Samsung Galaxy S5 review

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the latest high-end smartphone from the South Korean manufacturer, which represents the brand in the eyes of the world. As usual, Samsung has put the means to seduce consumers with very interesting components such as the fingerprint reader or the heart rate monitor. So on paper, the Samsung Galaxy S5 looks good, but does the spec really do it all?

It must be admitted: the components are a very important part of a smartphone since it is they which will determine the power of the beast and thus allow us a more or less fluid user experience according to their capacities. But this same experience is also given by the interface and this is perhaps where the shoe pinches because the Android overlay from Samsung can sometimes surprise … But let's keep the details for the rest!

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

The box of the Samsung Galaxy S5

Specifications

First of all, and as usual, we will start with a small overview of the specifications of the Samsung Galaxy S5, specifications that propel the beast straight towards the high-end category: the South Korean manufacturer has put the means, and he shows it well. The Samsung Galaxy S5 therefore has:

  • a 5.1-inch display with a resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels (432 ppi);
  • a quad-core processor clocked at 2.5 GHz;
  • 2 GiB of RAM;
  • 16 GB of internal memory;
  • a microSD card slot, up to 128 GB;
  • a 16-megapixel primary lens;
  • a 2 megapixel front camera;
  • 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac Wi-Fi compatibility, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, 4G;
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat;
  • a 2,800 mAh battery;
  • dimensions of 142.0 × 72.5 × 8.1 mm;
  • a weight of 145 g;
  • a price of € 679.90 naked.

Apart from that, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is water and dust resistant and it comes in four colorways namely black, white, blue and gold. There is a notification light at the top left, near the Samsung logo.

As with its predecessors, Samsung preferred to give the Galaxy S5 a physical home button as well as two sensitive buttons on each side, replacing the tactile buttons that can normally be found on Android.

It is also on the home button that the fingerprint reader is integrated, the big feature of the Galaxy S5 with the heart rate monitor located on the back of the device, right next to the LED flash.

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The box of the Samsung Galaxy S5 seen from above

As for the box and its contents, Samsung is not laughing at us with a rather nice looking cardboard box that hides the Galaxy S5 of course, but also the usual little guides and a pair of headphones. on which you can attach different sizes of ear tips to suit all ears. Then come the synchronization cable and the power adapter to charge the smartphone.

Design and ergonomics

On the design side, the Samsung Galaxy S5 takes the broad lines of its predecessor with in particular a front covered with small dots. However, the Galaxy S5 is a bit more square with less rounded corners than the Galaxy S4, which is not a bad thing. The facade also has a few small hidden details.

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The Samsung Galaxy S5

Indeed, the notification light is completely invisible , until you see it blinking, which is quite a good point since an off LED is not particularly pretty to look at. The same goes for the sensitive buttons to the left and to the right of the home button, which are also invisible and do not appear all the time . Again, this is a good thing since we almost forget them at times.

The edges of the smartphone are made of imitation chrome plastic. Some will like it, others not, personally I'm not a fan of it but I don't find it ugly either. The left edge contains only the volume control buttons while the right one contains the power button. In support, all these buttons are not too hard, but you can feel them enough: in short, they are pleasant to use.

It is as often on the lower edge that we find the micro USB 3 port, hidden by a small cover which keeps the device waterproof. The top slice is occupied by the jack and infrared port.

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The USB 3 port of the Samsung Galaxy S5

On the design side, what ultimately annoys the most is the back: imitation leather plastic stuffed with small dots, it's quite special. Might as well say it clearly: I don't like it at all, but again it's a matter of taste and this opinion will (fortunately!) Not be universal.

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The back of the Samsung Galaxy S5

Aside from that odd shell, the back of the Galaxy S5 contains the classic elements with the camera lens that overlooks the LED flash that happens to be alongside the heart rate monitor. The Samsung logo is just below and there is a speaker at the bottom.

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The detail of the back of the Samsung Galaxy S5

No surprises when you remove the shell to reach the inside of the Galaxy S5 since there is the battery and the microSD card port located just above the micro SIM port.

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The interior of the Samsung Galaxy S5 hides nothing in particular

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is quite pleasant to use and offers a good grip . As its size suggests, it is hardly usable with one hand , although it is possible. Moreover, the manufacturer is well aware of this and includes a mode specially for that in its overlay, but we will come back to this.

Side use in hand, therefore, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a good product, light as it should, with buttons sensitive enough so that we do not have to press like sick, in short, no complaints.

Samsung's overlay

Fatally, we had to get there one day: the angry subject on the side of the Galaxy S5 is of course the overlay of Samsung. All is not dark, of course, and there are some really great ideas in this overlay, but other elements really leave something to be desired.

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Samsung's overlay, a sensitive subject

Among these elements, there is one which is however essential: the keyboard. I tried very hard, but couldn't handle the keyboard for more than three days , after which I succumbed to downloading the Google keyboard. First, the design of the Samsung keyboard is a bit dated , with very few additional features like the famous swype.

