Samsung Galaxy S5 review

The best and worst smartphone you can buy

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now
Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • Expert Rating

    4.25 / 5

Pros

  • Fantastic screen
  • Great camera
  • Waterproof (IP67)
  • Biometrics

Cons

  • TouchWiz
  • Big

Bottom Line

Samsung's new flagship just bristles with features. Some are undeniably innovative and useful - like the waterproofing and the camera - but the entire smartphone is let down by one of the heaviest, ugliest and most annoying Android overlays yet.

Would you buy this?

The original Galaxy S was a rare case of getting everything right: speed, ease of use, beauty. For Samsung, the Galaxy S was where the magic first happened. Now, the company is trying to make some more with the Galaxy S5.

Chrome, plastic and faux leather

Chrome, plastic and faux leather: these are the materials that make up Samsung’s premium smartphone. The Galaxy does feel special for a short while, but chrome has a habit of aging poorly, and over time you realise the premium texture of the Galaxy S5 is as fake as the faux leather back.

Samsung has used the shiny paintjob, a patterned back and chrome to conceal the S5’s cumbersome body. The new smartphone is taller, thicker, wider and heavier than the Galaxy S4. The design trinkets hide the size most of the time, that is, until you slide it into your jean’s pocket.

The S5 leaves you feeling drunk with raw computing power

The Galaxy S5 is only ugly when compared to today’s range of flagship smartphones. Two weeks ago HTC released the One (M8); a smartphone forged from metal so beautiful that it doesn’t even need a coat of paint. Naked smartphones styled this way age better. Grab a nearby iPhone 5S and have a look for yourself.

Other tricks up Samsung’s sleeve help the Galaxy S5 compete. Press the power button and the 5.1in SuperAMOLED screen infuses it with vibrance. The Full HD touchscreen leads the market in terms of clarity, colour and brightness. We anticipate a lot of people will forget about the Galaxy’s mediocre looks once the screen lights up.

The Full HD touchscreen crams 432 pixels into each inch of the Galaxy’s 5.1 inch screen.
The Full HD touchscreen crams 432 pixels into each inch of the Galaxy’s 5.1 inch screen.

The screen does dazzle, but most of the time its talents are wasted on displaying one of the worst Android overlays — definitely the worst from a big manufacturer.

Android KitKat — defiled

Using TouchWiz is like taking a walk down memory lane. Parts of it are recognisable from the 2012 Galaxy S3, others are brand-spanking new. Ultimately it doesn’t feel like one uniform operating system designed from the ground up for the Galaxy S5. It feels fractured.

The software feels fractured

And it’s such a shame. Some of the newer applications adhere to the aesthetic design instituted by Google. Some of TouchWiz is beautiful, but parts of it, like the antiquated dialler, are in dire need of an update.

TouchWiz is also taxing on the hardware. To illustrate this point, we downloaded a trusted third-party task manager and installed it on a new Galaxy S5 and a new One (M8), both of which ship with 2GB of RAM. The Galaxy S5 consumed significantly more RAM and this could cause the smartphone to slow down as it ages

HTC's One (M8) is built on the same KitKat OS and is far less intensive than Samsung's Galaxy S5
HTC's One (M8) is built on the same KitKat OS and is far less intensive than Samsung's Galaxy S5

Click over for hardware, camera, waterproofing, unique features and the verdict.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Read more on these topics: TouchWiz, galaxy s, Android, galaxy, Apple, ip67, samsung, M8, htc, S5, iphone 5s, 4.4, S5, One, KitKat
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?