back to article Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style

Samsung is the world’s dominant mobile phone manufacturer – but does that mean it’s the best? Its latest release is the Galaxy S5, a mainstream phone designed to sell in huge numbers. It’s big, with a 5.1-inch screen, measuring up at 142 x 73 x 8mm, so it won’t suit smaller mitts. Samsung Galaxy S5 Samsung's Galaxy S5: eye- …


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  1. Steve Todd

    Biased at all?

    The fingerprint scanner is something that other sites are saying that a Samsung got badly wrong. It needs to be used two handed, requires you to drag your finger across it and is sensitive to the angle of your finger. On paper it sounds good, the actual implementation is definitely lacking.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Biased at all?

      "drag your finger across it"

      Sounds like a security feature to me... so you don't leave behind static fingerprints that can be Gummi-Bear'ed.

      1. Jim Mitchell

        Re: Biased at all?

        It's a phone, your fingerprints are all over it already.

        1. 100113.1537

          Re: Biased at all?

          Yes, but you can lift a fingerprint to fool a static fingerprint reader. Scanning readers make it much harder to do this.

          I have been waiting for phones to catch up with PCs on this front for a while. It sounds like where it is placed is the issue, not the scanner per se. I don't see any reason why you can't train it with your thumb sideways (while in landscape mode) just as easily as with a finger vertically, but not actually having one to play with, this is just speculation.

          1. Steve Todd

            Re: Biased at all?

            What evidence do you have that this type of sensor is any more secure? The techniques used to bypass TouchID were developed first for this type of scanner. Fingerprints aren't a very secure authentication method. They're better than a 4 digit pin, which is why the way that Apple uses them makes some kind of sense, but hooking them to a cash payment system?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back to basics?

    I'll happily have one in two years time when they will be discounted as the year-before-last's model, but the street price of this is about £500. Is that really "back to basics" and "destined to sell in huge numbers"?

    If the spec was the same and the price was £400 I think they'd have a better proposition by far, offering sufficient over the Nexus 5, but not over-stretching themselves into the premium market.

    Given the number of phones that Sammy make, isn't is about time they offered two top enders, one in the mould of the S5, and the other a sealed battery, fixed storage, metal chassis device to take on the Sony and HTC top enders? There's clearly room for both types at the top end of the market, and whilst I want a removeable battery and storage, that's not everybody's priority.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Back to basics?

      Yup, I take your point, but I hear its £35 a month from tesco for a 2 year contract. I'm guessing they ain't expecting to 'sell' all that many at £500 ish, but if you want a phone contract, that seems okay to me. For the record, I'm not tempted, my nexus 4 pay as you go is still fine for me.

    2. Roo

      Re: Back to basics?

      "Given the number of phones that Sammy make, isn't is about time they offered two top enders, one in the mould of the S5, and the other a sealed battery, fixed storage, metal chassis device to take on the Sony and HTC top enders?"

      Given the market share Sammy have doing what they are already doing I doubt they'd get enough return on it to make it worth while... Besides they would give Apple's Lawyers and Fanbois some "Samsung Copies" ammunition when they are trying to fight a court battle. Remember, fanbois and judges find it hard to distinguish between round-edged rectangular electronic widgets, large manufacturer's logos plastered on the front notwithstanding.

    3. andykb3

      Re: Back to basics?

      "isn't is about time they offered two top enders, one in the mould of the S5, and the other a sealed battery, fixed storage, metal chassis device to take on the Sony and HTC top enders?"

      Erm...what? You think the best thing for Samsung to do is remove one of the few things that differentiates the S5 from the rest? Why would they want to do that?

      As far as I'm concerned the removeable battery is a major plus point for Samsung (the memory card support also helps, but that's not so rare). Over time I have found the performance of the battery in every portable gadget decreases - at least with a Samsung it's a quick, easy and cheap fix.

      Personally, I value that over the style of the Sony/HTC competition, but of course other people have different priorities. Personal choice and all that.

      Aside from that, I work for an electronics manufacturer, and I can tell you that the logistics and costs involved would be immense, and its questionable at best whether there would be any benefit for Samsung.

      Firstly, they would probably have to add another production lines. It would be nigh-on impossible to make 2 phones which are constructed in fundamentally different ways on the same production line.

      Next they would have to ship it, market it, set up the commercial agreements etc

      They would have to employ ever more staff to manage god knows how many different sku's - remember that for every different configuration - whether it's just a different colour or more memory etc has to the - the costs associated with stock mangement, supply chain, forecasting etc are huge.

