It’s long been rumored, but now it’s finally here. Samsung lifted the cover off of its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5.
The new device keeps the same overall look and design from the Galaxy S4, except for one major portion: the rear battery cover. Samsung did away with the slimy plastic of the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4, and instead introduced a soft-touch textured plastic that feels much better to hold in the hand.
Rumors pointed to a completely-redesigned smartphone, but while that didn’t turn quite like that, the actual product is still rather impressive, especially on the software side of things. Samsung included a wealth of new software features and apps to improve the Galaxy S experience for users. Lets a quick look at some of these new features.
Samsung made some slight design changes to the software of the Galaxy S5, but most users familiar with the company’s TouchWiz UI interface will still be familiar with the new phone.
The Galaxy S5 rocks Android 4.4 KitKat overlaid with TouchWiz, and this time around, Samsung took the Apple approach and made everything flatter and simpler for a more basic, no-nonsense design. This change is most prevalent in the settings app, where everything is much more simple and easier to find.
For the most part, though, it’s still Samsung’s tried and true user interface, and none of the changes are so drastic that users will need to relearn how to use the phone, which is always good. However, there are some brand-new software features that even veteran Samsung owners will need to learn about. Let’s go through some of the more important ones.
The Galaxy S5 comes with an all-new 16-megapixel camera with the ability to shoot 4K video. It also has the fastest autofocus of any smartphone camera on the market, taking just 0.3 seconds to get a clear shot, which is pretty quick.
As for the camera app itself, it has a new look that simplified from the start, with advanced settings accessible from navigation menus on the side. One of the nifty features is the ability to take HDR photos quickly and easily taking multiple photos at different exposures at the same time, getting rid of the need to holding the phone steady for a few seconds in order to get an HDR shot.
There’s also a Select Focus mode, which is similar to Lytro’s concept where you can change the focus of an image after it’s taken, such as focusing your subject while keeping the background blurry or vice versa.
There’s also different modes in the camera app that are meant for different situations, like action shots or portrait photos. There’s even a mode called “Shot & more” that allows the camera to auto-select the best mode when you’re taking a photo, that way there’s no need to learn what all of the modes do if you need to snap a quick photo.
Samsung is focusing big on health and fitness for its new line of products, including the Galaxy S5, Gear smartwatches and the Gear Fit wristband. There’s a new app on the Galaxy S5 called S Health that combines a bunch of different health and fitness features into one app.
One of the biggest companions to the S Health app is the built-in heart rate monitor on the back of the Galaxy S5. Simply open up the S Health app, put your finger on top of the monitor and let the software do the rest. We played with it for a couple of minutes, but we’ll have to do some further tests to see just how accurate it is in the real world. It usually gave us a 90-95 beats-per-minute reading, which is pretty fast for a resting heart rate, but we were no doubt amped up from the hustle and bustle of Samsung’s event.
Other features in the S Health app include the ability to enter in your workouts to track fitness, as well as entering in meals for nutrition tracking. The app can also pair with a variety of fitness wristbands and Bluetooth scales.
The Galaxy S5 comes with a nifty Kids Mode that allows parents to hand over their smartphone to their young ones without anything catastrophic happening to their data. There are a handful of default apps that are built into Kids Mode, including a fun karaoke app that lets kids sing along to their favorite songs.
Kids Mode also has parental controls that allows parents to set a time limit for their kids on how they spend playing around on the phone. Parents can also control what apps are installed and add new ones if they’d like, and parents can even control what media on the phone that their kids are allowed to watch.
Kids Mode is certainly a welcomed addition to TouchWiz, especially with the recent controversy over the security of the app store and how kids can easily make in-app purchases, which can add up to hundreds of dollars that the parents will have to fork over.
Ultra Power Saving Mode
Perhaps one of the most impressive features of the Galaxy S5 is the new Ultra Power Saving Mode, which allows users to cut down the processing power of the phone significantly in order to get more battery life out of it.
For instance, if your Galaxy S5 is down to just 10% of battery, you can enable this mode, which will turn off all features except the phone and text messaging, as well as turning the display black and white to cut down on the power needed to keep the phone one.
Samsung claims that with Ultra Power Saving Mode enabled, the Galaxy S5 can go up to 24 hours on standby mode using just 10% of the battery, which is quite impressive.
The overall cosmetic design of the phone remains true of Samsung’s past devices, and while it sports a new soft-touch plastic on the back, the overall look of the phone is typical of what Samsung has delivered in the past. However, the heap of new features lies in the software, and Samsung really stepped up its game to deliver a new and exciting experience to the Galaxy S lineup.