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Samsung Galaxy S5 review: Another solid Android smartphone that could have been better

Samsung recently released the Galaxy S5 across the world and it is destined to sell millions. There are a few new gimmicks you will try once and never use again, but also some great features that make it a phone to consider.

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Topic: Mobility
s5galaxy01.jpg
1 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S5 retail package

A few weeks ago I took a look at the and was let down a bit by HTC (same camera, long and slippery device). I have now spent a couple weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and again I am a bit let down by an Android manufacturer. The Galaxy S5 is a very good smartphone and millions will purchase one, but I wanted more from the device and will be sticking with my for now.

I enjoyed most of the , but didn't end up keeping one after finding I didn't use the S Pen enough to justify it. You will find similar experiences on the Galaxy S5 in a smaller form factor so I think the S5 will appeal to more people. However, like the Note 3, Samsung with gimmicky features that are likely to be used a couple of times and then just end up being things that consume valuable real estate and resources on the phone. Samsung was closer to getting it right on the S5, but there is still more work to do in order to satisfy me.

Hardware

Samsung makes some fantastic displays and the 5.1-inch 1920x1080 Super AMOLED one on the S5 is impressive. Colors are vivid, blacks are dark, and it looks great in sunlight. The display alone almost convinced me to go pick up the S5 and I am sure it will attract many customers in wireless stores. The side bezels are rather thin and there isn't much space above and below the display.

Samsung continues to use hardware buttons, including a center physical button, below the display, and I have to say I am a fan of this strategy. I know many like the buttons on the display, but I like having them easily accessible and always available just below the screen. The center hardware button also serves as the fingerprint scanner, but after a couple days of sheer frustration and a success rate of about 20 percent I gave up on using it. My iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner works 90 percent of the time, but the swiping motion just doesn't seem to work on Android smartphones like the S5 and HTC One Max.

The volume button is on the left side with the traditional Samsung power button placement on the right. The headphone jack is up top with the USB 3.0 port at the bottom, covered by a watertight door. This charging port is the only door you have to keep closed to maintain the waterproof integrity of the phone and this feature is one aspect that appeals to me and my usage in rainy Washington State.

The speaker is on the lower back and sounds fine. It can't compete with HTC's BoomSound stereo speakers or the loud iPhone 5S speaker, but it is fine for typical usage. There is a LED flash and the heart rate sensor below the 16-megapixel rear camera. The heart rate monitor worked about 75 percent of the time for me, but my wife and daughters could never get it to work after repeated trials. It's a fun thing to mess with, but definitely not an essential feature.

The thin plastic back cover has a dimpled texture that I like much better than the glossy plastic they used on previous smartphones. When you take the cover off you will find the removable battery, microSD card slot, and microSIM card slot. I found it strange that they are not using a nanoSIM like most others today and had to use an adapter to use my own T-Mobile SIM card to test out the device. You can see the watertight seal on the back cover so make sure to full snap it into place as well.

While the Galaxy S5 uses plastic and doesn't feel as premium as the HTC One (M8) or iPhone 5s, I don't mind that durable plastic is used for the back. I am not a fan of the shiny chrome-looking frame piece though and think it cheapens the feel of the S5. I like the weight of the S5 in my hand and think it is just about at the maximum acceptable size for a smartphone that I would personally consider.

Software

Android 4.4.2 is installed on the Galaxy S5, so the latest version of Android is installed, along with a pared-down version of Samsung TouchWiz. I primarily see the removal of redundant services, such as the addition of music and video stores that were unnecessary on previous models. I still find the notification area to be way too cluttered and have not yet found a way to get rid of the large S Finder or Quick connect buttons. Samsung default notifications take up nearly half of the display, which is a bit ridiculous.

The settings area has been revamped, but I just counted 62 colorful icons for the settings. Granted, some are repeated because they have a new Quick Settings area, but there are still too many for the average consumer. The various colors on the icons also don't seem to have clear categorization.

I like seeing multi-window support on such a device with a large display. There are a ton of ways to customize the device to your liking and the geek in me likes having this capability sometimes.

There are some apps from Samsung that I find useless, such as ChatOn, Group Camcorder, Group Play, S Voice, S Translator, and Scrapbook. S Health is significantly improved, but since it is a Samsung only app I haven't yet found it to be essential. The Smart Remote is excellent and works well with my new Samsung Smart TV.

The camera software is excellent and the camera takes great photos. I like the way you can tap and hold settings icons and drag them to the left side of the viewfinder screen for easy manipulation. The modes are easy to switch and there are some cool options available. The camera is one of my favorite aspects of the S5 and one area that easily beats the HTC One (M8).

It's handy to press and hold the center hardware button to launch Google Now and the voice-activated Google Search widget works just fine. For some reason, the voice activation widgets doesn't work on the HTC One (M8).

Usage and experiences

I was able to go a full day of pretty heavy usage with the Galaxy S5 and thought about purchasing one many times. There are some aspects that bothered me though, such as the slow response of the My Magazine panel. I ended up turning off My Magazine as I find the full Flipboard experience to be better. There are animations on the S5 that also seem to present some occasional lag and I also noticed the camera was slow to focus and take photos at times.

Phone calls sounded great and the T-Mobile WiFi Calling worked very well in my new home where the cellular signal is weak, but the WiFi signal is strong. I like the Samsung keyboard better than the HTC one, primarily due to the presence of a dedicated number row.

Pros and Cons

To summarize my experiences with the Samsung Galaxy S5, here are my pros and cons.

Pros Cons
Amazing, vivid Super AMOLED display Limited internal storage (about 9 GB available)
Solid performing camera with functional software Cluttered notification area
Dust and water resistant Overwhelming number of settings icons
Removable battery and microSD card Useless fingerprint scanner
  Inconsistent performing heart rate monitor

Pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is available on all major US carriers. The subsidized price is $200 while the full price at T-Mobile is $660. Unfortunately, the 32GB model is not yet available and with the limited functionality of microSD cards in KitKat I won't buy a device without 32GB of internal storage.

The competition

The number one competitor at this time and the model you will see most often compared to the S5 is the HTC One (M8). They are both solid Android smartphones, but there are still some excellent choices from last year to consider. I like the smaller size and custom Motorola experiences in my Moto X and the Nexus 5 is tough to beat.

We will soon likely see the LG G3 and that is one I am seriously considering. A new iPhone should be announced in June and the Sony Xperia Z2 may eventually come to the US.

Specifications
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5 GHz processor
2GB RAM
16 internal storage options with microSD card slot
5.1-inch 1920x1080 pixels resolution Super AMOLED display
16-megapixel rear camera with 2-megapixel front-facing camera
IP67 certificated dust and water resistance
802.11 a/ac/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and ANT+
2,800 mAh battery
Dimensions of 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm and 145 grams

Conclusion

I almost visited my local T-Mobile store to pick up a Galaxy S5 because the display is fantastic and I personally enjoy messing around with devices and making new discoveries with them. However, I won't buy an Android device with such limited internal memory and the 32GB models are not yet available. I also still find the Motorola additions like Active Notifications, Motorola Connect, Moto Assist, touches controls, and more to be too compelling to give up. The Moto X is also half the cost of the S5, which is a major factor for me since I just moved homes.

Samsung provides a solid update to the Galaxy line with the S5, but if you have an S4 there really isn't any reason to upgrade at the full price. If you have a SIII or a full subsidy available then you will likely be pleased with the S5. When the 32GB model appears I may just pick one up. I also want to see what LG and Motorola have in store so I may just sit out this round of the game and wait until the summer launch season takes place.

If I had to make a choice between the then I would purchase the new HTC One (M8), despite the fact that the camera is not as good as the one on the S5. HTC has a better UI and the hardware feels like the high price you pay for such flagship smartphones.

Contributor's rating: 7.5 out of 10

Related coverage:

s5galaxy02.jpg
2 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Opening up the retail package

A few weeks ago I took a look at the and was let down a bit by HTC (same camera, long and slippery device). I have now spent a couple weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and again I am a bit let down by an Android manufacturer. The Galaxy S5 is a very good smartphone and millions will purchase one, but I wanted more from the device and will be sticking with my for now.

I enjoyed most of the , but didn't end up keeping one after finding I didn't use the S Pen enough to justify it. You will find similar experiences on the Galaxy S5 in a smaller form factor so I think the S5 will appeal to more people. However, like the Note 3, Samsung with gimmicky features that are likely to be used a couple of times and then just end up being things that consume valuable real estate and resources on the phone. Samsung was closer to getting it right on the S5, but there is still more work to do in order to satisfy me.

