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My First Impressions Of The Samsung Galaxy S5 [EDITORIAL FIRST LOOK]

Galaxy S5 in hand

 Galaxy S5 Review At Best Buy

Samsung’s got a hit on their hands. Starting yesterday, March 21st, Samsung teamed up with Best Buy to offer consumers a chance to try out the Galaxy S5 up to three weeks before it’s officially released. Naturally, I proceeded to my own local Best Buy to see the phone for myself. I apologize for any background noise you may hear, but this was Best Buy at 7 PM on a Friday night.

The only color of the S5 that was on display was the White model. I can’t speak about the other colors since I have yet to see them, but the White S5 looks really good and feels excellent in the hand. Next to the Note 3, it’s almost the same size. Against the iPhone 5s, there’s no comparison in screen size.

galaxy-s5-iphone-5s

Galaxy S5 Software

The software on the Galaxy S5, even with Touchwiz still not revamped, is very smooth. In my little less than an hour of using the device, I hardly noticed any lag. Lag is a particular sticking point to me, so I’m very glad to not have noticed any. And this is most likely pre-production software too, so extra kudos to Samsung.

Galaxy S5 Hardware

Samsung finally ditched the hardware menu key with the Galaxy S5 and replaced it with a menu key. But since I have used previous Samsung Galaxy devices, I sometimes pressed the wrong button to activate a feature. But if I lived with this phone for a few days, I’m sure I would get used to it.

Galaxy S5 Heart Rate Sensor

Let’s move onto the extra hardware. The heart rate sensor is actually very cool. You just launch the app from either a widget or S Health and place your finger on the sensor. It feels very natural and it’s consistent. I tested it a few times and my heart rate was always between 93 and 102.

Galaxy S5 Camera

Due to the phone being tethered to the table through a wire, I wasn’t able to test the camera. But the shots I attempted to take of the table were all crisp and clear. But when I tried to zoom in across the aisle to the Macs at 4X zoom, the picture was blurry. But if I weren’t tethered, I’m sure the shot would have been much better.

Galaxy S5 Screen And Speaker

The screen is gorgeous. It’s full 1080P and is 5.1″ tall. Video looks crystal clear on it and even in Best Buy, I was able to hear YouTube videos very well. Unfortunately simply putting a finger over the speaker greatly muffled the sound, even on full volume. When you hear the audio of the phone getting very quiet in the embedded video, that’s what’s happening. If you get this phone, mind the speaker on the back.

Smooth Scrolling Without Lag

In the first time I’ve seen in awhile, scrolling on an Android phone for me didn’t lag. Even my Google Play Edition HTC One sometimes lagged when scrolling through websites on Google Chrome. However, I didn’t detect any lag and it was totally fluid. Whatever Samsung has done to optimize this, they should be applauded.

Galaxy S5 Newsfeed

My Magazine is a good feature on the S5. It lets users see the news from their favorite categories of information, say technology and sports. But it’s a lot clunkier than Blinkfeed on the HTC One with Sense. It doesn’t seem to load as many articles and was (in the five minutes I used it) clunky. Hopefully on someone’s phone with final software, it gets better.

Samsung Gear Lineup

I also was able to try out the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit. They all seem to be much better than the original Galaxy Gear was at launch. But Samsung’s choice to keep the camera on the Gear 2 and make the Gear Fit sideways puzzle me. If I was going to take a picture, I would use my phone, not my watch.

And it’s not a good experience to have to turn your entire wrist to look at a notification or navigate. Samsung should make the Gear 2 Neo the regular Gear 2 and figure out how to make the Gear Fit better. Of course, as this is an editorial, this is my opinion.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Review

All in all, I think the Samsung Galaxy S5 and new Gear line are excellent. The Galaxy S5 is fast, fluid, and works exactly how you would expect it to. All three of the Gear models work like you would expect them to as well. In the US at least, all of these devices go on sale officially in early April.

Here’s a bonus from Best Buy as well. If you pre-order the device through them for your carrier, they will give you a $10 gift card to their store, which you could use on a case for your phone, or Google Play cards. I hope you appreciate my take on the Galaxy S5 and head out to your own selected Best Buy store to test out the S5 for yourself.

19 Comments

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  1. I like to think I am a fitness buff as well, but I wonder how accurate it actually is, y’know? I’ve never seen a smartphone provide something like this, so I’d be a bit worried when it comes to accuracy.

  2. Yeah, I’m not a big fan for the back speaker. Samsung is notorious for doing that, and it provides terrible audio. That’s why I love HTC’s setup.

  3. Google can work on it a lot more, but I think they already realize that Android is not even close to a finish project. Heck, I’m not sure it’ll ever be a finished project.

  4. Exactly. And also, the Contacts app. I think Google can work on it a bit more to make it more organized.

  5. Yeah, hopefully. I’m actually kind of interested to see what Sony ends up doing, since their cameras on smartphones are usually fantastic.

  6. Indeed. While I know Nexus smartphones are smooth and pure Android, it wouldn’t hurt to see some better camera quality when it comes to zooming!

  7. I agree, the features in the Camera app is just crazy on the Galaxy S5. Never seen so many good options on a smartphone. Really impressive.

  8. There are plenty of dedicated heart beat monitors which pair with almost any Android or iOS smartphone. Try those, before deciding to actually buy this device.

  9. I’m pretty sure that is going to be a very common feature of all flagship devices this year. Better camera.

  10. This does seem pretty cool. Are you using an app right now to help with fitness goals? I would interested to know which ones you think actually work. I love the idea of knowing what my heart rate is at any point in time.

  11. Oh I hate that the speaker is on the back. I hang onto my phone when I’m watching something. I am sure that the back speaker will irritate me. I wish they did not do this. Even with everything good this bad might be enough to keep me from buying it.

  12. I love the sound of the heart rate monitor. How cool is this! I am a fitness buff and I often times want to check my heart rate. This would be a plus for me and a reason to actually purchase this new phone.

  13. I agree with you MRowe. I have a camera that zooms in. I use that when I want a picture like that. I want a phone that has a great camera but it doesn’t have to zoom in. I’d be happy with nice crisp photos.

  14. I found the clarity in the S5’s zooming remarkable. It makes you wonder why others haven’t done it yet, since it seems to be a universal problem.

  15. Indeed. Samsung’s Note series is a winner when it comes to large smartphones. However, LG has a few larger ones as well, have you checked those out at all?

  16. The only thing really appealing about the S5 is the camera, I have to say. All of the software features will be brought to the S4 in a matter of months, making it essentially identical devices. The S5 really isn’t worth buying, IMO. However, if someone were to buy it, I would say the camera is the only redeeming feature.

  17. I have always been a fan of larger phones, so I think I still like the Note better when it’s compared side-by-side with the S5. Still, the S5 is a very nice phone.

  18. Thank you for the review Matthew. Sounds like this might be a winner for Samsung. Zooming on most cell cameras is iffy at best. I’ve never gotten a nice clear picture when I zoom with any of the phones I’ve tried. As long as other features are working great I don’t mind skipping the zoom part of the camera.

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