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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  • nerd1 - Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - link

    Samsung still makes the most well-around and practical phone out there. It's funny so many people are crazing the metal stuff that bends and scratches without case.
  • synaesthetic - Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - link

    I used to love Samsung phones, but not so much anymore. If I'm going to spend 600 bucks on a phone, can we please stop making it feel like a toy? I'm not saying anything about using metal; Nokia's Lumia devices are made of polycarbonate but they feel rock-solid and excellently constructed.

    AMOLED? Meh. IPS is where it's at. AMOLED's oversaturated to the point of cartoonishness. With AMOLED, in six months of decently heavy use, tons of the blue subpixels burn out and the display gets weird unless you're very, very careful to make sure that all your subpixels wear evenly. White webpages drain the crap out of battery. I had a Galaxy Nexus for eighteen months (the one with the RGBG pentile matrix that's supposed to reduce the effects of subpixel burn out) and within half that time I had blue stripes where the status bar and nav bar were whenever I put it in landscape mode. IPS doesn't have this issue; my Nexus 4's screen looks exactly the way it did when it was new, eight months later.

    The only new device I really care much about right now is the Xperia Z2. Sony phones have been awesome for a while now except for Sony's insistence on using crap screens, but the Z2's display is amazing. Not oversaturated, looks natural and fantastic, has great viewing angles... not to mention an sdcard slot and a gigantic battery.

    Samsung doesn't sell a ton of phones because they're the best device, just like Apple doesn't. They both sell a ton of phones because they both spend a ridiculous amount of money on marketing.
  • ashleynelson548 - Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - link

    My review is simple. Get in line and get this phone: - Got a chance to test it and this is one awesome phone. Finally Samsung got something right with the S5. I've had HTC & Samsung phones prior to the Galaxy series came out. And nothing has come close to this phone. Great resolution, great camera, love it still has a sd slot to expand your storage capacity along with the high gb internal memory. Lots of ways to tweak to your liking.
  • SymphonyX7 - Thursday, April 10, 2014 - link

    Anyone know how Anandtech measure the phone's power consumption? Do they just hook up a voltmeter between the battery terminals, get the voltage readout and compute from that?
  • nerd1 - Thursday, April 10, 2014 - link

    I think they used in-line powermeter.
  • Stiv21 - Thursday, April 10, 2014 - link

    This fake , here's flagship
  • RonaldNCoady - Friday, April 11, 2014 - link

    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.
  • acrodex - Friday, April 11, 2014 - link

    I really didn't get the capture latency part. Unlike iphone, android phones support continuous drive, so if you want to capture multiple photos, just don't release your finger.
  • abufrejoval - Friday, April 11, 2014 - link

    I am (actually more than a little) disappointed that Samsung is trying to do the right thing on one hand with the introduction of Knox for securely running enterprise applications on these devices, yet on the other hand not taking suffient care to really enable them to be what they are:

    Very small and portable yet incredibly powerful workstations, quite capable of replacing entry level PCs by just sticking them into (better placing them on a wireless) docking station, which has a set of full sized screens, keyboard and mouse connected to them so you can run either light office applications right off the phone or use Citrix (or any other terminal server protocol) for some heavier stuff, which still requires a beefy VDI to run.

    To call them "phones" today is like calling a PC a "word processor": Sure that's how they started, but that's not what the have become.

    I bought the Note 3 (like its predecessor, a Note 1) as a very personal workstation, also bought the docking station, which gave me HDMI video and audio out as well as 3 USB (2.0) ports, but I was extremely disappointed to find that the "handheld workstation" wouldn't properly initialize the Asix USB Ethernet adapter, which *every* Android I've ever tried works with out of the box.

    And the monitor was little better: Even though the phone's screen is actually turned off with KitKat and orientation properly switches to landscape mode, all UI elements look groteskly swollen because they were sized to fit a 1080p resolution on a ~6" screen, but not the 32" LED TV I use on my desktop. Needless to say that word processing is no fun when letters are taller than your thumb.

    Clearly the only use case Samsung seems to support via the HDMI port is watching movies: Something I don't need a workstation for.

    After no essential Knox features or applications were forthcoming I went ahead and rooted my Note 3, essentially killing any chance of ever using Knox on that device now. With two "netcfg eth0 dhcp" commands in sequence I can now properly bring up Ethernet and thus connect to the securized office LAN and run Citrix, but with the built-in and fixed DPI settings all other desktop use is still painful to look at.

    There are of course solutions to that problem: Any Parandroid ROM and derivative has wonderful multi-DPI support built in, but unfortunately since the MHL adapter in the Samsung devices doesn't have an open source driver, you immediately loose the HDMI connect, once you put one of these multi-DPI capable Androids on the workstation: Catch-22!

    The only one who can fix this is Samsung and it doesn't look like they are using this opportunity to make their devices more appealing for enterprise use.

    I have quite a number of Android devices and having a different flavour on each one of them would make them pretty unusable. So I put Omnirom on all my Galaxys (except the Note 3), my Nexus 4, 7, 10, Oppo Find 5, Asus TF101, Notion Ink Adam and even switched the return and menu keys around on all the Nexus devices to put them back where "God" (Samsung) intended them to be on my first Galaxy S, with home in the center.

    And since the original launchers were always far too limited and boring I've been running SPB 3D shell on all of these devices for years, which gives me both speed and a nice look as well as a level of consistency across phone, portrait and landscape tablet sized Androids, not possible otherwise.

    Custom Androids give me choice, configurability and privacy: Let the hardware vendors concentrate on creating the best workstation they can make and leave the OS alone!

    I bought a post-PC darn it, like in "personal" not a blackmail subscription!
  • tomgadd - Sunday, April 13, 2014 - link

    Why are the tester do not test audio quality??
    The background is, that people between 15-30 years do consume 90% of music on their smartphone. So it would be a smart move to give the audio quality a higher priority in the test.
    Finally the S5 has in my view the best audio quality available on a smartphone these days.
    A really smart move from samsung....that was formerly one of the key the departements of apple....Sadly the competitors needed a few years to understand the importance...

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