My last phone contract was up and as always, I figure I’ll be a good consumer and upgrade to the next probably already obsolete phone.
I was thinking of moving away from Samsung, but none of the other options available really caught my attention, so I went for the S5. It appears I only get odd numbered Galaxys: the S, the S3 and now the S5.
So, was it worth it?The two most obvious things about the S5 is that it’s slightly larger than the S3, and there’s now a cover over the USB socket. The cover is a nod to the fact that the S5 is water and dust resistant. So, assuming you make sure the back cover is on properly, and the socket cover is closed fully (something it nags you about!), then it should survive a trip into the toilet.
Other than that, it’s not really obvious that a lot has changed.
If I use my imagination it might be a little bit snappier than the S3. Perhaps that’s because it’s faster, or because it’s running the latest Android, or perhaps just because it’s shiny and new.
With some poking you find that they’ve chanced the interface subtly. The ‘menu’ button is now not a menu button, but is a ‘last tasks’ button. You can still use it as a menu button, but you either need to see the ‘tutorial notification’ or search the web to work out how.
The options you used to get from the menu while on the home screen, have pretty much been shifted up to the pull down notifications bar. They’ve also made the various toggles in that menu (WiFi, Bluetooth, Location etc) configurable, allowing you to have as many or few as you like up there.
The settings have changed. They begin in a grid/icon layout, but you can change to ‘list’ if you really want. There are certainly a lot more options now, and you can put those most used into the top of the list with ‘Quick Settings’.
A bit more poking reveals the extras that have been added to the hardware. The first is a heart rate sensor, and the second is the fingerprint scanner.
If you want to use that heart rate sensor you need to be very careful about what case you buy for your S5. The first one I had was of thickish mock leather and my finger couldn’t touch the sensor, let alone press flat to it. Other than that, it appears to work. It told me my heart rate. If you’re into the whole fitness thing, that’s probably good, right?
Of more interest for poking at was the fingerprint scanner. It’s built into the home key, and you don’t hold your finger over it, instead you swipe your finger down. The system allows you to store three fingerprints (I guess in case you accidentally chop one off).
I played a lot with storing fingerprints, then trying to get it to recognise them later. I’ve found that there’s a fair bit of leeway in how sloppily you swipe your finger over the sensor. It also seems that the best way to record a fingerprint is to be sloppy while following the procedure. That gives the best chance for it to be recognised later when you’re not thinking about being careful.
That did worry me a little, because I wondered just how secure it might be if it could allow that much variance. My totally non-scientific testing (using the other seven fingers I didn’t record, and all ten fingers of a colleague) showed that it would recognise my fingerprints quickly, and the others not at all.
Of course, having said that, it appears that the device is easily spoofed if someone can get a copy of your fingerprint. This is a fairly common failing of consumer fingerprint readers. Whether you think using the fingerprint to unlock your phone, or authorise a Paypal transaction is a good idea is really up to how much security you want.
I’m still undecided, but it’s been fun to play with.
The camera has a few more megapixels and does seem a lot faster focusing – though I’ve yet to play a lot with that. The S5 has more memory, but truthfully, I never struggled with that on the S3, even with watching videos, swapping between games and editing documents.
Other than that, though, this isn’t a huge upgrade. If I’d had to go out and pay full price for the S5, rather than just extending my plan for no extra money per month, I think I’d be disappointed. It’s just not that much of a step up from the S3.
Having said that, I’m at a bit of a loss as to what they can really add to portable computers these days. In the end, I’m happy with my S5, given how I ‘purchased’ it. If you already have an S3 can’t get the S5 on a sensible plan, or need to buy it full price for some reason, I’d suggest sticking with the S3 for now. Maybe wait for the S6, or even S7.