Flagship (mostly) fantastic: Samsung’s Galaxy S5 reviewed
4.4Overall Score
Price (RRP): $929 Manufacturer: Samsung

Samsung’s fifth Galaxy model is here, and poised to take on whatever Apple has next, as well as anything else from the other manufacturers. For the new model, Samsung has revised the look, the hardware, and so much more. Is this Samsung’s best phone yet?

Features

The smartphone race is heating up, and as Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG, and even Nokia all have founds ways to show that they too can make award winning smartphones that appeal to customers more than just the humble Apple iPhone, it’s time for Samsung to show the world what it can do in the new year with a new phone.

New to the Galaxy range, it’s the fifth model of the flagship handset, though it’s certainly not the fifth Galaxy altogether. Ever since Samsung started pushing more than just the flagship models, the Galaxy phones have really taken off, and there are models in the budget category, mid-range, camera-specific, phablet-size, and of course, the high-end flagship.

Taking over from last year’s Galaxy S4 is the aptly named S5, with new specs, a refined design, better camera, and a few more things added for good measure.

Let’s start with the specs, because that’s where most of the change is, with last year’s quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor jumping to a top of the line Snapdragon 801 chip, a slight variant on the model out in the Galaxy Note 3 last year with improved performance and faster clock-speed, rated at 2.5GHz and working alongside the Adreno 330 graphics chip.

This new processor works alongside 2GB RAM and 16GB storage, though the latter of these can be expanded to support as much as 128GB of microSD extra storage if you have it.

Google’s latest version of Android runs here, with version 4.4.2, also known as “KitKat” and making it truly up to date. Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay runs atop this, providing a newer look, and access to all of Samsung’s extra features. Those extra features include a heart rate monitor, TV remote, air gestures, multi-window, fingerprint reading, and more.

Cameras are part and parcel of smartphones these days, and the Galaxy S5 is no different, with a new 16 megapixel shooter on the back capable of quick HDR shooting, low-light images, 4K UHD video capture, and taking advantage of Samsung’s new ISOCELL technology (more on that later).

The front-facing camera sits at 2 megapixels, capable of recording 1080p Full HD videos too, which the rear camera can also do.

Connecting this phone up to the world are some pretty high end standards, with Category 4 4G LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 with support for LE (Low Energy), Near-Field Communication (NFC), GPS, and infrared, with wired support handled through a microUSB 3.0 port at the bottom for faster transfers.

This sits under a new 5.1 inch Full HD (1920×1080) screen, capable of showing 432 pixels per inch, and protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 strengthened glass.

Buttons are relatively standard for Samsung phones, with the front centre home button here, flanked on either side by the new multitask button (which replaces the menu button) and the back button. The power button and volume rocker occupy identical spaces, with the volume on the left edge and power on the right.

The 3.5mm headphone jack sits at the top as per usual, though it’s now on the right side, compared with the left side it was in on the Galaxy S4.