Final Words

The Galaxy S 5 is a healthy update to the series. With the Galaxy Note 3's release last year we saw a device that ultimately became the new flagship from Samsung. The GS5 takes the crown back for those users who want a more reasonably sized device.

The GS5 sees upgrades across the board compared to its predecessor. The underlying silicon is both faster and more power efficient. The battery is larger, and battery life has improved dramatically thanks to silicon and display upgrades. Much like the gains we saw with HTC's M7 to M8 transition, anyone who is on a Snapdragon 600 based device today is going to be incredibly happy upgrading to a Snapdragon 801 platform like the GS5.

Connectivity sees a boost with the addition of Qualcomm's envelope tracker and support for carrier aggregation on LTE. The inclusion of 2x2 MIMO 802.11ac brings WiFi performance to a new level with the GS5.

The move to Samsung's own 16MP rear facing camera sensor brings about an increase in spatial resolution, and some improvements in low light performance compared to the Galaxy S 4. I'm not totally sold on the GS5's image processing but the overall camera experience is pretty solid. I would still like to see Samsung move to a slightly lower resolution sensor with larger pixels to provide a more balanced solution. As of now the GS5 is a solid shooter outdoors and with decent light, but indoors and in low light solutions it struggles.

NAND performance is about the only downside to the GS5's hardware upgrade, mainly in that it seems to ignore random read/write performance in favor of sequential gains. Anyone who has followed our SSD coverage at AnandTech should know the issues with this approach.

Display is also dramatically improved from the Galaxy S4. Samsung's AMOLED panels have finally caught up with LCD in most of the key metrics while retaining the key advantages of AMOLED such as infinite contrast and higher power efficiency at lower average picture level.

It's not all hardware upgrades that makes the GS5 what it is. Samsung did an excellent job of cleaning up its UI from the crowded mess that we saw in GS4 to something much more polished. It's not perfect, but a huge step in the right direction. While the GS4 felt more like feature creep for use in marketing materials, the GS5's software is far better executed. 

There are even some nifty additions that can come in handy. Ultra low power saving mode is one in particular that seems to have a measurable impact on battery life if you're willing to give up some performance. 

Overall the Galaxy S 5 is a solid replacement to the GS4 (and definitely to any previous Samsung device). I find that pretty much all the flagships offer some set of tradeoffs that prevent any one from being the perfect device (iPhone's screen size, GS5's materials, M8's camera). It's unfortunate because I'd really like to crown a single device the king of them all, but instead we're faced with a handful of differing optimization points. Samsung got it almost perfect with the GS5. With a metal body, a rear facing camera with larger pixels (perhaps with some tweaks to camera output processing), a better NAND controller, and stereo front facing speakers, the GS5 would probably be perfect.

Software: KNOX & TouchWiz
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  • xsoft7 - Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - link

    just remove the touchwiz UI!
    every single samsung device has lags because of it!
    after installing google edition\diffrent roms that not based on it, the lags dissappeard!
    the UI is their most weak point, no matter how fast the cpu\gpu or ram will be, the ui, after several software insallation will L-A-G. just go over youtube and see it for yourself! wether it is GALAXY note 1,2,3 or galaxy s 12345, or tabs. they are lagging! (except google edition)
    Reply
  • BedfordTim - Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - link

    That is a deliberate feature put there so that you will upgrade to a "faster" phone. Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - link

    The GS4 is the most stable phone of 2013. People who has actually held a phone know that people like you and xsoft7 are just trolling.

    http://www.androidcentral.com/apps-crashed-most-gi...

    Give it up. No one cares about your opinion.
    Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - link

    *People who has actually held a GS4 know.... Reply
  • Astarael - Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - link

    *have Reply
  • earthrace57 - Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - link

    I hate to break it to you, but how stable it is when using apps isn't exactly relevant when using touchwiz. On my friend's S4, there is noticeable slowing when doing motions in the basic UI, which is what we are talking about. Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - link

    I hate to break it to you, every phone, no matter brand or OS can be slow if you install the wrong apps.

    Your "friends" phone is completely irrelevant to everybody who's actually used a GS4. Because we know you just full of it. How do I know I am more right than you? Because I know which Android phone is dominating sales. By a gigantic margin. If anything of what you're making up is true, Samsung wouldn't be as dominant, no matter how much money they would throw at their marketing department.
    Reply
  • niva - Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - link

    Dominating sales has nothing to do with what you're describing. Have you tried the google play version of the galaxy s? The one that comes with stock android and doesn't feature the silly overlays? Yup, runs more stable than the "regular" galaxy s and actually gets updated in terms of software.

    The reason why manufacturers drop those skins is not so they "look different" only but because they can somehow rationalize not updating the software on the device later and force you into an upgraded device sooner.

    Anyone buying a non-nexus phone is in this boat unless they want to do some work on their own to keep the devices up to date and that doesn't always quite work out right in terms of stability.
    Reply
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - link

    Even Nexus phones are not always updated immediately as we have seen in the last year. Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Wednesday, April 09, 2014 - link

    If you don't understand what Android is, I really don't see why I should discuss it with you.

    Android is a free to use open source platform. This means, manufacturers has to compile the code to their specific hardware, which takes a few months. NO ONE IN THE REAL WORLD CARES ABOUT THIS DELAY NIVA. NO ONE.

    People who are been obsessed with stock experience pushed to their phones the minute Google announces a new update buy a Nexus phone. Everyone else buys the phone they feel best suits them. Most people teds to buy Galaxy S phones, simply because they are the best, and one of the very few with an OLED display.

    Skinning Android is a necessity to create a feeling of an ecosystem the buyer feels at home with. For instance, I could never live with the skin Sony crams into their phones, in my opinion it's ugly in really incoherent. I have a Nexus tablet too, but I prefer TouchWiz, simply because it gives you a lot of really, really useful add/on features.

    Anyone arguing a Nexus phone is the only choice, just because it has stock Android doesn't understand what a smartphone is. The Nexus 5 is a mediocre phone. At best.
    Reply

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