Hardware

Samsung makes some fantastic displays and the 5.1-inch 1920x1080 Super AMOLED one on the S5 is impressive. Colors are vivid, blacks are dark, and it looks great in sunlight. The display alone almost convinced me to go pick up the S5 and I am sure it will attract many customers in wireless stores. The side bezels are rather thin and there isn't much space above and below the display.

Samsung continues to use hardware buttons, including a center physical button, below the display, and I have to say I am a fan of this strategy. I know many like the buttons on the display, but I like having them easily accessible and always available just below the screen. The center hardware button also serves as the fingerprint scanner, but after a couple days of sheer frustration and a success rate of about 20 percent I gave up on using it. My iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner works 90 percent of the time, but the swiping motion just doesn't seem to work on Android smartphones like the S5 and HTC One Max.

The volume button is on the left side with the traditional Samsung power button placement on the right. The headphone jack is up top with the USB 3.0 port at the bottom, covered by a watertight door. This charging port is the only door you have to keep closed to maintain the waterproof integrity of the phone and this feature is one aspect that appeals to me and my usage in rainy Washington State.

The speaker is on the lower back and sounds fine. It can't compete with HTC's BoomSound stereo speakers or the loud iPhone 5S speaker, but it is fine for typical usage. There is a LED flash and the heart rate sensor below the 16-megapixel rear camera. The heart rate monitor worked about 75 percent of the time for me, but my wife and daughters could never get it to work after repeated trials. It's a fun thing to mess with, but definitely not an essential feature.

The thin plastic back cover has a dimpled texture that I like much better than the glossy plastic they used on previous smartphones. When you take the cover off you will find the removable battery, microSD card slot, and microSIM card slot. I found it strange that they are not using a nanoSIM like most others today and had to use an adapter to use my own T-Mobile SIM card to test out the device. You can see the watertight seal on the back cover so make sure to full snap it into place as well.

While the Galaxy S5 uses plastic and doesn't feel as premium as the HTC One (M8) or iPhone 5s, I don't mind that durable plastic is used for the back. I am not a fan of the shiny chrome-looking frame piece though and think it cheapens the feel of the S5. I like the weight of the S5 in my hand and think it is just about at the maximum acceptable size for a smartphone that I would personally consider.

Software

Android 4.4.2 is installed on the Galaxy S5, so the latest version of Android is installed, along with a pared-down version of Samsung TouchWiz. I primarily see the removal of redundant services, such as the addition of music and video stores that were unnecessary on previous models. I still find the notification area to be way too cluttered and have not yet found a way to get rid of the large S Finder or Quick connect buttons. Samsung default notifications take up nearly half of the display, which is a bit ridiculous.

The settings area has been revamped, but I just counted 62 colorful icons for the settings. Granted, some are repeated because they have a new Quick Settings area, but there are still too many for the average consumer. The various colors on the icons also don't seem to have clear categorization.

I like seeing multi-window support on such a device with a large display. There are a ton of ways to customize the device to your liking and the geek in me likes having this capability sometimes.

There are some apps from Samsung that I find useless, such as ChatOn, Group Camcorder, Group Play, S Voice, S Translator, and Scrapbook. S Health is significantly improved, but since it is a Samsung only app I haven't yet found it to be essential. The Smart Remote is excellent and works well with my new Samsung Smart TV.

The camera software is excellent and the camera takes great photos. I like the way you can tap and hold settings icons and drag them to the left side of the viewfinder screen for easy manipulation. The modes are easy to switch and there are some cool options available. The camera is one of my favorite aspects of the S5 and one area that easily beats the HTC One (M8).

It's handy to press and hold the center hardware button to launch Google Now and the voice-activated Google Search widget works just fine. For some reason, the voice activation widgets doesn't work on the HTC One (M8).

Usage and experiences

I was able to go a full day of pretty heavy usage with the Galaxy S5 and thought about purchasing one many times. There are some aspects that bothered me though, such as the slow response of the My Magazine panel. I ended up turning off My Magazine as I find the full Flipboard experience to be better. There are animations on the S5 that also seem to present some occasional lag and I also noticed the camera was slow to focus and take photos at times.

Phone calls sounded great and the T-Mobile WiFi Calling worked very well in my new home where the cellular signal is weak, but the WiFi signal is strong. I like the Samsung keyboard better than the HTC one, primarily due to the presence of a dedicated number row.

Pros and Cons

To summarize my experiences with the Samsung Galaxy S5, here are my pros and cons.

Pros Cons
Amazing, vivid Super AMOLED display Limited internal storage (about 9 GB available)
Solid performing camera with functional software Cluttered notification area
Dust and water resistant Overwhelming number of settings icons
Removable battery and microSD card Useless fingerprint scanner
  Inconsistent performing heart rate monitor

Pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is available on all major US carriers. The subsidized price is $200 while the full price at T-Mobile is $660. Unfortunately, the 32GB model is not yet available and with the limited functionality of microSD cards in KitKat I won't buy a device without 32GB of internal storage.

The competition

The number one competitor at this time and the model you will see most often compared to the S5 is the HTC One (M8). They are both solid Android smartphones, but there are still some excellent choices from last year to consider. I like the smaller size and custom Motorola experiences in my Moto X and the Nexus 5 is tough to beat.

We will soon likely see the LG G3 and that is one I am seriously considering. A new iPhone should be announced in June and the Sony Xperia Z2 may eventually come to the US.

Specifications
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5 GHz processor
2GB RAM
16 internal storage options with microSD card slot
5.1-inch 1920x1080 pixels resolution Super AMOLED display
16-megapixel rear camera with 2-megapixel front-facing camera
IP67 certificated dust and water resistance
802.11 a/ac/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and ANT+
2,800 mAh battery
Dimensions of 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm and 145 grams

Conclusion

I almost visited my local T-Mobile store to pick up a Galaxy S5 because the display is fantastic and I personally enjoy messing around with devices and making new discoveries with them. However, I won't buy an Android device with such limited internal memory and the 32GB models are not yet available. I also still find the Motorola additions like Active Notifications, Motorola Connect, Moto Assist, touches controls, and more to be too compelling to give up. The Moto X is also half the cost of the S5, which is a major factor for me since I just moved homes.

Samsung provides a solid update to the Galaxy line with the S5, but if you have an S4 there really isn't any reason to upgrade at the full price. If you have a SIII or a full subsidy available then you will likely be pleased with the S5. When the 32GB model appears I may just pick one up. I also want to see what LG and Motorola have in store so I may just sit out this round of the game and wait until the summer launch season takes place.

If I had to make a choice between the then I would purchase the new HTC One (M8), despite the fact that the camera is not as good as the one on the S5. HTC has a better UI and the hardware feels like the high price you pay for such flagship smartphones.

Contributor's rating: 7.5 out of 10

Related coverage:

s5galaxy03.jpg
3 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

USB cable and headphone jack are both included

s5galaxy04.jpg
4 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

HTC One (M8) and Galaxy S5

A few weeks ago I took a look at the and was let down a bit by HTC (same camera, long and slippery device). I have now spent a couple weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and again I am a bit let down by an Android manufacturer. The Galaxy S5 is a very good smartphone and millions will purchase one, but I wanted more from the device and will be sticking with my for now.

I enjoyed most of the , but didn't end up keeping one after finding I didn't use the S Pen enough to justify it. You will find similar experiences on the Galaxy S5 in a smaller form factor so I think the S5 will appeal to more people. However, like the Note 3, Samsung with gimmicky features that are likely to be used a couple of times and then just end up being things that consume valuable real estate and resources on the phone. Samsung was closer to getting it right on the S5, but there is still more work to do in order to satisfy me.

Hardware

Samsung makes some fantastic displays and the 5.1-inch 1920x1080 Super AMOLED one on the S5 is impressive. Colors are vivid, blacks are dark, and it looks great in sunlight. The display alone almost convinced me to go pick up the S5 and I am sure it will attract many customers in wireless stores. The side bezels are rather thin and there isn't much space above and below the display.

Samsung continues to use hardware buttons, including a center physical button, below the display, and I have to say I am a fan of this strategy. I know many like the buttons on the display, but I like having them easily accessible and always available just below the screen. The center hardware button also serves as the fingerprint scanner, but after a couple days of sheer frustration and a success rate of about 20 percent I gave up on using it. My iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner works 90 percent of the time, but the swiping motion just doesn't seem to work on Android smartphones like the S5 and HTC One Max.

The volume button is on the left side with the traditional Samsung power button placement on the right. The headphone jack is up top with the USB 3.0 port at the bottom, covered by a watertight door. This charging port is the only door you have to keep closed to maintain the waterproof integrity of the phone and this feature is one aspect that appeals to me and my usage in rainy Washington State.

