The Samsung Galaxy S5 is Samsung’s latest and newest smartphone. It was announced and unveiled on February 24, 2014 and it replaces the Galaxy S4 as Samsung’s flagship device. The phone runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat out of the box, which is Google’s latest version of its mobile operating system.
The Galaxy S5 comes with a slight re-design with a new chrome ring around the edge and an all-new back that features a soft-touch plastic with a textured finish instead of the slippery — and somewhat slimy-feeling — plastic of the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3. The new phone will come in white, black, blue and gold color flavors.
Hardware & Performance
The Galaxy S5 comes with a slightly-larger 5.1-inch display, which is just a tenth-of-an-inch larger than the Galaxy S4’s display. The Galaxy S5 also comes with the same 1920 x 1080 resolution as the Galaxy S4. This is the resolution that pretty much all HDTVs use to display TV shows and movies, so you’ll be able to play full 1080p HD movies on the Galaxy S5 and take advantage of every available pixel. Plus, apps, images and text will appear crisp and sharp.
The Galaxy S5 is both water-resistant and dust-resistant, which means you can accidentally drop it in the toilet, the sink or a puddle without experiencing any damage. However, it’s not a completely waterproof device, so you won’t be able to take it for a swim or keep in underwater for too long, but it can survive for 30 minutes in water as deep as one meter.
The phone will have several different versions as far as the internal hardware is concerned. Some regions of the world will have the Galaxy S5 that comes with a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, while other parts of the world will get either a 2.1GHz or 1.5GHz quad-core Exynos processor. Essentially, the Galaxy S5 comes with a much faster processor, which will translate to faster performance when opening and loading apps, as well as playing games.
Users will also have their pick between either 16GB of storage space or 32GB. However, the Galaxy S5 supports expandable storage using a microSD card with up to a 128GB capacity.
Battery life on the Galaxy S5 is rated for 10 hours of web surfing over an LTE connection, or 12 hours of video playback. There are also new modes that assist in saving even more battery life on the new handset, which we’ll discuss further down.
The new camera on the Galaxy S5 is probably one of the most talked-about features of the new phone. It sports a 16-megapixel sensor, compared to the 13-megapixel sensor on the Galaxy S4. Megapixels aren’t everything, though, so there’s also a super-quick autofocus time, which will allow you to take photos quicker than ever before, thanks to the reduced delay that you’ll get when focusing in on a subject.
The camera also has selective focus, which allows to apply a shallow depth-of-field to a photo and change the focus, even after you’ve taken the photo. A shallow depth-of-field is when the subject is in focus but the background is blurred, or vice versa. Selective focus allows you to change where the focus is at in a photo, which is a feature that used to only be available in specialty cameras, like the Lytro.
The Galaxy S5 camera comes with improved HDR performance. HDR stands for high dynamic range and it’s an aspect of photography that allows you to capture everything in an image at the correct exposure. So if you were to take a photo of a window on a bright day from inside a dark house, both the outside and the inside would be exposed correctly, rather than just one or the other, which is how most photos turn out.
Lastly, the Galaxy S5 can record video in 4K, which is a resolution that’s four times larger than 1080p HDTV. Granted, not many displays can support 4K, but the industry is slowly moving in that direction. We have a thorough explainer of what 4K is if you’re unfamiliar with the format.
The Galaxy S5 took a page from Apple’s iPhone 5s and introduced a fingerprint sensor that integrates into the home button. This can be used to purchase apps, as well as unlock the device instead of using a passcode or a pattern. PayPal support is also included, meaning that you can send and authorize payments with a swipe of your fingerprint.
The fingerprint sensor will become more useful as time goes on thanks to the ability from Samsung to have app developers integrate the fingerprint sensor in their apps, which means more and more apps will come with support for the Galaxy S5’s fingerprint sensor in the future.
Heart Rate Monitor
The Galaxy S5 also comes with a heart rate monitor that sits on the back of the device. Using the new S Health app, users place their finger on top of the heart rate monitor to get a reading of their pulse. The S Health app can store readings and create charts of your heart rate over time.
Obviously, this feature will really only be useful to those who work out and want to stay fit and healthy, but we can see a lot of casual users taking advantage of the heart rate monitor for any number of reasons.
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, and they can also control what apps are installed and add new ones if they’d like.
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 the device.
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.
Another feature that can cut down on battery drainage is Super Dim Mode, which allows users to dim the display to levels that other smartphones don’t reach natively; you can only dim the display on your smartphone so much before it can’t be dimmed any further, but sometimes that’s still too bright. The Galaxy S5 lets you dim the screen even dimmer.
Release Date, Price & Carriers
The Galaxy S5 will officially become available to purchase and take home starting on April 11. Pre-orders have yet to be announced, but we’ll most likely see pre-orders start at some point in March.
Pricing for the Galaxy S5 are also yet to be disclosed, but on-contract pricing will most likely remain traditional, with a $200-$250 price tag for the 16GB model after signing a two-year contract. Off-contract pricing will also most likely remain traditional, starting anywhere from $620-$700 for the 16GB version, if we had to guess.
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular will all carry the Galaxy S5 right at launch starting on April 11, with smaller, regional carriers most likely adding the Galaxy S5 to their phone lineup in the future after the major carriers have had some time with the new device.