GalaxyS5-Box-Header

So, I bought a Samsung Galaxy S5. I didn’t intend to buy it, but I saw it in the store yesterday and a couple of things lured me in. I’m also becoming a bit bored with my Nexus 5, which didn’t help.

I’m not sure whether I’ll keep the S5 or if it will become eBay fodder, but I’m giving it a go at any rate.

Update (Sunday, 6.45pm): Added some sample photos and videos. Click here to scroll down!

Screen

That screen. I think the Galaxy S5’s Super AMOLED screen is one of the most gorgeous mobile displays I’ve ever laid eyes on. Colours are vibrant and punchy, text is plenty sharp.

The screen shone especially brightly in my dimly-lit room last night.
P1010120

Whites still look a bit bluey-green, which is something we also noticed in last year’s Galaxy S4 but you really have to compare it side by side with an LCD display to notice.

Outdoor visibility seems better than I remember for an AMOLED display, and off-axis viewing is as good as it gets to my eyes.

Design

The short version: I quite like it. Yes, it’s not metal, but that’s not a problem for me.

The design overall feels a little understated, but then I have the “shimmering white” phone – yes, I didn’t go for the so-called “glam” colours (“electric blue” or “copper gold”). The back is definitely nicer than the glossy finish of the previous two Galaxy S phones. It’s not as grippy as the rear of the orginal Nexus 7 (to which it seems this is most often compared), but it looks just like it.

The chromed rim of the device looks a little cheap, but not awful. I do already miss the grippy sides of my black Nexus 5, though this is probably something easily fixed with a case

I used the Galaxy S5 in the rain today and wasn’t concerned at all that it got wet – Samsung gets a big thumbs up for this!

Camera

The camera is is the second reason for my purchase. I’m super keen to try out the fast shutter, live HDR preview, HDR Video, slow motion and 4K video. On features and specs alone, the Galaxy S5’s camera is a tempting proposition.

Even in a quick test last night, I found the live HDR preview was a nice touch. Consider the examples below, one with HDR preview and one without. It’s great to be able to see what you’re shooting!

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take any snaps yesterday, but we’ll add some samples to this post.

Software

TouchWiz is TouchWiz. It’s not my favourite interface but it’s cleaner than it’s previous incarnations. It’s designed to showcase a high contrast display, and does that well.

Some of the same old problems are there: the Gallery app in particular is laggy – sorry, it just is. The dock still isn’t editable. Yes, you can install another launcher, and I will, but not everyone knows you can do that and shouldn’t have to.

There’s plenty of features and options packed into the Galaxy S5, and I’m thankful that a lot of the gimmicky ones like smart pause, smart stay, etc are turned off by default.

Of concern however is the amount of RAM free in general use. A quick look in the apps settings revealed that 400MB of RAM out of 1.8GB was available. For comparison, my Nexus 5 usually runs with at least 1.2GB RAM free. The Galaxy S5’s software is using triple the resources consumed by the Google flagship.

Performance

My general feeling is that the Galaxy S5 is powering along nicely with a minimum of fuss. It’s only the first day but so far it’s been pretty good. Navigating the UI is not quite as slick as a Nexus 5, but it’s not far behind.

Other rough areas include some occastional stutter while browsing in Chrome or viewing pictures in the Gallery, but those seem more like software issues than a cause for concern over the hardware’s capability.

What’s Next?

I’m not sure, but my Nexus 5 is looking on nervously in the background.

Editor’s note: Ausdroid’s Galaxy S5 review unit didn’t arrive before the retail launch. We’re grateful to Geoff for taking the plunge and offering us his initial thoughts on his new purchase, and we’ll have a full review as soon as we can.



Camera Samples

Having had a bit of time to play with the camera, I’m pretty impressed.

I took the Galaxy S5 out for a spin at Highpoint today. Here’s a few samples:

And some other samples I’ve shot over the weekend:

In good light, I have little doubt that it could easily replace an inexpensive point and shoot camera. The images it produces have lovely detail and good exposure.