The speaker is on the lower back and sounds fine. It can't compete with HTC's BoomSound stereo speakers or the loud iPhone 5S speaker, but it is fine for typical usage. There is a LED flash and the heart rate sensor below the 16-megapixel rear camera. The heart rate monitor worked about 75 percent of the time for me, but my wife and daughters could never get it to work after repeated trials. It's a fun thing to mess with, but definitely not an essential feature.

The thin plastic back cover has a dimpled texture that I like much better than the glossy plastic they used on previous smartphones. When you take the cover off you will find the removable battery, microSD card slot, and microSIM card slot. I found it strange that they are not using a nanoSIM like most others today and had to use an adapter to use my own T-Mobile SIM card to test out the device. You can see the watertight seal on the back cover so make sure to full snap it into place as well.

While the Galaxy S5 uses plastic and doesn't feel as premium as the HTC One (M8) or iPhone 5s, I don't mind that durable plastic is used for the back. I am not a fan of the shiny chrome-looking frame piece though and think it cheapens the feel of the S5. I like the weight of the S5 in my hand and think it is just about at the maximum acceptable size for a smartphone that I would personally consider.

Software

Android 4.4.2 is installed on the Galaxy S5, so the latest version of Android is installed, along with a pared-down version of Samsung TouchWiz. I primarily see the removal of redundant services, such as the addition of music and video stores that were unnecessary on previous models. I still find the notification area to be way too cluttered and have not yet found a way to get rid of the large S Finder or Quick connect buttons. Samsung default notifications take up nearly half of the display, which is a bit ridiculous.

The settings area has been revamped, but I just counted 62 colorful icons for the settings. Granted, some are repeated because they have a new Quick Settings area, but there are still too many for the average consumer. The various colors on the icons also don't seem to have clear categorization.

I like seeing multi-window support on such a device with a large display. There are a ton of ways to customize the device to your liking and the geek in me likes having this capability sometimes.

There are some apps from Samsung that I find useless, such as ChatOn, Group Camcorder, Group Play, S Voice, S Translator, and Scrapbook. S Health is significantly improved, but since it is a Samsung only app I haven't yet found it to be essential. The Smart Remote is excellent and works well with my new Samsung Smart TV.

The camera software is excellent and the camera takes great photos. I like the way you can tap and hold settings icons and drag them to the left side of the viewfinder screen for easy manipulation. The modes are easy to switch and there are some cool options available. The camera is one of my favorite aspects of the S5 and one area that easily beats the HTC One (M8).

It's handy to press and hold the center hardware button to launch Google Now and the voice-activated Google Search widget works just fine. For some reason, the voice activation widgets doesn't work on the HTC One (M8).

Usage and experiences

I was able to go a full day of pretty heavy usage with the Galaxy S5 and thought about purchasing one many times. There are some aspects that bothered me though, such as the slow response of the My Magazine panel. I ended up turning off My Magazine as I find the full Flipboard experience to be better. There are animations on the S5 that also seem to present some occasional lag and I also noticed the camera was slow to focus and take photos at times.

Phone calls sounded great and the T-Mobile WiFi Calling worked very well in my new home where the cellular signal is weak, but the WiFi signal is strong. I like the Samsung keyboard better than the HTC one, primarily due to the presence of a dedicated number row.

Pros and Cons

To summarize my experiences with the Samsung Galaxy S5, here are my pros and cons.

Pros Cons
Amazing, vivid Super AMOLED display Limited internal storage (about 9 GB available)
Solid performing camera with functional software Cluttered notification area
Dust and water resistant Overwhelming number of settings icons
Removable battery and microSD card Useless fingerprint scanner
  Inconsistent performing heart rate monitor

Pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is available on all major US carriers. The subsidized price is $200 while the full price at T-Mobile is $660. Unfortunately, the 32GB model is not yet available and with the limited functionality of microSD cards in KitKat I won't buy a device without 32GB of internal storage.

The competition

The number one competitor at this time and the model you will see most often compared to the S5 is the HTC One (M8). They are both solid Android smartphones, but there are still some excellent choices from last year to consider. I like the smaller size and custom Motorola experiences in my Moto X and the Nexus 5 is tough to beat.

We will soon likely see the LG G3 and that is one I am seriously considering. A new iPhone should be announced in June and the Sony Xperia Z2 may eventually come to the US.

Specifications
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5 GHz processor
2GB RAM
16 internal storage options with microSD card slot
5.1-inch 1920x1080 pixels resolution Super AMOLED display
16-megapixel rear camera with 2-megapixel front-facing camera
IP67 certificated dust and water resistance
802.11 a/ac/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and ANT+
2,800 mAh battery
Dimensions of 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm and 145 grams

Conclusion

I almost visited my local T-Mobile store to pick up a Galaxy S5 because the display is fantastic and I personally enjoy messing around with devices and making new discoveries with them. However, I won't buy an Android device with such limited internal memory and the 32GB models are not yet available. I also still find the Motorola additions like Active Notifications, Motorola Connect, Moto Assist, touches controls, and more to be too compelling to give up. The Moto X is also half the cost of the S5, which is a major factor for me since I just moved homes.

Samsung provides a solid update to the Galaxy line with the S5, but if you have an S4 there really isn't any reason to upgrade at the full price. If you have a SIII or a full subsidy available then you will likely be pleased with the S5. When the 32GB model appears I may just pick one up. I also want to see what LG and Motorola have in store so I may just sit out this round of the game and wait until the summer launch season takes place.

If I had to make a choice between the then I would purchase the new HTC One (M8), despite the fact that the camera is not as good as the one on the S5. HTC has a better UI and the hardware feels like the high price you pay for such flagship smartphones.

Contributor's rating: 7.5 out of 10

Related coverage:

s5galaxy05.jpg
5 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Back of the HTC One (M8) and Galaxy S5

A few weeks ago I took a look at the and was let down a bit by HTC (same camera, long and slippery device). I have now spent a couple weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and again I am a bit let down by an Android manufacturer. The Galaxy S5 is a very good smartphone and millions will purchase one, but I wanted more from the device and will be sticking with my for now.

I enjoyed most of the , but didn't end up keeping one after finding I didn't use the S Pen enough to justify it. You will find similar experiences on the Galaxy S5 in a smaller form factor so I think the S5 will appeal to more people. However, like the Note 3, Samsung with gimmicky features that are likely to be used a couple of times and then just end up being things that consume valuable real estate and resources on the phone. Samsung was closer to getting it right on the S5, but there is still more work to do in order to satisfy me.

Hardware

Samsung makes some fantastic displays and the 5.1-inch 1920x1080 Super AMOLED one on the S5 is impressive. Colors are vivid, blacks are dark, and it looks great in sunlight. The display alone almost convinced me to go pick up the S5 and I am sure it will attract many customers in wireless stores. The side bezels are rather thin and there isn't much space above and below the display.

Samsung continues to use hardware buttons, including a center physical button, below the display, and I have to say I am a fan of this strategy. I know many like the buttons on the display, but I like having them easily accessible and always available just below the screen. The center hardware button also serves as the fingerprint scanner, but after a couple days of sheer frustration and a success rate of about 20 percent I gave up on using it. My iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner works 90 percent of the time, but the swiping motion just doesn't seem to work on Android smartphones like the S5 and HTC One Max.

The volume button is on the left side with the traditional Samsung power button placement on the right. The headphone jack is up top with the USB 3.0 port at the bottom, covered by a watertight door. This charging port is the only door you have to keep closed to maintain the waterproof integrity of the phone and this feature is one aspect that appeals to me and my usage in rainy Washington State.

The speaker is on the lower back and sounds fine. It can't compete with HTC's BoomSound stereo speakers or the loud iPhone 5S speaker, but it is fine for typical usage. There is a LED flash and the heart rate sensor below the 16-megapixel rear camera. The heart rate monitor worked about 75 percent of the time for me, but my wife and daughters could never get it to work after repeated trials. It's a fun thing to mess with, but definitely not an essential feature.

The thin plastic back cover has a dimpled texture that I like much better than the glossy plastic they used on previous smartphones. When you take the cover off you will find the removable battery, microSD card slot, and microSIM card slot. I found it strange that they are not using a nanoSIM like most others today and had to use an adapter to use my own T-Mobile SIM card to test out the device. You can see the watertight seal on the back cover so make sure to full snap it into place as well.

While the Galaxy S5 uses plastic and doesn't feel as premium as the HTC One (M8) or iPhone 5s, I don't mind that durable plastic is used for the back. I am not a fan of the shiny chrome-looking frame piece though and think it cheapens the feel of the S5. I like the weight of the S5 in my hand and think it is just about at the maximum acceptable size for a smartphone that I would personally consider.

