Should You Buy the Galaxy S5?
The Galaxy S5 has finally been released. The fanfare will soon die down so we can all get on with our lives.
We’ve reviewed the phone and found it a largely successful update to the most popular Android series in the world. I’m sure it’ll sell by the bucketload.
The issue is that lots of the phone elements aren’t that great. The interface could be better, and it impacts day-to-day performance noticeably. Its design is arguably worse than the phone it succeeds and the new hardware – the fingerprint scanner and heart rate sensor – are a bit fiddly to use.
So why did we give the phone such a good review? It’s all about two factors.
Reason #1 – The Screen
The Galaxy S5 is one of the most immediately impressive phone screens we’ve seen. This year Samsung has managed to fix everything that turned us off OLED-screen phones in the past to provide a display with all of the usual Super AMOLED benefits with none of the drawbacks.
What are these? OLED screens offer higher contrast and deeper blacks than any LCD.
You can see the difference in contrast between the One M8 and S5
Sit in bed with dimmed lighting watching an episode of Countryfile on your Galaxy S5 and it’ll look miles better that it would on an HTC One M8 or Sony Xperia Z2. The S5 also offers better viewing angles than the competition and is just as sharp.
The screen alone makes us forget a good many of the Galaxy S5’s interface problems, especially as Android lets you customise what the phone looks like quite a bit. Indeed, you can load the Google Experience Launcher onto the Galaxy S5 easily if you don't fancy TouchWiz.
Reason #2 – The Camera
The second great element of the Galaxy S5 is the camera. It’s the first phone released to use an ISOCELL sensor, and the first to use a hybrid focusing system.
We’ve put the Galaxy S5 up against the HTC One M8 and Xperia Z2, and the Samsung phone is indeed a whole lot faster at focusing than its Android rivals. We’re not convinced it’s really that much faster than the iPhone 5S at shooting photos, but getting anywhere near Apple-like photo speeds is impressive.
The Galaxy S5 camera is also very easy to use, primarily because the Auto mode is capable of coping with just about any conditions. A new picture stabilisation mode puts the camera into a sort of emergency mode when the lights go down low, taking multiple exposures to dramatically reduce noise in these sorts of shots.
Yes, it gets a bit slower in low lighting, but as long as you have a bit of patience the versatility of the camera is really quite excellent.
These are really the only ways in which the Galaxy S5 sticks out positively. And there are a bunch of ways it separates itself from the pack in negative ways. The speaker is quite mediocre, the design is not great and it seems to have put more effort in the wrong places than just about any other 2014 flagship.
However, you don’t get elements more important than the camera and screen in a phone. And as such, it is a true top Android phone.
What’s my point? If your contract is nearing its end or you’re out to buy a new SIM-free mobile, think about whether screen and camera quality are your highest priorities. Because if they’re not, this might not be the right phone for you. They are? Then get ready to board the Galaxy S5 bandwagon. You’ll have plenty of company.
Next, read our Galaxy S5 vs iPhone 5S comparison