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Samsung Galaxy S5 review

Samsung goes for evolution over revolution... again.

Samsung Galaxy S5 review
The snapper on the S5

The camera on the Samsung Galaxy S5 is one of the more powerful on the market, featuring an Isocell unit that offers up 16MP snaps.

There are a whole host of other features here as well that a lot of people will like: real time HDR mode lets you see how your photo can be enhanced before shooting, for instance.

But the big thing that Samsung's touting is the speedy autofocus, which can manage to work out the image sharpness in up to 0.3 seconds.

Samsung Galaxy S5 review

It's fast, and there's no doubt that it can indeed focus that quickly. However, I've got a couple of gripes before we get into that.

I've mentioned it already, but for some reason it can take a few seconds to boot up the camera, which is way longer than the competition. If you're trying to use the 'quick swipe' from the lock screen, it can take even longer as it's very easy to think you've hit this icon when in fact you haven't swiped far enough.

The camera then takes around 3 seconds to even be ready to start firing, which means if you trying to capture a moment that has come upon you suddenly, you'll likely have missed it.

The autofocus, as I mentioned, is indeed fast and will often get what you're trying to shoot - especially if it's on a well-framed scene. However there were a few occasions when I was waiting to capture something and the autofocus went green, despite the subject clearly still being blurry.

It's an odd situation - I kept finding myself cleaning the lens or flicking through the settings to see if there was something amiss, but there was nothing to be seen.

At least the HDR mode works well, and it's nice to have it alongside Selective Focus as one of the main options. You really do get some better snaps with real time HDR, and it doesn't take very long to process at all, which is a plus.

Samsung Galaxy S5 review

Selective focus is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it can work in macro mode, which means you can take some close up shots and have the background blur out, which is what you'd want (and can't be done on some competitors).

On the other hand, too often it would tell me that it couldn't work out what I was taking a picture of, so the picture couldn't be altered after the snap.

The output wasn't blurry enough for me either - if you compare it to the HTC One M8, which has a weaker sensor but faster shutter speed, better defocus and all round better chops in the low light scenarios, you'll realise that this is something of an afterthought for Samsung... or at least that's how it feels.

But if it sounds like I'm railing against the camera in the Samsung Galaxy S5, then apologies – I'm certainly not. It's a competent and powerful sensor, but one that needs more effort to unlock the stunning pictures than the rivals.

The larger sensor needs a little longer to process pictures (we're talking nanoseconds for the main pictures in automatic mode) and the autofocus isn't as sharp as I'd like, but line up your shot and you'll definitely get a better image.

If you're trying to take a picture of something in candlelight, the S5 is the better option. If you've got a glorious landscape, you'll get better colour reproduction with the S5.

However, the modes are a little redundant as before – GIF-creating animated shot aside, I can't see ever wanting to use any of the modes.

Samsung has dialled these down massively since the over-complicated S4, and it really helps. Touch Up beauty mode will never cease to scare me, and as much as I like Virtual Tour, I can't ever envisage a time when I'll ever want to share a walk-through of my house.

It's one of only a few devices on the market to offer 4K video recording as well - however, I think we're at least a year or two off needing such a capability, and it will certainly require more storage to shoot in this high-res format for now, regardless of how it looks.

The camera in the Galaxy S5 is as competent as it is powerful – it's nowhere near as good as the Nokia Lumia Pureview sensor, but then again, it's more adept than the HTC One M8 if you're willing to put the time in.

However, the One M8 is the better option for day to day point and shooting – the sharpness is actually comparable as too many S5 pictures didn't quite come out as pleasant as I thought they had when viewing on the screen.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
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
ColourWhite
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
ManufacturerSamsung
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 Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
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