Knowledge Base

Samsung Galaxy S5: Review, Comparison & UK Release Date

grand master

Yesterday evening, Samsung announced their new flagship smartphone at an event in Barcelona. The Galaxy S5, which will soon be coming to giffgaff, features waterproof capabilities and a range of new features such as a fingerprint security and heart rate monitoring. It also has an upgraded camera and a faster quad-core processor.


The Galaxy S5: Samsung’s New Flagship Smartphone


Galaxy S5 - Top of ArticleOver the past few years, the Galaxy S series of smartphones has been amongst the bestselling range of mobile devices across the whole world. With more than 200 million devices sold, the web has recently been awash with rumours and speculation about the new Galaxy smartphone.


Yesterday evening, Samsung put an end to the speculation by announcing the Galaxy S5 at an event in Barcelona. This year, the Galaxy S5 provides an incremental update over last year’s Galaxy S4. From a design perspective, it still looks largely the same as last year’s device. However, underneath the surface, there are some worthwhile upgrades such as waterproof capabilities, a slightly larger display, fingerprint sensor security and a higher-resolution camera. There’s also been an upgrade to the processor and the battery.


The Galaxy S5 will see a worldwide release on April 11th.


Form Factor: Waterproof, Slightly Larger Display & Perforated Back Cover


In recent weeks, the rumour-mill had been suggesting a brand new design for the Galaxy S5. In the end, things didn’t change as much as we’d expected: the Galaxy S5 largely keeps the same tried and tested design as found on older models. It’s still constructed using plastic unlike rival devices from Apple and HTC.


Galaxy S5 Form FactorAlthough the Galaxy S5 is still constructed using plastic, there are still a couple of important changes:


Waterproof Capabilities (IP67 Certified)


First of all, water-proof and dust-proof capabilities have been added to the Galaxy S5. The Galaxy S5 is IP67-certified: that means you can use it underwater at a depth of 1 metre for half an hour at a time. It’s great news for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors: you no longer need to worry about damaging your phone when using it in the rain or dropping it in a puddle. With high-end smartphones often costing more than £500, having waterproof protection provides great peace of mind and potentially extends the lifetime of your device. 


In order to make the device water-proof, Samsung has added a plastic flap over the USB charging port. You’ll have to remove the flap in order to charge your Galaxy S5.


Thankfully, the back cover of the device (used to access the battery, micro SD and SIM card slot) still remains accessible. The cover has been re-designed with rubber underneath to protect the internal components from water ingress.


Galaxy S5 - USB Port Cover
The micro-USB charging port has gained a new plastic flap. This allows the device to be waterproof.


Waterproof capabilities can also be found on Sony’s Xperia Z1 and Xperia Z1 Compact. Last year, Samsung released a separate waterproof product called the Galaxy S4 Active. With the Galaxy S5, it looks as if the “Active” product range has been merged into the main device.


Galaxy S5 - ScreenA Slightly Larger Display: 5.1 Inches


With the Galaxy S5, there’s also a small increase in the size of the screen. The display has been enlarged to 5.1-inches. Compared to the 5.0-inch display on last year’s model, you’ll get 4.1% of extra screen real estate. The resolution of the screen remains full HD (1920x1080 pixels) and has a slightly lower pixel density than last year’s model (430 pixels per inch rather than 441 on the Galaxy S4).


In order to accommodate the slightly-larger display, the Galaxy S5 has gained a few extra millimetres of size. The new device measures 142mm in height and 72.5mm in width. This compares to 136.6mm and 69.8mm on the Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S5 also gains a few extra grams: it weighs 145g compared to 130g on last year’s model. With the increase in size, the Galaxy S5 moves even closer to phablet-size territory.


As before, the Galaxy S5 uses a HD Super AMOLED display (organic LED technology).


New Multitasking Button


On the Galaxy S5, the dedicated menu button has been replaced by a multitasking button. This makes it much easier to switch between apps: on older devices it was necessary to long-press on the home button. Now, it’ll only require one short tap to the left of the home button.


