After much anticipation Samsung just took the wraps off of the Galaxy S5. We had a chance to check it out a bit early and to take it in for a while, and we’re already confident that this is the best Galaxy device yet. In fact, it’s so compelling that we think Samsung is going to attract more fans than ever this time around.
The Galaxy S5 offers a brilliant 5.1-inch display with a 1080p resolution, 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of storage, an expandable microSD card slot, a 16-megapixel camera, an IR blaster and more. The device is also IP67 water resistant, which means it can withstand being submerged in water at up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. That doesn’t mean you should go jumping in the pool with it, but it also means the phone should resist the water if you accidentally get pushed in.
Now that we have the specs out of the way, let’s talk about how some of them work. The camera, Samsung says, is “the best camera ever” and the first with face detection auto-focus (it takes just 0.3 seconds to lock on). It also has a cool selective focus feature that lets you change the focus at will. Additionally, the 16-megapixel camera has some awesome features, including live HDR viewing. So instead of taking a photo and then seeing HDR applied after the fact, you can actually see the improved scene right away. It’s pretty awesome, and it works quicker than older options.
The display is really crisp and it doesn’t have a weird film over it like some other water resistant phones. Samsung said the display is able to look great under all lighting thanks to a custom chip that adapts the brightness and contrast ratio at all times – not just the brightness.
Under the hood, you’ll find 802.11 a/c Wi-Fi with 2×2 MiMo, Cat 4 LTE and Samsung’s custom “Download Booster” technology for the quickest downloads taking advantage of LTE and Wi-Fi at the same time.
Up front, under the display, there’s what appears to be a regular home button. It’s not so regular, however, because it actually also doubles as a fingerprint reader. Just swipe your finger and you’ll unlock the device. Samsung hasn’t provided a ton of detail on third-party support yet, other than it has a partnership with PayPal in which you can use the fingerprint reader to make PayPal purchases online. Hopefully new partners are coming soon.
The phone itself is available in black, white, blue or gold and has a “modern flash design” that kind of feels like soft leather. It’s more premium feeling than the glossy back panel on the Galaxy S4, but it’s still basically plastic. Under that plastic is a 2,800mAh battery, and Samsung said it has a new “Ultra Power Saving” option that doubles battery life in low-power situations. The battery is also designed to provide about 20 percent more usage overall, the company stated.
On the back, just under the camera, there’s a small area that serves as a heart rate monitor, and it’s awesome. Simply open up the S Health 3.0 application, choose the heart rate option, and then place your finger over the sensor on the back. You’ll see your pulse live on the screen, complete with your heart rate. It’s pretty awesome if you’re into fitness and keep track of that stuff.
Speaking of speed, the Galaxy S5 feels really fluid. The TouchWiz UI (or Nature UX, if you will) really feels a lot more fluid than before. It’s still very colorful, but it doesn’t feel as clumsy and bulky as it used to. Samsung’s Magazine feature sits to the far left of the phone, though it wasn’t working properly on our demo unit. It’s basically used for serving up the the latest news.
Samsung didn’t announce a release date or pricing for the Galaxy S5 yet, but we suspect it will hit the U.S. in the coming weeks (or months, though we doubt it will take that long) and will probably hit every major U.S. carrier as previous models have. Enjoy our hands-on video and gallery.