Why Samsung’s Galaxy S5 Is the Best Smartphone You Can Buy

galaxy s5 outdoors

With half a dozen flagship smartphones and even more budget models competing for your money, it’s easy to feel bewildered when shopping for a handset. Though there are many worthy options, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is the best smartphone you can buy today, hands down. Whether you’re a high-tech geek like me or as tech unsavvy as my mom, there are many reasons why the Galaxy S5 is your best choice.

Gorgeous Screen

No matter how it looks, the first thing you notice about a phone is its screen. Let’s face it, even Sir Mix-a-Lot wouldn’t waste time drooling over a device’s backside. The Galaxy S5 sports the most brilliantly colorful display I’ve ever seen on a phone, with gorgeous, explosive reds and oranges, deeper blues and darker blacks than competitors like the iPhone 5s and HTC One M8.

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The Galaxy S5’s 5.1-inch, full HD screen is simply capable of showing more colors than others; it produced 158 percent of the sRGB color gamut in our testing, a lot more than the HTC One M8 (115 percent) and the iPhone 5s (98 percent).

Galaxy S5 (bottom) vs HTC One M8 (top)

The 5.1-inch, full HD screen is also one of the brightest on the market, which makes it easier to see in direct sunlight than the iPhone 5s, LG G3 or HTC One M8. Samsung’s Adapt Display technology adjusts the colors for optimum outdoor viewing and battery life. 

Long Battery Life, Replaceable Battery

Smartphone battery life is not about numbers; it’s about your freedom. With most phones, battery anxiety rules your life. I used to have an Android phone that would die by 3 p.m. if I was even using it a little bit.

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You should be able to check Facebook, watch movies, take photos or even play games without worrying about running out of juice and limiting yourself. The AT&T version of the Samsung Galaxy S5 lasted for 9 hours and 42 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery test, during which it surfed the Web over 4G with its screen at 35 percent brightness.

Galaxy S5 Battery Life vs Competition

In real life, even Internet addicts like me don’t use phones for 10 nonstop hours. The S5 will last all day long and then some. By comparison, the average smartphone craps out after 7.5 hours and the AT&T iPhone 5s gave up the ghost after only 6:46.

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Unlike most other phones, which hermetically seal their backsides, the Galaxy S5 has a removable battery, which means you can carry a spare. If you’re willing to add a little weight and thickness, you can even buy an extended battery that will double this phone’s endurance. A high-capacity unit like the Hyperion 6,500 mAh battery pack can be had for just $40 and will likely let you go two days between charges. I’d live with some junk in the trunk for an extra day of juice, and Samsung gives me that option.

Battery on Galaxy S5

Brilliant Camera

Like so many people, I use my smartphone as my main camera, capturing important moments such as my toddler’s first ride on a roller coaster or my cats curling up on my desk. You can trust the Galaxy S5 to capture beautiful images of the people, places and pets that matter most to you.

Samsung Galaxy S5

The phone’s 16-MP camera provides incredibly sharp images with beautiful color in a variety of environments. The phone supports real-time HDR, a mode which allows you to take images where both a foreground object (example: a person’s face) and the environment behind it (example: a bright blue sky) get the right exposure.

Some say Samsung offers “too many” camera features, but many of the Galaxy S5’s shooting modes are extremely helpful–and nobody’s forcing you to use any of them. Shot and More mode takes multiple photos of your subject and then lets you choose the best face in a group portrait, erase a stranger who walked through your picture, or create an action-packed “drama shot” that simulates movement. Selective Focus lets you blur the background or foreground to draw attention to a particular object.

Galaxy S5 Shot and More ModeMost Versatile Software

Like many Android phone-makers, Samsung has put its own skin over Google’s operating system. Called TouchWiz, Samsung’s software makes Android more powerful. I particularly like the Quick Settings menu, which appears when you pull down the notification drawer.

Galaxy S5 notification drawer

Also handy, Multi Window mode allows you to run two apps next to each other. I find it helpful to be able to have both the Web browser and my email client on-screen at the same time so I can research a topic and email someone about it without changing my view.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Multi Window Mode

Samsung also bundles the Galaxy S5 with S Health, a comprehensive fitness app that keeps track of your diet, step count and exercise goals. The S5 can even measure your heart rate via a sensor on the back, though it’s finicky.

Last but not least, I love the Kids Mode app, which launches a separate environment with only child-friendly apps.