      Then, once they have manufactured it and shipped units around the globe, they would then have to market it. And to do that they would have to create arguments agaist the removeable battery design that is unique to them (at least at the top end of the market). so they would run a high risk of cannibalising sales of their own phones, not necessarily taking sales away from competitors - so they run a big risk of reducing their own profitability.

      All of this to sell a me-too phone into a market they already dominate.

      Given that Samsung are so successful, surely the question should be why the other manufacturers are't creating phones that compete with Samsung, not the other way around?

      1. ted frater

        Re: Back to basics?

        If anyone has bothered to click on my name to see what ive written here in the past, will know that ive been banging on about or ranting for a couple of yrs about getting back to basics.

        The last but one para in the post im replying to, makes me answer as follows.

        The mp makers can make any phone they want, all the elements have been there for yrs,

        take battery life,

        theres is no choice in battery size for a given smart mp, tho its the simplest thing to make a back with a deeper side flange to accomodate a battery that could for example be instead of 3/4 mm thick be 7/8mm, to give you double the battey life but they dont.

        Now the question is why?

        My take on this q, is that they put short term sales and profit BEFORE the customers needs.

        There is hope tho , if anyone has come across the ARA project, funded by Google, will note that the customers needs are being addressed. Unfortunately its likely to fail on the grounds of production costs. So wether google will foot this bill well have to wait and see.

        Ive been working for a couple of yrs on the concept of a mp that meets my needs,

        tho in principle, this approach would apply to anyone elses ,

        the most important conclusions so far ive come to are, that,

        1. the buying public HAS to be given a choice

        2.. form HAS to be driven by function not fashion.

        3 people will pay for a mp that really meets their needs which have the features they want.

        from interest, Im primarily a business user, so my needs are very different to way the the urban consume uses his mp, add to that my hardware requirements, the nearest I can get to my ideal is the Nokia communicator range.

        Ive had all their models and still go back to the 9500 as the least irritating compromise available.

        1. Shaha Alam

          Re: Back to basics?

          "2.. form HAS to be driven by function not fashion."

          "fashionable" is one of the functions for a top of the range smart phone.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Back to basics?

          "Ive been working for a couple of yrs on the concept of a mp that meets my needs,"

          Talk about first world problems. It's just a phone. You make it sound like your quality if life is equivalent to that of a sustenance farmer in drought-ridden Africa because you can't find a phone with a flange of the size you think you need. Just buy a phone and move on with your life. And if you're really that super-worried about battery life, buy an external battery pack of the sort that everybody seems to have these days.

  3. annodomini2

    HTC One M8

    Has a kids mode too, it's not unique to the Samsung.

    1. thesykes

      Re: HTC One M8

      Standard Android multi-user profile functionality with a custom skin.

      I already have kids profiles on my Nexus 7, I get all the apps I want, the kids what I let them have.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: HTC One M8

      yep Windows phone has this

      1. DrXym

        Re: HTC One M8

        Yes the Lumia 520 has such a mode. It assumes of course that the little kiddies ask permission before being allowed to play so you can set it up for them.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just another phone.

    Fingerprint thingymabob - Definately nothing game changing here - 0.00058% of the population have a need..

    Kiddie mode - That will keeps the excited masses enthralled for hours that will... again 0.00064% will use that function.

    What is new, - really not a lot, if anything at all..

    This phone will become popular because it will become the defacto high end phone available when renewing contracts.

    Competition is so stifled these days by the telcos that selecting a phone is either "Do I want Samsung or Apple", the masses don't care a toss about the characteristics, as long as it plays Crush Candy, or whatever the app of the day is, then its great....

    Smart phones have lost their smarts, they have become "banale phones".... The marketing dweebs really can't come up with anything worthwhile outside of pure futility.

    Now if someone could invent a smartphone that had a battery life of one month, that could be dropped without smashing the screen, that would automatically shut of the ringer on the train/airport/public place, then that would be worthwhile. They would also need to be capable of latching on to the poor 3g/4g coverage that we currently have in anywhere but the center of large cities.

    End of Rant ( it's friday and there is nothing interesting on El Reg today). Patiently waiting to see what El Dabsy will churn out just before beertime

    1. dogged

      Re: J.A.P

      Maybe it has a spellcheck that can catch abominations like "definately".

      If so, you should definitely get one.

    2. James Hughes 1

      Re: J.A.P

      Bordering on a pointless post. It's quite clear that phones have reached a technological peak with the feature set available - no-one has come up with a new and globally useful feature to put on phones for a number of years (not since GPS and/or cameras). All we get are better versions, with a few sometimes useful bells on. They are certainly still smart, but they are all pretty much the same.

