Skip to main content

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is here with more power, more pixels, and a refined design

This year’s flagship doesn’t mess with a winning formula

Share this story

What do you do when you’re one of the world’s largest smartphone makers and it’s time to update your flagship device? If you’re Samsung, you trot out the new Galaxy S5, a refined and updated take on last year’s wildly successful Galaxy S4. Like the new Gear wearables, the Galaxy S5 looks and feels familiar, but offers a number of improvements over last year’s edition.

The Galaxy S5’s design is a minor evolution of the Galaxy S4 — in fact, the two are almost indistinguishable from the front. The S5’s display is ever so slightly larger at 5.1 inches, but it’s still a 1080p, Super AMOLED panel that doesn’t look very different from the S4’s screen. Below the display is a new home key with integrated fingerprint scanner and capacitive keys for multitasking and Android’s back button.

Samsung has retained the familiar metal-looking plastic surround on the S5, though the charging port (now USB 3.0) comes with an integrated port cover for waterproofing. The S5 is IP67-rated for water and dust resistance, meaning it can be submerged in 3 feet of water for up to 30 minutes at a time.


Though the S5 is extremely familiar-looking from the front, things take a turn around back, where Samsung has replaced the S4’s slimy, glossy plastic battery cover with a dimpled soft-touch finish. The company is calling this a "modern glam" look, though if you’re familiar with the original Nexus 7 released in 2012, it’s very similar to that. The new back offers a significant upgrade in they way the device feels — it’s much more comfortable to hold and doesn’t slide off of surfaces nearly as much as the S4 — but it doesn’t look as tacky as the fake-leather patterns used on Samsung’s Note line of devices. Samsung is offering the S5 in four different colors — black, white, blue, and gold — but the black and white are the most attractive options. The first complaint usually levied at Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones is their abundant use of glossy, cheap feeling plastic, but the S5’s new finish reverses this trend and is one of the most significant upgrades introduced this year.

A Familiar design, But with less glossy plastic

But despite the refined design and new patterned finish, the S5 is unmistakably a Samsung smartphone. The S5 is launching with Android 4.4.2 KitKat with Samsung’s user interface fully intact. Though earlier reports had said that Samsung intended to tone down its software due to pressure from Google, the S5 retains much of the signature pieces of the Galaxy line. There are S-branded apps in many places, including the S Voice personal assistant, and Samsung’s signature bloops and whistles are present every time you interact with the device. The My Magazine feature, Samsung’s Flipboard-like news reader that debuted on the Note 3, is accessible directly to the left of the home screen, but the main display is a very familiar assortment of folders, app shortcuts, and a weather widget. The most notable change is found in the settings menu, where Samsung has swapped out the tabbed interface for a single, vertical scrolling screen with round, flat icons.

GalaxyS5back

Samsung is making a huge push into fitness tracking this year, and the Galaxy S5 benefits from a revamped S Health app and new heart-rate sensor on its back. The new S Health app can sync with Samsung’s Gear line of wearables, including the Gear Fit fitness band, and it offers guided coaching and feedback while you work out. Developers will be able to tap into the data offered by the service through an SDK that will be out later this year.

The heart rate monitor is a unique addition and is located just below the camera and reads your fingertip to grab your pulse in about five to ten seconds. In our brief tests, the sensor worked as advertised and was able to give me a reading in just a few seconds.

Heart-rate monitors and fingerprint scanners

Less successful is Samsung’s take on the fingerprint-unlock system made popular by Apple with the iPhone 5S. Like the 5S, the S5’s home key features an integrated fingerprint scanner, which can be used to unlock the phone or authenticate purchases online (Samsung is partnering with PayPal to enable this feature, though it doesn’t validate purchases from the Google Play Store). Samsung’s version requires a vertical swipe over the home button to activate the scanner, and we found it to be quite unreliable and virtually impossible to activate when holding the phone in one hand. It can store up to three different digits, but it was very particular about the speed and orientation of the swiping motion used — if we weren’t doing a perfectly straight swipe down, it would refuse to unlock the phone.

Samsung didn’t ignore the other vital components of the S5 — it has a faster, 2.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a larger battery with the promised 20 percent better stamina, as well as a new low-power conservation mode to get the most battery possible when you’re running low. The S5 is as fast as you’d expect — Samsung has ensured that its flagship phone is one of the most powerful on the market for a number of years now, and the S5 is no different.

Galaxys5_500_portrait

The camera has been upgraded to a 16-megapixel sensor with 4K video capabilities, and it now supports real-time HDR processing for better photos in mixed lighting. It’s now possible to apply Samsung’s unique camera effects after a picture has been taken, so you don’t have to worry about what mode you’re in when shooting pics. Samsung has also greatly simplified the camera interface, and in our brief tests, it was pretty snappy and responsive.

The S5 builds on what worked with the S4

Samsung had a successful formula with the Galaxy S4, and for the most part, it looks like it has retained that with the S5. Things are faster, nicer feeling, and easier to use, but it’s still a Samsung smartphone through and through, and will likely be just as successful if not more so than its predecessor.

The Galaxy S5 is scheduled to launch globally on April 11th and will be available on all major US carriers, though Samsung isn’t yet ready to talk pricing. Chances are, the price won’t matter — Samsung has built a very recognizable and successful brand with its Galaxy smartphones, and there’s no reason the S5 won’t continue the company’s success.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 43 minutes ago Dimorphos didn’t even see it coming

T
Thomas Ricker43 minutes ago
Check out this delightful DART Easter egg.