Selective focus mode allows you to choose between near, far or “pan” focus (“pan” seemingly being an amalgamation of both near and far) in post. It’s quite effective:

In low light, the story isn’t as good. Here’s a couple of photos of Glory, my cat, from last night. On the left, the Galaxy S5 and on the right, the Nexus 5:

The Nexus 5 image is colour correct and well-focused, considering the lighting. The Galaxy S5’s picture is too yellow, a bit soft and a little blocky. I find the Nexus 5, with its larger 1.4µ pixels and Optical Image Stabilisation, allows for a longer exposure without movement – I think it’ll always have the upper hand in low-light conditions.

Something the 16MP camera does handle well is shooting 4K video. At this resolution, the video bitrate is 46Mbps!

It also lets you play with slow motion video – you can shoot 120fps at a 720p resolution. Here’s Glory again:

Did you buy a Galaxy S5 yesterday? Give us your first impressions in the comments!

  • Berlusconi

    The reality is if Sony z2 had infra red and a removable battery… it would would be the best choice by far…prob still is the best choice overall… What I really want to see is a legit outdoor visibility test between htc m8 s5 and eventually the z2…please :)

  • JeniSkunk

    Some nice 4K test videos, Geoff, but now I need to look at building a new computer simply to watch them smoothly.

    :)

  • Tim

    So what is it with Optus increasing the Galaxy S5 monthly handset payment from $16 to now $19 per month on the $60 cap plan? Sneaky ….

    $79 pm is pathetic for less than I had for $60.

    • phantomsofthedesert

      2 reasons I believe . one is Telstra cheapest is $80pm. two they are offering $7.00 discount. so they raise the monthly fee $76.00 to $79.00 lucky I paid $76.00 less $6.00. as a reward for long service. a lot of people complain about Optus but I have had the best service from them. if you are number one in this business there is only one place you can go.onwards Optus is on the rise because they care about their customers more. and I don’t work for Optus.

      • Tim

        I think it is more than a Coincidence that they increased the handset payment amount just after they increased the data amount on the $60 cap back to 1.5gb to better match Virgin and Vodafone … Optus have since advised me that the $16pm was a pre order Price Only …

  • Mark

    What is the S5 screen like in comparison to the Note 3?

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      I’ll try to find someone with a Note 3 to compare as I don’t have one myself. I hear the Note 3 has a pretty awesome display too.

  • Tim

    Can I please as what versions of the S5 are in the field? The George St Samsung store has SM-G900X and insisted it was the only type available in Austraia and will work on all Aussie 4G networks including Optus 4G plus (2300mhz). GSMarena doesn’t mention the X variant. And I have read about an 900I Asia version.

    I am looking at buying outright and testiing out prepaid etc than contract.
    Just not sure where to buy – store or Kogan, and compatability is a concern.

    At some stage I’d like to flash UK BTU firmware to ensure speedy firmware updates verse Aussie slow updates. Not sure the impact of the suffix in this phone, X F I etc. Will have on firmware.

    • Hikari0307

      Australian stock is the SM-G900I. SM-G900X are apparently retail demo models.

      A lot of other countries I’ve seen seem to be the SM-G900F for LTE versions, don’t know if any of those suffix affects flashing of ROMs.

      • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

        Mine is a 900I.

  • Brett JB

    I’m lucky/stupid enough to have dropped the cash for the HTC One M8 and the Galaxy S5. So far enjoying the S5 though do notice the slowness in comparison. Not sure which will prefer as yet. Likely will swap back and forth as my mood changes. I have very expensive moods which also include HTC One, Note 3, etc….

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      Nice for you Brett. Do you work at JB HiFi or are those your surname initials?

    • Sean Royce

      I buy phones at least once a year. But to drop cash on two phones in one go is a ridiculous waste of money. You could have bought a smart phone and a pretty good desktop computer with that money

      • Brett JB

        Mate I work with mobile tech and so can justify the expense somewhat. And testing the camera functions in the latest phones is useful for me. I also have an awesome desktop too.

      • Sean Royce

        Maybe if you were MKBHD or Pocketnow I’d understand.

