Here’s why the Samsung Galaxy S5 should grab your attention: it looks good, it performs very well, and it has everything you need to become a fixture in nearly every aspect of your life. But, like a candidate running for reelection, the GS5 gets where it is today based on experience and wisdom, not on flashy features or massive innovation.
With the exception of a few nonessential hardware and software additions — like the fingerprint scanner and novel heart-rate monitor — and a few design tweaks, you’re pretty much looking at the same phone Samsung released in 2013. The S5 is more of a Galaxy S4 Plus than it is a slam-the-brakes, next-generation device; it makes everything just a little smoother and faster.
The 5.1-inch, quad-core Android 4.4 KitKat machine with a terrific 16-megapixel camera is well worth snapping up, both on-contract for about $200, or off-contract for about $650 (and about £570 in the UK and €700). However, it isn’t the only phone worth your time. The gorgeous, all-metal HTC One M8 has a more sophisticated design, better speakers, and greater internal storage for about the same price (32GB versus 16GB). Should you buy the GS5? If you want to go to sleep at night certain that you own the most capable, robust phone, yes.
Samsung does boasts about a new display panel and accompanying technology that help the phone adapt its display more accurately to different lighting scenarios. This is one of those small improvements that few will notice so long as it’s working.
External controls are where you expect them on a Samsung phone: power is on the right, the headset jack is up top, next to the IR blaster that’s made its triumphant return to control your TV with Samsung’s matching app. On the back, the new heart rate monitor cleverly integrates with the camera’s LED flash.
What is a little different is the USB housing on the bottom of the phone. Like the Galaxy Note 3, the S5 now features the elongated USB 3.0 port, which is backward-compatible with standard micro-USB cables. In other words, you can still charge the phone with legacy USB cables, but it’ll really juice up quickly with the compound USB 3.0 cable Samsung supplies.