Software

Android 4.4.2 is installed on the Galaxy S5, so the latest version of Android is installed, along with a pared-down version of Samsung TouchWiz. I primarily see the removal of redundant services, such as the addition of music and video stores that were unnecessary on previous models. I still find the notification area to be way too cluttered and have not yet found a way to get rid of the large S Finder or Quick connect buttons. Samsung default notifications take up nearly half of the display, which is a bit ridiculous.

The settings area has been revamped, but I just counted 62 colorful icons for the settings. Granted, some are repeated because they have a new Quick Settings area, but there are still too many for the average consumer. The various colors on the icons also don't seem to have clear categorization.

I like seeing multi-window support on such a device with a large display. There are a ton of ways to customize the device to your liking and the geek in me likes having this capability sometimes.

There are some apps from Samsung that I find useless, such as ChatOn, Group Camcorder, Group Play, S Voice, S Translator, and Scrapbook. S Health is significantly improved, but since it is a Samsung only app I haven't yet found it to be essential. The Smart Remote is excellent and works well with my new Samsung Smart TV.

The camera software is excellent and the camera takes great photos. I like the way you can tap and hold settings icons and drag them to the left side of the viewfinder screen for easy manipulation. The modes are easy to switch and there are some cool options available. The camera is one of my favorite aspects of the S5 and one area that easily beats the HTC One (M8).

It's handy to press and hold the center hardware button to launch Google Now and the voice-activated Google Search widget works just fine. For some reason, the voice activation widgets doesn't work on the HTC One (M8).

Usage and experiences

I was able to go a full day of pretty heavy usage with the Galaxy S5 and thought about purchasing one many times. There are some aspects that bothered me though, such as the slow response of the My Magazine panel. I ended up turning off My Magazine as I find the full Flipboard experience to be better. There are animations on the S5 that also seem to present some occasional lag and I also noticed the camera was slow to focus and take photos at times.

Phone calls sounded great and the T-Mobile WiFi Calling worked very well in my new home where the cellular signal is weak, but the WiFi signal is strong. I like the Samsung keyboard better than the HTC one, primarily due to the presence of a dedicated number row.

Pros and Cons

To summarize my experiences with the Samsung Galaxy S5, here are my pros and cons.

Pros Cons
Amazing, vivid Super AMOLED display Limited internal storage (about 9 GB available)
Solid performing camera with functional software Cluttered notification area
Dust and water resistant Overwhelming number of settings icons
Removable battery and microSD card Useless fingerprint scanner
  Inconsistent performing heart rate monitor

Pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is available on all major US carriers. The subsidized price is $200 while the full price at T-Mobile is $660. Unfortunately, the 32GB model is not yet available and with the limited functionality of microSD cards in KitKat I won't buy a device without 32GB of internal storage.

The competition

The number one competitor at this time and the model you will see most often compared to the S5 is the HTC One (M8). They are both solid Android smartphones, but there are still some excellent choices from last year to consider. I like the smaller size and custom Motorola experiences in my Moto X and the Nexus 5 is tough to beat.

We will soon likely see the LG G3 and that is one I am seriously considering. A new iPhone should be announced in June and the Sony Xperia Z2 may eventually come to the US.

Specifications
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5 GHz processor
2GB RAM
16 internal storage options with microSD card slot
5.1-inch 1920x1080 pixels resolution Super AMOLED display
16-megapixel rear camera with 2-megapixel front-facing camera
IP67 certificated dust and water resistance
802.11 a/ac/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and ANT+
2,800 mAh battery
Dimensions of 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm and 145 grams

Conclusion

I almost visited my local T-Mobile store to pick up a Galaxy S5 because the display is fantastic and I personally enjoy messing around with devices and making new discoveries with them. However, I won't buy an Android device with such limited internal memory and the 32GB models are not yet available. I also still find the Motorola additions like Active Notifications, Motorola Connect, Moto Assist, touches controls, and more to be too compelling to give up. The Moto X is also half the cost of the S5, which is a major factor for me since I just moved homes.

Samsung provides a solid update to the Galaxy line with the S5, but if you have an S4 there really isn't any reason to upgrade at the full price. If you have a SIII or a full subsidy available then you will likely be pleased with the S5. When the 32GB model appears I may just pick one up. I also want to see what LG and Motorola have in store so I may just sit out this round of the game and wait until the summer launch season takes place.

If I had to make a choice between the then I would purchase the new HTC One (M8), despite the fact that the camera is not as good as the one on the S5. HTC has a better UI and the hardware feels like the high price you pay for such flagship smartphones.

Contributor's rating: 7.5 out of 10

Related coverage:

s5galaxy06.jpg
6 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Heart rate monitor and 16 megapixel camera

A few weeks ago I took a look at the and was let down a bit by HTC (same camera, long and slippery device). I have now spent a couple weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and again I am a bit let down by an Android manufacturer. The Galaxy S5 is a very good smartphone and millions will purchase one, but I wanted more from the device and will be sticking with my for now.

I enjoyed most of the , but didn't end up keeping one after finding I didn't use the S Pen enough to justify it. You will find similar experiences on the Galaxy S5 in a smaller form factor so I think the S5 will appeal to more people. However, like the Note 3, Samsung with gimmicky features that are likely to be used a couple of times and then just end up being things that consume valuable real estate and resources on the phone. Samsung was closer to getting it right on the S5, but there is still more work to do in order to satisfy me.

Hardware

Samsung makes some fantastic displays and the 5.1-inch 1920x1080 Super AMOLED one on the S5 is impressive. Colors are vivid, blacks are dark, and it looks great in sunlight. The display alone almost convinced me to go pick up the S5 and I am sure it will attract many customers in wireless stores. The side bezels are rather thin and there isn't much space above and below the display.

Samsung continues to use hardware buttons, including a center physical button, below the display, and I have to say I am a fan of this strategy. I know many like the buttons on the display, but I like having them easily accessible and always available just below the screen. The center hardware button also serves as the fingerprint scanner, but after a couple days of sheer frustration and a success rate of about 20 percent I gave up on using it. My iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner works 90 percent of the time, but the swiping motion just doesn't seem to work on Android smartphones like the S5 and HTC One Max.

The volume button is on the left side with the traditional Samsung power button placement on the right. The headphone jack is up top with the USB 3.0 port at the bottom, covered by a watertight door. This charging port is the only door you have to keep closed to maintain the waterproof integrity of the phone and this feature is one aspect that appeals to me and my usage in rainy Washington State.

The speaker is on the lower back and sounds fine. It can't compete with HTC's BoomSound stereo speakers or the loud iPhone 5S speaker, but it is fine for typical usage. There is a LED flash and the heart rate sensor below the 16-megapixel rear camera. The heart rate monitor worked about 75 percent of the time for me, but my wife and daughters could never get it to work after repeated trials. It's a fun thing to mess with, but definitely not an essential feature.

The thin plastic back cover has a dimpled texture that I like much better than the glossy plastic they used on previous smartphones. When you take the cover off you will find the removable battery, microSD card slot, and microSIM card slot. I found it strange that they are not using a nanoSIM like most others today and had to use an adapter to use my own T-Mobile SIM card to test out the device. You can see the watertight seal on the back cover so make sure to full snap it into place as well.

While the Galaxy S5 uses plastic and doesn't feel as premium as the HTC One (M8) or iPhone 5s, I don't mind that durable plastic is used for the back. I am not a fan of the shiny chrome-looking frame piece though and think it cheapens the feel of the S5. I like the weight of the S5 in my hand and think it is just about at the maximum acceptable size for a smartphone that I would personally consider.

Software

Android 4.4.2 is installed on the Galaxy S5, so the latest version of Android is installed, along with a pared-down version of Samsung TouchWiz. I primarily see the removal of redundant services, such as the addition of music and video stores that were unnecessary on previous models. I still find the notification area to be way too cluttered and have not yet found a way to get rid of the large S Finder or Quick connect buttons. Samsung default notifications take up nearly half of the display, which is a bit ridiculous.

The settings area has been revamped, but I just counted 62 colorful icons for the settings. Granted, some are repeated because they have a new Quick Settings area, but there are still too many for the average consumer. The various colors on the icons also don't seem to have clear categorization.

I like seeing multi-window support on such a device with a large display. There are a ton of ways to customize the device to your liking and the geek in me likes having this capability sometimes.

There are some apps from Samsung that I find useless, such as ChatOn, Group Camcorder, Group Play, S Voice, S Translator, and Scrapbook. S Health is significantly improved, but since it is a Samsung only app I haven't yet found it to be essential. The Smart Remote is excellent and works well with my new Samsung Smart TV.

