The Good Samsung’s Galaxy S5 excels at everything that matters — Android 4.4 KitKat OS; a bright, beautiful display; blistering quad-core processor; and an excellent camera experience. In addition, Samsung’s efforts to streamline its own custom interface and reduce pre-installed bloatware pay off.
The Bad The Galaxy S5 is a only small upgrade over the Galaxy S4. The fingerprint scanner can be confusing to use, and the heart-rate monitor is a niche feature at best. In some regions, the Galaxy S5 costs significantly more than rival top-rated handsets.
The Bottom Line Subtly improved and smartly refined, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a superior superphone that hits every mark but the sharpest design.
Here’s why the Samsung Galaxy S5 should grab your attention: it looks good, it performs very well, and it has everything you need to become a fixture in nearly every aspect of your life. But, like a candidate running for reelection, the GS5 gets where it is today based on experience and wisdom, not on flashy features or massive innovation.
With the exception of a few nonessential hardware and software additions — like the fingerprint scanner and novel heart-rate monitor — and a few design tweaks, you’re pretty much looking at the same phone Samsung released in 2013. The S5 is more of a Galaxy S4 Plus than it is a slam-the-brakes, next-generation device; it makes everything just a little smoother and faster.
However, it isn’t the only phone worth your time. The gorgeous, all-metal HTC One M8 has a more sophisticated design, better speakers, and greater internal storage for about the same price (32GB versus 16GB). The LG G3 also has an ultra-sharp 1,440p display and comparably robust specs. In addition, Apple finally yielded to its big screen competitors and beefed up its new iPhone 6 (and even larger iPhone 6 Plus) with a 4.7- and 5.5-inch display, and plenty of powerful hardware. Should you buy the GS5? If you want to go to sleep at night certain that you own the most capable, robust phone, yes.