I’ve been through a few phones in the past few years. Between going from BlackBerry to iPhone at work a couple of years ago, to testing out several of the latest devices with TELUS, I’ve even been exposed to all of the available platforms (including a Windows Phone!).
And I must say, I was pretty excited when TELUS lent me one of the shiny, new Samsung GALAXY S5 smartphones to review. So much so, that I might actually make the official switch from iPhone to S5. Likely. Maybe.
Let’s start with set-up. Getting the GALAXY S5 out of the box and into your life is really easy. After charging, as soon as you put your SIM in, the device walks you through every part of the set-up with ease. There are even on-screen instructions when you open an app for the first time to give you quick tips to get started; once you’ve read them, a quick tap makes them disappear and you move right into the app.
I love the white version. And I know that doesn’t help this smartphone function, or be, you know, smarter, but it’s really pretty. And the backside looks better than the black, in my opinion. Not that it matters if you cover it up with a case anyway. Which, if you’re a parent reading this and you’re not planning to get a case, I implore you: GET A CASE.
Compared to the Samsung GALAXY Note3, the S5 feels much better in my hand and I’m not embarrassed to hold it up to my ear in public. It’s just about the biggest I’m willing to go with my small hands. (So small they often fit in children’s gloves, OK?)
Part of the reason I’m willing to go for the size of the S5, which is quite a bit bigger than the iPhone5, is for the screen size. It makes watching videos and scrolling through photos so dreamy. My kids love playing games on it because it fits well in their hands and they can see a lot of detail.
This motha holds a charge for a LONG time. Now, I know it will decrease over time, but with very heavy use, I usually get two or three days out of a single charge. And I’m talking conference calls, a ridiculous amount of social media updates, gaming, photos out the wazoo, and my son’s budding vlog career. It’s all happening. All the time. Every day. And the GALAXY S5 holds up well on all fronts, but really shines when it comes to battery life.
Although it can be tricky to get the hang of, I like being able to swipe my hand across the screen (from right to left) to do a screen capture. It’s neat.
Apparently, there’s a heart-rate monitor built into the backside of the thing. I have no practical knowledge of this since I’ve barely broken a sweat during my review period.
If you’re buying the S5 on a contract, it might only set you back about $180. That’s not terrible.
I love the fact that this phone is water-resistant. I haven’t dropped it in my pool or anything, but I have splashed it with a good bit of water, trying to mimic the very real possibility of a child accidentally-on-purpose knocking over a glass of water nearby, and it survived. Without sitting in a bag of rice for 24 hours first.
I’ve really come to appreciate the ease of creating folders and organizing apps on the Samsung devices. It did take a session at a TELUS Learning Centre to first learn how to do it, so if you’re not sure when you start playing with it and you’re on the TELUS network, be sure to book a session of your own. The folders are life-changing.
The S5’s touch sensitivity is great. No lags. Ever.
I really like the Facebook app on Android, which is what the S5 runs on. It’s superior to iPhone because if you manage fan pages (for, say, a blog or a brand), you can share stories directly from your home feed. This is huge for me.
It’s easy to customize the layout and look of the S5. You can even change the font! And I find that super-fun. It’s about as important to the overall functionality as the colour, but we’ve established that I’m superficial and judge a book by its cover.
For the most part, it takes beautiful, clean photos. I love how you can focus on one area of your subject to make the rest slightly blurry. I can usually see a tonne of detail and in great light, there are few camera phones I’ve used that can come close to taking such great shots.
However, if the lighting isn’t just right or the camera on the Galaxy S5 decides to be a bit of a you-know-what, it will take blurry photos, ask you to “hold the device steady” while it tries for several seconds to snap a pic (usually unsuccessfully) or decides simply not to focus at all despite pressing.exactly.where.you.want.it.to.focus.47.times.
If you’re used to Instagram for iPhone, you won’t love the Android version as much. This is not necessarily Samsung’s fault or an S5 issue, but it needs to be noted.
Why no S Pen, Samsung? WHY? The size of the GALAXY S5 could certainly handle it, and it’s the one feature from the Note3 that I really miss here.
Sometimes when I share an article or image on Facebook, it doesn’t actually share. It goes through the motions, and leads me on, having me believe it’s been shared. But lo, it has not. And it happens often enough that I felt the need to include it as a gaffe.
Samsung still hasn’t fixed the video problem. As soon as you switch from still camera to video, it starts recording. Well, guess what? I’M NOT READY TO RECORD! Let me be the judge. Please.
S Voice sucks. There, I said it. It is in no way comparable to iPhone, and that’s a big problem for someone like me who commutes and often needs to dictate texts or make phone calls without looking down. I don’t even really get why it’s there when you can just use the “OK, Google” voice activation command, which is far more reliable. BUT, you still can’t access it unless you’re already “in” your device (after swiping or putting in your password or fingerprint). Siri wins.
Speaking of the fingerprint. Oh, fingerprint password. How I wanted to love you, and rock you, and hold you. All through the night. I thought you would be the answer to preventing my children from getting into my device and moving stuff around and deleting other stuff. But really, you just prevented all of us from getting into my device. Sometimes, I would have to swipe my finger across the screen so many times that it would finally ask me for my backup password. Gah.