Samsung is now the undisputed king of the Android smartphone space. It was only a few years ago that the general public referred to every Android phone as a “Droid”. Now, it’s not uncommon for people to refer to every Android device as a “Galaxy”, and it speaks to the level of market penetration that Samsung has achieved with their Galaxy line-up. The Galaxy S series has been a sales hit, and with the initial impressions piece, it was said that the average consumer lives and dies by what’s familiar. Samsung continues to iterate with their Galaxy S line with consistent improvement and little, if no regression from generation to generation. This is where Samsung dominates, as the Galaxy S5 is clear evolution of the Galaxy S3 and S4, but made more mature.

The inspiration of the Galaxy Note 3 is also evident in the Galaxy S5’s design. Like the Note 3, the sides of the phone have the same ribbed chrome-colored plastic, which helps with gripping the phone. The front, like the Note 3, also has a subtle pattern beneath the glass. The same layout that has been used since the original Galaxy S is still mostly unchanged here. 

There’s a single rectangular home button, with two capacitive buttons on the side and an earpiece on top, with holes for the sensors. There’s also a noticeable lip as you swipe off the glass lens, which is noticeably thicker than the one on the Galaxy S4. This lip keeps the glass from touching the surface if the phone is set face down on a table. The only major departure on the front is the capacitive button configuration which replaces the menu action overflow button with a multitasking button, something that has been sorely lacking from Galaxy phones, although this change is likely to annoy those that preferred to have a dedicated menu button. On the bright side, long pressing the multitasking button acts as an action overflow button.

On the back, the phone has undergone some serious changes, although it’s still quite familiar. The speaker is still present, as is the camera bump with the flash module underneath. The heart rate sensor is also next to the flash, and the single speaker is on the back as well. What’s really interesting is that the texture is no longer glossy. The back has a grid pattern of indentations in it that help with gripping the phone, and there’s a noticeable texture that seems to resemble the same pattern that the Note 3 had, but there’s no stitching to suggest a faux-leather texture. Along the sides, the power button is on the right side, the volume rocker on the left. The IR transmitter continues to be in the same position that it was before, as is the 3.5mm headphone jack which is on the top right. The microUSB 3.0 port is on the bottom, covered by a flap that is supposed to protect against water immersion according to IP67 spec.

Overall, while the Galaxy S5 isn’t as nice in the hand as the HTC One (M8), it’s certainly not as bad as the Galaxy S4 or S3. I have to say that compared to the GS4, the back makes a huge difference in improving the feel of the device. It's not what I'd consider premium (despite the GS5's price point), but it's much better than before.

While the Galaxy S4 and HTC One were generally comfortable to use, the Galaxy S5 and HTC One (M8) are both teetering at the edge of too large. I found that both are effectively sitting right at the edge of what I’d consider to be usable with one hand. HTC continues to have a bit more ergonomic shape as the rounded back cover fits in the hand better, although it makes the phone have a higher maximum thickness. 

Taking off the back cover of the phone, it’s clear that the entire phone has been designed with water resistance in mind, as there’s a rubber gasket all along the back cover, and there’s an extra plastic snap in the center that helps to ensure that the gasket seals the phone properly. The GS5, like the GS4 Active, retains an IP67 (Ingress Protection) rating. The first digit (6) indicates that the design is fully sealed against dust, while the second digit indicates that the device is submergible up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. Another consequence of this need to waterproof the phone is that taking apart the phone for repair is no longer done by removing screws from the cover that is underneath the backplate unlike the Galaxy S4. Instead, based upon some teardowns done by others, repairing this phone must be done by removing the display first, then the midframe and the rest of the phone can be accessed for repair. In short, the assembly of this phone most closely resembles the Galaxy S4 Active, which is hardly surprising because both are IP67 certified. However, as Samsung emphasized at their launch event, this doesn’t make the Galaxy S5 waterproof in any way.

Outside of the physical construction of the device, the Galaxy S5 continues to ship the latest and greatest hardware for its time. Samsung has used the MSM8974ACv3 Snapdragon 801 for this phone, an updated AMOLED display with a claimed 500 nit brightness for outdoor visibility, and a new ISOCELL 16MP camera sensor. A comparison of the Galaxy S4 and S5 can be seen in the table below.

  Samsung Galaxy S4 Samsung Galaxy S5
SoC APQ8064AC 1.9 GHz Snapdragon 600 MSM8974ACv3 2.45 GHz Snapdragon 801
RAM/NAND 2 GB LPDDR3, 16/32GB NAND + microSD 2GB LPDDR3, 16/32GB NAND + microSD
Display 5” 1080p SAMOLED HD 5.1” 1080p SAMOLED HD
Network 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Qualcomm MDM9x15 UE Category 3 LTE) 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Qualcomm MDM9x25 UE Category 4 LTE)
Dimensions 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, 130 grams 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm, 145 grams

13MP (4128 x 3096) Rear Facing with 1.12 µm pixels, 1/3.06" CMOS size, 31 mm (35mm effective), 2MP F/2.4 FFC

