Samsung Galaxy S5 - does it live up to the hype?

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress – a waterproof smartphone that combines fitness tracking with a fingerprint scanner and high-end 16MP camera - as well as the next gen Galaxy Gear 2 and the lighter Galaxy Neo 2.

24 Feb 2014


Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S5 - a smartphone that monitors your heart rate and steps taken and allows you to pay for things with a simple tap on its fingerprint scanner.

The Galaxy S5 was launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona alongside a new Galaxy Gear smartwatch which is also designed to help you get fit - as well as making calls from your smartphone and changing TV channels.

Samsung Galaxy And Gear

(Credit: AP)

But back to the S5, which will be available in April and runs the Android KitKat operating system and has a 5.25-inch screen.

The phone boasts a 16MP pixel camera with improved focus technology for capturing people dancing, playing football or just clowning around, while it also boasts a special battery-saving mode.

Esat Dedezade of Stuff Magazine was out in Barcelona, and he told Tech Talk: "Samsung has thrown everything but the kitchen sink into the S5. And if you threw an S5 into an actual kitchen sink, it would be just fine, because it's waterproof."

Fast fingers for PayPal payments

The phone's fingerprint scanner allows you to get into it with a simple tap - no more messing around with typing in unlock codes. But the scanner's coolest feature is PayPal integration. Thanks to a partnership between the two firms you can authorise PayPal payments with your fingertip.

Esat told Tech Talk that PayPal integration meant "online shopping becomes effortless too".

Can a phone be your personal trainer?

Samsung Galaxy S5

(Credit: Samsung)

As well as making paying for stuff easier, the Galaxy S5 is also aiming to help you get fit.

You can measure your heart rate by simply tapping your finger against the built-in heart rate monitor, with the data logged in the new S Health app - where you can compare it with previous recordings.

The phone also has a pedometer to count your steps throughout the day, while it can hook up to the Gear 2 smartwatch to further enhance your fitness regime. You can use the phone's app to develop programmes for jogging, or something less taxing - such as taking the stairs and not the lift.

Esat at Stuff told Tech Talk:  "Health fanatics will also appreciate the S5's in-built heart rate scanner to keep on top of their training."

Super snappy camera

Esat called the S5's 16MP camera (increased from 13 MP on Galaxy S4) "clever".

It also boasts what Samsung calls the world's fastest autofocus speed, up to 0.3 seconds, said to be 3 times faster than that of the S4.

Cnet suggested this would offer you better results when shooting moving objects - such as your dog bounding across the park.

Meanwhile there's also a selective focus feature, which allows you to focus on a specific object while blurring out the background at the same time.

The phone also boasts a cool battery-saving mode. Dubbed black and white, it strips the phone down to nothing but calls and texts to limit power drain and save battery.

Another feature impressing the crowd was the device's black-and-white mode - designed to save battery life by limiting the power used by the screen and disabling all but essential features such as text and calls.

Does it live up to the hype?

Tech experts have been unanimous in their summing up that the Samsung Galaxy S5 is a bit of a magpie. They say it has taken the best features out there and combined into one super-slick handset.

Ernest Doku from told the BBC: "A fingerprint ID sensor and an attractive gold model like Apple's iPhone 5s, a water and dust-resistant body like Sony's Xperia Z2, and photography credentials to challenge the best from Nokia."

Simon Stanford, vice president of IT & Mobile division, Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland, said the firm "focused on what mattered most".

He added: "We've decided to go back to basics with the Galaxy S5 and focus on the features and things that matter the most to our customers - namely the camera, ability to view and download data and content quickly and their health and wellbeing."

[UPDATE] Next generation smartwatch

Samsung Gear 2

(Credit: AP)

Samsung also announced the next generation of its Gear smartwatch at Mobile World Congress. With both the Galaxy Gear 2 and the lighter Galaxy Gear 2 Neo you can read texts and make calls from your Galaxy smartphone - but from your wrist.

Hook up to your phone to work towards fitness goals

The smartwatches also help you keep fit too, with both models including heart rate monitors and pedometers as well as being water resistant enough to satisfy the outdoor joggers. Esat at Stuff said the watch "links to your S5 to help you keep on top of your fitness goals".

Fix up, look sharp - and change the TV channel

They look cooler as well, coming in a range of coloured straps and putting the camera on the screen to make the device sleeker than its predecessor, while they can also be used to change the TV channel, with Esat at Stuff saying "Remember those glorious days of the Casio TV-controlling watch? They're back."

The watches are compatible with 12 Samsung smartphones.

Stay tuned to Tech Talk for all the action and news out of Mobile World Congress.