The most awaited premium Smartphone is fi nally here aft er a long wait, and it packs some exciting photographic features as the buzz goes. Th e goodies include a spruced up camera with a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, octa-core processor, fi ngerprint recognition, and a weathersealed body. Let us see what the S5 is capable of.
Design and Build Quality
The S5 is recognisable from its unmistakable dotted pattern on the back cover that has now become popular due to Samsung’s aggressive advertising campaign. The device is sleek and lightweight, thanks to the predominantly plastic construction. Initial reports from the press suggested that the Galaxy S5 sported a metal bezel as with the Sony Xperia Z-series Smartphones, but this is not true. The S5 features a scratch-proof screen (this is from our experience, though it is not mentioned in the specifi cations). The device has an IP67 ingress protection rating and Samsung claim it is ‘resistant’ to sweat, rain, liquids, sand and dust. IP67 essentially means that the device is completely dust-proof as indicated by ‘6’ and water resistant up to 1m when immersed for up to 30minutes, as indicated by ‘7’, when all fl aps are tightly closed. The S5 has a removable battery, but there are rubber linings to seal the back cover against liquid ingress. The only drawback we found was the flimsy back cover, which feels rather cheap for a premium Smartphone.
The Samsung S5 has very impressive features. At the heart of this device is an Adonis Prime 2 (Exynos Octa 5420) + XMM6360 Octa-core processor, which is in reality, two quad-core processors working in sync, one clocked at 1.9 GHz and the other at 1.3 GHz. This Android-powered Smartphone has 2GB of RAM and total ROM of 16GB, expanded up to 128 GB through an external MicroSD memory card. In addition to these, it can accept external USB storage via USB On-Th e-Go (OTG) method, though the specifi cations do not mention this capability. The currently installed OS is Android 4.4.2 (KitKat). The device features Gesture sensor, Fingerprint sensor, Heart Rate sensor, Hall sensor, Accelerometer, Geomagnetic sensor, Gyro sensor, Light sensor, Barometer, and Proximity sensor. The phone uses a micro-SIM.
The main camera has a 16-megapixel MOS sensor, while the front camera sports a 2.0-megapixel CMOS sensor. The device sports an LED fl ash for the main camera. The camera features six modes—Auto, Beauty Face, Shot & More, Panorama, Virtual Tour, and Dual Camera. The Shot & More mode allows you to preview various effects available for burst shots. The effects include Best Photo, Best Face, Eraser, Drama Shot, and Panning Shot. These can be applied right aft er capturing images or later on a computer. The Virtual Tour mode allows you to capture a video by stitching together still images captured such that it provides a 3D tour of the premises. Dual camera allows you to use both the cameras (main and front cameras) simultaneously to insert your own image in a frame within your main image. The S5 allows you to download additional modes and eff ects with a single click from within the camera panel.
The S5 uses a 5.1-inch Full HD Super AMOLED display providing a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (FHD) and with 16 million dot colour depth. The device features NFC and Wi-Fi, which are now an integral part of virtually all mobile devices. Th e S5 weighs 145g and has dimensions of 142.0 x 72.5 x
The Galaxy S5 can seamlessly pair with various accessories including the Samsung Gear and Gear Fit Smartwatches. We received the Gear Fit along with the S5. This device can be worn atround your wrist like a normal watch. It can be used to receive message and call notifications, disconnect unwanted calls when busy, and even send a ‘busy’ message to the caller. It also features an activity tracker, which includes heart rate monitor, pedometer, sleep tracker, and exercise tracker. When paired with the S5, it synchronises the data with the phone and updates it in the SHealth application.
The Samsung S5 is sleek and easy to carry around. It has the familiar Samsung interface, which is quite easy to use. The USB port has a covering flap for weather sealing. The battery compartment too has a rubber lining to keep liquids out. The device warns you when the covers are not tightly closed. The camera interface is intuitive, though the functions are limited. But we cannot complain since it would be too ambitious to expect professional features in a Smartphone camera. The display appeared to oversaturate the colours and hence it can give false assurances in terms of photo quality.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 performed impressively in its general features. The display was quite responsive and playing graphic intensive games was not a problem on the device. Battery life was impressive with the Ultra Power Saver mode enabled.
The S5’s camera performed extremely well. Autofocus was fast and locked on to the subject most of the time. The colour reproduction was good, though on the Smartphone’s screen, the images looked over saturated. The photographs looked sharp out of the box, and impressed us especially in Macro mode. Native image size was 9.96 x 17.7 inches at 300 ppi. At 25 percent image size, the images were noise-free up to ISO 800. At 50 percent enlargement, slight noise appeared from ISO 200 onwards, but the images were usable up to ISO 400. At 100 percent enlargement, we observed noise at all ISOs, but the images were perfectly usable up to ISO 200. Auto White Balance performed very we l. Th new Selective Focus mode allows you to change the focus in the Editing mode after the image has been captured. This worked well in most cases, but some times it misfired. The videos were of good quality, though we missed the image stabilisation feature. Overall, one of the best cameras available in a Smartphone.
Now let us look at the much advertised ‘advanced features’ of the S5. The fingerprint lock feature was accurate in most conditions, but when we tested the feature with sweaty fingers in humid conditions, it failed most of the t mes. The Heart Rate Monitor would sound like a very useful device, but the accuracy is very doubtful. There are Heart Rate Monitor apps that are downloadable from Google Play store, and the built-in app behaves exactly like one of those. The Pedometer, though accurate, is also not a new feature. You can easily download a pedometer app such as ‘Accupedo’ from Google Play, providing many more features including sensitivity options (so that it does not count the jerking on a vehicle as a ‘step’) and setting your step distance for accurate distance calculation. The Exercise Tracker tracks only running and walking. So if you want to check your heart rate during a workout session, it does not track automatically. The Samsung Gear Fit, which was provided along with the phone, had problems detecting pulse when there was slight moisture on the wrist. The remote control app did not have a setting for my set-top box (which is provided by ‘DEN’) even after selecting ‘India’ in the country list. For comparison, the remote control app in the LG G2, which we reviewed in May, could easily be set up for both my TV and set-top box.
The Samsung S5’s build quality did not give us the confidence to immerse it in water, unlike my Sony Xperia Z1, which I wash under running water when the screen gets dirty.
Value for Money
The Samsung S5 retails at an MRP of Rs.51,000 as provided on the Samsung India website. But it is available at various online stores at varying prices starting from Rs.36,500 after a major price drop. We presume this is the result of low popularity of the phone because of the underrated Exynos processor in place of Snapdragon processors in the international models. We feel the device’s build quality and over-hyped features don’t justify the official price of half-a-lakh Rupees. With the online price of under Rs.40,000, the S5 would be a wise buy if you really feel the need
• Octa-core processor
• Good camera
• Built for performance
• Plastic body
• Imperfect built-in apps
• Steep price
Final Score 79%
Design and Build Quality 16/20
Key Features 17/20
Value for Money 13/10
The Samsung S5 is a very capable Smartphone with a good quality camera and video capture. But many of the highlighted features are not unique and fail to impress. The S5 could have been a runaway success if they released the more capable international version with a slightly lower price tag and kept the rhetoric to the minimum. As for options, there are more impressive Smartphones to choose from, at