      As for 'inventing' a longer battery life, well, since a lot of very clever people have been trying to develop (not invent) longer life battery tech for some years,I wouldn't hold your breath. As for better reception - that's not the phones problem, but the telco's, and as for unbreakable glass fronts, well glass has been around for a number of years now, and it's still not that robust. Note how all the things you ask for are actually unrelated to the product being a 'phone'. That implies phones are at the aforementioned peak.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: J.A.P

      >be dropped without smashing the screen,

      Thanks for the plastic case rather than metal on this. It makes a huge difference. Metal transmitsthe shock directly to the glass of the screen, as apple owners know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: J.A.P

        "Thanks for the plastic case rather than metal on this. It makes a huge difference. Metal transmitsthe shock directly to the glass of the screen, as apple owners know."

        Eh. Take a closer look at an iPhone next time you are around one. The screen is actually mounted in a ring of... plastic?... that protects it from shocks to some degree. If you watch drop tests on YouTube, you will see that the iPhone does as well as other phones, if not better. I definitely know more people personally who have broken their Galaxy screens vs. iPhone screens. I think part of that is how big the screens are too, though.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Mmmmm the back....

    ...reminds me of leatherette seats from the 1970's Austin <insert piece of shit rust bucket here>...mmmm hope they do it in beige.

    1. dogged

      Re: Mmmmm the back....

      Or "tan". Or "aqua", whatever those are.

      Now you've made me think of Douglas Adams again - "sumptuously unpleasant things, lavishly tooled in naff brown plastic".

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tough choice

    It will be interesting to see how many units they shift. I'm coming to the end of my current contract which included an S3. I could upgrade to an S5 or I could switch to a PAYG contract which will be cheaper (work pays either way). I find myself in the odd position of not really caring about getting an upgrade. As far as I can see basically nothing interesting (technically) has happened in the mobile phone world for the last couple of years.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Tough choice

      >As far as I can see basically nothing interesting (technically) has happened in the mobile phone world for the last couple of years.

      Nothing too exciting, I agree, but the steady improvements in speed, battery life and waterproofing etc are welcome nonetheless. The need for vendors to differentiate themselves in more subtle ways (better cameras, high definition audio, microSD support, removable batteries) has lead to more mature, polished products- albeit ones that are in essence much the same as handsets from a few years ago.

      1. cs94njw

        Re: Tough choice

        If they included a SmartWatch, I'd think about it.

        The dual-download is snazzy, but probably not used much.

        The best feature on the S5 for me seems to the Ultra Battery Saving Mode. Still, not worth another 2 year contract/£500 for.

        If only the Nexus 5 had a slightly better camera...

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Tough choice

          Alas, as a business model the idea of giving away a fairly pricey bit of hardware that is of interest to only a fraction of customers of the phone is not a good one.

          I would hazard a guess that most of us would prefer them to drop the rice of the handset instead, so it is more in line with the likes of the Nexus 5 or LG G2 (around £300 to £350 which both feature much the same SOC as the S5)

    2. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Tough choice

      If the next iteration of the Note has several of the features in the S5 (water-resistance, b/w mode to save power on the needlessly garish screen, useable with wet/dirty/gloved hands), I'll probably not look any further when my contract is up in a few months' time. Overall, I think plastic-bodied phones are just the right way to go (though I would put it in a case, anyway), because the impact resistance is superior to metal phones. Admittedly, I love the feel of my Jolla (which still isn't close to becoming my main comms gadget), but do worry about how the screen would bear up if it fell on a metal corner instead of a plastic one (still haven't seen a bumper for the Jolla).

      Oh, and as Ted Frater has been saying for some time - produce backs that will hold bigger batteries!

  7. Lunatik


    Commodity phone is commodity.

  8. Robert Grant

    Flat icons a la iOS?

    Can't wait til Windows Phone gets that!

  9. Yves Kurisaki

    Nice salespitch..


  10. Dave 126 Silver badge

    >The resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels is the same as the Galaxy S4

    I can get that resolution in a phone, but not in a laptop? There'll be cats and dogs living together next.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The S4 and S5 are considered high end phones. Get a high end laptop and you can have that resolution and more. Stop looking at the PC World deal of the week laptops.

  11. poopypants

    I've reached the end of my contract

    on my Galaxy Nexus, but none of the current crop really seems to have anything to justify the cost of an upgrade. I'll wait and see what reviewers say about the Sony offering. It certainly looks better than the S5, and I'm interested to see how their camera performs.

