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Samsung Galaxy S5 first impressions: a loaded flagship with innovative features [pictures and video]

|March 27 2014 |Android Phones, Samsung


"It came, it saw, but will it conquer? Only time will tell, but till then, here's a closer look at the Samsung Galaxy S5"


We just got our first look at the HTC One (M8) a couple of days ago, and now it's the turn of yet another marquee device to take centre stage. Ladies and gents, please welcome the very accomplished Samsung Galaxy S5 amongst our midst. Samsung is playing cagey by not divulging the exact pricing, but it has revealed that the device will be priced between Rs 51,000 and Rs 53,000 when it lands on shelves in India on April 11th. That's a lot of money to pay for sure, but Samsung's new baby does have quite a few innovative features packed in. We messed around with a demo unit at the launch event and here's what we feel about the device.


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First up, you'll be fine if you don't keep your hopes too high as far as design is concerned – the Galaxy S5 is not a massive jump over its predecessor, the Galaxy S4. The S5 is encased in plastic, though notably, it features a perforated pattern at the rear that imparts an extra layer of flamboyance, if we can call it that.

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The device will be available in four colours – black, white, blue and gold – but otherwise, sticks to the same design ethos we've seen on the Galaxy S4. However, the newest features and capabilities it packs inside are extremely noteworthy, to say the least.

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Let's get a quick overview of the construction first. The front is the usual mixture of screen (5.1-inch, full HD), home button flanked by the usual two capacitive keys Samsung typically uses, volume rocker on the left, power key on the right, and the headset socket plus the IR blaster on top. The notable differences are that the port at the bottom is covered by a flap, opening which reveals a microUSB 3.0 orifice – the same one we saw back on the Galaxy Note 3. Also, the home button cleverly hides a fingerprint sensor, in much the same way Apple's implemented this for the iPhone 5s.

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Flip it around and your senses might just be overwhelmed by the perforated pattern on the rear. It may be a subtle addition, but it does attract a lot of attention, especially at first glance... but more so with the blue and the gold variants than the other two. Apart from the mandatory Samsung branding, you'll find a large camera lens that hides a 16-megapixel ISOCELL sensor, with another smaller sensor below it that measures your heart rate (with the help of the preloaded S Health app) when you place your finger on it.

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The rear panel can be pried open to reveal the removable 2,800mAh battery, along with the slots that gobble up a microSD card (of up to 128GB capacity) and a micro-SIM.

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Software-wise, the Galaxy S5 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat, with Samsung's proprietary TouchWiz UI. The UI now comes with quite a few features and looks a tad flatter and cleaner than before. The fingerprint sensor works by swiping down from the bottom of the screen, in such a way that your finger moves across the home button. This is a security feature that, apart from giving you access to the device, can also be configured to enable a private mode that secures personal data such as media and documents. To set up the fingerprint scanner for the first time, you need to go into settings and find the Finger Scanner option. You need to swipe your finger eight times to set it up at first, and the device can store prints of up to three fingers. Additionally, the setup process also requires you to enter a PIN as a backup access option.

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Another new feature is the inclusion of a special battery-saving feature called the Ultra Power Saving mode, similar to what we saw on the HTC One (M8). This turns off all features that consume battery, and gives you a very basic UI with access to a few bare-minimum functions like calling and messaging, enhancing available battery life significantly if levels are critical and you want to ensure you're able to stay connected with others, or are traveling and expect to be away from a power socket for a long time.

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Based on our limited testing with the demo unit, the screen looks scrumptious, while the true octa-core Exynos processor and 2GB of RAM keep things fluid. We didn't get a chance to try out the 16MP camera properly, but it does have quite a few interesting specs and features – like the ISOCELL sensor that improves low-light photography, selective focus for background refocus and extremely fast autofocus speeds.

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Of course, we'll be getting you the complete lowdown of the Galaxy S5's capabilities when we get to review it properly, but suffice to say that while the smartphone does come with some extremely compelling features, Samsung will need to make extra efforts to make sure the brand can stay ahead of the game. The competition is heating up, with other flagships such as the HTC One (M8) and the Sony Xperia Z2 landing in India soon, just as pressure builds up from other brands like Gionee and Xiaomi who can offer top-notch specs at significantly lower price points. If you like your battles bloody, grab a bag of popcorn... we have ringside seats waiting for you so you can get the coverage as it happens.

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