The camera software is excellent and the camera takes great photos. I like the way you can tap and hold settings icons and drag them to the left side of the viewfinder screen for easy manipulation. The modes are easy to switch and there are some cool options available. The camera is one of my favorite aspects of the S5 and one area that easily beats the HTC One (M8).

It's handy to press and hold the center hardware button to launch Google Now and the voice-activated Google Search widget works just fine. For some reason, the voice activation widgets doesn't work on the HTC One (M8).

Usage and experiences

I was able to go a full day of pretty heavy usage with the Galaxy S5 and thought about purchasing one many times. There are some aspects that bothered me though, such as the slow response of the My Magazine panel. I ended up turning off My Magazine as I find the full Flipboard experience to be better. There are animations on the S5 that also seem to present some occasional lag and I also noticed the camera was slow to focus and take photos at times.

Phone calls sounded great and the T-Mobile WiFi Calling worked very well in my new home where the cellular signal is weak, but the WiFi signal is strong. I like the Samsung keyboard better than the HTC one, primarily due to the presence of a dedicated number row.

Pros and Cons

To summarize my experiences with the Samsung Galaxy S5, here are my pros and cons.

Pros Cons
Amazing, vivid Super AMOLED display Limited internal storage (about 9 GB available)
Solid performing camera with functional software Cluttered notification area
Dust and water resistant Overwhelming number of settings icons
Removable battery and microSD card Useless fingerprint scanner
  Inconsistent performing heart rate monitor

Pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is available on all major US carriers. The subsidized price is $200 while the full price at T-Mobile is $660. Unfortunately, the 32GB model is not yet available and with the limited functionality of microSD cards in KitKat I won't buy a device without 32GB of internal storage.

The competition

The number one competitor at this time and the model you will see most often compared to the S5 is the HTC One (M8). They are both solid Android smartphones, but there are still some excellent choices from last year to consider. I like the smaller size and custom Motorola experiences in my Moto X and the Nexus 5 is tough to beat.

We will soon likely see the LG G3 and that is one I am seriously considering. A new iPhone should be announced in June and the Sony Xperia Z2 may eventually come to the US.

Specifications
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5 GHz processor
2GB RAM
16 internal storage options with microSD card slot
5.1-inch 1920x1080 pixels resolution Super AMOLED display
16-megapixel rear camera with 2-megapixel front-facing camera
IP67 certificated dust and water resistance
802.11 a/ac/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and ANT+
2,800 mAh battery
Dimensions of 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm and 145 grams

Conclusion

I almost visited my local T-Mobile store to pick up a Galaxy S5 because the display is fantastic and I personally enjoy messing around with devices and making new discoveries with them. However, I won't buy an Android device with such limited internal memory and the 32GB models are not yet available. I also still find the Motorola additions like Active Notifications, Motorola Connect, Moto Assist, touches controls, and more to be too compelling to give up. The Moto X is also half the cost of the S5, which is a major factor for me since I just moved homes.

Samsung provides a solid update to the Galaxy line with the S5, but if you have an S4 there really isn't any reason to upgrade at the full price. If you have a SIII or a full subsidy available then you will likely be pleased with the S5. When the 32GB model appears I may just pick one up. I also want to see what LG and Motorola have in store so I may just sit out this round of the game and wait until the summer launch season takes place.

If I had to make a choice between the then I would purchase the new HTC One (M8), despite the fact that the camera is not as good as the one on the S5. HTC has a better UI and the hardware feels like the high price you pay for such flagship smartphones.

Contributor's rating: 7.5 out of 10

Related coverage:

s5galaxy07.jpg
7 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Back texture of white Galaxy S5

A few weeks ago I took a look at the and was let down a bit by HTC (same camera, long and slippery device). I have now spent a couple weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and again I am a bit let down by an Android manufacturer. The Galaxy S5 is a very good smartphone and millions will purchase one, but I wanted more from the device and will be sticking with my for now.

I enjoyed most of the , but didn't end up keeping one after finding I didn't use the S Pen enough to justify it. You will find similar experiences on the Galaxy S5 in a smaller form factor so I think the S5 will appeal to more people. However, like the Note 3, Samsung with gimmicky features that are likely to be used a couple of times and then just end up being things that consume valuable real estate and resources on the phone. Samsung was closer to getting it right on the S5, but there is still more work to do in order to satisfy me.

Hardware

Samsung makes some fantastic displays and the 5.1-inch 1920x1080 Super AMOLED one on the S5 is impressive. Colors are vivid, blacks are dark, and it looks great in sunlight. The display alone almost convinced me to go pick up the S5 and I am sure it will attract many customers in wireless stores. The side bezels are rather thin and there isn't much space above and below the display.

Samsung continues to use hardware buttons, including a center physical button, below the display, and I have to say I am a fan of this strategy. I know many like the buttons on the display, but I like having them easily accessible and always available just below the screen. The center hardware button also serves as the fingerprint scanner, but after a couple days of sheer frustration and a success rate of about 20 percent I gave up on using it. My iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner works 90 percent of the time, but the swiping motion just doesn't seem to work on Android smartphones like the S5 and HTC One Max.

The volume button is on the left side with the traditional Samsung power button placement on the right. The headphone jack is up top with the USB 3.0 port at the bottom, covered by a watertight door. This charging port is the only door you have to keep closed to maintain the waterproof integrity of the phone and this feature is one aspect that appeals to me and my usage in rainy Washington State.

The speaker is on the lower back and sounds fine. It can't compete with HTC's BoomSound stereo speakers or the loud iPhone 5S speaker, but it is fine for typical usage. There is a LED flash and the heart rate sensor below the 16-megapixel rear camera. The heart rate monitor worked about 75 percent of the time for me, but my wife and daughters could never get it to work after repeated trials. It's a fun thing to mess with, but definitely not an essential feature.

The thin plastic back cover has a dimpled texture that I like much better than the glossy plastic they used on previous smartphones. When you take the cover off you will find the removable battery, microSD card slot, and microSIM card slot. I found it strange that they are not using a nanoSIM like most others today and had to use an adapter to use my own T-Mobile SIM card to test out the device. You can see the watertight seal on the back cover so make sure to full snap it into place as well.

While the Galaxy S5 uses plastic and doesn't feel as premium as the HTC One (M8) or iPhone 5s, I don't mind that durable plastic is used for the back. I am not a fan of the shiny chrome-looking frame piece though and think it cheapens the feel of the S5. I like the weight of the S5 in my hand and think it is just about at the maximum acceptable size for a smartphone that I would personally consider.

Software

Android 4.4.2 is installed on the Galaxy S5, so the latest version of Android is installed, along with a pared-down version of Samsung TouchWiz. I primarily see the removal of redundant services, such as the addition of music and video stores that were unnecessary on previous models. I still find the notification area to be way too cluttered and have not yet found a way to get rid of the large S Finder or Quick connect buttons. Samsung default notifications take up nearly half of the display, which is a bit ridiculous.

The settings area has been revamped, but I just counted 62 colorful icons for the settings. Granted, some are repeated because they have a new Quick Settings area, but there are still too many for the average consumer. The various colors on the icons also don't seem to have clear categorization.

I like seeing multi-window support on such a device with a large display. There are a ton of ways to customize the device to your liking and the geek in me likes having this capability sometimes.

There are some apps from Samsung that I find useless, such as ChatOn, Group Camcorder, Group Play, S Voice, S Translator, and Scrapbook. S Health is significantly improved, but since it is a Samsung only app I haven't yet found it to be essential. The Smart Remote is excellent and works well with my new Samsung Smart TV.

The camera software is excellent and the camera takes great photos. I like the way you can tap and hold settings icons and drag them to the left side of the viewfinder screen for easy manipulation. The modes are easy to switch and there are some cool options available. The camera is one of my favorite aspects of the S5 and one area that easily beats the HTC One (M8).

It's handy to press and hold the center hardware button to launch Google Now and the voice-activated Google Search widget works just fine. For some reason, the voice activation widgets doesn't work on the HTC One (M8).

Usage and experiences

I was able to go a full day of pretty heavy usage with the Galaxy S5 and thought about purchasing one many times. There are some aspects that bothered me though, such as the slow response of the My Magazine panel. I ended up turning off My Magazine as I find the full Flipboard experience to be better. There are animations on the S5 that also seem to present some occasional lag and I also noticed the camera was slow to focus and take photos at times.

Phone calls sounded great and the T-Mobile WiFi Calling worked very well in my new home where the cellular signal is weak, but the WiFi signal is strong. I like the Samsung keyboard better than the HTC one, primarily due to the presence of a dedicated number row.

Pros and Cons

To summarize my experiences with the Samsung Galaxy S5, here are my pros and cons.

