April 21, 2014, 3:10 PM — The Samsung Galaxy S5 has finally been released, and is available on multiple carriers in the U.S. and worldwide. Is this latest in the Galaxy line the best phone you can buy?
There's no doubt that this is a pretty spectacular device, and an improvement on the S4. Start with the screen: The 5.1-inch 1080p HD AMOLED display is crisp, clear, and with vivid colors. You'll be surprised how good HD videos look on it. It's got plenty of real estate for getting what you want done, but isn't so big and bulky that it's awkward to carry around or use.
The phone runs the latest version of Android, KitKat, and layers on top of it Samsung's TouchWiz interface. I'm not a particular fan of mucking around with Android, and TouchWiz in the past has been more intrusive than it needs to be. It still is, but it's been dialed back a bit, so isn't quite as annoying as it's been on past Galaxy phones. Along those line, you thankfully won't find as much bloatware on the S5 as on previous Galaxy's, including the Samsung Hub.
The phone has got plenty of power and memory: a 2.5GHz quad core processor, 2GB of RAM, and either 16 GB or 32GB of disk space, plus a microSD slot that can hold up to 128G of additional storage. It's got all the port and connectivity options you'd want, including NFC, MIMO WiFi, and USB 3.0.
There's also all the sensors you would want, including not just all the usuals, but also a heart rate sensor, and a fingerprint scanner. The camera and video capture have been improved. It's now 16 megapixel instead of 13 megapixel, and the photos are stellar. Video by default is captured in 1080p HD resolution, and you can also choose to use ultra-HD mode, also called 4K video. And there's plenty of special effects and filters you can add.
There's more, including a new ultra power saving mode that Samsung claims can power your phone for far longer. And there's a download booster as well, that combines WiFi and data networks to speed up your downloads.
And finally, the phone is now dust-resistant and water-resistant. That's not true waterproofing, but it's still pretty good -- rated to be able to be underwater at a depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. So no, you won't take it scuba diving, but on the other hand, you won't need to worry about spilling water on it, or being caught in a downpour.
So is it the best phone money can buy? If not, it's awfully close. I'll be taking head-to-head looks at it against other phones in future posts.