Does Samsung's Star Still Shine Bright?
Samsung’s Galaxy S line of smartphones employs cutting-edge hardware and more features than any human can remember to use, making it one of the most anticipated flagship phones every year. The Galaxy S5 was no exception, generating a lot of hype amidst swirling rumors regarding new hardware and features.
The prelaunch S5 certainly sounded spectacular, with rumored features including a larger than five-inch display, QHD resolution, a 64-bit Exynos or Snapdragon 805 SoC, 4GB RAM, a 16MP camera with optical image stabilization, fingerprint scanner, metal body, a larger and faster-charging battery, along with some top secret alien technology. However, the actual Galaxy S5 that Samsung produced wasn’t nearly that otherworldly, and many of Samsung’s fans were disappointed.
While some of those features did find their way into the Galaxy S5 LTE-A variant released later in the year, the original Galaxy S5 still includes with some great hardware. Screen size increases slightly to 5.1 inches, compared to the S4's five-inch screen, but maintains the same HD resolution. The new SAMOLED panel delivers better peak brightness and color accuracy, however, than the S4's previous-generation display.
The S5’s rear camera uses Samsung's own 16MP ISOCELL sensor, which improves color fidelity and reduces noise at higher ISO settings by limiting crosstalk between adjacent pixels. The S5 is also the first smartphone to use phase detection autofocus (PDAF), vastly improving autofocus performance.
Apple’s Touch ID feature in the iPhone 5s, though not the first smartphone to use a fingerprint sensor, seems to have sparked a new trend, with several flagship devices now using them. Samsung, unwilling to cede features to Apple, also includes a fingerprint scanner in the S5, a first for its mobile devices.
Another interesting addition, one that carries over from the Galaxy S4 Active, is IP67 dust and water resistance. While Sony has included ingress protection on its Xperia phones for some time, the S5 is the first non-specialized, flagship model from Samsung to include it. This is definitely a feature that makes sense for a smartphone.
Samsung Galaxy S5 Tech Specs
While the S5 didn't receive the newer Snapdragon 805 SoC, Qualcomm's 801 is a significant upgrade over the Snapdragon 600 its predecessor came with. Its 2GB of RAM is standard for five-inch flagship phones, as is the maximum internal storage of 32GB. The S5 does support microSD cards up to 128GB if your storage needs grow beyond the S5's internal NAND.
Along with the bigger screen, the S5 grows slightly in all three dimensions, resulting in a 12% weight gain over the S4. While smaller and lighter overall than the HTC One (M8), it's roughly equivalent to the Motorola Moto X in size and weight, despite the Moto's larger screen.
More internal volume creates space for a bigger battery, which should give the S5 more longevity than the S4 and newer Moto X, and be comparable to other current-gen five-inch phones.
Availability And Options
The Galaxy S5 is selling in 125 countries from a large number of retailers. It's available for all four major U.S. carriers and almost every national and regional carrier in Canada, including Bell, Eastlink, Fido, Koodoo, MTS, Rogers, Sasktel, Telus, Videotron, Virgin Mobile and Wind.
Besides the choice between 16 or 32GB of internal storage, the S5 is available in four different color options (from left to right): Copper Gold, Electric Blue, Charcoal Black and Shimmery White. Unfortunately, most carriers only offer the Charcoal Black and/or Shimmery White variants.
Included with the Galaxy S5 is a 2.0A wall charger, USB 3.0 cable and stereo headphones with inline controls and extra silicone ear tips.
In terms of hardware, the S5 struggles to float to the surface in a rising sea of Android-based smartphones. Its most compelling feature is dust and water resistance, which it'll need if Samsung's fingerprint scanner, new 16MP ISOCELL camera sensor or software additions don't provide some buoyancy.