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Samsung Galaxy S5: Battery Life and Verdict

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Samsung Galaxy S5: Battery Life

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is one of just a few current top-end phones to give you access to the battery unit. It's a 2,800 mAh, 10.78Wh brick, up from 2,600mAh in the Galaxy S4.

Many of the most important battery optimisations come from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, though, not this 200mAh capacity jump.

Galaxy S5 photo 26

Galaxy S5 battery

Without using any of the phone's special power-saving skills, you'll get a day a half out of the phone with moderate use. This year's new flagship phones won't suddenly see us get mobiles that last an age longer than last year's ones if you use things like mobile internet a lot.

As a secondary test we set the Galaxy S5 to play a video from a full charge until the phone switched itself off. With medium brightness, the phone lasts for 11 hours when playing an SD-quality video. This is good, and roughly an hour longer than we squeezed out of the HTC One M8.

Perhaps the handiest new battery features are ones that marry hardware and software optimisations. The Samsung Galaxy S5 offers two power saving battery modes – Power Saving and Ultra Power Saving.

Power Saving is a fairly traditional mode that tweaks things like processor clock speed and screen brightness/contrast. It also lets you restrict background data, and even turn the screen monochrome to limit the power consumption of the display.

Ultra Power Saving goes a few steps further. It does all the above, and provides a super-simple one-screen interface that only gives you access to a six apps – the phone, your SMS messages and the browser. Oh, and it's all in black and white.

You still get access to your mobile data while actually using the phone – it doesn't make the Galaxy S5 zero fun – but all background data and standby data access is naturally off the cards. In this mode the phone can last for more than 10 days on standby. But you'd only really want to use it when you need to hang onto your last 10 per cent of battery for as long as possible.

Samsung Galaxy S5: Call Quality

From something new to a performance just like last time, the Galaxy S5's call quality is pretty ordinary, but perfectly fine.

The earpiece speaker is fairly loud and fairly clear, if lacking a bit of top-end bite. Like most Android phones, the S5 uses a secondary microphone to provide active noise cancellation.

Samsung Galaxy S5: Connectivity

The Samsung Galaxy S5 offers a very complete array of connections. Those that mark the phone out among some of its peers include 4G, Wi-Fi ac, NFC and a new connectivity mode that lets the S5 use your Wi-Fi and mobile internet connections simultaneously for faster download speeds.

The most visible connectivity aberration, though, is the micro USB 3.0 port on the bottom of the handset. It looks like a microUSB port with a half-formed twin jammed onto its side – and that's more-or-less what it is. Galaxy S5 photo 21

It is a little ungainly, but will give you faster transfer rates and faster USB port charging when hooked up to a computer with a USB 3.0 port. We're highly unlikely to see this in next year's Galaxy S6, though, as the USB 3.1 standard has already been announced. Its micro port is as small as the USB 2.0 one, and is reversible to boot. The Galaxy S5's bigger port is likely to be remembered as an oddball. And we're not convinced many people will actually benefit from it.

Still, you can plug a standard microUSB cable into it and use existing chargers, so there's no real compromise involved beyond the weird look.

Galaxy S5 photo 15

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy S5?

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is probably the worst-looking of the three 2014 Android flagships we know about so far. HTC's metal One M8 and Sony's metal/glass Xperia Z2 both offer a look that is more successful than what we have here. Of course, if your phone is case-bound, the look of the hardware won't matter too much.

It carries on into the software too, though. Once again HTC Sense looks and feels slightly better than TouchWiz. And yet again the Samsung UI does prove to be a minor performance drain.

However, other aspects of this phone are good or excellent. The screen is truly superb, providing the sort of image quality that makes us wish people hadn't all-but stopped making OLED TVs.

And while there are ways Samsung could have improved the camera, it is a great performer in day and night alike – as long as you have a steady hand and some patience.

There are misses to match the hits. But the places those hits land are extremely important.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S5 fits happily into the role of Galaxy S4 successor. It's a phone with some significant improvements over that model. It lacks the style of its nearest rivals, but it more than delivers on every other point and has a truly oustanding screen.

Note: Overall score is not an average. Read our Score Guide for more detail.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 9
  • Calls & Sound 7
  • Camera 8
  • Design 7
  • Performance 8
  • Screen Quality 10
  • Software 7
  • Value 8
Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut

barondebxl

April 8, 2014, 7:36 am

Its a keeper.

Guest

April 8, 2014, 8:50 am

According to PA, loudspeaker of S5 is louder than HTC One(M8) hmm...

andyvan

April 8, 2014, 8:56 am

Louder doesn't necessarily mean better. You've also got to consider location and actual quality. S5 loses on both points.

Guest

April 8, 2014, 10:04 am

Location of speakers, your review of One(M8) stated that "As your thumbs move directly over the drivers, your digits' movements do (slightly) alter the tonality of the sound" Indeed I found this noticeably annoying whilst playing a game and etc.

It seems like the location has cons and pros, don't you think? Of course you are entitled your opinion, but I'm just saying people don't think the location of speaker as an outright winning factor.

andyvan

April 8, 2014, 10:27 am

I'm a different Andy (Yes, I appreciate the confusion), and yes you have a point. We still think the HTC's are better overall, though.

mus1c

April 8, 2014, 2:20 pm

Im a big fan of Samsung products but why oh why would they have a protruding camera lens which detracts from the look/ feel.

RonRoyce

April 8, 2014, 6:35 pm

I won't be buying it for one reason. It's a Samsung.

