Is the Samsung Galaxy S5 the right phone for you?

The samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy fans are in for a smoother experience with the newest avatar in the S series. And for those new to the club, a ‘S’ensational experience awaits.

Let’s begin at the, well, beginning: Design. The familiar, and comforting, design – that has been growing on S-series fans over time, makes a return with the Galaxy S5 – captured in a polycarbonate, faux-chrome frame that is 5.59 inches tall, 2.85 inches wide and 0.32-inches deep (142mm by 72.5mm by 8.1mm) and weighs 145 grams (5.1 ounces). The S5, though, is less plasticky in feel than its predecessors (which straightaway addresses a gripe some users have registered in the past) and sports a dimpled, matted rear that doesn’t just make for a better grip, but also reduces fingerprints. Most external controls are in their usual positions - power on the right (within thumb-reach) and headset jack on the top (right alongside the IR blaster allows for TV control), though the USB (which comes with a closable flap to keep away both water and dust) goes at the bottom with the S5. The fingerprint scanner (you have to swipe, not rest, your finger on it, and follow up with a swipe at the bottom as well), the Heart Rate Scanner (integrated with the LED flash area on the back, and, along with other health Apps, part of the whole S5 Health Ecosystem) and the Download booster (that rocks downloads of over 30MB) are interesting adds. Choose from a palette that offers four attractive hues – Black (dark grey, really), white, gold and blue.  

When it comes to the interface, the S5 pushes the envelope from where the S4 left off. The geometric layout and round icons introduce an unmistakable touch of fluidity and finesse, for starters. TouchWiz, Samsung’s latest interface, is a distinctly spiffy one, and seemingly derives extra powers (such as displaying a Menu button with most screens) off the Android 4.4 Kitkat that fuels this multi-tasking gadget.  Other notable areas are the lockscreen (that’s undergone a makeover from its previous version), the weather and pedometer (which are fixtures in this model, a done-up notifications area, and a settings menu that’s easier to browse.

The goodies keep coming, of course. Access the Apps you frequently use with the new ‘Toolbox’. Remote control most of your home equipment via the IR port. Switch the OS to windowed mode with a gesture. Use the Private Mode to hide files on the S5. Those used to the ‘My Magazine’ app will find it now pull out of the side, not the bottom.

More vivid in bright daylight, yet sharp as a pin in the dark (yes, for all your night-time reads), the display is nothing less than a treat (sure, that’s always been Samsung staple, so let’s spell it out in so many words - the brightness of the 5.1 HD S5 screen is a good 22% improvement over its able predecessor!). A host of helpful settings means that be it brightness, sharpness or colour reproduction, you’re assured of a truly lush visual experience.

In the Galaxy S5, a swiper lets you activate the camera without opening the phone. Once open, a powerful iso-cell lets you capture the world around you spectacularly, with a 16MP lens. If you are a shutterbug, the quick Autofocus (that, for instance, let’s you pick out individual petals brilliantly, even on a windy day), a Selective Focus (that makes blurring out the collateral stuff a breeze), the new real-time HDR feature (that lets you check out enhancements to your snap even before you’ve shot it), “Shot and more” (that lets you combine 5 modes in one, like eraser mode, best photo, panning and drama shot), improved abilities like low-light capability, and a clutch of cool editing tools (that lets you resize images, tweak portraits and decorate pictures) all spell delight.

Samsung has always delivered on great video experiences, and the S5 builds on it. While the DisplayMate in cinema mode offers a fine balance between colour and white, the Amoled Full HD screen adds exceptional richness and depth to every frame. Add to that the infinite colour contrast ratio and the high colour saturation (typical to the entire S series), and here’s a video experience that truly deserves a toast. Videos thumbnails will play automatically on the easy-to-use Video Player in the S5, affording a convenient preview before the ‘show’. Not cool with the split screen, multi-window format? Why not do away with it right at the outset.

Powering all the video adrenalin is a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor that celebrates your need for speed like few others in its class and category can. If you are impressed, the 4K video recording, slow motion video and smooth motion video (the latter capturing 1080p video at 60fps) will have you nodding further, in approval. Smart Tip for gamers who will be smiling all the way to the ‘finishing line’ : If higher-power games stutter a bit : Restart.

Take connectivity to the next level with quad-band 3G and 2G, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth,  MHL, NFC, infra red sensor, GLONASS and USB 3.0 with host support.

Both a larger 2800mAh battery pack (helping stretch the device life by about a couple of days) and a vigorous Snapdragon 801 processor – not to mention the two power saving modes, Ultra and Normal - ensures that here is a battery that doesn’t give up easily on you. Even an intense bout of photography, a few sumptuous hours of video and a power-guzzling game later, you’ll find it hanging in there, gamely. In fact, the battery-drop, even after that marathon session, is less for this mobile phone than some of the best makes and models out there. One way the gadget achieves this is by de-activating whenever it’s turned off. The battery is removable, a new feature that becomes especially cool when you’re worried about failure.

Music quality doesn’t leave room for complaint. A suite of sound augmentations like Adapt Sound, Smart Volume and SoundAlive lets you tweak the experience to your relish. Fun animations (on screen, while you browse albums) is a cute value-add.

What about the actual phoning bit? Well, good reception aided with a digital sound booster (though the noise and buzzing motion can get a bit overwhelming and, perhaps, a touch ‘indiscreet’ as well), robust network coverage, a more intuitive messaging service (that lets you access ‘priority senders’ – people you talk to the most – the moment you open the app) and a nifty browser (with all the trinkets of, say, Chrome, and then some; On the downside, it does tend to get heated up fast) are certain ‘Plus’es, helping the S5 come good on the Samsung tagline, ‘Life Companion’.

Here’s one companion bound to enrich your life, in more ways than one.

 

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