Samsung Galaxy S5 Review Roundup: The Good and The Bad


Is the Galaxy S5 worth all the excitement? Touting new features like a fingerprint reader, heart rate monitor and a high-speed camera, Samsung’s new flagship Android phone makes some impressive steps forward. The first reviewers seem especially impressed with the S5’s water-resistant shell.

However, the device faces some stiff competition in the Android market, especially from the excellent HTC One M8. Plus, many are finding the heart rate monitor and fingerprint reader to be inconsistent. Is the Galaxy S5 going to be another hit? Here’s what the critics are saying. Stay tuned for Laptop Mag’s in-depth review.

Geoffrey Fowler, The Wall Street Journal 


The Good: “The Galaxy S5 has a waterproof exterior that survived a dunking in a margarita, a plunge in to a toilet, and left overnight in strawberry Jell-O. (Yes, I tried.)”

“The Galaxy S5 is easier to use than the S4. Samsung is playing down a long list of the dubious and confusing services it touted with the previous model, like “air gesture” controls to manipulate the screen without touch. It also no longer pre-installs some space-hogging apps like the Samsung Hub for buying music and video.”

MORE: Samsung Galaxy S5 vs HTC One M8: Ultimate Android Battle

The Bad: “The heart rate sensor, one of the Galaxy S5’s advertised breakthroughs, worked about half the time in my tests. Sometimes it reported rates that were way off.”

 Jessica Dolcourt, CNET


The Good: “I like what Samsung did to clean up the camera experience, but the Galaxy S5‘s expanded editing tools are my favorite. Not only do they get a spiffier look, there are a lot more of them, including the ability to resize images, tweak portraits, and decorate, even annotate, pictures.”

“If performance clinches the deal for you, the Galaxy S5 is one mean speed demon.”

The Bad: “I would, however, skip the Galaxy S5 if you like metal covering your smartphone, if you don’t need every feature under the sun, or if you prefer a cleaner version of Android.”

 Gareth Beavis, TechRadar

galaxys5 2

The Good: “The screen on the Samsung Galaxy S5 is one of the best on the market, and easily the best feature of the phone.”

“I’m just going to come out and say it: battery life on the Samsung Galaxy S5 is excellent.”

MORE: 6 Reasons the Galaxy S5 Beats the iPhone 5s

The Bad: “Despite the fact Samsung is probably going to sell a record number of Galaxy S5 units, I can’t help but think it’s missed a massive trick by popping out another phone clad in plastic.”

“I wasn’t always impressed by the speed of the phone either – the camera could take a while to load, games sometimes showed lag and opening the gallery will always be a sticking point for me.”

Harry McCracken, Time

Galaxy s5 4

The Good: “Much of what’s new in the S5 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.”

“I’m smitten with the new Ultra Power Saving Mode, which you can switch on in case of dire emergencies such as your battery gauge dipping below 10% when you’re attending a conference and won’t be able to top it up for hours.”

The Bad: “Sadly, the fingerprint scanner is nowhere near as well done as Touch ID. You need to drag your finger or thumb across the entire home button in a precise, vertical swipe; if you do it carefully, the odds that the scanner will recognize your print are high, but it’s a two-handed job.”

 Edward C. Baig, USA Today


The Good: “The S5 has an eye-popping 5.1-inch Super Amoled 1080p display that can adapt to its lighting environment.”

“This latest flagship arguably goes further than any rival device in pushing health and fitness and a connection to wearable computers such as Samsung’s own new Gear Fit.”

MORE: Android Wear Watches: 5 Things We Know, 5 We Don’t

The Bad: “Alas, I had trouble with the first test unit Samsung supplied — my fingerprint batting average was no better than 30%”

“HTC still gets the nod over the Galaxy for its external stereo speakers.”

Bottom Line

Based on these early reviews, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is shaping up to be a speedy and durable S4 successor that packs lots of useful features without overwhelming you with options. However, it seems that many reviewers are having trouble with the handset’s fingerprint reader and heart rate monitor, both of which are new to the Galaxy series and may take some updates to iron out the kinks.

The Galaxy S5 releases Apr. 11 and will be available on AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint. The 16GB version of the handset will run you $199 with a two-year contract, and you’ll be able to choose between black, white, gold and electric blue depending on your carrier. We look forward to bringing you our full review of the Galaxy S5. 

Michael Andronico
Michael Andronico
A devout gamer and tech enthusiast, Mike Andronico joined the Laptop team in July 2013. With a B.A. in Journalism from Purchase College and experience at GameNGuide, Examiner and 2D-X, Mike tackles everything from iPhone rumors to in-depth hardware reviews.
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