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5 Reasons Not to Buy a Galaxy S5

Andrew Williams


5 Reasons Not to Buy a Galaxy S5

A phone for the ages?

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the big tech news of the moment. It could well be this year’s biggest-selling non-Apple phone, and it’ll be on shelves within a month.

However, there are a few reasons why you should hold off spending £550, or £40 a month, on Samsung’s new phone. Here are the top five arguments for skipping this upgrade.

The screen isn’t dramatically improved over last-generation phonesBlue border

Before the Samsung Galaxy S5 was announced, we half-expected it to have a 2k-resolution screen. Pointless or not, we still think that 2K-res phones will appear this year, but the Galaxy S5 is not one of them.

It uses a 1080p screen – the same resolution as the Galaxy S4. The core Super AMOLED panel technology is the same too. Samsung has made improvements to the calibration of the screen (which affects colour, contrast and so on), but specs-wise, it’s near-identical to its predecessor.

The size of the display hasn’t changed much either. It’s a 5.1-inch screen, up from 4.99 inches in the Galaxy S4. What we’re seeing is phone makers realising that mainstream phones can only get so big before their size becomes a practical pain in the backside. The Galaxy S5 needs to appeal to the masses, where the larger Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Mega 6.3 were always intended to be slightly niche devices (although the Note series has managed to become a smash hit regardless).

We’ve reached a bit of an impasse with screens. Not only will improvements have less of a noticeable effect, major hardware changes are taking a bit longer to arrive too.

In the last three generations of phones, each has seen a big leap in screen tech. This is missing in the Galaxy S5.

Processor improvements have slowed downBlue border

Snapdragon 801 The same can be said of the processor – the Snapdragon 801. At present adding more power to a phone is, at least arguably, overkill and the Galaxy S5 has arrived too early to benefit from this year’s ‘proper’ generational leap in mobile phone CPUs.

The Snapdragon 801 is a bit of a stop-gap upgrade between the Snapdragon 800 and Snapdragon 805. It’s not too far from the truth to call it a revved-up version of the processor we saw last year in the LG G2.

Much like the screen, there are improvements, but you may not notice them all that much. Looking back, the leap from Galaxy S3 to Galaxy S4 was actually a massive improvement by comparison – much as we complained that phone was not enough of an upgrade. How ungrateful we were…

Most of the extra hardware offers niche appeal only

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As there have been only slight improvements to the core aspects of screen and processor tech, Samsung has had to resort to including a load of ‘extras’.

The most conspicuous of the lot is the heart rate monitor, which sits by the camera lens on the back. It would be uncharitable to call it a gimmick, but it is heading in that direction. Its positioning means it’s not really much use to monitor your heart rate while you’re out running (the main function of a heart rate monitor), and other ‘normal’ phones can have a pretty good stab at the same sort of technology through apps.

Heart rate monitor apps for iPhones and Androids use the camera flash LED and the camera sensor to calculate your heart rate. It sounds like the same sort of nonsense app that might X-ray your body or tell you your future, but it does actually work.

The fingerprint scanner is another novel addition, but it simply doesn’t feel as convenient or quick as the iPhone’s TouchID sensor. And what use is a not-that-convenient convenience feature?

Galaxy S4, HTC One and LG G2 all available at great prices

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The idea that the Galaxy S5 relies on a series of non-essential extras to justify its existence makes us look back to some of last year’s models and ask – is the new one really worth the extra?

A natural chipping-away at prices has seen last year’s flagships come down to really quite sensible levels, even before the new models are out. You can get the Galaxy S4, HTC One and LG G2 for under £350 – that’s a good £200-odd cheaper than the Galaxy S5.

It’s the LG G2 that you should really look at here too, if you want a bargain. LG’s relatively weak position in the mobile phone brand stakes mean it had to price its flagship very aggressively – you can buy one for just £300. Its processor isn’t light years behind the Galaxy S5s: it uses a Snapdragon 800, and its screen is larger.

Is it a better phone? Not necessarily, but it is a whole lot cheaper.

The Galaxy S5 look is truly Marmite-flavouredBlue border

It’s natural to assume that something new is better than that which it follows. However, the Galaxy S5 really challenges this.

In practical terms, it’s fine. A pitted, soft touch surface gives better grip than the Galaxy S4. It’s just the look – we’re not convinced.

Samsung has adopted the ridged plastic chrome sides of the Galaxy Note 3, and created a new, very odd style of rear for the Galaxy S5. Maybe it just hasn’t clicked with me yet. Maybe I just don’t appreciate style. Either way, I don’t get it.

Are you thinking about buying a Galaxy S5? Let us know what attracts you to the phone in the comments

Next, read our Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy S4 comparison


March 22, 2014, 2:34 pm

Agree, i think the better deal is the samsung galaxy s4 and the other phones you mention. The S5 is a real let down and if they ask for £500+ i wouldn't be surprised at low sales figures compared to previous galaxy phones.


