Samsung typically launches its flagship Galaxy S-series smartphone closer to Spring each year. The onslaught of premium 5-inch class smartphones in 2013 catalyzed the next Galaxy, which launched today, at the backdrop of MWC 2014, predictably named Galaxy S5.
Measuring 142.0 mm x 72.5 mm x 8.1 mm, and weighing in at 145 g, the S5 is slightly thicker and heavier than its predecessor, although it doesn’t breach the 150 mm mark with length, or 150 g mark with weight. It’s more pocketable than Sony’s Xperia Z2.
Samsung delivered on its promise of making the device water- and dust-resistant, much like the past three generations of Xperia flagships, but didn’t make good on metal uni-body (to go against the likes of the HTC M8 and the iPhone 5S). Instead, we get a slightly glossier, faux-leather back panel that just so happens to come in four impressive shimmery color options, including black, white, electric-blue, and copper. A metal brace runs along the edge of the device, and the front isn’t too different from that of the S4.
Galaxy S5 runs Android 4.4.2 “KitKat” out of the box, its interface appears to be consistent with stock Android 4.4. The graphics get sharper and more subtle. The stock wallpaper is back to being a nice abstract work of art, rather than the cheesy ones Galaxy S4 and LG G2 came out with.
Unlike the Galaxy S4, Samsung does add a few impressive features with the S5. It begins with a fingerprint scanner that’s integrated into the touchscreen panel, in what’s a technological leap over what Apple and HTC managed, with dedicated fingerprint scanning points. Samsung leveraged this feature not just to run screen-unlocks and store validations, but also tied up with PayPal to authenticate transactions, in over 26 markets.
The Galaxy S5 features an integrated heart rate sensor, which the new S Health app leverages, in addition to pedometer and GPS. The device hence gets a better idea of your physical activity. The heart rate sensor is located on the back of the device, close to the camera lens. You place your index finger over it, for the thing to work.
The device also comes with a network accelerator that’s unlike anything we’ve heard of before, on a smartphone. Called Download Booster, the feature activates both WiFi and LTE, and aggregates bandwidth from both network interfaces, to speed up downloads.
The Galaxy S5 comes with a new 16-megapixel primary camera, with an updated feature-set. It doesn’t feature OIS, but offers fast AF (autofocus), and selective focus. It brings improvements to the HDR feature of its predecessor. The front camera is unchanged, at 2.0-megapixel.
The 5.1-inch Super AMOLED screen of the Galaxy S5 continues to offer full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) display resolution. Under the hood, the Galaxy S5 runs the fastest Snapdragon 800 SoC from Qualcomm’s stable, clocked at 2.50 GHz. The chip is wired to 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB and 32 GB internal storage options, and of course, a micro-SDXC slot. There goes Samsung’s 64-bit talk, down the drain.
Connectivity includes 150 Mbps LTE, 802.11 ac WLAN, Bluetooth 4.0 with ANT+ support, NFC, IR, and USB 3.0 SuperSpeed interface (a first). The audio is wired to a new 24-bit / 192 kHz DAC.
A meatier 2,800 mAh battery keeps the Galaxy S5 fed, backed by an updated Power Saver application that gives you greater control over the way it sips power.