Samsung Galaxy S5 Review 
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Darryn Bonthuys
July 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm

When it comes to smartphones, Samsung is always trying something a bit odd. With that ethos, comes the Samsung Galaxy S5, a communication tool packed with other features that you never knew you needed or wanted. Some of them are baffling, some of them belong in a niche category, but one thing’s for certain: They all work rather well actually.

Erhmergherd, ergonomics

S5 (1)

A quick glance reveals a phone that isn’t too dissimilar in appearance to 2013’s popular Galaxy S4 phone. Slightly bigger than the S4, the S5 packs a larger 5.1’ screen that has the same look and layout as previous Samsung phones. Which is really fine, because a universal approach to design keeps the phone familiar in the hands of consumers who are upgrading to something that packs more hardware inside of it.

In the hand, it feels thin while also feeling hefty enough to dismiss any fears of the S5 being a fragile piece of technology. Overall, the S5 still boasts a plastic shell with a polarising opinion on the rubber backing. Some hate it, some don’t mind it, and I actually rather prefer the rubber coating myself. Again, personal preference.

So in terms of comfort, you have a large phone that is easy enough handle, no matter how big or small your hands are, with a rubber backing that you may or not like.

Hardy hardware

The S5 boasts a 1080p screen that is capable of some fantastic high definition imagery, whether it be photos or video on Redtube Youtube. Sharp and vibrant, it’s a screen that really stands out and could light up a room easily enough in a blackout.

Nobody wants to lose a phone, but if it does happen to you, you’ll most likely also want to be able to keep your contact details out of the hands of thieves. And that’s something that the S5 can do thanks to a fingerprint sensor. You can map all ten of your digits to the phone, which allows you to unlock it with a swipe of the finger. It’s a system that works well, and gives the phone that added layer of security, as well as the satisfaction in knowing that only you can open it.

Water under the bridge

Samsung-Galaxy-S5-waterproof

The S5 is also lives up to the hype of being a water-resistant phone. Perfect for anyone who still keeps their phone in their breast pocket and is forever dropping it into the toilet when they bend over to flush, the phone can easily survive being submerged, something that I tested out myself by dropping it into a sink full of water and also into a freezing cold swimming pool. The phone survived unscathed, and once it had been dried off, it could be unlocked with the fingerprint sensor to function normally, as if it nothing had happened at all.

That could potentially give people a more carefree attitude towards handling the phone, as anyone who has been to a pool party knows that the age of the smartphone has all but eliminated the spontaneous pleasure of throwing a friend into the pool.

Battery life on the S5 isn’t bad at all, with heavy users able to crank out around a day to a day and a half of work out of the phone. There’s also a handy ultra power-save mode, that’ll easily push the battery power to last for a week as it disables all but the essentials, for those emergencies when you aren’t near a charger.

I’m ready for my close-up

S5 (1)

One thing that the S5 genuinely gets right, is the camera. Boasting 16 mega-pixels, the S5 can take sharp photos that pack plenty of colour, as you can see below with examples that include an inaction figure and a cat that has more jitters than Michael J Fox:

20140101_140135 20140706_160511 20140706_160743

20140706_160801 20140706_160844

20140716_095001 20140716_095012

While most folks will easily find the fast auto-setting to be capable of snapping most of their photos, there also more on offer from portrait modes, panorama snapshots that combine to form lengthy images of the world around you and an HDR mode that is perfect for areas that are basked in the harsh glow of the sun. Low light situations however, present a challenge for the phone while hipsters will also be happy to know that the S5 is also packed with various filters, for when the world needs to know of that craft beer that you’re drinking but with an ironic sepia tone.

Physical, I wanna get physical

S5 (2)

S-Health is a pretty decent fitness application that is available on the S5, and works wonderfully when paired with the new Samsung Gear 2 watch (More on that soon). A fully-fledged program that keeps track of your fitness levels and makes good use of the heart-rate sensor at the back, S-Health will do everything from counting your steps to telling you which exercises you should be focusing on, something this fat-ass found useful. It needs a lot of specific inputs from people wanting to get the most out of it, but for the fitness obsessed, it’s a nifty feature.

