MWC 2014: François’s Galaxy S5 first impressions

Device appearance

This is a regression overall from the Galaxy S4. It looks cheap, in hands it’s similar to S4 and doesn’t give a higher quality feeling like the Note 3.
Usually I like black devices but this time I don’t like it much, it’s plain, boring. The blue one is not much to my taste either, yellow was very repulsive (like ew), and the white one has also a white front.

Display

Super AMOLED still, same matrix as the S4 or Note3.
The dynamic range between lowest brightness and brightest levels is increased which is appreciable.
I spent most of my time actually measuring with sensor and spectro so I didn’t looked much yet.
Measurement will tell about the accuracy (I got full precision readings in Standard and Professional Photo display modes)
You have choices and also can disable most of what’s processing that would come in the way which is great.

Sound

Speaker is still on the back, it gets reasonably loud, the frequency response is okay but nothing special here and without an actual comparison it’s hard to tell how different it is from the S4

Headphone out exhibit audible resampling 44.1 to 48k artifacts.
Very disappointing audio processing here. The time when Samsung were producing best in class audio using wolfsonmicro codecs is long gone I’m afraid.

Camera

This is interesting!
I love the realtime hardware HDR feature. White balance is also spot on in early tests and color response also particularly great; also a noticeable improvement compared to the S4 in the same conditions.

I’m disappointed by the fact video stabilization is still absent in 4k, and yeah there’s no OIS here so if you want to actually film in 4k with this device a steadicam or another kind of mount will be required.
The continuous autofocus behaved poorly in my video tests so far, staying out of focus for several seconds until you touch the subject manually.
It’s too early to speak about the efficiency of the announced phase detect AF in pictures, the current firmware is probably not mature enough for video AF today as well.

More

The ROM modifications including the skin settings are not as bad as I expected. This is an OK UX.
Water resistance is a nice bonus.
Heartbeat sensor? I don’t get it. Existing apps using the camera provide a nicer realtime representation and seemingly just as accurate readings.

After the Z2 unveiling this presentation was underwhelming, for me the only thing that saves this phone is it’s camera; for pictures. And the Super AMOLED is used in more adequate ways than before – still gives a good experience.

I hope improved the color rendering and lens of the Z2 camera as it was a huge pain point of Z1 and Z1 compact so far.
If they did, their offering will be IMHO much more convincing than today’s Samsung one.

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