Pros Cons
Amazing, vivid Super AMOLED display Limited internal storage (about 9 GB available)
Solid performing camera with functional software Cluttered notification area
Dust and water resistant Overwhelming number of settings icons
Removable battery and microSD card Useless fingerprint scanner
  Inconsistent performing heart rate monitor

Pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is available on all major US carriers. The subsidized price is $200 while the full price at T-Mobile is $660. Unfortunately, the 32GB model is not yet available and with the limited functionality of microSD cards in KitKat I won't buy a device without 32GB of internal storage.

The competition

The number one competitor at this time and the model you will see most often compared to the S5 is the HTC One (M8). They are both solid Android smartphones, but there are still some excellent choices from last year to consider. I like the smaller size and custom Motorola experiences in my Moto X and the Nexus 5 is tough to beat.

We will soon likely see the LG G3 and that is one I am seriously considering. A new iPhone should be announced in June and the Sony Xperia Z2 may eventually come to the US.

Specifications
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5 GHz processor
2GB RAM
16 internal storage options with microSD card slot
5.1-inch 1920x1080 pixels resolution Super AMOLED display
16-megapixel rear camera with 2-megapixel front-facing camera
IP67 certificated dust and water resistance
802.11 a/ac/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and ANT+
2,800 mAh battery
Dimensions of 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm and 145 grams

Conclusion

I almost visited my local T-Mobile store to pick up a Galaxy S5 because the display is fantastic and I personally enjoy messing around with devices and making new discoveries with them. However, I won't buy an Android device with such limited internal memory and the 32GB models are not yet available. I also still find the Motorola additions like Active Notifications, Motorola Connect, Moto Assist, touches controls, and more to be too compelling to give up. The Moto X is also half the cost of the S5, which is a major factor for me since I just moved homes.

Samsung provides a solid update to the Galaxy line with the S5, but if you have an S4 there really isn't any reason to upgrade at the full price. If you have a SIII or a full subsidy available then you will likely be pleased with the S5. When the 32GB model appears I may just pick one up. I also want to see what LG and Motorola have in store so I may just sit out this round of the game and wait until the summer launch season takes place.

If I had to make a choice between the then I would purchase the new HTC One (M8), despite the fact that the camera is not as good as the one on the S5. HTC has a better UI and the hardware feels like the high price you pay for such flagship smartphones.

Contributor's rating: 7.5 out of 10

Related coverage:

s5galaxy08.jpg
8 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Waterproof headphone jack at the top

A few weeks ago I took a look at the and was let down a bit by HTC (same camera, long and slippery device). I have now spent a couple weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and again I am a bit let down by an Android manufacturer. The Galaxy S5 is a very good smartphone and millions will purchase one, but I wanted more from the device and will be sticking with my for now.

I enjoyed most of the , but didn't end up keeping one after finding I didn't use the S Pen enough to justify it. You will find similar experiences on the Galaxy S5 in a smaller form factor so I think the S5 will appeal to more people. However, like the Note 3, Samsung with gimmicky features that are likely to be used a couple of times and then just end up being things that consume valuable real estate and resources on the phone. Samsung was closer to getting it right on the S5, but there is still more work to do in order to satisfy me.

Hardware

Samsung makes some fantastic displays and the 5.1-inch 1920x1080 Super AMOLED one on the S5 is impressive. Colors are vivid, blacks are dark, and it looks great in sunlight. The display alone almost convinced me to go pick up the S5 and I am sure it will attract many customers in wireless stores. The side bezels are rather thin and there isn't much space above and below the display.

Samsung continues to use hardware buttons, including a center physical button, below the display, and I have to say I am a fan of this strategy. I know many like the buttons on the display, but I like having them easily accessible and always available just below the screen. The center hardware button also serves as the fingerprint scanner, but after a couple days of sheer frustration and a success rate of about 20 percent I gave up on using it. My iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner works 90 percent of the time, but the swiping motion just doesn't seem to work on Android smartphones like the S5 and HTC One Max.

The volume button is on the left side with the traditional Samsung power button placement on the right. The headphone jack is up top with the USB 3.0 port at the bottom, covered by a watertight door. This charging port is the only door you have to keep closed to maintain the waterproof integrity of the phone and this feature is one aspect that appeals to me and my usage in rainy Washington State.

The speaker is on the lower back and sounds fine. It can't compete with HTC's BoomSound stereo speakers or the loud iPhone 5S speaker, but it is fine for typical usage. There is a LED flash and the heart rate sensor below the 16-megapixel rear camera. The heart rate monitor worked about 75 percent of the time for me, but my wife and daughters could never get it to work after repeated trials. It's a fun thing to mess with, but definitely not an essential feature.

The thin plastic back cover has a dimpled texture that I like much better than the glossy plastic they used on previous smartphones. When you take the cover off you will find the removable battery, microSD card slot, and microSIM card slot. I found it strange that they are not using a nanoSIM like most others today and had to use an adapter to use my own T-Mobile SIM card to test out the device. You can see the watertight seal on the back cover so make sure to full snap it into place as well.

While the Galaxy S5 uses plastic and doesn't feel as premium as the HTC One (M8) or iPhone 5s, I don't mind that durable plastic is used for the back. I am not a fan of the shiny chrome-looking frame piece though and think it cheapens the feel of the S5. I like the weight of the S5 in my hand and think it is just about at the maximum acceptable size for a smartphone that I would personally consider.

Software

Android 4.4.2 is installed on the Galaxy S5, so the latest version of Android is installed, along with a pared-down version of Samsung TouchWiz. I primarily see the removal of redundant services, such as the addition of music and video stores that were unnecessary on previous models. I still find the notification area to be way too cluttered and have not yet found a way to get rid of the large S Finder or Quick connect buttons. Samsung default notifications take up nearly half of the display, which is a bit ridiculous.

The settings area has been revamped, but I just counted 62 colorful icons for the settings. Granted, some are repeated because they have a new Quick Settings area, but there are still too many for the average consumer. The various colors on the icons also don't seem to have clear categorization.

I like seeing multi-window support on such a device with a large display. There are a ton of ways to customize the device to your liking and the geek in me likes having this capability sometimes.

There are some apps from Samsung that I find useless, such as ChatOn, Group Camcorder, Group Play, S Voice, S Translator, and Scrapbook. S Health is significantly improved, but since it is a Samsung only app I haven't yet found it to be essential. The Smart Remote is excellent and works well with my new Samsung Smart TV.

The camera software is excellent and the camera takes great photos. I like the way you can tap and hold settings icons and drag them to the left side of the viewfinder screen for easy manipulation. The modes are easy to switch and there are some cool options available. The camera is one of my favorite aspects of the S5 and one area that easily beats the HTC One (M8).

It's handy to press and hold the center hardware button to launch Google Now and the voice-activated Google Search widget works just fine. For some reason, the voice activation widgets doesn't work on the HTC One (M8).

Usage and experiences

I was able to go a full day of pretty heavy usage with the Galaxy S5 and thought about purchasing one many times. There are some aspects that bothered me though, such as the slow response of the My Magazine panel. I ended up turning off My Magazine as I find the full Flipboard experience to be better. There are animations on the S5 that also seem to present some occasional lag and I also noticed the camera was slow to focus and take photos at times.

Phone calls sounded great and the T-Mobile WiFi Calling worked very well in my new home where the cellular signal is weak, but the WiFi signal is strong. I like the Samsung keyboard better than the HTC one, primarily due to the presence of a dedicated number row.

Pros and Cons

To summarize my experiences with the Samsung Galaxy S5, here are my pros and cons.

Pros Cons
Amazing, vivid Super AMOLED display Limited internal storage (about 9 GB available)
Solid performing camera with functional software Cluttered notification area
Dust and water resistant Overwhelming number of settings icons
Removable battery and microSD card Useless fingerprint scanner
  Inconsistent performing heart rate monitor

Pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is available on all major US carriers. The subsidized price is $200 while the full price at T-Mobile is $660. Unfortunately, the 32GB model is not yet available and with the limited functionality of microSD cards in KitKat I won't buy a device without 32GB of internal storage.

The competition

The number one competitor at this time and the model you will see most often compared to the S5 is the HTC One (M8). They are both solid Android smartphones, but there are still some excellent choices from last year to consider. I like the smaller size and custom Motorola experiences in my Moto X and the Nexus 5 is tough to beat.

We will soon likely see the LG G3 and that is one I am seriously considering. A new iPhone should be announced in June and the Sony Xperia Z2 may eventually come to the US.

