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Samsung Galaxy S5: the good, the bad and the ugly

No one, or rather no sane person with the tiniest shred of common sense, expected Samsung’s Galaxy S5 to revolutionize the mobile landscape as we know it. There simply was no way, unless it packed fingerprint recognition, eye scanning features and the ability to cook dinner from scratch.

samsung-galaxy-s5

Ultimately, it came with just one of the three in tow, which sparked plenty of bickering between die-hard Samsung fans, who simply can’t admit their heroes dropped the ball, and everyone else.

Of course, it’s not only the lack of master chef skills that prompted unbiased tech-savvy folks to declare their deep displeasure with the “next big thing”. It’s also the scanty RAM (by 2014 high-end standards), ho-hum processor (by the same standards), skimpy battery, and uninspired design.

Galaxy S5 colors

In the end, only time will tell if Samsung made the right decision to roll out the Galaxy S5 now, with this seemingly lackluster spec sheet, or not. Which won’t stop us from trying to find the answer early, by putting the S5 under the microscope, and analyze its top features, as well as not so top features:

Samsung Galaxy S5 – the good

  • Water and dust protection

Just because Sony did it before Samsung, it doesn’t mean the Koreans don’t deserve praise for finally shielding a flagship device against water and dust out the box. They experimented with the Galaxy S4 Active last year, and now they’re taking things to the next level.

And for the record, yes, you can dunk your GS5 in a fish bowl brimming with fluids without worrying you’ll make fools of yourselves like the CEO of Archos. This bad boy is full-on waterproof, not splash-resistant, though the fine print of its IP67 rating clearly states it can handle up to 30-minute swims in 1 meter-deep waters.

  • Finger Scanner

I know, I know, it’s gimmicky, insecure, some say a little clunky, others outright useless. Yet we have to admit, it worked out better than expected. Maybe not better than the recognition system found on Apple’s iPhone 5s, but definitely superior to the rear sensor on HTC’s One max. It can store up to eight different prints and, most of all, it’s not just a fancy way to unlock the phone. It supports Paypal payment authorization as well.

  • Heart rate sensor and S Health

Another gimmick, another function many will scoff at, but fitness fanatics are over the moon with how easy they can monitor their heart rate. Plus, S Health 3.0 is a lot more convenient than previous builds, has boatloads of actually useful features, and a sleek, easy to master interface.

  • 5.1-inch Super AMOLED Full HD display

Look, I realize it’s not what everyone dreamed it would be, but let’s get one thing straight: the real-life benefits of Quad HD, or 2K resolution are close to zero. Balanced with potential battery life drawbacks, they’re nearly negligible, so let’s stop asking for moar when moar may in fact be less.

Galaxy S5 Galaxy S4

  • 16 MP rear camera with 4K video recording

Pretty much the same goes for GS5’s main snapper, with one extra comment: unlike the screen, Samsung made considerable strides here, boosting the sensor, as well as the already hefty list of features. Sure, it’d have been nice to get optical image stabilization too. Or a 20 MP+ sensor to put Xperia Z2’s cam to shame. Yet there’s only so much we can complain about without coming off as crybabies.

Samsung-Galaxy-S5-camera

Samsung Galaxy S5 – the bad

  • Plastic again?!?

We really bought into the metal rumors this time. I mean, there were so many of them they couldn’t possibly be all bogus. Yet here we are, pining for HTC One’s elegant, sturdy, sexy aluminum unibody once again. We’re losing patience, Samsung!

Galaxy S5 official

  • Size and form factor

It’s bad enough the GS5 is essentially as cheap-looking as the S3, but what’s up with the monster bezels? Seriously, is there something I’m missing? Maybe something to do with grip, I don’t know, because I’d like to think Samsung’s design team was not simply too lazy to go for a smarter, more compact mold. Fun fact: the 5.1-inch S5 is physically taller and wider than LG’s 5.2-inch G2 (142 x 72.5 vs 138.5 x 70.9 mm). Also, heavier.

Galaxy S5 in hand

  • 2 GB RAM

In a sense, we probably need 3 or 4 GB RAM on an Android handheld nowadays as much as we need Quad HD resolution. But as long as you put 3 gigs on the Galaxy Note 3, it’s stupid foolish to pack the S5 with two thirds of that, and try to market the 5.1-incher as the next big thing. It’s the second big thing, both literally and figuratively.

3 GB RAM

  • 2,800 mAh battery

Ultra Power Saving Mode? It might come in handy, but we’d rather have a 3,000+ mAh juicer. The G2 has one, the Xperia Z2 likewise, so why on Earth would you ever settle for 2,800, Samsung? For crying out loud, it’s a measly 200 mAh north of S4’s ticker, and with Snapdragon 600 traded for 800, the real-life autonomy will either stay the same, or wane. My bet is the latter.

Galaxy S5 battery

  • Quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor

I know full well Snapdragon 805 is not ready for a commercial launch, and for some reason, Exynos chips don’t look capable of gaining traction. Not worldwide, that’s for sure. So yes, this so-called Snapdragon 801, which, let’s cut the crap, is an S800 really, was the best possible option right now. But why did Samsung have to announce the GS5 now? Why not wait until May or June, and deliver an actual upgrade instead of a lousy rehash?

Galaxy S5 MWC

Samsung Galaxy S5 – the ugly

Baffled. It’s the only way to describe how I felt when I saw the Galaxy S5… from behind. And it’s probably the understatement of the century. It was at least three levels over mystification. Was I shocked? Flabbergasted, or whatever’s its negative equivalent? It still doesn’t cut it. I mean, look for yourselves and try to put your feelings into words. Can you do it? Exactly.

Galaxy S5 back

Tell you what, if I ever end up purchasing Samsung’s Galaxy S5 (for, like, $400 outright when it’s no longer cool), the first thing I’ll do is buy a case and hide the atrocity from sunlight. Maybe that will kill it. Fire is my back-up plan.