After months of rumours and anticipation the Samsung Galaxy S5 has finally been announced and while it’s not quite the phone that many of us hoped it would be it’s still got some impressive specs and some even more impressive features. If you’re wondering how it’s improved over the Samsung Galaxy S4, read on to find out.
We were all hoping and praying for a metal Samsung Galaxy S5, but that sadly wasn’t to be. However Samsung has changed the design of the phone so that it doesn’t just look like a Galaxy S4. It’s still plastic, but this time it has a perforated back and less rounded edges for an altogether more industrial look. It’s debatable whether it looks better or worse than the S4, but it certainly feels more solid and the phone was in dire need of a refresh.
What’s less desirable is that it’s actually slightly bigger and heavier than the Galaxy S4, with dimensions of 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm and 145g, compared to 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm and 130g, but it’s a minor difference.
One definite improvement to the build is that it’s now IP67 certified dust and water resistant. In fact it can survive being submerged in up to a metre of water for up to 30 minutes. Which for most people just means you’ll be able to use it in the rain and not have to worry if you spill a drink on it.
The screen is a surprisingly minor upgrade too. While there was talk that Samsung might equip the Galaxy S5 with a 2K display we’ve instead got the same 1080 x 1920 resolution as on the Galaxy S4. There’s a tiny bump in screen size, taking it from 5 inches to 5.1 inches and because of that size increase the pixel density on the S5 is actually slightly lower, at 432 pixels per inch compared to the Galaxy S4’s 441 pixels per inch, although that’s an imperceptibly small difference.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 also uses the same Super AMOLED display technology as the Samsung Galaxy S4, though that’s no bad thing as it’s capable of rich colours and incredible contrast. The good news is that while everything is much the same on paper, the Galaxy S5’s screen actually does look better as the colour reproduction is noticeably more natural, avoiding the over-saturation which Super AMOLED screens can suffer from.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and 2GB of RAM, while the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 1.9GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor and 2GB of RAM. So the amount of RAM is the same in both but the Galaxy S5 has a substantially faster and newer processor, so it should be noticeably more powerful.
The biggest improvements in the Galaxy S5 come in the form of its new features. First of all there’s a fingerprint scanner. It’s positioned underneath the home button and you just slide your finger down to use it. It can be used both to unlock your phone and to access private areas on the device. Better yet, Samsung has an agreement with PayPal so you’ll be able to use it to authorise mobile payments and the company has also opened up the SDK to developers, so apps will be able to use it too.
Then there’s the heart rate monitor, which can use a special light to tell you your heart rate in around 8 seconds if you put your finger over the camera flash. It’s part of a big push from Samsung to put more of a focus on fitness and comes alongside an updated S Health app and fitness accessories like the new Gear Fit.
The Samsung Galaxy S5’s Wi-Fi has also got a boost as it can combine 4G and Wi-Fi when both connections are available for incredibly fast download speeds.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has none of these features and they’re all potentially very useful additions, unlike the slightly gimmicky Air Gesture, Smart Scroll and the like that appeared on the S4.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 already had a great camera but the one on the Galaxy S5 is even better. First of all the megapixel count is up from 13 to 16, so it can potentially capture sharper images.
The Galaxy S5 can also auto-focus on things much faster, in fact it takes just 0.3 seconds. It’s also got a few new shooting modes such as real-time HDR, which lets you see the effect HDR will have on a picture before taking it, and selective focus, which lets you refocus an image after taking it.
There have been some updates to the video camera too as it can shoot in 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps, while the most the Galaxy S4 can manage is 1080p and only at 30fps.
The 2800 mAh battery in the Galaxy S5 is slightly bigger than the 2600 mAh one in the Galaxy S4, but the real change to battery performance is the S5’s new Ultra Power Saver mode, which shuts down all non-essential system processes and can even turn the screen black and white, all in the name of keeping your phone going until you can plug it in to a charger.
The Galaxy S5 might not be the all-singing all-dancing Android saviour we were craving but it’s still a substantial improvement over the Galaxy S4. It’s more powerful, has a better camera and it’s even water and dust resistant. More importantly though it’s one of only a few recent handsets that show much innovation, sure, the fingerprint thing might have been stolen from Apple, but the heart rate sensor, improved Wi-Fi speeds and new camera modes are all inspired additions which really help the Galaxy S5 stand out from the ranks of other big, powerful, almost identical phones. They also make it a worthy upgrade to the Galaxy S4.
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