Year after year, Samsung has wowed the market with new generation phones that should please any customer. Released back in 2010, Samsung unveiled the first of its kind, the Galaxy S. It was Samsung's first real attempt to break into the smartphone market to compete with the already popular iPhone.

Followed by outstanding new Galaxy generation phones, Samsung has pioneered an extremely popular phone, something that competed very well against the iPhone. In today’s smartphone market, one in five people own a smartphone; a huge increase over the past few years. Something I have begun to notice is if you walk into any room and look around at people’s phones the amount of iPhone and Galaxy devices is astonishing. Two major smartphone companies, competing to become top dog, yet Samsung now holds the lead with this new “super” phone.

I have used my fair share of Galaxy phones as well as reviewed my personal (and still used today) Galaxy S3 along with a Galaxy S4 , but Samsung still finds new ways to add in unique features to each generation. Today I will be reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S5 which will be running on the AT&T network and I will be covering the following topics: the unboxing, design, features and specifications, functionality, and my overall thoughts. I would like to thank Samsung for providing the test unit.

Luckily, I had the chance to compare both the AT&T S5 vs. the Verizon S5. When looking at the differences I found that the differences only lay within the OS itself. Due to the many modifications of S5s across many carriers, I will only be reviewing the Galaxy S5 as a whole rather than the AT&T model.

Figure 1 – The four S5 colors.

The Unboxing

If you remember back to my Galaxy S4 unboxing , you will find that the S5 is no different. Coming in a recycled paper box with soy ink text, Samsung continues to stick with the environmentally friendly packaging.

On the outer sleeve, you find the unit’s specifications along with some legal information about your carrier. Once inside, you find the gorgeous looking device and its 5.1 inch display. Once you have looked over your new phone, there are the included 2A wall charging port, a USB 3.0 charging/data cable, Samsung branded in-ear headphones which sound decent, and finally the quick start and Health & Safety/warranty guide.

One handy guide that is included is the Smart Switch flyer. Switching from an iPhone or other smartphone to the Galaxy S5? Samsung makes the switch easy by a simple application download that moves contacts, photos, music, videos, SMS, notes, calendars, and more to your new Samsung S5.

Something I very much enjoyed seeing was that the S5 now supports USB 3.0. Having a backwards compatible connector, the S5’s USB cable can transfer data to your PC at up to 10mb/s. It’s about time phones upgraded to the new USB 3.0 standard and it’s nice to see Samsung make the push which will hopefully make other phone manufacturers follow.

Figure 2 – The new TouchWiz UI.


If you have ever used a Galaxy S4 before, the S5 will feel and look very similar. The S5 maintains many of the S4 design cues with its rectangular body and rounded corners. Surprisingly, for the first time since the Galaxy S, the S5 gained both thickness and weight compared to the S4.

With its Gorilla glass display, the S5 gains only 0.1 inches compared to the S4; not much of an increase. What changes is the new back plastic cover of the S5. Having a dimpled back, this allows your hands to grip the phone better. Although some reviewers despised the new back cover, I found it to be quite pleasing and welcome the new design. The phone may have a plastic back cover and silver trim, but is extremely durable and does not flex whatsoever.

The new finger print sensor home button has a new feel to it as well. It provides a much quieter and softer feel which is a positive and negative. At times I was unaware if I had fully pressed the home button. More on the finger print sensor below.

Around the sliver trim you find a top mounted 3.5mm headphone jack and IR blaster. On the left hand side is your volume up and down key whereas the on/off button is on the right. On the bottom is the new USB 3.0 connector that now has a cover. Since the Galaxy S5 is a water-resistant phone, the USB cover is needed to prevent the ingress of water. Although I am a huge fan of the water-resistant feature, removing the cover over and over again to charge the phone becomes a pain when you are used to just plugging it in with nothing blocking your way.

