A little over a month ago, I upgraded my smartphone from a Samsung Galaxy S4 to a Samsung Galaxy S5. I’m now ready to write my formal review. I’m taking a bit of a different style with this review. I’m not going to go through each specification one by one. Instead, I’ve broken my review down into what I like and don’t like about the Galaxy S5 followed by some final thoughts on Samsung’s newest smartphone.
What I Like
Faster. Better battery. Well, of course I’m going to say I like the fact that is faster and has a better battery. Who wouldn’t want their new smartphone to be faster and last longer on a single charge than their old one? The funny thing is though, I don’t really feel like the battery lasts longer than my Galaxy S4. I get the feeling that even though it has a longer-lasting battery, it’s using up more battery at the same time. So it kind of feels like a wash.
Power saving modes. On the same note, however, the Galaxy S5 has two power saving modes—power saving mode and ultra power saving mode. These modes can be customized to do things like turn off Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and even your cellular data communication. You can also choose to turn the display to grayscale which I now use all of the time when I’m using GPS navigation on my phone. Once these modes are configured you simply turn on or turn off the power saving mode when you need it—like when you are getting dangerously low on battery.
Texting favorites. The texting app has a new spot to store 4 of your favorites (or most contacted people) across the top. This is such a simple change but I love it. Even when you’re not starting a new conversation you can just touch the picture of the person across the top and it will take you directly to your most recent conversation.
Recent info on incoming call. Speaking of recent conversations, whenever someone calls me on my Galaxy S5, the most recent call attempt or text message to or from them displays on the screen along with the contact’s information. Very useful if someone is calling to respond to your text message or last call attempt.
Quick camera access. One-swipe instant access to the camera has been added to the lock screen. This is way overdue on the Galaxy line of smartphones (the iPhone has had it for quite some time) but I’m glad they finally added it.
Larger screen. Textured back. The screen is slightly larger on the Galaxy S5 than on my previous Galaxy S4. I feel like Samsung did this just so they could say it was bigger. It’s bigger by like 0.1″. I’ll take it but any bigger and you might as well get the Samsung Note 3 instead. And while I’m comparing to the Note 3, the Galaxy S5 now has the same textured back which is definitely easier to grip.
Water resistant. Hopefully I won’t rely on this feature a lot but the Galaxy S5 is now water (and dust) resistant. I believe you can immerse it in up to 6 feet of water for up to 30 minutes but I’ll take their word for it on this one. Oh, and I won’t be rinsing it under the sink to clean it either like you see in Samsung’s commercials.
USB 3.0. The Galaxy S5 uses the newer USB 3.0 standard for charging and data transfer. It is supposed to charge faster but I’m not sure I see a big difference. The bigger bang for the buck is in the data transfer and quite honestly, I never transfer data to or from my Galaxy S5 using a USB cable.
Download Booster. I save this for last because it isn’t really a like. It should be because I really looked forward to this feature. Download booster is supposed to use both Wi-Fi and LTE at the same time to speed up large downloads. Unfortunately, most of the major carriers hid this feature from their version of the Galaxy S5.
What I Don’t Like
Heart rate monitor. It’s not that I don’t like the built in heart rate monitor on the Galaxy S5. It actually works quite well. It’s just that I never use it and to me this is just a big marketing ploy to get people to buy the phone.
SHealth. Same with the SHealth features. Sure, it’s need that the Galaxy S5 counts my steps for me. But I don’t always have my phone on me so it’s still not nearly as accurate as my Fitbit.
Fingerprint recognition. I so wanted to like this feature but I can’t. When I tried using my fingerprint to unlock my Galaxy S5, I found myself having to swipe my finger multiple times before it unlocked. Even if I got better at this, which I probably would have, the fact that you have to use your index finger turns the whole unlocking thing into a two handed operation (left hand to hold the phone, right hand to do the fingerprint recognition). This along caused me more anguish than anything. With a swipe pattern I can unlock my phone with only one hand.
Flipboard. This is one thing that companies do that drive me nuts. They force a feature down your throat that you don’t want. Such is the case with the Galaxy S5 and the mandatory, can’t-get-rid-of Flipboard interface they include when you swipe left from your home screen. I like how Flipboard works but I’d much rather launch it as an app and I certainly don’t need it taking up one entire “page” on my screen that I could be using for my favorite apps. I don’t care if they include it as a widget. At least that way I could decide whether or not I want it.
If you are looking into switching to Android or to upgrade an existing Android smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is one of the smartest choices. It’s also one of the best Android phones on the market right now.
One exception. If you have a Galaxy S4, there may not be enough new features on the Galaxy S5 to warrant the upgrade. I know, I know. I upgraded from the S4 to the S5 but mainly because I’m obsessed with having the latest and greatest technology. If you, on the other hand, don’t see enough features above to convince you to upgrade, then don’t. I’m sure the Galaxy S6 will be here before we know it.