexus 5

Google Nexus 5

Dimensions

5.43 x 2.72 x 0.34 inches

137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5

Dimensions

5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 inches

142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm

Weight

5.11 oz (145 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

Dimensions

5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches

136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

HTC One (M8)

HTC One (M8)

Dimensions

5.76 x 2.78 x 0.37 inches

146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm

Weight

5.64 oz (160 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Dimensions

5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 inches

151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm

Weight

5.93 oz (168 g)

Sony Xperia Z1

Sony Xperia Z1

Dimensions

5.69 x 2.91 x 0.33 inches

144.4 x 73.9 x 8.5 mm

Weight

6.00 oz (170 g)

LG G2

LG G2

Dimensions

5.45 x 2.79 x 0.35 inches

138.5 x 70.9 x 8.9 mm

Weight

5.04 oz (143 g)

Google Nexus 5

Google Nexus 5

Dimensions

5.43 x 2.72 x 0.34 inches

137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59 mm

Weight

4.59 oz (130 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



Display

Super AMOLED screen technology gets better; remains just as flashy as before.

Ah, these Super AMOLED screens... so controversial, yet so well-received. Yes, they are off. Yes, they are relatively dim... but when it comes to their vibrant colors and perfect black levels, these attributes seem to be enticing enough to make consumers want to hop on Sammy's bandwagon and enjoy those flashy visuals.

Well, the good news is that it seems Samsung is perfectly aware of all the weaknesses of its display technology, as the company is continuing to evolve and enhance the Super AMOLED panels it puts on its high-end smartphones with each new proposition. Thankfully, we're once again witnessing a step in the right direction, as the Galaxy S5 sports the best AMOLED display on a mobile phone we've seen to date.

Further increasing its brightness, the GS5's Super AMOLED screen now enters LCD territory, with maximum brightness reaching about 440 nits, as long as you have the 'Auto adjust screen tone' option activated. That's still a bit dimmer than the best LCD screens out there, which successfully surpass 500 nits, but it's still a rather big improvement over the Galaxy S4. As a result, outdoor visibility is actually pretty decent with this phone. However, while most manufacturers are mainly focusing their efforts on getting as much brightness as possible out of their screens, Samsung has also thought about the opposite thing, which is how dim its display can get. With the iPhone being an exception, the screens of most contemporary smartphones can't really get super-dark, making them not-so-pleasant to view in the dark (while in bed, for example). Well, the Samsung Galaxy S5's Super AMOLED screen has been designed in such a way that its brightness can go to an extremely low level – as low as just 2 nits! This makes the GS5 more than comfortable to view in the dark, even for longer periods of time, so you can easily read a book or watch some video without irritating your eyes.

Luckily, the Samsung Galaxy S5's display also has improved color balance and accuracy compared to its predecessor. Sadly, it's still far from being a well-balanced display. Once again, there are different display modes that you can choose between, all of which being more or less off from the reference values specified in the sRGB colorspace. To start with, this is yet another bluish AMOLED display, with blue and green colors having substantially more presence compared to red. In Standard display mode, the color temperature reaches around 8000 K (kelvin), which suggests some rather cold visuals. Switching to the Professional Photo display mode, things get substantially better, with the average temperature dropping to 7200 K, which is a decent figure, but still not close enough to the reference value of 6500 K. Typically, Delta E is also quite high. Measured using a grayscale, Delta E is about 7 in Standard mode and 6.1 in Professional Photo. When it comes to Delta E (represents the average color error / inaccuracy), the lower, the better. Basically, figures of up to 2 are considered awesome, figures of up to 5 are considered acceptable, though close to the danger zone, and, as you can guess – figures that are north of 5 suggest a considerable inaccuracy. So, you can imagine what this means for the Galaxy S5's Delta E values – things aren't looking very good, or rather – very accurate. At the same time, gamma gravitates around 2.25 - 2.3 (reference is 2.2), meaning that most things will appear just a tad darker tan they should – there's no other way, having in mind that both the blue and green colors are close to their reference levels, while red is lacking. Activating the so-called Cinema display mode makes the measured numbers just a bit better, but the display starts to look lifeless with its unfortunate lack of red color.

As usual with Super AMOLED displays, viewing angles are superb. Yes, there's some visible color alteration happening as you start tilting the display, but brightness and contrast barely budge. This is especially convenient if you have a bunch of friends alongside you and you're all watching a video or something else on your phone. Of course, having good viewing angles is also helpful in a variety of other cases, such as reading.




Samsung Galaxy S5 360-Degrees View:




FEATURED VIDEO

137 Comments

1. abdane

Posts: 507; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

The S5 gets 9.1 and the M8 gets 8.8 ? M8 > S5

2. jellmoo

Posts: 2660; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Gotta agree with PA on this one. The better camera, ergonomics and use of space but the S5 ahead of the M8.