But it’s the small things that hamper an otherwise solid phone. A speaker at the back results in a metallic sound that drifts away from you, while the vibration setting is strong enough to double as a jackhammer. The Android operating system also feels a touch too over-customised, with many, many options available that could be daunting to first-time adoptees of the Samsung brand. Despite boasting some powerful hardware in the form of a Quad-Core 2.5Ghz processor and 2GB of RAM, the software is still too much for the phone to handle at times resulting in the occasional lag. More an annoyance of an issue, it’s something that can easily be sorted should Samsung ever decide to streamline their software.

S5 (3)

Summary

And that’s the Samsung Galaxy S5 in a nutshell really. It’s a phone that offers plenty of bang for your buck, filled with dozens of apps, ideas and programs and backed up by hardware that reflects the price-tag attached to it. It gets plenty right, but it also has a few annoyances along for the ride, as if the phone is trying too hard to be a Jack of all trades and failing to properly execute these ideas.

The S5 is a great phone for the average user- but it’s missing that certain something to make it a truly ground-breaking device.

Conclusion

was reviewed by Darryn Bonthuys

Because he's the writer that Lazygamer deserves, but not the one it actually needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can't take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a loud-mouthed journalist, a watchful procrastinator. A dork knight.

  • KingKappie

    But hows gaming on the phone

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      That is indeed the question!

    • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

      If it’s stats are anything to go by it should be better than the s3 and just below the s4. which makes sense because it’s price falls in between. I thankfully don’t use my phone for much gaming. I use my tablet on the off chance I need to

      • I have the s5…

        Acually. I have the s5 and its alittle better then the s4. Ive owned all three. The only thing it don’t have is a temp sensor. It plas games good.

  • Kensei Seraph

    Sounds pretty good, although I’d be interested in how much corrosion damage the water has caused in a months time.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    I just wish Samsung would let you uninstall the bloatware they foist upon you.

    • Sith JJ

      I suggest laxatives.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        Keep talking :P

        • VampyreSquirrel

          You like it when @johnambitious:disqus speaks dirty?

          • Sith JJ

            LOL

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Well that escalated quickly!! :P

    • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

      2 words my friend: custom roms

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    Cats are awesome! And Samsung > Apple. Android > Apple. The banana has spoken!

    • Sith JJ

      I agree with the Banananana

    • Kensei Seraph

      Also Water Melon > Banana > Pear > Apple > Naartjie > Litchi

  • Sith JJ

    Slogan for S5:

    Not groundbreaking, but at least it’s not an iPhone.

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Pretty much, although at this stage Apple has taken a nosedive – since Steve Jobs returned to the mothership. :/ It’s a real shame though.

      • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

        Without Steve around it’s just nnovation.

        • Sith JJ

          LOL!

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Amazing how one man could have had such an influence. But it makes sense, remember when they ditched him in the 90s and that guy from Pepsi took over. What a royal mess. It took Jobs to make a comeback to fix Apple.

          I hope they’re currently trying to clone the man, because without Steve Jobs, I fear Apple will soon be pie.

          • Sith JJ

            Who will steal ideas from other companies now?

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            It’s going to be dire… the future will no longer be stylish. It’s back to blocky crap. :/

          • Sith JJ
          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Holy crap! What is that?

          • Sith JJ

            Sadly, it is what you think it is.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            … I have no words… No words at all.

            “Look Ma.. I made creepy shaped poop. Thanks for shoving this up my bum”.

          • Sith JJ

            I know, I also thought having to shove a piece of plastic up your bum is already strange enough as it is.

          • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

            “It’s about to get Poopy!” is trademarked?

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            They should have gone with “Crush some Candy”

          • Sith JJ

            I wouldn’t be surprised if some US big dog like Donald Trump already owns the trademark. They love trademarking everything they say.
            But yes. That TM is shocking.

          • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

            I firmly believed that Apple was overpriced rubbish until I got my iPod. Loved that thing!

            iPhone *was* excellent until the 4s, now it’s Apple scrambling to better Samsung, as opposed to confidently releasing new stuff and not caring who copies them.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Personally, they lost the plot after IOS 7. It was almost like they no longer had a clue, and it was obvious that whoever designed it needed some Steve.