  • derp

    How are you getting so much free ram on the nexus 5? Even when I close and clear everything its never that low.

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      Dunno, perhaps I have less resource hungry apps installed.

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      As you can see, I underestimated, it’s 1.3 GB

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      I underestimated, it’s 1.3GB free in this screenshot I took earlier tonight.

      • JeniSkunk

        I wonder how much free RAM a GPE of the S5 would have, straight out of the shrinkwrap?

      • Sean Royce

        That is a ridiculous amount of ram to use with almost nothing open. Samsung will have to fix this. I honestly can’t believe how much ram is getting chewed up. Even my S3 and S4 weren’t this bad.

      • BustaArmov

        I think he was talking about the Nexus 5, not the GS5. I’ve got about 60 apps on my GS5 and have 8.5 gigs free with 2 used, and 58 gigs free on my micro sd card. The Nexus 5 was made by LG. Out of the box it had 11 gigs available of the 16 it came with. So Samsung doesn’t really have to fix it as bad as LG :)

        I don’t have apps that install a large db of data in main storage.

      • JeniSkunk

        Busta, Geoff was comparing the RAM usage of his N5, to the fresh out of the shrinkwrap S5. Sean commented on how his S3 and S4 were also not as bad for fresh out of the shrinkwrap RAM usage as the S5.
        Geoff was NOT talking about the ROM storage usage by the default apps.

      • Sean Royce

        This. I was talking about ram, not ROM.

  • phantomsofthedesert

    Just finished talking to a friend in the USA. his version of the Galaxy S% comes standard with USB 3.0 Cable not like our std USB 2.0 cable. he says data transfer is amazing and the phone actually charges quicker via USB 3.0 on PC. why Samsung Do you treat Australian consumers this way is it because of the population. I’m sure per capital that more Australian consumers use Galaxy phones. Yet you treat us this way. shame.

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      Hmm, I haven’t checked the cable yet. I’ll let you know if it’s USB 3.0 but I doubt it.

  • JeniSkunk

    Geoff, how many more services and apps are open on the S5 by default, in comparison to the N5?

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      Too many to list.

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      So I checked. Couldn’t help myself. N5 – 9 apps. S5 – 37 apps!

      • JeniSkunk

        That’s a bloody crazy amount of apps and services to have running, straight out of the shrinkwrap.
        How many of those are Samsung’s own bloatware?

  • Peter Graham

    I use nova launcher and I’m not sure why you all are complaining about using a different launcher .. have we all forgotten that is why we like android? if you don’t like something about a phones UI a 5 minute install of a third party launcher fixes it .. you still cannot do that on an iphone.

    • JeniSkunk

      The point for complaint, Peter, is that you SHOULD NOT have to know of and install a third party launcher, solely to have access to a facility that the rest of the world has.

      • Peter Graham

        I see your point JeniSkunk .. but even if the s5 had an editable dock it still lacks a lot of the customisable options found in custom launchers .. I think Samsung should take a good hard look at nova launcher and learn from it.

      • Sean Royce

        Stock launchers aren’t supposed to be heavily customisable. There supposed to have the basics. Samsung, HTC, Sony and many others do this completely fine. They all just have different ways of finishing them off.

      • JeniSkunk

        Sean, you’ve missed the point.
        Peter was wondering why Geoff complained about the stock Samsung launcher.
        Peter, like you, thought it was no big deal, and not worth complaining about, to have to install a third party launcher, to fix what Samsung broke only for Australia.
        The real problem is why should end users in Australia be forced to use third party launchers, to fix what Samsung broke, and Samsung STILL won’t say why they broke it only for Australia.

      • Sean Royce

        I didn’t miss the point at all. I read it, and I’ve known about the problem for a long time now. I do find it odd they changed it just for Australia but oh well, you can’t change it. I find it odd that their are different variants for almost every country. iPhones are the same world wide. Why can’t Samsung phones do this? HTC does it, so does Sony.

  • Mikhail Cass

    The first thing I did on mine was put the Google Now Launcher on it.
    I hate he lack of a configurable dock. That and I prefer Google now to the left as apposed to the magazine feature I will never use.

