Samsung’s got a hit on their hands. Starting yesterday, March 21st, Samsung teamed up with Best Buy to offer consumers a chance to try out the Galaxy S5 up to three weeks before it’s officially released. Naturally, I proceeded to my own local Best Buy to see the phone for myself. I apologize for any background noise you may hear, but this was Best Buy at 7 PM on a Friday night.
The only color of the S5 that was on display was the White model. I can’t speak about the other colors since I have yet to see them, but the White S5 looks really good and feels excellent in the hand. Next to the Note 3, it’s almost the same size. Against the iPhone 5s, there’s no comparison in screen size.
The software on the Galaxy S5, even with Touchwiz still not revamped, is very smooth. In my little less than an hour of using the device, I hardly noticed any lag. Lag is a particular sticking point to me, so I’m very glad to not have noticed any. And this is most likely pre-production software too, so extra kudos to Samsung.
Samsung finally ditched the hardware menu key with the Galaxy S5 and replaced it with a menu key. But since I have used previous Samsung Galaxy devices, I sometimes pressed the wrong button to activate a feature. But if I lived with this phone for a few days, I’m sure I would get used to it.
Let’s move onto the extra hardware. The heart rate sensor is actually very cool. You just launch the app from either a widget or S Health and place your finger on the sensor. It feels very natural and it’s consistent. I tested it a few times and my heart rate was always between 93 and 102.
Due to the phone being tethered to the table through a wire, I wasn’t able to test the camera. But the shots I attempted to take of the table were all crisp and clear. But when I tried to zoom in across the aisle to the Macs at 4X zoom, the picture was blurry. But if I weren’t tethered, I’m sure the shot would have been much better.
The screen is gorgeous. It’s full 1080P and is 5.1″ tall. Video looks crystal clear on it and even in Best Buy, I was able to hear YouTube videos very well. Unfortunately simply putting a finger over the speaker greatly muffled the sound, even on full volume. When you hear the audio of the phone getting very quiet in the embedded video, that’s what’s happening. If you get this phone, mind the speaker on the back.
In the first time I’ve seen in awhile, scrolling on an Android phone for me didn’t lag. Even my Google Play Edition HTC One sometimes lagged when scrolling through websites on Google Chrome. However, I didn’t detect any lag and it was totally fluid. Whatever Samsung has done to optimize this, they should be applauded.
My Magazine is a good feature on the S5. It lets users see the news from their favorite categories of information, say technology and sports. But it’s a lot clunkier than Blinkfeed on the HTC One with Sense. It doesn’t seem to load as many articles and was (in the five minutes I used it) clunky. Hopefully on someone’s phone with final software, it gets better.
I also was able to try out the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit. They all seem to be much better than the original Galaxy Gear was at launch. But Samsung’s choice to keep the camera on the Gear 2 and make the Gear Fit sideways puzzle me. If I was going to take a picture, I would use my phone, not my watch.
And it’s not a good experience to have to turn your entire write to look at a notification or navigate. Samsung should make the Gear 2 Neo the regular Gear 2 and figure out how to make the Gear Fit better. Of course, as this is an editorial, this is my opinion.
All in all, I think the Samsung Galaxy S5 and new Gear line are excellent. The Galaxy S5 is fast, fluid, and works exactly how you would expect it to. All three of the Gear models work like you would expect them to as well. In the US at least, all of these devices go on sale officially in early April.
Here’s a bonus from Best Buy as well. If you pre-order the device through them for your carrier, they will give you a $10 gift card to their store, which you could use on a case for your phone, or Google Play cards. I hope you appreciate my take on the Galaxy S5 and head out to your own selectedBest Buy store to test out the S5 for yourself.