Samsung Galaxy S5 review - two years on

27 Jun 2016
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Page 1 of 3Samsung Galaxy S5 review - two years on

Powerful, with a fantastic camera and incredible battery life, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a superb all-round smartphone


Processor: Quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Screen size: 5.1in, Screen resolution: 1,920x1,080, Rear camera: 16-megapixel, Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: 4G, Size: 142x72.5x8.1 mm , Weight: 145g, Operating system: Android 5.0 (Lollipop)

The Galaxy S5 will largely be remembered as Samsung's last flagship phone with a plastic chassis. It has a powerful specification and a brilliant screen, but the Galaxy range was starting to suffer from a design point of view, as each yearly update wasn't really that different from the last one. 

Samsung smashed that routine with the new metal chassis of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and went further still in the appearance stakes with the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with its curved screen. We're now on to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge - again, both very similar to their immediate predecessors in terms of design - but the Galaxy S5 still has its advantages. The new phones, for instance, have sealed designs, so there's no removable back panel, and no replacable battery. There's no microSD card slot on the S6 family, either, so you can't cheaply upgrade your internal storage to store lots of movies or music. You can read all the differences in Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Samsung Galaxy S6.

However, now that the S5 is over two years old, contracts for this phone are almost impossible to find. As a result, your best bet is to buy one SIM-free. That said, contract seekers shouldn't stop reading here, as there's also the newer S5 Neo to consider as well, which is a refreshed version of the Galaxy S5 with a slightly different processor and a couple of features missing to make it more affordable. Read our full S5 Neo review to see what's different. If you do have the cash upfront, though, then read on, as you can still find the original S5 for around £265 if you shop around. 


The Galaxy S5 is best seen as a refinement of the Galaxy S4, as both share a very similar outward appearance. The S5 has slightly bolder curves than the S4's flowing corners, but sat side-by-side they look almost identical. A metal effect bezel surrounds both handsets, although the dimpled, rubberised rear cover on the S5 feels classier than the S4's glossy finish. 

It looks sleek, and at 8.1mm thick it's also very thin, but we can't help feel a little disappointed that Samsung has stuck with an all-plastic construction. Now that the almost entirely metal HTC One (m8) is on sale, the Galaxy S5 feels a little cheap by comparison. On the plus side, the Galaxy S5 is now IP67 water- and dust-resistant, meaning it is completely protected against the effects of dust and can survive a dunking in up to 1m of water. This should hopefully put an end to dead handsets after dropping them into drinks, toilets or puddles, and gives Sony's Xperia Z2 one less killer feature to draw away potential customers. You won't be able to take underwater photos using the touchscreen, as it can't detect any inputs when under water, but you can use the volume key as a physical shutter button instead.

Samsung Galaxy S5 home screen 2

Unfortunately, in making the phone IP67 compliant, Samsung has been forced to add a flap over the USB port to protect it from water damage. It can be a little fiddly to remove for charging, and is held in place with a piece of rubberised plastic; should that snap off the phone would lose its weatherproof abilities. The port itself uses the faster USB3 standard, but Samsung bafflingly doesn't include a USB3 cable in the box. That means you're stuck transferring data from a PC or Mac at USB2 speeds until you buy the right cable, which costs a few pounds.

Page 1 of 3Samsung Galaxy S5 review - two years on

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