As the phone supports its typical plastic back cover this means it can be removed. With the back cover removed, you find the replaceable 2800mAh battery with built in NFC. Users may also add in an expandable SD card for additional storage. When replacing the back cover, be sure to have snapped all the clips to ensure a tight fit, otherwise your water-resistant phone loses its resistant ability.

To finish this topic, we have the different colors that the S5 comes in. Depending on the carrier, the S5 comes in Copper Gold, Electric Blue, Shimmery White, and Charcoal Black. Similar to the S4, expect more S5 colors to be announced later this year.

Figure 3 – The Samsung Tomorrow Specification Sheet.

Features and Specifications

Something that I have always been amazed with is how smartphone manufacturers continually find new and unique features to add to their phones and Samsung is no different.

By now, many of you may have seen the Galaxy S5 commercial about the phone’s water-resistant technology. Similar to the Galaxy S4 Active, the S5 has an IP97 water and dust protection rating. Although we have learned to keep electronics away from water in the past, we are now learning the opposite. The S5 can be placed into three feet of water for 30 minutes. No longer are water-proof cases required. This is one of the coolest and most unique features Samsung could have included for this phone.

Next we have the phone’s new finger and heartbeat sensor. Not only does the home button act as a home button, but it is now a way to unlock your device. With a swipe of your finger, the phone unlocks without any password needed. Unlike the iPhone’s finger print sensor, the S5’s sensor has more to offer then just unlocking your phone. When paying for a product while using PayPal, users have the ability to swipe their finger to act as a payment option. Something else we have never seen before, Samsung has included a heartbeat sensor on the S5. Focused towards health enthusiasts, the S-Health application of the phone allows users to measure their heart rate. By placing your finger on the rear sensor the phone can detect your pulse and provide you with a somewhat accurate reading. At times I had mixed results, so while it is a neat feature indeed, the usefulness is questionable.

The phone is shipped with the newest version of Android, 4.4, KitKat. It also runs Samsung’s Android UI, TouchWiz, which will look very similar to any Samsung user. Some icons and the settings menu have changed, but any smartphone user should be able to familiarize themselves quite quickly. The phone also carries the S4 hover and motion gesture features.

As it may seem that Samsung lacked on changing the design, they certainly did not lack on performance. Fully packed with 2014 features and hardware, the S5 holds a title that no other phone has yet to beat.

Beginning with the 1920 by 1080 432ppi Super AMOLED display, the S5 has a colorful and vibrant display that looks outstanding whether you’re indoors or outdoors. Images are crystal clear and text is easy to read. With a 5.1 inch display gaming also is feasible with the S5 since your hands don’t get in the way of the action. The S5 display is so good it is the only phone that holds a perfect display review from Display Mate .

Powering the outstanding display is an Adreno 330 graphics processor along with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974-AC processor running at 2.5GHz. Having a massive 2GB memory bank allows users to multitask without any performance drop. On my Galaxy S3, I found it difficult to fill up 1GB let alone 2GB.

Next we have the rear 16 megapixel and front 2.1 megapixel facing cameras. On the rear you find a single LED flash and a camera aperture size of F2.2 whereas the camera sensor size is a 1/2.6”; this works perfectly for a quick and easy camera shot. Having the typical autofocus, HDR settings, face detection, etc. the rear camera is capable of 4K (3840x2160) video recording at 30 FPS. The front facing camera on the other hand is, well, really there for selfies and video calls.

Short battery life has been a weakness of smartphones, but with an average battery talk time of 12 hours and stand-by time around 20 days, it’s safe to say that your 2800mAh battery will serve you well. From a completely dead battery, I charged the unit back to 100% in just an hour and a half while using the included 2A wall charger.

