Samsung’s Galaxy S5 a solid addition to its smartphone lineup

Offers features its users might actually find useful

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Murray-HillSASKATOON, SK, Jun 13, 2014/ Troy Media/ – Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 smartphone has been available in Canada for a while now and I find it amazing that the company’s flagship smartphone is being criticized by some for a lack of features.

Samsung’s got it right by offering the features in their Galaxy S5 that users might actually want and find useful. What a concept – actually trying to give people what they want.

Good on you Samsung.

Although its feature set is somewhat less than the S4, it still has a heart rate sensor, fingerprint reader and a water resistant case. While some have called it closer to a Galaxy S4 Pro than a new device, it really is a new device, with a quad core processor and Android KitKat 4.4 OS onboard, along with a slightly larger than the S4 5.1” diagonal screen. It looks virtually the same as the S4, on the front side, but the back side has a soft feel cover that’s covered in tiny dimples and has a matte finish so no fingermarks will show. Depending on what market the phone is sold in, it comes in different colours, which is a nice change from the original colours of the S4.

The Galaxy S5 measures 142mm H x 72.5mmW x 8.1mm D and it weighs in at about 145 grams. The screen is a 1080p HD AMOLED display that offers incredibly crisp, densely saturated images with great contrast and colour. The screen automatically adjusts to the ambient light, and the fingerprint reader, although quite touchy, works just fine – you just have to be accurate in your movements.

Galaxy-S5-front-and-backThe USB port on the bottom is for Samsung’s compound USB 3.0 cable, but it’s backward compatible with legacy USB cables, so if you forget your new cable it can still be charged. The new USB port is behind a dust cover that fits tightly to offer protection from both dust and water. It’ll handle being in three feet of water for 30 minutes, so unless you drop the Galaxy S5 in the lake you have a chance to save the phone.

Some of the buttons users of the S4 would be used to are either in different places or not there, so it takes a bit of getting used to if you’re upgrading.

Samsung has updated the TouchWhiz interface, which means a different look and feel.

Kids Mode is a new way for you to literally close off various portions of the smartphone so your kids can play with the smartphone without having any access to your data at all – a VERY nice touch that’ll make any parent who makes the mistake of giving Johnny their smartphone only to get it back changed!

The Galaxy S5 has Ultra power-saving mode, which cuts off a bunch of battery-hogging services and turns the screen from full colour to greyscale – plus quite a few other things that enable the phone to run a lot longer before needing a charge. I really like that idea because I’ve been stuck with a rapidly discharging phone on many occasions and have hustled to try anything I could to save battery life. Another neat feature called Booster combines Wi-Fi and your carrier data connections to allow faster downloads – a truly great feature. The heart rate monitor actually has its uses and is a worthwhile addition to this smartphone.

Samsung’s bumped the camera from 13 to 16 megapixels and the camera is quicker, takes much better images and is faster with a 0.3 second continuous autofocus.

My test unit came paired with the Samsung Gear Fit, which is a wearable watch-like device that serves two roles; one as an activity tracker, and the other as a smartwatch. Its long display means that text is kind of awkward to read and it’ll only work with certain Samsung phones, so check before you buy. The OLED display is terrific, but you can’t load any Apps on it so you’ll have a device that stays as it is.

The display is beautiful, but because its shape is so long and narrow type is hard to read. When you get an E-mail or text, the Gear Fit vibrates to let you know, then you can choose to read the message. But you have to turn your wrist at an awkward angle to do so. You can change the screen orientation, but you then get just a very few letters per line.

The Gear Fit isn’t exactly a smartwatch because it doesn’t have the full functionality of one. It isn’t really a first-rate fitness activity tracker either. So it fits somewhere in the middle between being a good smartwatch and a great fitness band. I think it’s a work in progress, and one that bears watching because there’s a lot of promise there.

PROS: The Galaxy S5 has options users will actually use; more solid than the S4; faster processor and great screen clarity; great camera; water and dust resistant, great battery life. The Gear Fit is a decent activity monitor and a decent smartwatch with a great looking curved display.

CONS:Not a huge jump up from the Galaxy S4; still plastic mainly; fingerprint technology is finicky. The Gear Fit display is hard to read and it’s only part smartphone and part Activity monitor.

TO SUM IT UP: Millions of users are hooked on the Samsung Galaxy line of smartphones and the S5 is the newest and most solid of them all. If you’re looking for an Android phone with lots of screen real estate and useful functionality paired with very good performance, then you should take a look at the Galaxy S5., it’s the perfect phone for Samsung fans.

Troy Media columnist Murray Hill reviews products weekly. You can follow Murray on Twitter at @MurrayDHill.

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