Google has been trying to remove the menu button from Android since January 2012. Menu button items are now shown directly on the screen where they’re easier to find and are much more discoverable.


Galaxy S5 - New Buttons 


Perforated Back Cover


Finally, the back cover on the Galaxy S5 has also undergone a change in design. With the Galaxy S4, Samsung used a hard and glossy back cover. On the Galaxy S5, the back cover has been updated to use a “soft-touch and perforated” plastic. According to Samsung, the new back cover gives the Galaxy S5 a more “modern and glammed look”. It also increases the amount of grip and friction.


The phone is available in a choice of four colours: Shimmery White, Electric Blue, Copper Gold and Charcoal Black.


Galaxy S5 - Colours
The Galaxy S5 has a perforated back cover. It’s available in a choice of four colours: Shimmery White, Electric Blue, Copper Gold and Charcoal Black.


S Health 3.0: A Personal Fitness Tracker & Heart Rate Monitor


S HealthWith last year’s Galaxy S4, Samsung introduced a dedicated application to monitor health-related information. The “S Health” application made use of a built-in pedometer to measure the number of steps taken in a day. The application also allowed you to input details about your meals and to track the number of calories consumed.


On the Galaxy S5, Samsung has extended “S Health” with new functionality such as a heart rate monitor. Below the camera, there’s a new heart rate sensor. By placing your finger over the sensor, the Galaxy S5 is able to determine your current heart rate. During exercise, this can be useful in helping to find out whether you’ve reached a certain heart rate training zone.


The sensor works by making use of reflective pulse oximetry. As blood flows around the body, there’s a small change in the colour of your finger. This is due to the dilation and contraction of blood vessels underneath your skin. By measuring small changes in the colour of your finger, the S Health application is then able to determine your current heart rate.


On other handsets, a similar result can already be achieved using the Instant Heart Rate application (free on iPhone and Android). Instead of using a separate heart rate monitoring sensor, Instant Heart Rate uses the camera on your smartphone along with the flash to provide a source of illumination. The Stress Check application (free on iPhone and Android) takes this one step further by using heart rate variability to measure your levels of stress.


Fingerprint Sensor: Payments & Data Security


Paypal on Galaxy S5Following in the footsteps of Apple’s iPhone 5s, Samsung has also introduced a new fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S5. It works in a slightly different way to Apple’s iTouch sensor: instead of holding your finger over the home button, you’ll need to instead swipe downwards over the home button.


The new sensor can be used for mobile payments as Samsung has teamed up with PayPal. In certain stores, you can pay for an item on your smartphone using the PayPal application and Samsung’s fingerprint sensor.


The fingerprint sensor can also be used to secure personal data such as the photos on your phone. Unfortunately, unlike on the iPhone, you can’t secure the purchases of applications using the fingerprint sensor. This is because the Galaxy S5 uses Google’s app store: something which Samsung has no control over.


Camera: Higher Resolution & Faster Auto-Focus


Galaxy S5 CameraOver the past year, camera technology has been a key focus for smartphone manufacturers. With people now taking more and more photos using the smartphone in their pocket, camera image quality has become an increasingly important feature when choosing a smartphone.


With the Galaxy S5, Samsung has increased the maximum photo resolution from 13 megapixels up to 16 megapixels. It’s been achieved by making the camera sensor larger: it’s now 1/2.5-inches (24.7mm2). Individual pixel size remains at 1.25µm2 meaning each pixel should collect the same amount of light as before. In reality though, you’re unlikely to see any significant differences when printing a photo (you only need 8.7 megapixels for an A4-sized print). It does, however, allow you to crop part of an image and to still print it at full size.


Other changes include faster auto-focus (at 0.3 seconds, Samsung claims it to be the fastest auto-focus feature on a smartphone) and a selective focus feature which allows you to capture images with a smaller depth of field (the subject of an image can be better isolated from the background). HDR functionality has also been upgraded and now works during a video recording.