  12. Obitim

    I'm in the middle too.

    I've been using Samsung S2 and S3 for the past 4 years but the HTC M(8) does look pretty decent as well.

    Especially seeing as I never buy a spare battery but do use the phone as a small radio from time to time and the improved sound could swing it...especially as HTC allows for expandable memeory.

    The only thing putting me off is HTC's past performance on Android updates

  13. andykb3

    Last year at the end of a contract I replaced my S2 with an S3, and was planning to upgrade to an S4 about now given the price drop thanks to the launch of the S5.

    I used to always want the latest and greatest handset (I had the HTC Desire and the S2 when they were brand new) and always looked for the new features on the latest phones. Now there aren't any must-have new features and many people are criticising the manufacturers for a lack of innovation, but I don't understand why?

    Flip the question around - what new function (not an iterative improvement, but real new function) do you want your next phone to have? I can't think of anything. Unbdoubtedly there are ways to improve on my S3 (the S4 and S5 prove that, but I'd have to pay a small fortune for one of them), but the reality is that the S3 is all the phone I really want.

    I quite like the idea of the waterproofing, but since I've never dropped my phone down the toilet, it's not something I'm going to shell of hundreds of pounds (or sign up to an expensive contract) for.

    So now I've decided to keep my S3 and stay on my cheap unlimited data 3G sim-only deal. Maybe I'll buy an S4 or 5 next year. Maybe.

  14. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Wot? No wireless charging?

    It's much easier to keep things waterproof if you don't have to faff around with covers.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Wot? No wireless charging?

      Or even just two external contacts on the phone and a charging cradle, which is the solution Sony took with their waterproof Xperia Z to minimise faffing with a port cover.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Wot? No wireless charging?

        Both very good points, as long as there is an option to plug in a standard usb cable to charge when you've forgotten your charging pad/cradle.

      2. Damo t

        Re: Wot? No wireless charging?

        My Xperia Z1 does have those external contacts but how many people actually buy a dock and carry it about for use at work etc? The port cover can be a bit of a pain but having had phones that have had water damage (blame the kids) I would rather faff for a second than have to shell out for a replacement.....

    2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Wot? No wireless charging?

      Here you go:

      So, yeah, wireless charging!

  15. Clockworkseer

    It's interesting that the android top end appears to be a three-horse race this time out. The S5 vs the M8 vs the Z2. A cursory glance at the data so far suggests there isn't much in it in terms of spec and features (each seems to have a couple of features it's ahead on, a couple it's behind on, and the rest are much of a muchness. Would actually be interesting to see a direct head-to head on them, to be honest.) Not sure whether it;s a good thing or a bad thing that there's no clear leader of the pack, givent hat the main competiton for those three is the iphone.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >It's interesting that the android top end appears to be a three-horse race this time out. The S5 vs the M8 vs the Z2.

      Just as it was a race between Sony, HTC and Samsung this time last year... with LG seemingly out of sync, since they released their G2 several months after the other 'flagships', though it was the first phone to sport a Snapdragon 800 SOC. There's every chance its successor will be announced before too long.

  16. Richard Neill

    Feels really cheap

    As an S3 owner, I was really looking forward to this. But it just looks and feels really cheap. The rubber back looks and feels like an elastoplast, while the ridged chrome around the edges is uncomfortable to hold and it looks like the trim on a £1 toy car.

    As for the irritating port cover - I don't understand why they can't just make the USB-port itself hermetically sealed, and make the electrical contacts waterproof (for example, the Pebble handles this just fine).

    Now, if only the M8 would put capacitative buttons on the otherwise wasted space of the bezel, and keep the screen estate for the actual content (rather than wasting it on soft-buttons, so that the screen is effectively smaller than an S3), I'd get one of those! For now, I think it's a new battery for the S3, and I'll wait for the next generation.

    1. Goldmember

      Re: Feels really cheap

      To me, every Galaxy has felt cheap and a bit flimsy, which is why I've never bought one. Much better to buy something made by HTC. Even if they can't quite get their marketing right and have been shedding market share over the last few years, they do make bloody good phones.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Feels really cheap

        none of the makers do a good all round job. HTC are notorious for leaving their customers in the lurch vis a vis firmware versions not being maintained even before the devices are out of warranty.

        "great phones, shame about the after sales support" is exactly the reason HTV has been losing market share. OTOH as long as they don't look like something Dellboy Trotter has been flogging down the market, the samsungs have been fairly robust and well supported..

        when you go down to the other end of the market things get very dire indeed. Most makers are in "fire and forget" mode when it comes to pushing kit out the door.