            Granted: I still like my ipad. Best device I’ve ever bought for bog reading, listening to tunes in the bath or night time browsing.

          • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

            LOL! Dude, don’t dare tell an iFan that their OS looks like it’s made of 90s Clipart. :P

          • VampyreSquirrel

            I have an iPhone 4, which is my backup phone, and updated it to IOS 7… seriously wish I didn’t.

          • Double-O-Six and a half

            Have to agree, the new look is terrible… The didn’t listen to the old adage, “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”…

    • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

      *snort*

    • HvR – Still dislikes Random.or

      Same as the old one just bettererer

  • Hammersteyn
    • Kensei Seraph

      I remember when a friend bought an “indestructible” phone for construction workers a while back.
      A week later he took it back and complained that the phone was flat.
      The clerk asked him if he had charged it so he pulled it out, put it on the desk and repeated himself.

      The phone was literally flat after it had one of these drive over it.
      http://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/66171/66171,1221289395,1/stock-photo-huge-sand-dump-truck-17326975.jpg

      • Hammersteyn

        LOL

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      I miss the days when Nokia made quality phones…. :(

      • Hammersteyn

        Same here

      • geelslang

        The new nokia lumias are excellent phones.

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      I used to own this Samsung brick, and during a fieldtrip (while in the mountains). The thing fell out of my pocket, and did a spectacular series of flips as it bounced off a dozen of rocks. I thought that was it. But when I found it a couple metres below, the damn thing was still working.

      They don’t make them like that any more.

      90s phones > anything made in the last 10 years.

  • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

    Thanks D, I’m patiently waiting for its bigger brother in October: the Galaxy Note 4. :)

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Am I the only one that prefers the Galaxy minis? I mean I don’t like the tablet sized phones. You really look ridiculous with that thing near your ear or face.

      SIZE DOES MATTER!!!! *RUNS OFF SCREAMING*

      • Sith JJ

        I have a Galaxy Mini. Love it.

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Me too. It’s an awesome device. I have a nexus tablet as well, and the two tag team like bosses.

          • Sith JJ

            Have a Galaxy tab (no idea which one since I got it as a gift and have only used it so far for email and playing Tiny Death Star)

      • Rince&pop

        With your small cabbage hands I can understand that *RUNS FASTER

      • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

        He he, I get you. The reason that I’m going Note 4 is due to the fact that the S5 is practically the same size as the Note range, which has a better battery and processor. It also has the unbeatable S-pen which is developed by Wacom (another thing that the Apple devices cannot touch when it comes to stylus sensitivity) and is perfect for what I mostly use my S2 phone for.

    • VampyreSquirrel

      Note 4 in October? I think I found my upgrade in November!

  • VampyreSquirrel

    I’m up for an upgrade later this year… going for another Samsung, or a Sony… not entirely sure.

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Always… Samsung!

      Pizza on Fridays. Sony for games. Samsung for everything else. The Banana has spoken!

      • Kensei Seraph

        Pizza on Fridays. PC* for games. Samsung for everything else.

        Fixed.

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Pizza on Fridays, Bacon on Mondays, Sony for games, Samsung for everything else :D

          • Kensei Seraph

            Pizza on Fridays, Bacon everyday*, PC* for games, Samsung for everything else.

            Fixed. Again.

          • Sith JJ

            I have pizza on Saturdays, but for the rest I’m right there with you.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Saturdays are for Nandos?

          • Sith JJ

            Fridays are braai. Saturdays are pizza. Sundays are depression over the coming week.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Late Sunday afternoons… :( sigh! They bring tears to my eyes.

          • HvR – Still dislikes Random.or

            Braai on Friday??? You lazy hippie Capetonian stereotype. Now go sit in the Woodstock corner cafe and rethink your life.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Hehehe Obs! No one goes to Woodstock… except for bergies and hipsters :P

          • Sith JJ

            Obs yes.

          • Sith JJ

            Did I miss something? I’m the only guy here who mentions braai, yet I get trouble for it.
            When do you braai? Every other night?

          • HvR – Still dislikes Random.or

            Saturdays when I watching rugby or Sundays when I’m watching F1.