Finally, you can find a full list of the phone's specifications here:

Network: LTE Cat.4 (150/50Mbps)
AP: LTE: 2.5GHz Quad core application processor
Display: 5.1” FHD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080), 432 ppi
Dimension: 142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1mm, 145g
OS: Android 4.4.2 (Kitkat)
Memory: RAM : 2GB
16/32GB User Memory + microSD slot (up to 128GB)
Some places only provide 16GB depending on region/country.
Connectivity: WiFi : 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac VHT80, MIMO(2x2)
Download Booster (LTE + WiFi simultaneous reception)
NFC, Bluetooth®: 4.0 BLE / ANT+
USB 3.0
This device supports a USB 3.0 interface as well as lower versions of USB, including
USB 2.0. A USB 2.0 compatible cable is included in the package. A USB 3.0
compatible cable is not included in the package, and may be purchased separately.
Additional Features: IP67 certificated Dust & Water Resistant, Emergency Mode, Ultra Power Saving Mode, S Health, Quick Connect, Private Mode, Kids Mode
Camera: Main(Rear) : 16MP (1/2.6”, Phase Detection AF) - Sub (Front) : 2.0MP (1920 x 1080, Wide-angle lens )
Camera Features: HDR (Rich tone), Selective Focus, Virtual Tour Shot
Video: [email protected], HDR, video stabilization
Video Codec: H.263, H.264(AVC), MPEG4, VC-1, Sorenson Spark, MP43, WMV7, WMV8, VP8
Video Format: MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, WMV, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV, WEBM
Audio Codec : MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/ AAC+/ eAAC+, WMA, Vorbis, FLAC
Sensor: Accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity, Compass, Barometer, Hall, RGB ambient light, Gesture, Fingerprint, Heart Rate Sensor
Battery: 2800mAh
Google Mobile Services:
Chrome, Drive, Photos, Gmail, Google, Google+, Google Settings, Hangouts, Maps, Play Books, Play Games, Play Newsstand, Play Movie & TV, Play Music, Play Store, Voice Search, YouTube
Android, Google, Chrome, Drive, Photos, Gmail, Google+, Google Settings, Hangouts, Maps, Play Books, Play Games, Play Newsstand, Play Movie & TV, Play Music, Play Store, Voice Search, YouTube are trademarks of Google Inc.

Figure 4 – The Samsung is water-resistant!


Call quality, texting, and Android usage is all the same and doesn’t change all too much. A smartphone is a smartphone and they all do the same basic functions, especially since Android is universal and found on many different phones.

In a few months I will have my two year upgrade available and I will be looking for a new smartphone. After my time with the S5 I asked myself is it worth the $200 for the same type of phone? Sure it has a finger and heartbeat sensor, but the everyday usage of that is irrelevant. It’s not like I check my blood pressure every day and a simple pattern password provides me with just as easy an unlock compared to the finger print sensor.

Don’t misunderstand me, the S5 is an outstanding device that provides a great experience and will provide you with a great new smartphone, but ignoring hardware for a moment and comparing the S3 to the S5 you don’t gain much. You especially gain very little when comparing the S4 vs. S5.

Running the new TouchWiz UI, I found that Samsung changed icons and menus for reasons I am unaware of. Honestly, I enjoyed the old style in icons and menus. On my AT&T unit, I did find that there is a very annoying “AT&T” logo that does not leave the top status bar, nor can you turn it off. This was not present on the Verizon unit.

Something to keep in mind for the health enthusiasts is that Samsung does offer their new Gear 2 and Gear Fit smart watches that will assist in working out.

Each of my Samsung reviews I have been happy with the outcome of the phone, including this one. When it comes time for my upgrade I will be sticking with Samsung as my manufacturer, but will decide then whether I would go with the S5 or the new upcoming Note 4. At present, I am undecided.

Figure 5 – Outside Google’s building.

My final Thoughts

All in all, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a phone that anybody could enjoy. It is quick, has an easy to learn UI, is featured packed, and fully functional in terms of being an all-round great phone. If your upgrade is arriving soon and you do not have an S4, my recommendation would be to get the S5. Samsung has been doing this for four years now and have straightened out all the bugs with this fifth generation unit. The water-resistance and outstanding hardware is what makes this phone special and I look forward to see what Samsung pulls out of their hat next.

Buy it Now:

© 2014