Samsung Galaxy S5 review

Samsung goes for evolution over revolution... again.

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The Samsung Galaxy S5 is a phone to be reckoned with, that's for sure - but how does it stack up with the competition? Remember, you're going to be paying a pretty penny to own it, so does it have the power to match the best of the rest?

HTC One M8

HTC One M8

The obvious threat to the Samsung Galaxy S5 is the HTC One M8 - critically, at least. The two are locked together in terms of specs, with both having the same Snapdragon 801 CPU, a microSD slot, 2GB of RAM, a Full HD screen and rocking Android 4.4.2.

However, there are a couple of key differences: the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a much more powerful camera, albeit one that doesn't perform as well as you'd expect it to in day to day snapping.

The One M8 takes photos more snappily, and more in focus, but offers lower quality if you're sharing to a larger screen.

HTC's effort is packing a much, much nicer design though - it's almost bewildering how the aluminium chassis can feel so nice in the hand and yet Samsung continues with the same boring plastic. Even the fact that it's water-resistant doesn't make up for the fact that I feel a little unimpressed each time I pick it up.

iPhone 5S

iPhone 5S

The iPhone 5S. Samsung's current nemesis, showing consumers that you don't need a Full HD 5-inch screen to be a world-beater - plus it's got a 64-bit chip as well.

OK, that spec's a little moot as it doesn't really add much at this point in time, but it is somewhere that Apple's a little more advanced. The colour reproduction on both phones is excellent, and the price is pretty comparable.

Apple's interface is simpler and more stable, with little lag anywhere throughout the phone, and while the camera has a lower megapixel count, there's no doubt it still can take some stunning pictures.

But Samsung brings a lot more to the table, not least that water-resistant nature, a larger capacity and the ability to take better pictures overall - plus 4K video recording, if you're desperate to look for other improvements.

In reality, there's very little point comparing these two phones, as most users are still stuck in the Apple or Samsung camp and it doesn't matter how the specs measure up.

The iPhone is too small these days, in a world dominated by larger screens, and the cramped conditions don't add much in terms of innovation. It does have a slightly better fingerprint scanner though.

Sony Xperia Z2

Sony Xperia Z2

Sony's been doing well in the smartphone world: from the Xperia Arc (admittedly from the +Ericsson era) to the current Xperia Z2, there's been a strong upward trajectory.

The same Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU is on offer, a microSD slot pervades, and it's also water-resistant. If you wanted to split hairs, the Z2 can last longer in the water, but the Galaxy S5 likes rolling around in the dust a little more, but both will survive a trip into the toilet with aplomb.

Both can also record in 4K, which is still a mostly useless feature, and both have a large and vibrant screen. The design, once again, splits the two, with the industrial chassis of the Xperia Z2 covered in solid metal where Samsung's opted for plastic.

But both have a strong battery, great screen and cost roughly the same on contract - so it really depends on whether you like Sony's thicker styling or not.

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

True to form, Samsung's still selling its older model for another year at least - and it's not a bad buy, especially as it's being offered at some really low price points and packs the same Android 4.4.2 OS.

It's almost a shame that it doesn't have the same funky overlay as the Galaxy S5, as that would be a real win for the brand.

In terms of raw power and specs, it obviously falls behind in nearly every way compared to its bigger brother: no heart rate monitor, an older camera, smaller battery with higher screen power, a slower CPU and more of a dependence on air-waving gimmicks.

It does have a more compact chassis though, and shares a lot of the same strong DNA - so if you want to save money (and can get it on a 12 month deal or SIM free) you'll have a decent phone for a year at least... after that the software updates might dry up, so be ready for that.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported128 GB
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationYes
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy S5
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, LTE 800, LTE 850, LTE 900, LTE 1800, LTE 2100, LTE 2600
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution16 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time21 Hour
Product ModelSM-G900F
Screen Size13 cm (5.1")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1080
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)145 g
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerQualcomm
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 4.4.2 KitKat
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 3.0
Pixel Density432 ppi
Front Camera Resolution2 Megapixel
SIM Size SupportedNano
Height142 mm
Width72.5 mm
Depth8.1 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time390 Hour
Product NameGalaxy S5 SM-G900F Smartphone
Processor Speed2.50 GHz
Processor TypeSnapdragon 800
Product LineGalaxy S5
Screen TypeOLED
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass, Barometer, Ambient Light Sensor, Fingerprint Sensor, Health Sensor
Manufacturer Part NumberSM-G900FZWABTU
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing InformationStriking design
The first thing Will noticed about the latest Galaxy smartphone is its new striking design, which comes in a choice of colours - Charcoal Black, Electric Blue and Shimmery White. However, beneath the perforated exterior are more eye-catching features; like the new camera. It has the world's fastest autofocus speed, at only 0.3 seconds, and Selective Focus, which allows you to focus on what's important and blur everything else.

Capture the moments that matter
Being able to capture and save precious memories is one of the most important features that a smartphone can have. The new Galaxy S5 has superior camera functionality, featuring a 16 megapixel camera with an enhanced menu and user interface so you can effortlessly take, edit and share photos.

The Galaxy S5 has the world's fastest autofocus speed up to 0.3 seconds and the advanced High Dynamic Range (HDR), so it is possible to reproduce natural light and colour with striking intensity at any time. Also new is a Selective Focus feature which means you can focus on a specific area of an object while simultaneously blurring out the background. With this capability, you no longer need a special lens kit to create a shallow depth of field (DOF) effect.

Tap into the fastest connections
The Galaxy S5 offers the most advanced LTE experience and Wi-Fi performance available today, ensuring blazing fast data speeds for unrivaled media consumption and productivity.

The Galaxy S5 supports the fifth generation Wi-Fi 802.11ac and 2X2 MiMo, and the largest LTE frequency supporting Category 4. If that wasn't enough, for anyone looking for an even faster connection, the Galaxy S5 also features Download Booster, a Wi-Fi technology designed to boost data speed by bonding Wi-Fi and LTE simultaneously. No matter where you are, you are guaranteed to have the fastest available connection.

Be more fit and active
With the enhanced S Health 3.0, the new Galaxy S5 offers more tools to help you stay fit and well. It provides a comprehensive personal fitness tracker to help you monitor and manage your behaviour, along with additional tools including a pedometer, diet and exercise records, and a new, built-in heart rate monitor. You can further customise your experience with an enriched third party app ecosystem and the ability to pair with next generation Gear products for real-time fitness coaching.

Essential device protection
The Galaxy S5 is IP67 dust and water resistant. It also offers a Finger Scanner, providing a secure, biometric screen locking feature and a seamless and safe mobile payment experience. The Ultra Power Saving Mode turns the display to black and white, and shuts down all unnecessary features to minimize the battery consumption.
Limited Warranty2 Year
Standard Memory2 GB