Notably, the Galaxy S5 lacks optical image stabilisation (OIS). OIS is found on many other high-end camera phones including the Nokia Lumia 1020, HTC One, LG G2 and Google Nexus 5.


Galaxy S5: Other Upgrades & Changes


  • Android Kit KatThe Galaxy S5 runs on Android 4.4 Kit Kat. Samsung has included the latest version of Google’s Android operating system: version 4.4.2 (Kit Kat). As before, it’s been overlaid with Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface. TouchWiz is largely unchanged from last year’s version though the Settings menu has been given a complete redesign.

  • A Faster Processor. With the Galaxy S5, Samsung has upgraded the processor to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801. It’s a quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz and should give a decent increase in performance over last year’s model (the Galaxy S4 used a Snapdragon 600, a quad-core processor clocked at 1.9GHz).

  • Larger Battery. On the Galaxy S5, the capacity of the battery has been increased by 7.7% to 2,800mAh. According to Samsung, this will give you approximately 10 hours of web browsing time or 21 hours of 3G talk time. It’s a decent upgrade from the Galaxy S4 which offered 8 hours of browsing and 17 hours of talk time. If your battery runs low, you can use the new “Ultra Power Saving Mode” which works in a similar way to Sony’s Battery Stamina Mode. For more information, see our guide to the top 10 smartphones for battery life.

  • Different Generations of Wi-FiFaster Connectivity. The Galaxy S5 adds support for the latest version of wi-fi technology: 802.11ac. It also supports 2x2 MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out technology). By combining multiple data streams, you can obtain download speeds of up to 867Mbit/s when using a compatible router (of course, it’s unlikely your broadband connection will be able to support these speeds). The Galaxy S5 also adds support for Category 4 LTE (download speeds of up to 150Mbit/s) and has a “Download Booster” function which allows you to use both wi-fi and LTE simultaneously.

  • Kids Mode. The Galaxy S5 adds a new “Kids Mode” feature. It provides a dedicated environment which is designed to be safe for children. The new feature works in a similar way to Kid’s Corner on Windows Phone 8.

Samsung Galaxy S5: Comparison to Galaxy S4 & iPhone 5s


The Galaxy S5 compares as follows to the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s:



Samsung Galaxy S5
Galaxy S5
Samsung Galaxy S4
Galaxy S4
Apple iPhone 5s
iPhone 5s


2.5GHz quad-core

1.9GHz quad-core

1.3GHz dual-core


5.1-inch AMOLED (organic LED) display

5.0-inch AMOLED (organic LED) display

4.0-inch IPS LCD display

Screen Resolution

1920x1080 pixels

1920x1080 pixels

1136x640 pixels

Pixel Density

430 pixels per inch

441 pixels per inch

326 pixels per inch

Operating System

Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (update to 4.4)

Apple iOS 7


16GB or 32GB

16GB, 32GB or 64GB

16GB, 32GB or 64GB

MicroSD Expansion

Yes, up to 128GB

Yes, up to 64GB







16 megapixels with LED flash

13 megapixels with LED flash

8 megapixels with dual LED flash

Video recording

4K UHD (2160p), 30 frames per second

1080p, 30 frames per second

1080p, 30 frames per second


2,800mAh (removable, 21 hours talk time)

2,600mAh (removable, 17 hours talk time)

1,560mAh (non-removable, 10 hours talk time)






Yes, IP67-certified







Infrared Control




Fingerprint Sensor




Approx. Price




SIM Card Size

Micro SIM

Micro SIM

Nano SIM


Samsung Galaxy S5: UK Release Date & Price


The Galaxy S5 will see an initial world release on April 11th. giffgaff will be ranging the device as part of the handset range. UK pricing details are still to be confirmed though you can register for updates via this link. You’ll receive an e-mail in the next couple of weeks when pricing and other details have been confirmed.