Specifications
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5 GHz processor
2GB RAM
16 internal storage options with microSD card slot
5.1-inch 1920x1080 pixels resolution Super AMOLED display
16-megapixel rear camera with 2-megapixel front-facing camera
IP67 certificated dust and water resistance
802.11 a/ac/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and ANT+
2,800 mAh battery
Dimensions of 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm and 145 grams

Conclusion

I almost visited my local T-Mobile store to pick up a Galaxy S5 because the display is fantastic and I personally enjoy messing around with devices and making new discoveries with them. However, I won't buy an Android device with such limited internal memory and the 32GB models are not yet available. I also still find the Motorola additions like Active Notifications, Motorola Connect, Moto Assist, touches controls, and more to be too compelling to give up. The Moto X is also half the cost of the S5, which is a major factor for me since I just moved homes.

Samsung provides a solid update to the Galaxy line with the S5, but if you have an S4 there really isn't any reason to upgrade at the full price. If you have a SIII or a full subsidy available then you will likely be pleased with the S5. When the 32GB model appears I may just pick one up. I also want to see what LG and Motorola have in store so I may just sit out this round of the game and wait until the summer launch season takes place.

If I had to make a choice between the then I would purchase the new HTC One (M8), despite the fact that the camera is not as good as the one on the S5. HTC has a better UI and the hardware feels like the high price you pay for such flagship smartphones.

Contributor's rating: 7.5 out of 10

Related coverage:

s5galaxy09.jpg
9 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Bottom charging port cover

A few weeks ago I took a look at the and was let down a bit by HTC (same camera, long and slippery device). I have now spent a couple weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and again I am a bit let down by an Android manufacturer. The Galaxy S5 is a very good smartphone and millions will purchase one, but I wanted more from the device and will be sticking with my for now.

I enjoyed most of the , but didn't end up keeping one after finding I didn't use the S Pen enough to justify it. You will find similar experiences on the Galaxy S5 in a smaller form factor so I think the S5 will appeal to more people. However, like the Note 3, Samsung with gimmicky features that are likely to be used a couple of times and then just end up being things that consume valuable real estate and resources on the phone. Samsung was closer to getting it right on the S5, but there is still more work to do in order to satisfy me.

Hardware

Samsung makes some fantastic displays and the 5.1-inch 1920x1080 Super AMOLED one on the S5 is impressive. Colors are vivid, blacks are dark, and it looks great in sunlight. The display alone almost convinced me to go pick up the S5 and I am sure it will attract many customers in wireless stores. The side bezels are rather thin and there isn't much space above and below the display.

Samsung continues to use hardware buttons, including a center physical button, below the display, and I have to say I am a fan of this strategy. I know many like the buttons on the display, but I like having them easily accessible and always available just below the screen. The center hardware button also serves as the fingerprint scanner, but after a couple days of sheer frustration and a success rate of about 20 percent I gave up on using it. My iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner works 90 percent of the time, but the swiping motion just doesn't seem to work on Android smartphones like the S5 and HTC One Max.

The volume button is on the left side with the traditional Samsung power button placement on the right. The headphone jack is up top with the USB 3.0 port at the bottom, covered by a watertight door. This charging port is the only door you have to keep closed to maintain the waterproof integrity of the phone and this feature is one aspect that appeals to me and my usage in rainy Washington State.

The speaker is on the lower back and sounds fine. It can't compete with HTC's BoomSound stereo speakers or the loud iPhone 5S speaker, but it is fine for typical usage. There is a LED flash and the heart rate sensor below the 16-megapixel rear camera. The heart rate monitor worked about 75 percent of the time for me, but my wife and daughters could never get it to work after repeated trials. It's a fun thing to mess with, but definitely not an essential feature.

The thin plastic back cover has a dimpled texture that I like much better than the glossy plastic they used on previous smartphones. When you take the cover off you will find the removable battery, microSD card slot, and microSIM card slot. I found it strange that they are not using a nanoSIM like most others today and had to use an adapter to use my own T-Mobile SIM card to test out the device. You can see the watertight seal on the back cover so make sure to full snap it into place as well.

While the Galaxy S5 uses plastic and doesn't feel as premium as the HTC One (M8) or iPhone 5s, I don't mind that durable plastic is used for the back. I am not a fan of the shiny chrome-looking frame piece though and think it cheapens the feel of the S5. I like the weight of the S5 in my hand and think it is just about at the maximum acceptable size for a smartphone that I would personally consider.

Software

Android 4.4.2 is installed on the Galaxy S5, so the latest version of Android is installed, along with a pared-down version of Samsung TouchWiz. I primarily see the removal of redundant services, such as the addition of music and video stores that were unnecessary on previous models. I still find the notification area to be way too cluttered and have not yet found a way to get rid of the large S Finder or Quick connect buttons. Samsung default notifications take up nearly half of the display, which is a bit ridiculous.

The settings area has been revamped, but I just counted 62 colorful icons for the settings. Granted, some are repeated because they have a new Quick Settings area, but there are still too many for the average consumer. The various colors on the icons also don't seem to have clear categorization.

I like seeing multi-window support on such a device with a large display. There are a ton of ways to customize the device to your liking and the geek in me likes having this capability sometimes.

There are some apps from Samsung that I find useless, such as ChatOn, Group Camcorder, Group Play, S Voice, S Translator, and Scrapbook. S Health is significantly improved, but since it is a Samsung only app I haven't yet found it to be essential. The Smart Remote is excellent and works well with my new Samsung Smart TV.

The camera software is excellent and the camera takes great photos. I like the way you can tap and hold settings icons and drag them to the left side of the viewfinder screen for easy manipulation. The modes are easy to switch and there are some cool options available. The camera is one of my favorite aspects of the S5 and one area that easily beats the HTC One (M8).

It's handy to press and hold the center hardware button to launch Google Now and the voice-activated Google Search widget works just fine. For some reason, the voice activation widgets doesn't work on the HTC One (M8).

Usage and experiences

I was able to go a full day of pretty heavy usage with the Galaxy S5 and thought about purchasing one many times. There are some aspects that bothered me though, such as the slow response of the My Magazine panel. I ended up turning off My Magazine as I find the full Flipboard experience to be better. There are animations on the S5 that also seem to present some occasional lag and I also noticed the camera was slow to focus and take photos at times.

Phone calls sounded great and the T-Mobile WiFi Calling worked very well in my new home where the cellular signal is weak, but the WiFi signal is strong. I like the Samsung keyboard better than the HTC one, primarily due to the presence of a dedicated number row.

Pros and Cons

To summarize my experiences with the Samsung Galaxy S5, here are my pros and cons.

Pros Cons
Amazing, vivid Super AMOLED display Limited internal storage (about 9 GB available)
Solid performing camera with functional software Cluttered notification area
Dust and water resistant Overwhelming number of settings icons
Removable battery and microSD card Useless fingerprint scanner
  Inconsistent performing heart rate monitor

Pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is available on all major US carriers. The subsidized price is $200 while the full price at T-Mobile is $660. Unfortunately, the 32GB model is not yet available and with the limited functionality of microSD cards in KitKat I won't buy a device without 32GB of internal storage.

The competition

The number one competitor at this time and the model you will see most often compared to the S5 is the HTC One (M8). They are both solid Android smartphones, but there are still some excellent choices from last year to consider. I like the smaller size and custom Motorola experiences in my Moto X and the Nexus 5 is tough to beat.

We will soon likely see the LG G3 and that is one I am seriously considering. A new iPhone should be announced in June and the Sony Xperia Z2 may eventually come to the US.

Specifications
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5 GHz processor
2GB RAM
16 internal storage options with microSD card slot
5.1-inch 1920x1080 pixels resolution Super AMOLED display
16-megapixel rear camera with 2-megapixel front-facing camera
IP67 certificated dust and water resistance
802.11 a/ac/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and ANT+
2,800 mAh battery
Dimensions of 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm and 145 grams

Conclusion

I almost visited my local T-Mobile store to pick up a Galaxy S5 because the display is fantastic and I personally enjoy messing around with devices and making new discoveries with them. However, I won't buy an Android device with such limited internal memory and the 32GB models are not yet available. I also still find the Motorola additions like Active Notifications, Motorola Connect, Moto Assist, touches controls, and more to be too compelling to give up. The Moto X is also half the cost of the S5, which is a major factor for me since I just moved homes.

Samsung provides a solid update to the Galaxy line with the S5, but if you have an S4 there really isn't any reason to upgrade at the full price. If you have a SIII or a full subsidy available then you will likely be pleased with the S5. When the 32GB model appears I may just pick one up. I also want to see what LG and Motorola have in store so I may just sit out this round of the game and wait until the summer launch season takes place.

