Review by Andrew Yew
If there is anything I’ve learnt in my time as a tech writer, it is to never ever trust rumours. The GALAXY S5 from Samsung had its fair share of speculation before its official unveiling, from having a 2K display (believable) to an iris scanner, which is borderline sci-fi at this point. Now, I would just silently mock those who share hearsays or concept renders, sentencing them to my own personal mental hell. After months of contending with friends sharing hearsay, the GALAXY S5 is now in my hands and thus I gloat. Sure, it’s not what everybody wished what the next iteration of the GALAXY S line would be, but it is a definitely a major step up from previous generations.
Good Looking Behind
Departing from the glossy smooth back of the GALAXY S3 and S4 and the faux-leather back of the recent GALAXY Note lineup, the GALAXY S5 goes with a matte dimpled back. That said, the back is not all dimples; you can observe some ‘goosebumps’ where the ‘4G’ logo is. The surface makes for an easier and more comfortable grip, and I personally really like the conceptual aesthetic. Using the matte surface also means that you will not leave smudges when you handle the phone. This alone is great deal for people like me.
Aside from the removable back, the GALAXY S5 looks comparatively refined when you place it against its predecessors. Gone is the ‘curved pebble’ look in lieu of something that looks more like the GALAXY Note 3. It even inherits the chrome trimmings that line the sides, with some extra volume lines thrown in for good measure. This is by far, the best-looking GALAXY S device I have come across. Good on you Samsung!
Your device may (or may not) survive a drop but water will almost definitely kill it. Samsung knows the heartache you face when your machine dies due to a chance encounter with the drink, so it made sure the GALAXY S5 is IP67 rated. Previously, an IP (Ingress Protection) rating could only be found in a variant of the GALAXY S4, the GALAXY S4 Active. That all changes as the GALAXY S5 can survive total water submersion while dust will find a hard time infiltrating the device. It does require some effort on your part, however: like the GALAXY S4 Active, you will have to make sure the device is sealed properly, with proper installation of the back cover and tightly closing the protector flaps of the charging/data USB ports. I gave it an impromptu baptism, still fearful in case it dies. It survived, and I laughed at my doubts.
Need for Speed
Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 801 System on Chip (SoC) powers the GALAXY S5. To be precise, it uses a quad-core Krait 400 processor that is paired with 2GB of RAM. The local model comes with 16GB of built-in storage (10GB of usable) and a microSD expansion (of up to 128GB). The device runs on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, with Samsung’s own TouchWiz overlaid on top. As you can see, the GALAXY S5 is equipped with top-notch parts, making it a potent entrant into the flagship smartphone arena. The device also manages to produce some excellent scores in benchmarks as the Adreno 330 GPU delivers on its promises for a smooth gameplay experience. With that 5.1in Super AMOLED display, you’re definitely not going to take your eyes off the GALAXY S5.
Not so Touching
If passwords don’t cut it for you, then you will be pleased to know that the GALAXY S5 comes with a fingerprint scanner, allowing you to unlock your phone with a mere swipe from your finger. The app can register up to three fingerprints and is even one of the rare few systems to be Paypal-certified, enabling you to authorise Paypal transactions without needing to entire passwords. On the flipside, this is bad news for impluse shoppers. However, should it not work, you can revert to a password control option that is mandatory to fill in when you decide to make the switch for this function. Also, I noticed the GALAXY S5 is hard to use it in one-hand situations as your finger needs to be oriented almost dead straight. Other than that, there is only one annoying point: it will keep prompting you about what you’re doing wrong should an unrecognised action or command is given.
Battery life is a common concern among smartphone users, with some wishing for a smartphone that can last them more than, say, two full working days. There is also the problem where you’re running low on juice, and having to disable unnecessary features individually, which is a real chore to go through. With the GALAXY S5, Samsung is introducing ‘Ultra Power Saving Mode’, a one-stop solution to longer battery life. What it does is disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, turns off mobile data when the screen is off, restricts application usage, and uses a greyscale theme. In turn, you get days upon days of battery life. Sure, it’s not meant to be used every day, but it is useful when your battery is depleting and there is no power socket in sight.
Price: RM 2,399
Dimensions: 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm
Display: 5.1in FHD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080), 432 ppi
Processor: Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801
Expansion: microSD (up tto 128GB)
Operating System: Android 4.4.2
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac VHT80, MIMO (2×2), NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 BLE / ANT+, IrLED
I/O: USB 3.0, Power Jack, Audio Jack
Camera: Main – 16MP (1/2.6”, Phase Detection AF), Sub – 2.0MP (1920 x 1080, Wide-angle lens)
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited: 16926
Verdict: Samsung has done it again!
Total Score: 9/10