Samsung fettles a successful recipe.
The S. Korean smartphone engine churns again, to bring us the Galaxy S5. Here's all you need to know in ITBW-roundup stylee. TL;DR: It's waterproof (ish), bigger (ish), faster, grippier, with an ecosystem-busting fingerprint sensor.
But is it any good? In IT Blogwatch, bloggers pour cold water over it and find out.
Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.
Waterproof, you say? Yes, Geoffrey A. Fowler tried:
It can swim, but it won't make any waves. ... [It] survived a dunking in a margarita, a plunge in to a toilet, and left overnight in strawberry Jell-O.
…Anybody weighing this phone as an upgrade or a switch from another model may rightly wonder: Has smartphone evolution stalled? ... Now that the phone is hitting stores, at $200 with 2-year contract, it is clear [it's] a better, faster phone—but [it doesn't] go far enough.
…The Galaxy S5 has impressive battery life, running a streaming online video test for...20% longer than the iPhone 5S. ... The fingerprint sensor also is a welcome addition to the Galaxy S5. Unlike the iPhone 5S, which only uses the fingerprint sensor for Apple-based authorizations, the Galaxy 5S's lets you make PayPal payments, too. ... The larger screen is probably the Galaxy's single biggest advantage over the iPhone. ... We've also come to expect that each new phone will feature a better camera...yet the Galaxy S5 struggled in my real-world stress tests. MORE
And Anand Lal Shimpi and Joshua Ho's houses are in different area codes: [You're fired -Ed.]
It’s not uncommon for people to refer to every Android device as a “Galaxy” [which] speaks to the level of market penetration that Samsung has achieved. ... The Galaxy S5 is clear evolution of the Galaxy S3 and S4, but made more mature.
…The GS5, like the GS4 Active, retains an IP67...rating. [The] 6 indicates that the design is fully sealed against dust, while the [7 means] the device is submergible up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. ... However, as Samsung emphasized at their launch event, this doesn’t make the Galaxy S5 waterproof.
…[Samsung] continues to ship the latest and greatest hardware. [It] has used the MSM8974ACv3 Snapdragon 801 for this phone, an updated AMOLED display with a claimed 500 nit brightness...and a new ISOCELL 16MP camera sensor. ... [The] battery gets a noticeable bump and a new higher voltage chemistry. ... We're basically dealing with a reasonable upgrade to Snapdragon 800 on an improved 28nm HPm process [and] includes four 2.5GHz Krait 400 cores and a 578MHz Adreno 330 GPU. ... Connectivity sees a boost with the addition of Qualcomm's envelope tracker and support for carrier aggregation on LTE. The inclusion of 2x2 MIMO 802.11ac brings WiFi performance to a new level. MORE
But Farhad Manjoo looks at Anand's benchmarks and spots the present pachyderm:
Has a new flagship Galaxy ever not beaten the previous-gen iPhone in benchmarks? Because that's just happened. MORE
Just because her editor was super-polite when he emailed me this morning, here's Sophie Charara:
You know what you’re getting with the Samsung Galaxy S5 before you even unbox it, because this is a 2014 superphone. [It's] the little details that separate the best-in-class from the also-rans...that make the difference between a phone that’s lovely to live with and one that’s merely a tool.
…This is a big, wide phone but that new texture combines with Note 3-style metal-look ridges to make this the grippiest Galaxy yet [and] more solidly built. [But] Next to the impressively engineered LG G2 the S5 looks a generation behind, with wider bezels [and it's] a long way from the sophisticated curves of the HTC One M8. ... Samsung needs to think classier.
…This is easily the most user friendly version of Android yet to grace a Galaxy [but] it’s not quite as painstakingly crafted as iOS yet. ... Where once we’d unbox a smartphone already bloated with extra apps, Samsung downloads and free subscriptions are now tidied away in [two] widgets - it’s then up to you which you install. ... All the familiar Samsung innovations are here if you want them...neatly tucked away. MORE
So... release Harry McCracken! [You've done that gag already -Ed.]
Much of what’s new...isn’t all that inventive, but involves stuff that every smartphone owner cares about, such as physical durability, display and camera quality and battery life. And though [it] doesn’t reach Apple-esque levels of polish...there’s less of the cacophony and clutter which has marred many a past Galaxy device.
…[It] includes a bizarre one-handed mode which shrinks the amount of real estate the phone actually uses. ... The display looked good indoors and out, and I didn’t notice the unnaturally vivid colors which OLED displays have a reputation for delivering. ... The S5 has a plasticky back cover pock-marked with hundreds of tiny dimples...looking a little like a golf ball that got flattened by a steamroller.
...It’s a Chevy in a category full of Lexuses. MORE
Meanwhile, JR Raphael is fed up of the bigger-and-bigger trend:
We're reaching an interesting phase...where each new generation of devices really isn't dramatically different from the last. ... Saying a new phone has a bigger screen is the simplest and most obvious way to shout at shoppers, "HEY, LOOK!! ... BUY IT!!" But...it's starting to come at the cost of optimal user experience.
…I'm just not sure the added pinch of real estate is a worthwhile tradeoff for the bulked-up frame it requires. ... There's certainly a place for big smartphones...in phones that are big for a reason, like Samsung's Galaxy Note line. ... Manufacturers need to realize that making a flagship-level device ergonomic and comfortable can be a compelling feature in and of itself.
...Sometimes, it's not the size but what you do with it that counts. MORE
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