Kid Mode on Samsung Galaxy S5

MORE: Samsung Galaxy S5 Bloatware Removal Guide

Water-Resistant, Expandable Design

Many critics ding Samsung for building its phones out of plastic rather than using aluminum designs, like those on the HTC One M8 and the iPhone 5s. But the Galaxy S5 proves that you don’t need metal to make a great-looking phone. I particularly like the soft-touch, dimpled back panel, which comes off and can be replaced with one of a different color or even a wireless charging cover.

Waterproof Features of Galaxy S5

Even better, the Galaxy S5 is water-resistant, making it capable of surviving for up to 30 minutes in a meter of water. The iPhone 5s can’t do that. The only trade-off is that you have to deal with a flap for the microUSB port.

Galaxy S5 Versus the Competition

If you’re heavily invested in iTunes and Apple’s ecosystem, you’ll probably buy an iPhone no matter what. Apple’s device also benefits from slightly faster everyday performance and some cool exclusive apps. But the S5 boasts a bigger and richer display, more robust software and much longer battery life.

The HTC One M8 is another great option, boasting a more premium metal design than the S5 along with louder speakers and a cleaner interface If you like the idea of writing or drawing on screen with a pen, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 provides a great stylus experience on a large, 5.7-inch display. However, I prefer the S5 to both because of its sharper and more capable camera, more vibrant screen and wider array of special features

Bottom Line

If you simply want the best smartphone money can buy, get the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy S5: See Carrier Deals

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Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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Submit Comments

  1. peter Says:

    i don’t agree with the “Most Versatile Software section”, sense6.0 is far better tan touch-wiz and htc one m8 is THE best phone for reliability s5 freezes sometimes.

  2. Bryan Akerfeldt Says:

    This entire article seemed to be opinion based,I have this phone, along with my lg g2 and an HTC one m8,the G2 is my go to phone,the better of the three, in all aspects,the m8 I use mainly as a gaming machine,and the s5,its no more than a fancy MP3 player,I’ve been highly disappointed with this one

  3. david Says:

    Author makes a good case for the S5. In the end, it really comes down to personal preference. I currently have the Galaxy S3 but have been drooling over the larger screens for a looong time. Looking hard at the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and the Samsung Galaxy Mega – though both have their failings. May opt for The Galaxy Note 4 (even though the screen promises to be smaller).

  4. John Wetzel Says:

    Ok in the example image above you had used for the camera comparison, the iPhone 5S definitely took the cake on it. Unless of course the names were backwards. Anyways I loved this article especially the part about the iPhone needing a cassette adapter also. Seriously some good stuff!

  5. Daniel Tostige Says:

    It’s the best because it’s the newest. Usually how it works. I do like the swappable battery, although you made it sound like the iPhone doesn’t also have battery cases that can double the power. We’ll see if iPhone steps up their game come September/December.

  6. Ramdas Tilak Says:

    I agree to what you are saying, Its very well designed and a pleasure to use, even if you drop it, thanks to plastic, it will survive. I`ve never believed samsung could build half good a fone until I happened to use the Galaxy S2 when it was released, noone could believe especially the ones who havent used a samsung before, that it was better than anything else around, the screen especially. I`ve been a keen observer of their smartphone releases ever since.

  7. Glen Starling Says:

    I am a hardworking man on a very tight budget and am about ready to make a phone purchase. This is a really big deal to me as I being on such a tight budget so I could use some help. I’m on T Mobile because of the hotspot advantage. I do ministry work and use a laptop a lot but can’t afford a phone and an Internet bill both so this works well. I would like to get someone who could help me make the best choice of phones. My phone choices are a Galaxy s5 vs a Galaxy note 3. I need a big screen as I use reading glasses as it is. I take a lot of pictures. I mostly do a lot of surfing for ministry needs but also need some kind of gps for directions. I have large hands but never used a stylus pen can anyone help me may the best choice in phones between these two. Also I am not computer or smartphone savvy so I don’t use any phone to its capacity but want to be a good steward of money God has blessed me with . Someone please help

  8. zookr Says:

    ZeroLemon battery

    7100 mAh


  9. Adrian Says:

    Well, I bought Samsung Galaxy S5 after I sold a HTC One Mini and a Samsung Galaxy S2 without conviction….Previously I had had an iPhone 4. Soon I realized that I have done the best choice….
    This is the raw reality:) : if you simply want the best smartphone money can buy, get the Samsung Galaxy S5.

  10. C.B. Reed Says:

    I’ve never seen anyone as happy about Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay as Avram is. Most reviewers and users find it annoying and wish it weren’t on the phone. That’s why this reads like Samsung ad copy.