Just Google for “NASA DART.” You’re welcome.


R
Twitter
Richard Lawler12:00 AM UTC
A direct strike at 14,000 mph.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) scored a hit on the asteroid Dimorphos, but as Mary Beth Griggs explains, the real science work is just beginning.

Now planetary scientists will wait to see how the impact changed the asteroid’s orbit, and to download pictures from DART’s LICIACube satellite which had a front-row seat to the crash.


M
The Verge
We’re about an hour away from a space crash.

At 7:14PM ET, a NASA spacecraft is going to smash into an asteroid! Coverage of the collision — called the Double Asteroid Redirection Test — is now live.


Asian America learns how to hit back

The desperate, confused, righteous campaign to stop Asian hate

Esther WangSep 26
E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 26
There’s a surprise in the sky tonight.

Jupiter will be about 367 million miles away from Earth this evening. While that may seem like a long way, it’s the closest it’s been to our home planet since 1963.

During this time, Jupiter will be visible to the naked eye (but binoculars can help). You can check where and when you can get a glimpse of the gas giant from this website.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 26
Missing classic Mario?

One fan, who goes by the name Metroid Mike 64 on Twitter, just built a full-on 2D Mario game inside Super Mario Maker 2 complete with 40 levels and eight worlds.

Looking at the gameplay shared on Twitter is enough to make me want to break out my SNES, or at least buy Super Mario Maker 2 so I can play this epic retro revamp.


R
External Link
Russell BrandomSep 26
The US might still force TikTok into a data security deal with Oracle.

The New York Times says the White House is still working on TikTok’s Trump-era data security deal, which has been in a weird limbo for nearly two years now. The terms are basically the same: Oracle plays babysitter but the app doesn’t get banned. Maybe it will happen now, though?


R
Youtube
Richard LawlerSep 26
Don’t miss this dive into Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion Pinocchio flick.

Andrew Webster and Charles Pulliam-Moore covered Netflix’s Tudum reveals (yes, it’s going to keep using that brand name) over the weekend as the streamer showed off things that haven’t been canceled yet.

Beyond The Way of the Househusband season two news and timing information about two The Witcher projects, you should make time for this incredible behind-the-scenes video showing the process of making Pinocchio.


R
External Link
Russell BrandomSep 26
Edward Snowden has been granted Russian citizenship.

The NSA whistleblower has been living in Russia for the 9 years — first as a refugee, then on a series of temporary residency permits. He applied for Russian citizenship in November 2020, but has said he won’t renounce his status as a U.S. citizen.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 26
Netflix’s gaming bet gets even bigger.

Even though fewer than one percent of Netflix subscribers have tried its mobile games, Netflix just opened up another studio in Finland after acquiring the Helsinki-based Next Games earlier this year.

The former vice president of Zynga Games, Marko Lastikka, will serve as the studio director. His track record includes working on SimCity BuildIt for EA and FarmVille 3.


A
External Link
Vietnam’s EV aspirant is giving big Potemkin village vibes

Idle equipment, absent workers, deserted villages, an empty swimming pool. VinFast is Vietnam’s answer to Tesla, with the goal of making 1 million EVs in the next 5-6 years to sell to customers US, Canada and Europe. With these lofty goals, the company invited a bunch of social media influencers, as well as some auto journalists, on a “a four-day, multicity extravaganza” that seemed more weird than convincing, according to Bloomberg.


J
James VincentSep 26
Today, 39 years ago, the world didn’t end.

And it’s thanks to one man: Stanislav Petrov, a USSR military officer who, on September 26th, 1983, took the decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear attack against the US. Petrov correctly guessed that satellite readings showing inbound nukes were faulty, and so likely saved the world from nuclear war. As journalist Tom Chivers put it on Twitter, “Happy Stanislav Petrov Day to those who celebrate!” Read more about Petrov’s life here.


Soviet Colonel who prevented 1983 nuclear response
Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images
J
The Verge
James VincentSep 26
Deepfakes were made for Disney.

You might have seen the news this weekend that the voice of James Earl Jones is being cloned using AI so his performance as Darth Vader in Star Wars can live on forever.

Reading the story, it struck me how perfect deepfakes are for Disney — a company that profits from original characters, fans' nostalgia, and an uncanny ability to twist copyright law to its liking. And now, with deepfakes, Disney’s most iconic performances will live on forever, ensuring the magic never dies.


E
External Link
Hurricane Fiona ratcheted up tensions about crypto bros in Puerto Rico.

“An official emergency has been declared, which means in the tax program, your physical presence time is suspended,” a crypto investor posted on TikTok. “So I am headed out of the island.” Perhaps predictably, locals are furious.


R
The Verge
Richard LawlerSep 26
Teen hacking suspect linked to GTA 6 leak and Uber security breach charged in London.

City of London police tweeted Saturday that the teenager arrested on suspicion of hacking has been charged with “two counts of breach of bail conditions and two counts of computer misuse.”

They haven’t confirmed any connection with the GTA 6 leak or Uber hack, but the details line up with those incidents, as well as a suspect arrested this spring for the Lapsus$ breaches.