53. PunyPoop

Posts: 752; Member since: Jan 18, 2013

80. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Plus the phone is Water/Dust proof, something the HTC One (M8) can't say...

138. TeritorialDemon

Posts: 20; Member since: Oct 20, 2012

Highly over rated device. Had the S5 for about a week before returning it and glad I went with the M8. S5 had a little bit of lag, the screen really isn't better than the M8 IMHO, Touchwiz just seems a bit too much. For the S5 to have the specs that it does, which on paper is great, the over all real world test and experience is really a shame when compared to the M8. The S5 does have a good camera but the M8 camera is more than enough. If I wanted a best of the best camera then I would buy an actual camera. The specs of the S5 made me think that Samsung actually had something here, but nope. They need those specs to run the phone and even with those specs the phone still lags. The M8 is a to the point Sense with great options.

5. rkoforever90

Posts: 475; Member since: Dec 03, 2011

atleast an 8mp ultra pixel camera should have gotten htc an 9.5/10

42. Droiderr

Posts: 35; Member since: Mar 05, 2013

If u are not aware.. ultrapixel was one of the biggest fails of 2013. I would not count on it.

10. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

8.8 is pretty high score for a 4mp ultragimmickpixel camera lol

56. Onami

Posts: 16; Member since: Mar 29, 2014

8.8 for metal uni-body, new sense, balanced display, boomsound, great battery life... if M8 had a better camera, it cound win S5 IMHO. BTW I dont like both of them design, I prefer Z2 ...

103. RuiBacelar

Posts: 153; Member since: Feb 25, 2014

Yes, the only flaw on M8 it's the camera, again...but a bigger bat and water and dust prof would make the M8 a total killer!

121. cdwjustin

Posts: 28; Member since: Sep 18, 2013

and if a pig had wings it could fly

143. mcflu

Posts: 9; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

Penguins have wings....

15. iushnt

Posts: 3151; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

M8 doesn't even deserve 8.8 if it was me

24. true1984

Posts: 870; Member since: May 23, 2012

meh, why do you care? does iteffect how you see the m8?

51. lamnpt

Posts: 12; Member since: Feb 26, 2014

M8 sponsors less than s5. Simple

113. walnuttt

Posts: 153; Member since: Apr 11, 2014

still S5 wins over the useless M8 with gimmicky dual camera.

120. AnukulVcool unregistered

camera on galaxy s5 kills the poor camera on htc one m8

123. crazzyd77

Posts: 36; Member since: May 07, 2014

Agreed.

126. sanopa

Posts: 2; Member since: May 16, 2014

Its all about marketing budgets and who pays more. I have the S5 right now and hate it. I wish I had never got rid of my Nexus 5. It had far better performance and battery life.

127. kbreeze415

Posts: 24; Member since: Jul 21, 2012

You must have a faulty one as far as battery life is concerned. The nexus 5 battery is terrible.

128. bestmvno

Posts: 251; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

The nexus 5 battery life is really good given the specifics of the phone. You must have some bad apps installed or something constantly trying to fetch location or even a weak cellular network connection. Are you using location reporting/services? What colors are present under battery stats for "mobile network signal?" The battery should last all day no problem unless you spend your entire day streaming videos and music.

3. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Samsung FTW

4. StraightEdgeNexus

Posts: 3689; Member since: Feb 14, 2014

Man when is PA going to understand. Nobody gives a F to color accuracy. Its the most practical display.

20. vincelongman

Posts: 5748; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Also if you want color accuracy, just change it to Cinema Mode, according to DisplayMate and AnandTech its just as accurate as LCDs now

101. almostdone

Posts: 449; Member since: Sep 25, 2012

S5 vs M8 Screenhttp://www.trustedreviews.com/samsung-galaxy-s5_Mobile-Phone_photos_76 "Although the S5 screen looks blown out, this is the fault of the camera (/photographer). The real points to note are the S5's faultless black levels and the masses of extra shadow detail. Just look at how much clearer the bushes in the window are compared to the HTC One M8."

104. RuiBacelar

Posts: 153; Member since: Feb 25, 2014

Amen my friend

6. cheeseycheeser

Posts: 413; Member since: Mar 24, 2011

Seeing the M8 and S5 in person, the M8 was a major throwback to my thunderbolt. It photographs fairly well, but was overall disappointing. The S5 is nice in person and a very, very well balanced offering.

7. ysk79

Posts: 39; Member since: Jan 06, 2014

besides camera, HTC One 8 is better than S5. Looks like its the most important feature when it comes to scoring by PA

14. jellmoo

Posts: 2660; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

Could you explain why? What about the M8 makes it objectively *better*?

26. pocketbook

Posts: 21; Member since: Mar 26, 2014

Of course he can't explain it, blanket statements are everywhere.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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)

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