If I had to make a choice between the then I would purchase the new HTC One (M8), despite the fact that the camera is not as good as the one on the S5. HTC has a better UI and the hardware feels like the high price you pay for such flagship smartphones.

Contributor's rating: 7.5 out of 10

Related coverage:

s5galaxy10.jpg
10 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Removed back panel showing water resistant seal

s5galaxy11.jpg
11 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Galaxy S5 in hand

s5galaxy12.jpg
12 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Back of the S5 in hand

s5galaxy13.jpg
13 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Indoor photo showing some Easter eggs

s5galaxy14.jpg
14 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Outdoor tulip photo

A few weeks ago I took a look at the and was let down a bit by HTC (same camera, long and slippery device). I have now spent a couple weeks with the Samsung Galaxy S5 and again I am a bit let down by an Android manufacturer. The Galaxy S5 is a very good smartphone and millions will purchase one, but I wanted more from the device and will be sticking with my for now.

I enjoyed most of the , but didn't end up keeping one after finding I didn't use the S Pen enough to justify it. You will find similar experiences on the Galaxy S5 in a smaller form factor so I think the S5 will appeal to more people. However, like the Note 3, Samsung with gimmicky features that are likely to be used a couple of times and then just end up being things that consume valuable real estate and resources on the phone. Samsung was closer to getting it right on the S5, but there is still more work to do in order to satisfy me.

Hardware

Samsung makes some fantastic displays and the 5.1-inch 1920x1080 Super AMOLED one on the S5 is impressive. Colors are vivid, blacks are dark, and it looks great in sunlight. The display alone almost convinced me to go pick up the S5 and I am sure it will attract many customers in wireless stores. The side bezels are rather thin and there isn't much space above and below the display.

Samsung continues to use hardware buttons, including a center physical button, below the display, and I have to say I am a fan of this strategy. I know many like the buttons on the display, but I like having them easily accessible and always available just below the screen. The center hardware button also serves as the fingerprint scanner, but after a couple days of sheer frustration and a success rate of about 20 percent I gave up on using it. My iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner works 90 percent of the time, but the swiping motion just doesn't seem to work on Android smartphones like the S5 and HTC One Max.

The volume button is on the left side with the traditional Samsung power button placement on the right. The headphone jack is up top with the USB 3.0 port at the bottom, covered by a watertight door. This charging port is the only door you have to keep closed to maintain the waterproof integrity of the phone and this feature is one aspect that appeals to me and my usage in rainy Washington State.

The speaker is on the lower back and sounds fine. It can't compete with HTC's BoomSound stereo speakers or the loud iPhone 5S speaker, but it is fine for typical usage. There is a LED flash and the heart rate sensor below the 16-megapixel rear camera. The heart rate monitor worked about 75 percent of the time for me, but my wife and daughters could never get it to work after repeated trials. It's a fun thing to mess with, but definitely not an essential feature.

The thin plastic back cover has a dimpled texture that I like much better than the glossy plastic they used on previous smartphones. When you take the cover off you will find the removable battery, microSD card slot, and microSIM card slot. I found it strange that they are not using a nanoSIM like most others today and had to use an adapter to use my own T-Mobile SIM card to test out the device. You can see the watertight seal on the back cover so make sure to full snap it into place as well.

While the Galaxy S5 uses plastic and doesn't feel as premium as the HTC One (M8) or iPhone 5s, I don't mind that durable plastic is used for the back. I am not a fan of the shiny chrome-looking frame piece though and think it cheapens the feel of the S5. I like the weight of the S5 in my hand and think it is just about at the maximum acceptable size for a smartphone that I would personally consider.

Software

Android 4.4.2 is installed on the Galaxy S5, so the latest version of Android is installed, along with a pared-down version of Samsung TouchWiz. I primarily see the removal of redundant services, such as the addition of music and video stores that were unnecessary on previous models. I still find the notification area to be way too cluttered and have not yet found a way to get rid of the large S Finder or Quick connect buttons. Samsung default notifications take up nearly half of the display, which is a bit ridiculous.

The settings area has been revamped, but I just counted 62 colorful icons for the settings. Granted, some are repeated because they have a new Quick Settings area, but there are still too many for the average consumer. The various colors on the icons also don't seem to have clear categorization.

I like seeing multi-window support on such a device with a large display. There are a ton of ways to customize the device to your liking and the geek in me likes having this capability sometimes.

There are some apps from Samsung that I find useless, such as ChatOn, Group Camcorder, Group Play, S Voice, S Translator, and Scrapbook. S Health is significantly improved, but since it is a Samsung only app I haven't yet found it to be essential. The Smart Remote is excellent and works well with my new Samsung Smart TV.

The camera software is excellent and the camera takes great photos. I like the way you can tap and hold settings icons and drag them to the left side of the viewfinder screen for easy manipulation. The modes are easy to switch and there are some cool options available. The camera is one of my favorite aspects of the S5 and one area that easily beats the HTC One (M8).

It's handy to press and hold the center hardware button to launch Google Now and the voice-activated Google Search widget works just fine. For some reason, the voice activation widgets doesn't work on the HTC One (M8).

Usage and experiences

I was able to go a full day of pretty heavy usage with the Galaxy S5 and thought about purchasing one many times. There are some aspects that bothered me though, such as the slow response of the My Magazine panel. I ended up turning off My Magazine as I find the full Flipboard experience to be better. There are animations on the S5 that also seem to present some occasional lag and I also noticed the camera was slow to focus and take photos at times.

Phone calls sounded great and the T-Mobile WiFi Calling worked very well in my new home where the cellular signal is weak, but the WiFi signal is strong. I like the Samsung keyboard better than the HTC one, primarily due to the presence of a dedicated number row.

Pros and Cons

To summarize my experiences with the Samsung Galaxy S5, here are my pros and cons.

Pros Cons
Amazing, vivid Super AMOLED display Limited internal storage (about 9 GB available)
Solid performing camera with functional software Cluttered notification area
Dust and water resistant Overwhelming number of settings icons
Removable battery and microSD card Useless fingerprint scanner
  Inconsistent performing heart rate monitor

Pricing and availability

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is available on all major US carriers. The subsidized price is $200 while the full price at T-Mobile is $660. Unfortunately, the 32GB model is not yet available and with the limited functionality of microSD cards in KitKat I won't buy a device without 32GB of internal storage.

The competition

The number one competitor at this time and the model you will see most often compared to the S5 is the HTC One (M8). They are both solid Android smartphones, but there are still some excellent choices from last year to consider. I like the smaller size and custom Motorola experiences in my Moto X and the Nexus 5 is tough to beat.

We will soon likely see the LG G3 and that is one I am seriously considering. A new iPhone should be announced in June and the Sony Xperia Z2 may eventually come to the US.

Specifications
Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.5 GHz processor
2GB RAM
16 internal storage options with microSD card slot
5.1-inch 1920x1080 pixels resolution Super AMOLED display
16-megapixel rear camera with 2-megapixel front-facing camera
IP67 certificated dust and water resistance
802.11 a/ac/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and ANT+
2,800 mAh battery
Dimensions of 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm and 145 grams

Conclusion

I almost visited my local T-Mobile store to pick up a Galaxy S5 because the display is fantastic and I personally enjoy messing around with devices and making new discoveries with them. However, I won't buy an Android device with such limited internal memory and the 32GB models are not yet available. I also still find the Motorola additions like Active Notifications, Motorola Connect, Moto Assist, touches controls, and more to be too compelling to give up. The Moto X is also half the cost of the S5, which is a major factor for me since I just moved homes.

Samsung provides a solid update to the Galaxy line with the S5, but if you have an S4 there really isn't any reason to upgrade at the full price. If you have a SIII or a full subsidy available then you will likely be pleased with the S5. When the 32GB model appears I may just pick one up. I also want to see what LG and Motorola have in store so I may just sit out this round of the game and wait until the summer launch season takes place.

If I had to make a choice between the then I would purchase the new HTC One (M8), despite the fact that the camera is not as good as the one on the S5. HTC has a better UI and the hardware feels like the high price you pay for such flagship smartphones.

Contributor's rating: 7.5 out of 10

Related coverage:

s5galaxy15.jpg
15 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Downtown Seattle

s5galaxy17.jpg
16 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Cluttered notification area

s5galaxy18.jpg
17 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

WiFi Calling is supported

s5galaxy19.jpg
18 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Too many colorful settings icons

s5galaxy20.jpg
19 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

App launcher options

s5galaxy21.jpg
20 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Using Smart Remote with the IR port

s5galaxy22.jpg
21 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Smart Remote suggestions

s5galaxy23.jpg
22 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Samsung Essentials apps

s5galaxy24.jpg
23 of 23 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Measuring your heart rate

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