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Samsung Galaxy S5 review

Samsung goes for evolution over revolution... again.

I've reviewed a huge number of Samsung phones over the years, and they've all had one thing in common: an excellent ability to play back your media.

It's almost getting to the point where there's very little point in making a big deal about what can be done with the phone in terms of playing back music, watching video and playing games.

However, ever the professional, I'll do my best.

Music

Samsung doesn't have the same hardware as HTC or Apple in terms of dedicated amplification of the sound output, meaning your headphones have to work less hard to output noise to your ears.

Samsung Galaxy S5 review

That said, the volume on the Galaxy S5 is such that I'd be surprised if there's not something similar, even on the software side, working hard to compensate.

The output, especially when combined with a decent pair of headphones, is excellent. I could make out every note and bass was punchy enough without being overbearing.

The music player interface is simple and easy to understand - the ability to see all the music the S5 can gather throughout the handset. You can select by album, track and playlist - plus the music mood square makes a welcome return.

It's never been something that I've used properly - nobody ever wants a playlist that goes from "moody" to "energetic" - but it's a nice way to get a random look through your tunes with a semblance of progression.

Samsung Galaxy S5 review
The single speaker

The sound output from the single speaker on the back of the phone isn't as powerful, obviously, as the Boomsound speakers from HTC, nor the front-facing options on the Xperia Z2, but it's acceptable for most things when placed down on the table to let the sound spread out.

In short, the music output of the Galaxy S5, whether it be through a streaming service or the inbuilt music player, is great, and the ability to slip through tracks in the notification bar or lock screen never fails to be a decent trick.

Video

The Samsung Galaxy range has historically always been one of the best for watching movies. Every year the Note comes out, makes things even better, and the following S version appears to make that a more mainstream technology.

Samsung Galaxy S5

I used to have to apologize for the higher-color saturation of the S range, as it was something that I personally enjoyed but others found intolerable (not all, but some).

Since the S3, things have been a lot better, and DisplayMate has found that in cinema mode, the S5 is almost perfect in its color and white balance - and I'm inclined to agree.

Thanks to the infinite contrast ratio of the Super AMOLED Full HD screen everything looks deep and rich, and if you're into watching Netflix on the train to work, the bright mornings won't ruin your daily cinema fix as there's no washout even in direct light.

Given OLED screens used to be terrible for this, it's a tremendous experience from Samsung and should be applauded.

The video player is simplicity itself: showing your videos in small thumbnails that play automatically to show you what's on offer before tapping to get the full experience.

The only issue is if you've got Multi-Window enabled, as I mentioned earlier, the split screen is annoying and can't be removed unless you take the option away.

Also make sure you only show local content - if you add in Dropbox you'll be given access to far too many movies that can be hard to sort through if you've uploaded all your content.

It would be nice to see a social element here, something that aggregates all the video your friends post to Twitter and Facebook - anything to see more content on this screen.

Gaming

The gaming experience on the Galaxy S5 should be excellent, but as I said earlier (starting to worry I'm repeating myself a little) the higher-power games seem to struggle at times.

Clearing out the cache by restarting the phone seems to remove the problem somewhat, and if you're only going to be a casual gamer, the S5 has that lovely large screen and is the best place to check it out on.

But beware of pushing the GPU, especially just out of sleep mode, as the experience can be marred by low frame rates.

Gallery

Samsung's continued with its trick of letting you see content from Picasa/Google+, Facebook and Dropbox from the gallery, and this sadly seems to slow things down badly as well as filling up the internal storage.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Opening the gallery with more than a modicum of content already in there or a microSD card inserted will slow things down terribly, to the point where you're waiting seconds just to see the snap you just took.

This is something that I've been mentioning for a couple of years now, and Samsung's still not nailed it. It might not sound like a big thing, but not being able to see your photos with ease really irks.

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