But then again, it's a matter of taste and maybe there are people in the world who like it, why not. No, what is really wrong is the automatic correction which seeks at all costs to correct everything without being able to easily cancel it : you have to plan in advance that the keyboard will correct a word that it does not like and ban him at that time. For example, I had all the trouble in the world to manage to write the simple word “Chromebook” (although hey, all the same, Samsung makes some, it could have put it in its dictionary).

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

A keyboard with that head, in 2014?

In fact, what disturbs with the keyboard and other applications specific to the Samsung overlay such as the calculator (that of Google was probably not good enough …), it is the lag: there are buttons in relief, bevelled, in total contradiction with the flat design spirit that we nevertheless find everywhere else. The most embarrassing, therefore, is the lack of unification .

Fortunately for Samsung, everything is not to be thrown away, as I have already said, and there are very beautiful, well-made applications such as S Health, which is a success : thanks to the heart rate monitor, we have a tool capable of monitoring his state of health and, combined with Gear Fit, the application offers a real monitoring of his physical activity. However, this is the point of the Samsung Gear Fit test .

By default, there is also the Smart Remote application which allows you to take advantage of the infrared emitter by using the Galaxy S5 as a remote control equipped with a TV program, which is rather interesting. A file explorer, also very well done, will allow you to browse all your folders.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 in hand

For some time now, Samsung has been offering an application on its S Voice smartphones that responds to us, like a real assistant, like Siri for iOS in fact. The concern of S Voice is not the interface that is a success, but the particularly mechanical and rather confusing voice . We see, however, that the developers have tried to put little jokes in places, such as “ put on your rain boots ” which takes more of a threatening tone than anything else. But OK.

The notifications area has been completely redone by Samsung, but that's a pretty good thing actually. As for the default Android space, there is a secondary panel allowing access to quick settings, but where Samsung has done things well is when we see the number of settings available that allow for so say to control everything from this simple screen . The little extra is that it is possible to customize this panel via the parameters .

The main panel, on the other hand, which contains the notifications strictly speaking, is a bit cluttered and just doesn't leave enough room for the notifications themselves: there are still quick settings, which was not necessarily useful.

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Samsung's notifications, good and bad

As said above, there is a rather particular mode on the Samsung Galaxy S5, a mode which is not new and which is activated with a simple movement, making it possible to reduce the size of the area used on the screen : you end up with a screen of varying size, just to be used with one hand, which can sometimes be useful.

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One-handed mode of the Samsung Galaxy S5, why not

Of course, Samsung's overlay incorporates a new unlocking mode using the user's fingerprint : after a short setup, all you have to do is run your finger over the reader to unlock the beast, which is rather funny, although 'a bit of a gadget, but why not.

User experience

As often with Samsung we are entitled to a screen of excellent quality with very good image quality . The colors are beautiful, the contrasts marked as it should, in short, on the display side, the Galaxy S5 does not disappoint.

The touch is also very well done and sufficiently sensitive. In addition, the sensitive buttons do not allow themselves to work since they react to a simple touch, which is reminiscent of the touch buttons of Android.

The components on board the Samsung Galaxy S5 suggest great power, and we can feel it since the smartphone does not suffer from any lag and is remarkably fluid.

In terms of autonomy, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is not last in the class, on the contrary since the beast is doing quite well. It easily lasts a day in "classic" use and, without taking it out of your pocket every five seconds with a few well-adjusted parameters, it can last two days without too many problems, but you have to be economical.

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The ultra power saving mode of the Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung's overlay incorporates an ultra-deep battery saver mode that will grayscale your screen and only give you access to a limited number of features, turning off anything that isn't vital. In these times, the Galaxy S5 behaves like a good old classic phone but, thanks to this, it can last much longer with a low battery level, which can be practical in some cases.

Camera

The number of pixels is not everything and, if one can be impressed by a 16 megapixel sensor, tests are necessary to really judge the qualities of the lens. Tests successfully passed by the Samsung Galaxy S5.

The camera faithfully renders the colors and the details are present . An HDR mode is available, allowing to obtain a better quality of backlit image in the dark and it is devilishly effective: we manage to have clearer photos than in reality, which is particularly impressive. For examples, here are some pictures that were all taken with the Samsung Galaxy S5. The photo of the altar was taken at Amiens Cathedral in a dark corner.

Admire in passing this brilliant sky of the Picardy summer.

Verdict

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the Samsung Galaxy S5. On the hardware side, there is nothing to say, the smartphone holds its reputation as a high-end terminal and even obtains it with flying colors. No, the problem is the Samsung overlay that needs a serious refresh. As said above, some applications border on perfection, but others, like the keyboard, have nothing for them and it's a shame because it spoils the party a bit. Let's say that we feel that Samsung absolutely wanted to personalize everything and it was not necessarily a good idea. However, overall, the Samsung Galaxy S5 remains a very good smartphone and turns out to be an excellent terminal.

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