Samsung Galaxy S5 review

Samsung's jack-of-all-trades returns with an improved display, waterproof case & biometric scanners

15 Apr, 2014
From £33 per month (£99 upfront)
Excellent display; Good battery life; Waterproof/dustproof; Decent camera; Download booster; Wealth of premium subscription trials
The heart-rate monitor is unnecessary; Fingerprint scanner is inconsistent; Software features can be overwhelming
Still the best all-round Android device on the market, the Galaxy S5 has it all. The excellent display and great battery life are joined by the robust chassis. Samsung's biometric features might be ropey, but there is so much to like it doesn't matter if you don't use them.

The Galaxy S5 provides improvements in all the areas you'd expect from the display through to the battery life and processor. Samsung has also introduced a waterproof/dustproof chassis and two biometric sensors.

For the casual observer, the device may look the same from the outside, but much has changed. We cover all the main areas of the device including the Display & Durability, Fingerprint & Heart-rate sensors, Interface/Security, Battery Life, Hardware/Unique features, Camera & Verdict

Display and Durability

The S5 has a 5.1in display, marginally larger than the 5in screen on S4. On paper the Super AMOLED technology with 1920 x 1080 resolution is the same found in its predecessor. But colour replication has been enhanced and it's much brighter than the S4 (360cd/m2 vs 221cd/m2). This is the best display you'll find on any smartphone. 

It’s not just the hardware where Samsung differentiates itself from the competition. A software setting allows you to customise the picture quality. Go to Settings > Display > Screen Mode and you'll be presented with five options. Cinema mode provides the most accurate colour replication so we recommend selecting this. It's great for video and when you are purchasing items from the web such as clothes.

The S5 weighs in at 145g and has a thickness of 8.1mm. Samsung has retained the plastic coating on the back, the Marmite design of the smartphone world. This finish on the back is matte and there are dimples on the cover to give it a different look from the previous generation. It's available in a range of colours with our Gold device being exclusive to Vodafone.

Crucially the S5 has been certified with an IP67 rating making it waterproof and dustproof. There's one port cover at the bottom covering the micro USB 3 port. Samsung has made space for the micro SD card slot on the inside, so there's no requirement for any other flaps.

Whenever you unclip the back cover or remove a micro USB cable, the device will give you a on-screen reminder to make sure these are sealed tight. We’ve submerged the device a handful of times and it has survived without any ill-effects.


OS: Android 4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz and Secure Android (Knox 2.0)
Display: 5.1in, Super AMOLED 1,080 x 1,920 (432ppi) Processor: 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801  RAM: 2GB
Biometrics: Fingerprint sensor, Heart-rate monitor
Storage: 16/32GB + up to 128GB micro SD
Camera: 16-megapixel with autofocus, flash, 2-megapixel front-facing
Connectivity: Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (MIMO 2x2), Bluetooth 4, NFC, 4G
Ports: micro USB 3
Dimensions: 142 x 73 x 8.1 mm (WDH)
Battery: 2,800mAh
Weight: 145g