Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Samsung S5 Review


  • Fantastic screen
  • Now updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Update has improved fingerprint sensor
  • Better battery life than S6
  • Still one of the best camera around


  • Not the prettiest of 2014 phones

Key Features: 16-megapixel camera; 5.1-inch 1080p Super AMOLED screen; Android 4.4 with TouchWiz

How does the Galaxy S5 compare to the latest phones?

When’s the best time to buy a flagship phone? When it gets replaced by a new flagship phone, of course. Following on from the announcement of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, the Samsung Galaxy S5 has been  given a second wind, courtesy of an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop. Does this update give the Galaxy S5 a new lease of life? Let’s take a look at what improvements have been added with the Android 5.0 update.

Android 5.0 Lollipop on the Galaxy S5

Aesthetically, the Galaxy S5 Android 5.0 Lollipop with its TouchWiz twist is a sophisticated and modern affair, with bold colours and cleaner fonts, icons and menus. Some may feel that this simplification has dumbed down the Galaxy S5, though. We definitely agree that the phone doesn’t quite feel as ‘classy’ or business-like since it received the Lollipop update.

Samsung Galaxy S5 3

Samsung has reined in some of Lollipop’s flavour though, such as toning down some of the new ‘cartoony’ menu animations and avoiding the big bright tiles that dominate the dial screen of pure Lollipop devices. These changes may have been a step too far for some of the Galaxy S5’s devout crowd, but the Galaxy S5’s menus are noticeably snappier following from the update.

Notifications and settings receive the most obvious changes. Notifications now appear as white tabs that can be accessed in a drop down menu and cleared if needed. If you delve into notifications settings you can now activate/deactivate the notifications of apps on an individual basis, which is handy.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Quick settings and Samsung Smart Remote are also available with the screen locked, giving easy access to useful functions such as quick connect, brightness control and wireless connectivity. Other applications, such as playing media and the camera, can still be used with the screen locked as well. None of this is a great departure from the features we had with Android 4.4 KitKat, but the tweaks seem to make for a smoother experience.

The home screen is rendered with five boxy apps along the bottom rather than the playful rounded ones that cleaner Android Lollipop installs have. Instead of a rounded central applications launcher, the S5 has a square one that’s fixed in the bottom right corner. It’s another example of where the Galaxy S5’s Lollipop has been altered by TouchWiz.

Samsung Galaxy S5 5

Samsung has ditched its recent apps view for the Lollipop Rolodex style. We’ve seen some negative comments about this move, but it was one of the Android 5.0 features that we liked and we feel it works well on the Galaxy S5. It’s good to see that the TouchWiz Multi Window is still on the S5, though.

Fingerprint scanner improved

The fingerprint scanner is the most improved aspect of the Galaxy S5 following the Android 5.0 update. Pre-Lollipop, the scanner was an utter hinderance that required multiple attempts to unlock your phone. Failing it three times forced you to enter a backup pin to unlock the screen and this occurred all too often. 

Post-update, the scanner is significantly more responsive and doesn’t require such a rigid swipe to unlock your phone. Now a natural thumb swipe across the home button opens the phone – it’s almost as slick as the TouchID scanner in the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6, or the new scanner on the Galaxy S6. Almost.

The Galaxy S5 now features Smart Lock, which can keep your device unlocked under certain circumstances, such as your location, when approved devices are connected or while it’s being carried. A great use of this feature is you don’t have to turn off your security when you’re at home, if you set home as a Trusted Location, you won’t have to unlock your phone within 100 metres of where you live.

We have noticed some users experiencing a reduction in phone performance speed and stability since updating the Galaxy S5 to Android 5.0 Lollipop, but those early teething issues seem to be getting resolved with subsequent patches – ours works great.

Should you buy a Galaxy S5 now?

Overall, we still think the S5 measures up well compared to some of the latest phones. Its screen and camera are still very good and have en edge over some of the pricier mid-range alternatives, like the Samsung Galaxy A5. And, of course, unlike the Galaxy S6, the S5 is water resistant and has a microSD card slot. 

The Sony Xperia Z3 is the only other top-end water resistant phone worth considering, and the S5 remains the better of the two. If that's a feature you really care about, the S5 still deserves serious consideration.

One major phone we would consider, however, is the LG G3. It's generally available for slightly less than the S5 SIM-free, and edges it in some departments. It has a larger 5.5-inch screen, though, which is either a good or bad thing depending on your preferences. The G3 has a faster processor, too, but the S5 is still capable enough.