Samsung’s flagship has come under criticism; the plastic housing in particular was not well received. However, the S5 is clearly one of the best smartphones of 2014.
Word has since gotten out that the Galaxy S5 has not lived up to the expectations of Samsung. In Germany, the many discount offers in recent weeks are an indication that S5 models are clogging up the warehouses. Samsung has not commented on this nor has it issued figures, but the Wall Street Journal assumes that 40 percent fewer units were sold worldwide than was planned.
Strong competition, saturated markets – the reasons could be manifold. You can get an important part of the answer when you look at the Galaxy S4: the 2013 flagship wins in a superficial comparison. Although the display is only slightly smaller (5 inches instead of 5.1 inches), the smartphone is much more compact and lighter than its successor. In addition, the S5 has visibly evolved neither in the design nor in material selection. Thus, both models have the typical Samsung look – with a housing made entirely of plastic. It is very sturdy, radio waves can pass through it well and it allows for quick battery changes, but it’s no revelation in terms of the feel. If you only look at the housing, the Galaxy S4 beats out the S5.
Even after switching on, the differences are limited, because the displays also do not differ much. In both cases, the OLEDs have a strong contrast and vibrant colors, but not particularly bright rays, meaning you will have problems reading on a summer day. That the S5 screen is 0.1 inches larger and more luminous (339 instead of 287 candela) is only noticeable if you look closely.
Was it a mistake to make the housing of the S5 water- and dustproof in accordance with IP67? The ample dimensions are likely due primarily to the significantly more robust construction – but on the other hand, they mark an important advantage of the Galaxy S5 compared to the S4. In terms of technology, the current flagship also has more: the Snapdragon 801 chipset, which sets the pace in the Galaxy S5, is much more powerful than the Snapdragon 600 in the S4 model.
The camera: although image quality and functionality in the S4 are very good, the difference compared to the S5 is nevertheless great because Samsung has made huge upgrades in the form of a very fast phase comparison autofocus, real-time HDR and the ability to record 4K video.
The differences in the test lab are also clear, especially when it comes to battery life. In standardized connect mixed use, the Galaxy S4 only lasts 5:47 hours, while the successor holds out for about one third longer at 8:17 hours. Samsung has also optimized the antenna design, and the radio services are better across the board.
At 440 euros, the Galaxy S5 is about 170 euros more expensive than its predecessor. For the extra money, you get longer battery life, a more powerful processor and a better camera, packed in a sturdy housing that withstands temporary immersion. The display and design, however, have hardly changed. Whether the price difference is justified depends on how important each of these areas are to you. The 270 euros that the S4 costs today is a great price for an ex-flagship with top workmanship from a brand like Samsung.