Wearable Devices: Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo & Gear Fit Wristband


As well as announcing the new Galaxy S5 smartphone, Samsung also announced three wearable devices. They include updated versions of the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The new Samsung Gear 2 and Samsung Gear 2 Neo feature an improved design, replaceable watch straps and a built-in heart rate monitor. They’ve also added an infrared emitter to quickly change TV channels. Both smart watches now use the Tizen operating system which Samsung claims to give better battery life than Android.

Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo
Samsung announced two new smartwatches: the Samsung Gear 2 and the Samsung Gear 2 Neo.


At the event, Samsung also announced the Gear Fit wristband. With a slightly-curved organic LED display, the Gear Fit wristband is designed for use during exercise. As well as showing notifications from your smartphone, it’s got a couple of built in sensors to monitor your exercise and to measure your heart rate.

Samsung Gear Fit
The Gear Fit is wearable wristband designed for use during exercise. It’s able to show notifications from your smartphone and can also measure your heart rate during exercise.


The Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit will be released in the next few months. Pricing is still to be confirmed.


Your Thoughts…


In this article, we’ve looked at Samsung’s new flagship smartphone. The Galaxy S5, which is due to be released in April, features waterproof capabilities, a slightly larger display, heart rate monitoring, fingerprint security, an improved camera and a whole range of other hardware upgrades.


As well as bringing out the Galaxy S5 smartphone, Samsung are also due to release three wearable devices: the Samsung Gear 2, the Samsung Gear 2 Neo and the Samsung Gear Fit. They’ll work as accessories for the Galaxy S5 showing notifications and allowing you to monitor your heart rate.




What do you think of the Galaxy S5? Are you excited by Samsung’s latest smartphone? Have you registered to receive updates on the Galaxy S5? We’d love to hear from you: please drop us a comment below and let us know what you think!


Ken Lo writes about mobile technology and the mobile industry at Ken's Tech Tips.

grand master

Very detailed review - nice one!


Some of the things in it are cool... but I can imagine that for a while at least the price will be sky high lol

OMG looks amazing ,,,, I may eventually leave the iOS and iPhone system !!

but chelsea sponsored ,, I'm not sure I can do it lol

you've done an awesome job on the blog its excellent, looks very interesting

Thanks for this article. Really interesting and useful - especially the comparision with the S4 and IPhone.

Another detailed blog Ken. Thanks!


The Galaxy S5 has taken the best bits of Sony (waterproof feature) and Apple (fingerprint sensor), and improved their camera - as everyone is trying to do this from Nokia, Sony, HTC, Apple, etc! It looks like Samsung has stuck with a replaceable battery even though they have the water resistant feature, which is impressive!


I think this handset will sell, perhaps too well, given my dislike for Samsung's apps - ie bloatware which you can't delete! However, it seems that Samsung has toned down its bloatware apps for Google's sake or officially, on the request of customer feedback, which is a good thing!


I think I maybe one of a few people who are underwhelmed by Samsung's latest offering. I'm not a Samsung basher - they do make some excellent equipment but I think the S5 doesn't offer anything new that says buy me buy me! Considering these phones cost hundreds of pounds, quality materials should have been used - this a premium product that isn't packaged like one yet it commands a premium. Sorry - rant over.

Very handy review, really wish they didn't make it bigger. I think the S3 and S4 were the largest size I was willing to go, not sure about this now. I like that they improved battery slightly, but really wish they'd reduce the Touchwiz bloatware! Still don't know if u should upgrade my S3 to the S5 or go for another phone range, for example the Nexus 5! We'll see. :-)

I noticed on the carphonewarehouse website they say the microSD card can take 128 GB micro SD cards?


That muast mean Sandisk will release there 128GB class 10 ultra micro sd cards this year?


Definitely worth having the S5 for this better storage I think.


sadly doubt the S5 will be UHS-I compatible though.




Thanks for the in depth review. Maybe in the market for a new phone later in the year, but think the S5 maybe a litle more than I'm prepared to pay.