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Monday 22 September 2014

Tech Insider

Jessica Kelly

Published 24/04/2014 | 02:30

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Review: Samsung S5

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It's often said that human beings are creatures of habit and that we don't like change, but making the move to Samsung's new Galaxy S5 has been such a treat. While it may not look massively different to the S4, the Galaxy S5 packs an extra punch that places it on the centre podium for top-end smartphones, rivalling the HTC One M8 and blowing the iPhone 5 out of the water.

After almost two weeks of use some of the features that separate it from the rest are:

Interface: The simplicity of the Samsung user-interface is something that's easily overlooked, but does in fact make a huge difference to the usability of the phone. Anyone making the jump from iOS or Windows to Android should become accustomed quickly, and find customising the device to their taste pain free. Samsung load their phones up with a whole host of applications which can be used or scrapped, depending on the user's preference. S Health is one of Samsung's selling points for the device and while it does monitor heart rates and count calories, the simple pedometer is one feature anyone can use and understand the results.

Cameras: The 16MP rear camera and a 2.1MP front camera illuminate the instances of poor quality photos. The rear camera boasts an autofocus feature that is as slick as any camera feature on offer. The front camera is perfect for selfie taking! The 2.1MP lens ensures the user ends up with a high quality image and the eye detection technology makes sure all faces are looking at the screen.

Battery: If you believe every press release issued, battery life on phones is a non-issue. But if you've ever used a smart-device, you'll know the truth! Samsung have loaded a very smart power saving mode onto the S5 which turns colours into black and white and pulls back the strain on the processor at times of lower battery. The Samsung stats claim the S5 can last a week whilst in standby mode.

Blocking Mode: For those who don't possess a personal "off" switch, the blocking mode is a handy tool for forcing oneself out of work mode. This allows users to disable incoming calls, notifications and alarms, with just the swipe of a toggle. Within the settings of 'Blocking Mode' users can set a timer meaning at a certain point every evening they will not receive any incoming calls, but normal service resumes at a time of choice. There is an option to 'allow contacts' too.

The fingerprint scanner should be on the 'amazing feature' list, but unfortunately it sits on the shelf in between "cool" and "gimmick". The idea behind the fingerprint scanner is to remove the need for passwords and PINs. In an ideal world a user would swipe their finger over the 'home' button on the S5 and the phone will unlock. That user can then go onto PayPal and make a purchase with another swipe of their thumb over the home button, rather than logging in.

In the real world, however, it's not as slick as that. Adding a fingerprint to the memory of the phone takes less than two minutes, but attempting to unlock the phone with the print swipe only worked two out of five times during testing. It's easy to get fed up with this type of feature very quickly. In summary: nice idea but not the finished article, by any stretch of the imagination.

Pet peeves:

Sadly, few things in life are perfect and while there are not many – certain features of the phone were more irritating than innovative.

Charger-port cover: It's not difficult to understand the need for a charger port cover; it adds to the water resistance of the phone – but realistically, how often does that happen? The little cover makes it tricky to slot the S5 into charger docks and speakers, which gets annoying after a while!

Menu button: This may well be minor but Samsung have changed the menu button to an app manager / task killer button. Not only was the menu button useful, but anyone who is used to using Samsung will now accidentally kill their apps mid-way through tasks, instead of jumping to the menu.

Overall:

There is nothing too taxing the S5. It's a simple smartphone with a 5.1-inch screen, that has the power needed to multi-task and has a host of great features.

Jessica Kelly is the technology reporter for Newstalk 106-108fm

Irish Independent

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