Hands on: Can Samsung Galaxy S5 outsmart the rest?

Fingerprint scanner, heart-rate monitor among additions to android phone

Samsung unveiled the latest addition to its Galaxy smartphone line-up on Monday (Febraury 24). Complete with fingerprint scanner for mobile payments, the Galaxy S5 was the focus of a glitzy launch event on the sidelines to the Mobile World Congress

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 09:19

Looking at the Galaxy S5, it’s difficult to pick out major differences from its predecessor. Sure, the screen is a little bigger, at 5.1 inches. And in the light of Samsung’s test area, it certainly looks brighter than the S4.

The icons looks cleaner too, so there’s been some redesign going on inside Samsung HQ.

Fingerprints

The S5 is more of an incremental update than the major overhaul that some may have been hoping for, but it does have a couple of things in its favour. The first is the fingerprint scanner. Not just a way to unlock your phone, it will also be linked to your financial information (if you want) so you can pay by scanning your fingerprint rather than having to remember passwords and security codes.

The first to sign up for this is Paypal, which will use the new technology where retailers will accept mobile payments and in-store.

It’s inevitable that the fingerprint scanning function will lead to comparisons with the iPhone 5S; Samsung should probably get used to hearing that one now.

Battery boost

The S5 screen is super AMOLED rather than the qHD that has been seen in other phones unveiled at this year’s Mobile World Congress, but that also means it’s less of a power hog. That fits in with Samsung’s progress towards a leaner, more power efficient phone. The company makes some good claims about battery life, but given the short period of time you get with the devices, this has yet to be tested.

One thing to note is that Samsung has a new ultra low power mode for those emergency situations when you are praying that the battery will just until you reach a charger. Activate this and when the phone reaches a certain power level, the screen will be changed to black and white and everything but the essential services will be switched off, minimising the power drain as much as possible.

Heart monitor

Turn the S5 over and there’s a heart rate sensor on the back of the phone. It would be easy to miss it; it looks like it should have something to do with the camera rather than measuring your pulse. You simply hold your finger over it, and the app will read your heart rate.

The rear of the phone has a perforated design to it, which Samsung says will make it easier to hold. The immediate reaction online, however, has been less favourable, comparing it to a Bandaid plaster.

Different strokes, however, and with that in mind, the S5 comes in a few different colours. And there are a whole heap of accessories for it too.

But is it enough to make the upgrade if you’re already an S4 user? For some, it won’t be enough although the lure of better battery life might be tempting.

However, those still holding on to their S3 and older handsets may well jump to the new version.

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