March 22, 2014, 3:29 pm

What kind of phone do you currently use?


March 22, 2014, 4:27 pm

Has Samsung sorted out the software on these phones yet? On my S3, it has got to be the worst Android implementation ever with how slow it takes for some apps to switch/load. Go on, press 'contacts' and count in seconds how long before the screen shows up!


March 22, 2014, 4:34 pm

1080p is effectively 2.07 megapixels. 2k is effectively 2.15 megapixels. Why would anyone care about having a 2k screen?


March 22, 2014, 5:10 pm

s5 mini will be the one to buy


March 22, 2014, 6:51 pm

There is another reason to not be in a hurry for the S5, though you did reference some alternatives to be fair.

Oppo Find 7, expected soonish.


March 22, 2014, 8:06 pm

All smartphone brands are going to be slowing down dramatically with innovation, this was inevitable and I'm shocked that people are just now realizing this. The technology is no longer new or revolutionary. The age of new and better smartphones being released every 4 months is ending, and I say thank god. It was a pain in the butt to buy a smartphone, only for it to be completely out of date a few months later.

2014 will be a year of smartphones with virtually no improvements. Samsung is simply the first one to receive the flak.

Look forward to it.


March 22, 2014, 8:43 pm

"Galaxy S5 is the same as the S4" ??? Isn't everyone calling apples iphone the same too, look at the 4 and 4s and the 5 and 5s?? And when it comes to Samsung everyone wants more than try wanted like 2k screen, 20 mp, aluminum build, and now everyone is disappointed. If it wasn't for rumors it wouldn't be a disappointment.


March 23, 2014, 12:51 am

My S3 still works like a champ! When I press contacts, it only takes 1 second..

Daniel Lawrence

March 23, 2014, 1:37 am

1second... not too bad. Something is wrong with ur phone.


March 23, 2014, 3:53 am

Camera is greatly improved especially the focusing and hdr video? Wow. The hardware specs are plenty pleasing if not vastly better than s4.


March 23, 2014, 6:14 am

I think they had it mostly sorted with the s4. Still I don't like touchwiz at all so I went to CyanogenMod.


March 23, 2014, 7:29 am

The hardware is basically the same as s4. Thats the main problem... Pointless phone if you can get the s4 for 200 cheaper


March 23, 2014, 7:30 am

Just try another app... Or clean ur phone.


March 23, 2014, 4:56 pm

Got to admit there isn't much improvements on the Galaxy S5 but only because it's hard to improve an already awesome phone (Galaxy S4).


March 23, 2014, 5:18 pm

I don't think the screen staying 1080p is any reason to discount the S5. It already has one thing I think all manufacturers should begin putting more R&D into: battery life. Shoving a bigger battery into the device is hardly making an improvement. Before the industry begins the move to 2K and 4K, it needs to figure out how to make a phone last 24 hours under the most heavy use possible. The galaxy note 3 has excellent battery life but that's largely due to the gigantic battery.


March 23, 2014, 7:38 pm

Based on the credible rumors of the G3, It sounds like LG will be vastly improving their smartphone still. An octacore processor and a 1440p screen is enough of a reason to jump forward on the LG boat.


March 23, 2014, 10:02 pm

Good summary, but I think this article could more accurately be titled "5 Reasons Not to Upgrade to an S5 From Your S4."


March 24, 2014, 12:51 am

I'd get the Sony Z2. It's superior in every way.

Tony Swales

March 24, 2014, 1:48 am

Also it is significantly heavier for not much extra screen estate.


March 24, 2014, 2:35 am

I will never see the appeal of higher than 1080p on a phone. All I see are a handful of downsides and 0 tangible upsides. It's all marketing BS.


March 24, 2014, 3:01 am

I dont know I think its a bit waffly.
most people do two years + for their upgrades
so saying its not much is really just talking to the niche group who upgrade every year.

Battery meh I get two days out of mine / weekends a day.
If its a major issue I would say "get a job and a life " and you will see your phone magically last longer....


March 24, 2014, 7:45 am

The same could be said about 1080p on a screen 5 inches large, but we all ate that up didn't we? All technical innovations are good ones in my eyes. You can't honestly believe cell phones would just stay 1080p forever right? That in 2035 we'd still all be walking around with 1080p screens on our phones? The jump would have to happen eventually. This year is as good a year as any. Why not now? By 2018 we'll all be rocking a 2160p screen, necessary or not.


March 24, 2014, 9:40 am

Yes but that would be no spice in that headline :)


March 24, 2014, 10:24 am

Do you want a list of the reasons why this is a bad thing?

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