16MP (5132 x 2988) Rear Facing with 1.12 µm pixels, 1/2.6" CMOS size, 31 mm (35mm effective), 2MP FFC
Battery 2600 mAh (9.88 Whr) 2800 mAh (10.78 Whr)
OS Android 4.4 with Nature UX 2.0 Android 4.4 with TouchWiz
Connectivity 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 1x1 + BT 4.0, USB2.0, GPS/GNSS, MHL, DLNA, NFC 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 + BT 4.0, USB3.0, GPS/GNSS, MHL, DLNA, NFC
SIM Size MicroSIM MicroSIM

Outside of camera, display, and SoC, battery gets a noticeable bump and a new higher voltage chemistry (3.8V vs 3.85V) , the WiFi solution becomes a dual spatial stream solution, and there's a mild increase to size and mass.

Camera Architecture & Still Image Analysis
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  • Brian Z - Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - link

    Yes you are a obvious fanboy.

    I have not said nor has anybody else said that Samsung wad the only one.

    Hell this site has a theme going up where they update the benchmark cheating chart. But yet you still push your BS.

    And Samsung was the only OEM to actually overclock the gpu. But since it's Samsung you got the nerv to even suggest well is it really cheating....

    They complained loud and clear about this. In public on the reviews. In public on the podcast. Even in public we want Sony to send us a phone so we can see if they are cheating and add them to the chart

    And now they are advertising the m8 in the article. So I guess you weren't paying any attention ever when a review compared different SoCs bins. Like the Samsung Galaxy s4 with its 1.9ghz s600 in the nexus 7 2013 article. Funny how that isn't advertising. Or when comparing screens on the tablets in the market. But of course you're a blinded fanboy so yeah.

    They "discovered" the cheating not because it was Samsung. Because somebody on twitter Tweeted at Brian Klug and they investigated it from there. They weren't even looking for it period. And what did they do right after testing it on the Samsung device. Look at all the other players in the market to see if they were doing it. But facts and reality don't matter a delusional fanboy like yourself.

    Oh and keep telling yourself aluminum is cheap crap. Aka a beer can.

    Clueless uninformed pathetic fanboy
  • doobydoo - Friday, April 11, 2014 - link

    TheSailorMan - you can't go round spouting fanboy crap such as iAnand and expect to be able to claim you're not a fanboy. You're worse than anyone else I've seen.
  • TheSailorMan - Sunday, April 13, 2014 - link


    I'm not fan boy to any brand!!!!!
    And you hippocrates, do not lie, that this all BS was not meant OLNY for bashing Samsung .
    Even here iAnand mention AGAIN Samsung slyly, but didn't mention it about HTC (they even did it again with M8 , and didn't give a sh.... about iAnand "discoveries", saying that it was NOT cheating )
  • Veruca5alt - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link
  • Veruca5alt - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    bahahahhaha what a trolltastic fanboy you are
  • puremind - Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - link

    Good job on the display analysis this year guys. Last year theS4 review did not go into the dynamic brightness adjustment issue and I feel you have nailed this down this year.

    Though it would have also been nice to see the maximum brightnes in boost mode not only for 100% white but for an APL of 80% which is the average APL of web browsing content. It will probably be in the region of 500cd/m² based on the curves I measured last year.

    If you look at the curves I produced and typical brightness for content at different APL levels, it shows how brightness progresses.
    - On the S4 it decreased from 478cd/m² at 1% APL down to only 283cd/m² for a 100% white picture, so a 60% loss.
    - On the S5, displaymate noted 698cd/m² at 1% APL and you noted 440cd/m² at 100% white, which is also about 60%.
    -Based on the apparently same progression and prorating my results from last year, at 80% APL we should still have 475 cd/m2 for web browsing, which is very close to the HTC One (approx 500cd/m², through this also varies with APL). For video content and some web content we should actually see brightness well above 500cd/m².

    You certainly did a much better job than Displaymate in terms of objectivity.
  • TheSailorMan - Monday, April 14, 2014 - link

    "You certainly did a much better job than Displaymate in terms of objectivity."

    Really? Better job than Displaymate? LOL
    iAnand did his job AGAIN.
  • Human Bass - Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - link

    The really iffy thing I found about the S5 was the lack of OIS in the main camera.
  • TheSailorMan - Monday, April 14, 2014 - link

    Still one of the best on smatphones(if not the best)
  • Blairh - Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - link

    S5 reminds me a lot of the S4 Active which I used last year. Sucks to see HTC and Samsung go bigger and heavier this year.

    I have the Nexus 5 and I'll never pay more than $350 off contract for a phone ever again. 30 grams less than the N5. Speaker is fine for short YouTube vids. I use bluetooth speakers and headphones in all other situations. Camera is solid after 4.1.1. Lack of SD slot is a letdown but I pinned my favorite music. Feels amazing in hand. Stock Android. Can't recommend it enough. $300 less than S5 and M8 off contract. And AT&T saves me $15 a month for bringing my phone to their service.

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