  11. Nikki Says:

    Mr Glen Starling,

    Dont know if this helps or not, I kind of understand your dilemma.. I recently stepped up to a high end smart phone after buying very cheap ones for years.. I could never affort one.. I’ll cut the story short; I ended up purchasing a Sony Xperia Z2 which was cheaper than Apple and Samsung, but that was not why I choose the Sony.. If you have time check them out online, it has what you need in a phone.. I rarely bother with a computer any more, I use Optus prepaid $2 days.. I pay $60 a month for unlimited calls, sms ans 500mb of data on 4G.. If I wish to use the internet on my PC I simply use my phones tethering to hotspot and off I go.. If I happen to go over my daily data it cots $2 for a 1GB top up.. I was using a cheap smartphone and a Samsung Galaxy 2 Tab, this phone is all I need now.. Good luck :)

  12. Lilith Says:

    The S5 did well with a few stuff:
    1. Ultra Power Saving Mode (Counter the bloatware baked into Touchwiz)
    2. Ultra Bight and Dim Mode
    3. A better-looking Touchwiz (I liked Samsung’s version of the notification bar better than stock)

    But on the flip side:
    1. A ugly back (Even if I use a bumper case on my phone, it still doesn’t feel good buying a phone that doesn’t look good

    2. The redundant heart rate monitor

    3. The fingerprint sensor that is more useless than that on the iphone 5s (They could have put it on the back where the heart rate monitor was)

    4. The bloatware like Chaton is stil locked on the phone (unless you root)

  13. Ramrod Says:

    Failure to include the Nokia 1520 makes this entire review bogus.

  14. Nathan Says:

    Glen Starling, I’d recommend the Note 3. I love it.

  15. Ninja404 Says:

    If the ASUS ZenFone 6 was compatible with 4G it already is far better than any phone on the market! The iPhone is the worst smart phone right now! 1.3gHz processor, no microSD slot, horrible camera, small, short battery life, only compatible with Apple products and services, and more!

  16. Dan Spisiak Says:

    I sooo disagree with your assessment. The Samsungs have no battery life after just a few short months. Android operating systems is a pain. Has many features no business person nees and not very good function for road warriors. S4 makes for a terrible phone but a good “mini pad”

  17. Rob Says:

    Although I don’t really agree about the S5 (It’s a good device, but I’m partial to Oppo, Xiaomi and other off-the-beaten-path droids), my reason for commenting is your choice of pics. A Mister Softee truck! I’m a native New Yorker who now lives in Minneapolis and that’s one of the things I miss most about “home.” Gourmet food is now everywhere, but street food…well…that remains entirely localized.

  18. Barb Says:

    I have a dilemma, I live in the country where I am in a valley and surrounded by trees. I bought a Galaxy s4 and have very little coverage – they sent it in to possibly get fixed and got a Galaxy s2 and a Galaxy s2 Note where I received better coverage than with the s4. I have a chance to change phones but I don’t know which one to get. I need something that I will have better coverage in the house as well as in the yard – s4 does NOT give me that. Any suggestions?????

  19. Sam Withoff Says:

    I really liked the article on the Samsung S5.`I’m certain,to be the best Phone,even with the Iphone 6 out.
    Your article made my mind,
    Sincerely Your.
    Sam Withoff.

  20. Clifford staley Says:

    The only problem, is they can’t do software right. Twice, their upgrade has broken my phone. I had 5 s3’s because they think a new phone will fix SW. Gave up got s5, worked until upgrade, then no phone book in car. They said “sorry”, must be firmware. Tried Samsung reps phone in my car same problem. Apple works LG works. Not Samsung for the second time. Poll your readership. Lots of SW issues.

  21. Unhappy camper Says:

    Email on my new S5 periodically leaves and email unsent. It says ‘failed’, gives no notification and usually cannot be successfully retried!!!! Never had a cell phone that did that before. Neither Samsung nor Galaxy S5 is all it is cracked up to be. :(

  22. Ludwig de León Says:

    It’s a good phone, but the brand scam customer . My phone present a problem in the battery , and the detection of corroding got no warranty, my phone has only been wetted by rain. He is a fraud. I can imagine if I put it to me pisicina stops working after a few months .I resolve not disappoint me and did not resist the phone to water.

  23. robert Says:

    Hello Avram I am an experiementel photographer and have the following question: I work with a Galaxy 4 and a Galaxy 5 and I would like to be able to control the camera Galaxy 5 via Galax4, sort of remotecontrolling one Smartphone with the other one.

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