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Feels really cheap

      I played with one yesterday, and at least it looked and felt a lot better than I was expecting based on the product photography.

  17. MasonStorm


    In the AnTuTu screen shot, it's ranked behind the Galaxy S4.

    Forgive my ignorance if I've misunderstood, but does that mean the new S5 is slower than the older S4 ?

    1. andykb3

      Re: Huh?

      Maybe they forgot to optimise the S5 for the benchmarking software.

    2. Vector

      Re: Huh?

      "In the AnTuTu screen shot, it's ranked behind the Galaxy S4"

      Yeah, I find that score highly suspect myself. The S5 running at 2.5Ghz can't beat an S4 running at 1.9Ghz or the Note 3 running at 2.3Ghz? Something in the background must be eating CPU.

  18. Clive Galway

    Is that USB plus HDMI I see?

    That shot of the waterproof cover over the USB looks like there are two connectors, can anyone confirm?

    Cos separate HDMI and USB connectors would be nice... Most phones cannot connect USB Host and HDMI devices at the same time, and certainly can't do USB2Go + HDMI + Charge.

    1. wdmot

      Re: Is that USB plus HDMI I see?

      I believe that's a USB3 micro-B socket. So no HDMI, and no USB2Go + Charge :-\

      1. wdmot

        Re: Is that USB plus HDMI I see?

        It does have MHL2.1 though, so if your larger display (telly or monitor) supports that, you do get charging while streaming 1080p video. I think, but am not sure, that a MHL-to-HDMI adapter like Samsung's ( can also charge your phone while streaming video. I don't have one to try it out, as my Samsung Moment is over 4 years old :-D

  19. David Roberts

    New feature - thermometer?

    On the subject of new features - the S3 is generally great outdoors for GPS, mapping etc. but although I can find out how high I am above sea level I can't tell what the ambient temperature is.

    Granted that much of the time a thermometer would be recording the temperature inside your pocket, it would still be nice to have a digital thermometer built in.

    Even nicer to have an IR thermometer for spot readings :-)

    Oh, laser tape measure? Hmmm...possibly need a bigger handset :-(

  20. Peter 39


    Are these real numbers or has Samsung played the benchmark-genie again, as it has done before?

    Did anyone check yet?

  21. timrichardson

    And from an actual user of the S5...

    It's my first galaxy. Last phone was the htc one m7.

    The fingerprint scanner is ok. It does need two handed operation, although that's pretty much given for general use on such a large phone. Apparently you can register a Apart from that, it works well. The phone is much better for it, and I'm happily using it. It's a bit fussy, but it's fast. Biometrics is a joke for security since you can't change them, but it's convenient. Touchwiz is fine. I haven't used it before and apparently it's much better this time around, I can't compare except to std android and to sense. It's ok. I use Nova launcher. The built-in calendar app is good. The stock keyboard is good. The camera is very good. The display is excellent. The pulse reader works. Battery life is radical compared to the m7, but the m8 also has a big improvement. It's not as nice looking as the m8, but it's lighter, it's waterproof and the battery is swappable. This means I can expect a long useful life for this phone in the hands of family members, since the battery has a much short practical life than the rest of the phone. The audio latency is much better than the m7. This is a little thing which no one has ever mentioned in a review, but I find it classy (it means you can use key clicks, hopeless on the HTC One, they are way too late). I'm pleased to be using it.

    1. John 62

      Re: And from an actual user of the S5...

      Key-clicks are the first thing I turn off on a phone. Like the Apple 'gloop' when changing volume and 'Start Navigation' sound on Windows.

  22. Yugguy

    I love the fact that these days, no review of a smartphone ever asks the basic question, does it still get a chuffing mobile signal. Can I make a bloody phone call on it?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      As my phine get smore and more messaging stuff on it I find myself making fewer and fewer calls.

      It's a pity the telcos haven't caught on. I want a 200 minute plan with 3Gb/month of data - which is necessary if you use a handset as satnav with satellite overlay switched on (it'd help if they cached it properly too.)

  23. FredBloggs61

    Stick to the S3

    Having just about reached the end of a 2 year contract on an S3, I cannot see anything except a bit of speed and resolution that would make me sign away another 24 months.

    3 New batteries plus a battery wall charger with USB port for £7, delivered from China will get me through for a while until something really exciting comes along.

  24. Raphael

    No FM Radio

    Yes some of us still listen to that.

    I see the HTC One M8 has a FM Radio, so that might have just made my decision for me. (a small thing I know, but do use the FM Radio on my S3 a fair bit)

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