Samsung Galaxy S5 hands on

Samsung has unveiled the latest in its Galaxy series in a dazzling launch event as part of Mobile World Congress 2014 in Barcelona, so we’ve gone hands on with the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Selling over 200,000,000 devices, the Galaxy phones have quickly become the world’s favourite mobiles. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, as some previous models had to weather some criticism for sometimes complex software and slightly gimmicky features. So the heat was on for Samsung to come up with another winner. Have they done it?

The design

From the front, the Galaxy S5 looks very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S4. It’s slightly taller, with a new 5.1” Super AMOLED screen, but otherwise the differences are fairly small. Turn it over however, and the differences become immediately apparent. The new dimpled back comes in four shiny ‘glam’ colours including the vibrant Electric Blue, slightly more conservative white or black, and the stylish new Coppery Gold. The phone feels larger, but it’s quite pleasant to hold.

The camera

This is the area that’s experienced the biggest improvements. The megapixels have gone from 13 on the Galaxy S4 to 16 on the Galaxy S5. But more excitingly there’s now Fast Autofocus, which delivers the speediest focus on any smartphone camera, at just 0.3 seconds.

Samsung’s new live HDR mode lets you see how the photo would look in HDR before you take it. And HDR is also now available for video too. Finally, there’s now a new Selective Focus feature, letting you decide which part of your photo you’d like to focus on after you’ve taken it, blurring out the background, adding a professional new look to your photos.

Life

Three key features in this area are really going to make a big difference to your mobile life. Firstly, there’s a fingerprint scanner located under the home button. Rather than holding down your finger like you do on an iPhone, on the Samsung Galaxy S5 you slide it down the reader.

The second stand out feature is that Samsung has made its new phone water resistant and dust proof. So now you really can listen to your mobile in the shower. Note, it’s water resistant, not waterproof, and will survive for up to half an hour in 1metre of water. Don’t go dunking it in the bath for too long!

Finally, there’s now an Ultra Power Saving feature, that, when switched on, will put the phone’s screen into a low power state, making it display only black and white. It also turns off non-essential features, so only things like phone and text are active. On just 10% of power the phone can still last a remarkable 24 hours.

Performance

The latest generation quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, running at 2.5GHz, powers the phone. And a big new battery, now 2,800mAh, gives an improved battery life over the Galaxy S4 with a talk time of 21 hours.

Plus, now Samsung has signed a decade long deal with Google, it’s unsurprising to find out that the phone is powered by the latest iteration of the Android software, 4.4.2 KitKat.

Health

The final area of innovation in the Galaxy S5 is the new emphasis on health. While Samsung had made a foray into this area with S Health on the Galaxy S4, it has now taken it to a whole new level, offering a comprehensive new range of tools to help you stay fit and well.

The personal fitness tracker helps you monitor and manage your lifestyle. There’s a pedometer, diet and exercise records and a unique built in heart rate monitor, which is located next to the flash on the back of the phone.

Team your phone up with stylish new Gear 2 or Gear Fit, and you’ve got a complete health and fitness package.

Speed

Clever new technology means the Galaxy S5 will download faster than ever. Not only is it 4G ready, it also uses the latest standard in Wi-Fi, 802.11ac, for high speed downloading. The phones revolutionary Download Booster is also new. It combines your 4G and Wi-Fi signals to super charge your download speeds.

Summing it up

It’s refreshing to see Samsung has retreated from packing its phones with features you’d find difficult to use day to day. Instead it’s concentrated on features that will really make a difference to your daily life. The Ultra Power Saving feature is brilliant, and will really make a difference when you’re stuck for charge. Plus, the fantastic new camera features make a big difference to your photos. Fast Auto Focus is extremely useful if you’re taking a quick snap. It makes all other smartphones seem really slow in comparison.

For both Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 users, this an innovative new take on a phone you already love, and for all other phone users, maybe there’s a feature or two here that could tempt you to finally make the move.

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