Tech: High Five

Is the Samsung Galaxy S5 worth the hype? The Korean tech giant pulls out all the stops for the latest version in the Galaxy series.

Written by Nandagopal Rajan | Updated: May 4, 2014 1:15:46 am
Samsung Galaxy S5 Samsung Galaxy S5

Over the past few years, top-end Samsung phones have been able to capture popular imagination like very few other devices. This time, the Korean tech leviathan was under pressure to innovate with the Samsung Galaxy S5. We look at the innovations, the surprises and the disappointments.

The Phone

DESIGN: With its perforated rear panel, the Samsung Galaxy S5 does not feel like an overdose of plastic like some of the earlier versions, but the chrome bezel is definitely tacky. There is a micro-USB port, which is now under a chrome flap as this phone is supposed to be water resistant.

DISPLAY: The 5.1-inch Full HD AMOLED display on the S5 is really great.

PERFORMANCE: This phone is not powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 like the rest of the world. We in India, thanks to the absence of 4G networks, will get a combo of Samsung’s own 1.9GHz and 1.3GHz quad-core processors. That does not mean the phone is slow. Multi-tasking is smooth and I did not feel the phone lacked oomph. This phone clocked a score better than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

The Innovations

FINGERPRINT SCANNER: It has been embedded in the home buttons, like in the Apple iPhone 5S. If you activate it, the phone will unlock only if you swipe your finger on the button from top to bottom. It is a great security feature to have, especially in a top-end phone.

HEART RATE SENSOR: Next to the LED flash, this feature works in tandem with the S-Health app and is an important part of the entire fitness ecosystem that Samsung is trying to drive with its new phones.

The Surprises

CAMERA: The auto-focus on the camera is the fastest I have seen. This comes in very handy when you are taking pictures of moving objects, always an effort with a smartphone. The selective focus is also good, letting you blur the background, or the foreground, as you want. This is usually the preserve of the DSLR, but now available on the Samsung Galaxy S5. The camera also has the ability to add apps like in Lumia phones, though there are not many free apps available to add. The S5 results are good, but I would have loved more clarity in some of the frames.

APPS: The UI and the operating system are as simple as Samsung could keep it. But there are some welcome features, like AirView that lets you see menus without clicking. There is also the Toolbox that lets you access the most commonly used features from any screen, provided you can live with the button on every single screen you open. Even this feature is not innovative and has been spotted on tweaked Androids like the Color OS.

ULTRA POWER SAVING: Like many of the new flagship phones, the S5 too has an ultrapower saving mode, which can come to your rescue when the battery is about to drain out. I turned to the feature when I had just 28% left on the phone. With the limited features in the mode, the phone notified me that it could use this juice to last over 3.5 days. But this gives you a stripped down version of the OS and only a handful of essential apps.

The Disappointments

AUDIO QUALITY: The entire phone seems to emanate sounds when you are on a call, as if you had the speaker phone switched on. The rear flap vibrates when you are talking to someone.
temperature: The phone heats up when you are using the browser, even when you are having a long drawn conversation. Not expected of a top draw phone.

BATTERY LIFE: Maybe we have been spoiled by the battery on the Note 3, but the S5 can’t give you more than 12 hours on regular use. We suggest you shift to ultra power saving mode at the end of the day.

SHOULD YOU BUY IT: There is nothing that prevents me from suggesting this phone for those looking for a top-end Android phone. The phone is worth Rs 51,500. But if you want a more innovative phone, then, perhaps, you should also take a look at the HTC One M8 too, before making up your mind.

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