          • Sith JJ

            F1 and braai.
            Where do you live? Heaven?

          • Anon A Mouse

            I usually put on F1 to have a nice nap on the couch.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            In Cape Town, you don’t braai, the braai uh braais you. (Shutup that sounded clever in my head)

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I thought I’d braai tomorrow :/

      • VampyreSquirrel

        I’ll go against the grain here…

        Pizza on Fridays. PC or Xbox for games. Samsung for everything else.

      • Sageville

        ALL HAIL THE NANA!

    • Sith JJ

      Sony has some nice phones, but only the ones in the S5 league are really worth looking at. The others don’t really compete with lower spec Samsung.

    • Hammersteyn

      Sony, Samsung is too mainstream

      • Sith JJ

        Hippie opinion, yet you don’t recommend and iPhone. Something is afoot!

        • Hammersteyn

          Even Iphone is too mainstream, hardly anyone has a Sony.

          • HvR – Still dislikes Random.or

            Be careful or Pieter might want to be your BFF.

          • Hammersteyn

            He’s not that bad….. probably

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Yeah, Pieter is ok. He has his faults, but at least he’s a gamer. It could be worse, he could have been a Wii fan.

          • Hammersteyn

            Hue hue

          • Sith JJ

            I find it very amusing that you distinguish between gamers and people who have Wii’s.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Obviously! Have you seen the wii’s controller? How are you even supposed to use it?

            http://www.tikvah.com/graphics/oe/applicator.jpg

            (A wii controller)

          • Anon A Mouse

            Hipsters be hanging with Blackberry yo..

          • HvR – Still dislikes Random.or

            “Because having a phone that never works is so ironic yo”

          • Anon A Mouse

            Never had any problems with my Blackberry tbh. Best work phone I’ve ever had.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Have to agree with you on that, the security functions on a BB is pretty impressive. I still have one as a backup phone. Blackberry also made phones like Nokia (used to), you can drop the thing from a building and it still works.

          • Sith JJ

            True dat. I very almost got me a Sony, but the Galaxy mini was just that one step above for the price. (keep in mind that I am the kind of person that always forgets his phone at home – so if it can call I am happy)

          • Hammersteyn

            I kinda want a phone whose battery lasts the whole day.

          • Sith JJ

            Mine does, sometimes two days. But that’s because it’s usually lying at home and not being used.

          • Anon A Mouse

            Nokia 3310. I swear they are going to dig up some “ancient” site in 100 years and find a Nokia with battery life still left.

          • Hammersteyn

            “This is how primitive humans communicated, long before we evolved to use telepathy”

      • HvR – Still dislikes Random.or

        So you are getting a OUYA for next gen?

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          OUYA is going to beat the PS4 and the Wii U!!

          • Sith JJ

            Just like the Xbone was going to?

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            The Boner will rise from the ashes, and stand majestic. It will thrust into the air and prove all those dirty peasants who make fun of it wrong.

          • Sith JJ

            While the PC overlords watch from the clouds.

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            while they play games with hideous polygons that look like they were made in 1992… :P

          • Sith JJ

            At 1080p

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            4k man.. no one does 1080p any more (except for the dirty console peasants)

          • Admiral Chief Fairburne

            They WISH they could do 1080p

          • Sith JJ

            Haha. This might be an endless conversation.

          • Brady miaau

            or at least inadequate?

          • HvR – Still dislikes Random.or

            *beat off

            There fixed it

        • Hammersteyn

          Nope, for all my old Roms. New games are too mainstream

          • HvR – Still dislikes Random.or

            *applause*

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Pffftt… games? I play with used cans, stones and garbage. That’s how you should really play MINECRAFT!!!

          • Hammersteyn

            Bwahaha

  • Rince&pop

    I don’t get this. I thought they said sims wasn’t going to have a pool in and there you go, right in front of your face, a swimming pool. Darryn, you do live in the Sims right?

    • Kensei Seraph

      He lives in Sims 2.

  • HvR – Still dislikes Random.or

    Man these Korean phones all look the same.

    • Sith JJ

      Racist

    • Hammersteyn

      LOL

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    Darryn how many cats do you have?