Senad

April 8, 2014, 7:52 pm

Water resistant :)

looks really Nice :)

iFrank

April 8, 2014, 10:26 pm

I was able to hold one in a Voda shop today.
So like the Note 3 I recently did a deal on but more pocketable.
I wish I'd waited. Sighs.

PS, some sites claim it uses a nano sim?

godafoss

April 9, 2014, 6:29 am

And the reason I won't buy it: Knox!

Tim Sutton

April 11, 2014, 10:53 am

I held one of these yesterday.

It actually looks worse than the S4.Those bezels are HUGE.

It feels nasty and cheap.

The interface design is awful. You've got Touchwiz, Tizen and Android all looking and handling differently and all fighting for space on one handset. There are FOUR texting apps and THREE music players. The settings page is SIX SCREENS long. It's insanely cluttered and impossible to enjoy.

I can't see how anyone would look at this handset and choose it over even an S4. Physically the S4 is the better looking of the two (they're both ugly) and the S4s software isn't quite so schizophrenic.

I'm.. how is this a 9/10 handset guys? How? It's actually less good than the phone it's replacing.

Everlast

April 11, 2014, 3:58 pm

Totally agree, This is a piece of overpriced plastic!

And how did they decide the price is £499, I can only see offers for £569?

Andrew_TR

April 11, 2014, 4:28 pm

I have some of the same criticisms. I think the HTC One M8 is a much 'nicer' phone, and I rate the Sense software more highly than TouchWiz.

However, the excellent screen quality and very good camera quality won us round.

The display in particular is a lot better this time around. It surprised me quite how good it is in various conditions - I've always been an LCD rather than OLED fan in phones (plasma in TVs, natch). But the S5 has won be around.

The camera too is a big improvement in certain conditions. I've heard some criticisms of the new 'faux stabilisation' feature. However, the way it is effectively built into the Auto mode means it'll result in better pictures for a whole load of people.

For me, though, the screen is the biggest winner here. And SOME of the S5's bad bits can be patched away with customisations either supplied directly by Samsung or Android.

AEdouard

April 11, 2014, 5:29 pm

The comment about the display being so much better than the one in the M8 is a bit strange, as Samsung's displays still have obvious issues : lower brightness than LCD and fuzziness due to the pentile arrangement. It really is a matter of preference. I sense a bit of ''fanboyism'' here. Shouldn't happen in a professional review.

Everlast

April 11, 2014, 6:09 pm

I can smell a flop from Samsung's top model this time. Why Samsung decided they can have the highest priced flagship phone while they are making it out of plastic? In the UK it is £569 SIM free, which is more than the Sony Z2 £549, the HTC One M8 £529 and the iPhone 5S £549!
It's not surprising they announced a drop in profits.

toboev

April 11, 2014, 10:57 pm

What is wrong with 'plastic'? What better material is there? Robust. Light weight. Impact absorbing. RF-transparent. Engineers to fine tolerances. I can't readily think of another material which fits the purpose so well. Quality is fitness for purpose, not bling.

toboev

April 11, 2014, 11:00 pm

Sheesh - they missed that in the review, it's a Samsung?

toboev

April 11, 2014, 11:07 pm

"Samsung's displays still have obvious issues.."
So why even bother reading a review - you already know that all Samsung displays are the same hence this one is necessarily the same as its predecessors.

Everlast

April 11, 2014, 11:55 pm

Plastic is unpleasant to the touch, gets static charge, lacks reasuring weight, flexes, creaks, poor aesthetics.
I agree it has many great uses, but not in a TOP OF THE LINE product. Don't forget you are buying the most expensive smart phone out there and what you get a rubish bin plastic shell.

An Droid

April 12, 2014, 2:19 am

I actually have a S5, so my comments are based on interaction with the phone and not hearsay.
The good:
- a really amazing screen, and rated the best by everyone who has tested it. It really IS that good
- a huge improvement in the camera
- scaled down TW (works and looks better)
- dimpled soft touch back cover is a pleasure to hold
- ultra power saving mode (I travel a lot, and often used to run out of juice after a long day of normal use)
- heart rate monitor and S-Health (I had a 3rd party HR monitor on my S3 as I do exercise regularly)
- it's water resistant
- lightning fast download (10% faster than S3 over same wi-fi

The bad:
- the square shape (I preferred the more curvy shape of my S3
- the chrome look plastic surround ( satin fining on S3 was classier)

toboev

April 12, 2014, 8:16 am

Why do you feel the need to up-vote all your own comments?

Tim Sutton

April 12, 2014, 1:16 pm

I really like the M8 (except for the name) too.

I went in to have a look at the S5 because my work will have a look at it for employees and had my Lumia 1520 with me, and the difference between the two in terms of quality is, to my eyes, enormous.

The Lumia feels and looks like £500 worth of electronics, the S5 doesn't. And then you try and actually use the S5 and its WEIRD mish mash of three OS's and the gap just gets wider.

It really seems odd to me to give such high marks to a handset that is, as delivered by Samsung, mediocre both to look at and to use.

Everlast

April 12, 2014, 6:18 pm

Because the designers at Disqus decided posters should have this option and I am using it - as designed.

ttitr

April 13, 2014, 7:09 pm

i have a galaxy phone and i'm telling you apple is way better than his piece of crap i have right now

Chris

April 13, 2014, 7:49 pm

For the life of me, I just cannot understand why people hate on the samsung products because they are not some aluminum unibody design. Polycarbonate is rather durable, resistant to scratches and reduces the overall weight of the phone. The texturing of the polycarbonate is the only thing I have issue with (See S4).... smooth PC is a fingerprint magnet.

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