    Also anyone excited about the new Westpac app launching next week supposedly?

    • phantomsofthedesert

      Mikhail did you get the launcher from Google shop. I to don’t like the fact that you cannot customise things. I will probably later on install custom ROM but at the moment they are rather limited offerings

    • phantomsofthedesert

      No, comm bank Samsung only at the moment. according to my bank

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      Yep, I did the exact same thing last night.

  • http://ohdenny.com ohdenny

    It’s pretty ridiculous you can’t edit the dock. I never knew that was the case with Samsung phones.

    • Christopher

      The demo unit I saw at Telstra, the dock was editable? What gives?

      • Trevagreene

        Are you sure ? The demo unit I saw a Vodafone, I spent a good 10 or so mins trying to find it, and I could not move that app draw button from the right hand side of the dock. The other icons I could move around, just the app draw icon.

      • Christopher

        Yes, that’s right. You can move the items in the dock, but not the apps icon. That is locked to the right on all TouchWiz devices.

      • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

        Oh, is that what you mean. What I want to do is replace Internet app with Chrome, the Messages app with Hangouts, etc in the Dock. Is there a way to do that? Moving around what’s already in there (minus the apps icon) isn’t much in the way of editing. Am I understanding you right?

      • Christopher

        Can’t you just drag them out of the area?

      • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

        Nope, sadly.

      • Christopher

        That seems bizarre. I’m 99% certain on the telstra variant I looked at last night you can drag them out of the dock.

      • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

        OK. No probs. I’ll check at a Telstra store later.

      • kjmci

        Retail demos are often running specific demo variants of software. They’re not necessarily 100% like-for-like with retail sales units.

      • Hikari0307

        I remember reading on whirlpool somebody saying early retail demos were running EU firmware.

        I remember a demo I tried before release also would not make any shutter sounds when I turn the phone to silent/vibrate but the final consumer product have no way of turning off shutter sounds for the camera.

      • That Guy

        The Demo variants have the international ROM on them, hence the difference to the live variants (or if a store put Australian stock on display). The same was true of the Note 3.

      • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

        Well I can’t move mine. I’d be happy to know how you did it? Maybe it’s a Telstra model thing? If there’s a way to do it I will update the post with the new info.

    • Altechi

      It only affects Australian ROM’s for some reason , as the rest of the world don’t have this issue.

      I have a feeling it could be because of the Australian court room battle with Apple, but who knows.

      I did ask them about this, and all they told me was that they will forward the message to their software devs.

      But the fact that it only affects Australians is weird

  • Trevagreene

    The fact that the dock isn’t editable is the thing which is putting me off the most, sure I can install Nova or Go, but as you said, I shouldn’t have to. At the end of the day, you can flash CM11 ( when available for the S5 ). In other words, buy the S5 for the hardware as opposed to the software.

  • GreviousMcG

    Bought it because you were bored with your nexus 5? Man, I wish I could do that…

    • vijay alapati

      Just goto Vodafone store, sign a new contract. U have tail period for 30 days. If not satisfied u can return. Just need to pay monthly rent, and if you like service u can continue. Simple

      • GreviousMcG

        I did not know that. Thanks for the tip.

      • kjmci

        This is a network trial, not a handset rental service. You will then be excluded from signing up for six months and can only exercise the network guarantee once every 12 months.

        Don’t abuse it.

      • vijay alapati

        Read the comment properly, i said “If not satisfied u can return. Just need to pay monthly rent, and if you like service u can continue. Simple ”
        I clearly mentioned that it’s service related. Grow up dude.

      • kjmci

        I usually don’t bring people’s spelling, grammar, punctuation into a discussion online but if you’re going to tell me to grow up for misunderstanding that dog’s breakfast of a comment, I’m going to tell you to clean your damned sentences up.

        I recognise English may not be your first language, but there’s no need to be rude.

      • vijay alapati

        Haha….u can never grow up

    • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

      Sad fact is I work long hours. I’m thankful for a good job and the opportunities it affords but it takes a big chunk out of my family life, social life, etc.