    • http://www.lazygamer.net/ The D

      Just 2. But that doesn’t include the cats from next door that like hanging out with me for some reason.

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        Same here, got two as well. :brofist:

      • Anon A Mouse

        So you’re catwoman actually?

      • Hammersteyn

        Need Soap?

      • Admiral Chief Fairburne

        Pussy magnet?

      • HvR – Still dislikes Random.or

        Old woman’s smell?

        • Anon A Mouse

          Tuna farts.

          (I don’t know why I though of that)

          • Sith JJ

            This made me laugh way harder that it should have.

      • Brady miaau

        ah, I have had that problem plenty. I buy the good cat food, so the other cats come and visit sometimes.

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Scienceplan? That stuff is amazing.

          • Brady miaau

            The Royal Canin?

            I think Science Plan is hills, also great, but I like the other. I also buy breed specific food, so each cat has own pack and own food.

  • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

    I’m actually thinking of changing my phone brand from Samsung. I was thinking the LG G2

    • Hammersteyn

      Looks like a cool phone

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

        I think so too

    • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      The G3 is superb.

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        Pfft no one uses LG unless they were forced to get it….

        • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

          I used to think that too…The G2/G3 chnaged that/

        • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

          One of the guys I work with got one. I think it’s an amazing little phone

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

        Glad to hear that. Seen one of my work colleagues with the G2 and it looks great and is really smooth. He says he’s happy. So I am seriously considering the G2. G3 is a bit too much though

    • Viking Of Science

      I’ve got an Xperia Z1…. Great Device. and recently got updated to KitKat….

      • Sith JJ

        That is such a cool phone

    • Ringo

      Bang for buck the G2 is the best in the world. I’ve had mine for a year and it still kicks ass. Wish I could have a G3.

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

        Almost everyone seems to agree with me. Think I am making a good choice then

        • Kensei Seraph

          It wasn’t that long ago that everyone agreed that Blackberry was the best.
          And we all know how that went.

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

            Yeah except me. I knew blackberry was crap from the start. That’s because of the bis and its OS. LG in general may not have great phones but this phone in particular looks good and I’ve seen it in action. No gimmicks or anything. It got Android JB upgradable to kitkat. It has no funny additional things I would never use (like silly heart rate monitors that would just give away when I’m angry at people). The photo quality is great. It’s cpu and gpu are almost as good as the s4 which is more expensive. So for the next 2 years it’s a phone I could live with. After that I’ll upgrade to the next best phone available to me without needing to pay in boatloads of cash. Brand loyalty in phones is dangerous because you never know when they bring out a dud

          • Ringo

            Actually the G2 has the same CPU as the S5 (snapdragon 801) and a better GPU than the S4 (adreno 330). Maybe you’re looking at the G2 Mini?

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

            S4 is the Exynos 5 Octa 5410 chipset. It also has 2 quad core processors (Quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A15 & quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7) in it instead of the single 2.6GHz Quad on the G2. So the S4 tends to run smoother due to CPU load balancing.

  • Mossel

    Personally the S5 is more buck for your bang in my opinion. Rather get a Nexus.

  • Sageville

    Nice review D.

  • Rags

    Damn the lenses are getting sharp!

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  • Gustav Minnie

    I have a S4 and I love it.
    I’m due for an upgrade in August but I’m considering something else.
    I’m looking at the Sony Z1 compact, Sony Z2 and Nokia 930 (yes, you read right).
    The problem going to another brand is the accessories (screen protectors, case etc etc)
    I drop my phone and I play with it when I eat russian and chips but you go in a mobile shop and all you see is shit for Samsung, Apple and the Blackberry.

    • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

      Unless you want a stylus-based beast, go for the Experia Z2.

    • Admiral Chief Saxon

      The S4 is a beast, I love mine!

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  • http://tumblr.exhibeo.com/ Axon1988

    After all the problems I and most of my friends who own Samsung phones have had… I stay away from them. I have a old Sony Xperia V. This thing came out just after the S3 and it is still going strong. Maybe it’s hardware isn’t nearly as good, but at least it’s battery does not explode.

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