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Why everyone hates the Galaxy S5 (and why they probably shouldn’t)

Kris Carlon
11

The Galaxy S5 officially arrived last night to the sound of crickets and shattered expectations. While there is absolutely nothing wrong the S5, there’s also not that much right when you consider it was supposedly developed to correct the failings in the transition between the Galaxy S3 and S4. Instead, the Galaxy S5 seems to make the same mistakes as the Galaxy S4 did – it’s too close to its predecessor with a few gimmicks loaded on top.

galaxy s5 press
© Samsung Mobile

The problem with these gimmicks – a harsh term to be sure – is that they are not really innovative, but rather a mishmash of stuff we’ve already seen on various other devices from other manufacturers. Sure, it’s nice to have them all together in one flagship Samsung device but there’s nothing that’s going to make your brain explode here. While I agree that the S5 is a little disappointing there’s more to consider, on both sides that warrant consideration. Instant bashing (just add trolling) is a knee-jerk response usually perpetrated by people who haven’t even seen the device, let alone used it. I’ve done both and I’m on the fence. Here’s why.

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Samsung didn’t end up taking the 2K display route and has the same Full HD display as the S4. © AndroidPIT

Why all the long faces?

One of the biggest failings in my opinion is that Samsung didn’t end up taking the 2K display route – something that would have guaranteed the wow factor and smoothed over other disappointments. To make a point, the S5 has the same Full HD display as the S4, the battery is only a smidgeon larger than the S4, the 3 GB of RAM in the Note 3 didn’t make it to the S5 (so it too has 2 GB of RAM, like the S4), there’s a marginally larger display that somehow requires a bigger and heavier housing and the “new” TouchWiz is a hot mess that reeks of being half-finished.

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 The “new” TouchWiz is a hot mess that reeks of being half-finished. © AndroidPIT

On the brighter side

There, however, are some positives to be found in this regard: the flat new interface looks quite good even if it is uneven, the Magazine UX (which lives where Google Now does on the Nexus 5, as a home screen) looks pretty good and the experience is actually pretty nice throughout the S5, even if I think this largely because it’s a nice departure from the rather dull UI on the S4. But then, the Magazine UX looks like Blinkfeed and assumes a position better occupied by Google Now, the settings menu is a weird iOS/Windows 8/I-don’t-know-what hybrid and there’s not much consistency going on anywhere. It all feels a little slapped together, unlike Samsung’s excellent PR for the device.

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Magazine UX (right) looks pretty good and the experience is actually pretty nice throughout the S5. © AndroidPIT

It seems like a few things may have converged at the last minute that stopped the S5 from getting the final polish it deserved and that we expected. Sure, iris scanners in development, supply chain issues, prohibitive component costs, too short a timeframe for changes to be implemented at scale and the whole Google licensing deal recently may have all contributed to the result, but if so, would it be wiser to delay a launch and produce a stunner than force it half-cocked? Re-presenting a dressed up S4 with new gimmicks does not a flagship make. But what would the backlash be like if it was delayed?

Samsung is getting back to basics

Perhaps when Samsung said they wanted to get back to basics, they simply meant they had no plans to innovate on the core of the device and simply improve the camera and add a little “glam” along with some features from other OEMs? One thing is for certain though, the leap between the S4 and S5 is not big enough to keep commentators from saying that Samsung has made the same mistakes with the S5 as they did with the S4. Still, it is undeniably a very nice device; perhaps not up to everyone’s expectations, but then, what device ever is?

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The plus side: 4K video and a better OIS camera with post-focusing and cool panoramic modes. © AndroidPIT

What is has going for it

On the positive side, you’ve got a better processor, 4K video, water-resistance, a better camera with post-focusing and cool panoramic modes (sort of like making your own Google Street View), insanely fast auto-focus (0.3 seconds), a fingerprint scanner, new UI, a brilliant Ultra Power-Saving mode that will get you 24 hours on only 10% charge by going grey-scale and more that we’ll cover in a software features article. Add all this up and it sounds like a recipe for success, and yet no one seems to like the taste left in their mouth left by the S5.

I’m as disappointed as most others with certain aspects of the S5, but after having played with it for a while I realized that it’s not really so bad after all. Is a better equipped and snappier S4 such a bad thing? I certainly think the “innovations” introduced, or rather added to, the Galaxy S5 are more useful than those stuffed into the S4. I also expect to like the Galaxy S5 more the more I use it, once I get over the fact it looks so uninteresting. Sure, the Galaxy S5 may not be the rockstar everyone had been hoping for, but it’s still on stage, under the spotlight where it belongs and will put on a good show no matter what the fans say.

Are you disappointed by the Galaxy S5 or do you think it fulfills the promises made by its predecessor?

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Comments

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  • Saem Sarguroh 5 months ago Link

    I am ready to accept the Galaxy S5 as a revised Galaxy S4 but the main problem is they will charge it as if it is the best device in the market out there which it is not.

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  • Mickey Dillard 5 months ago Link

    Samsung didnt learn anything from the drop off in sales on the S4.Too much bloatware and Too little storage.All that was available in the united states was the measly 16gb version or should i be real and say 9 gb.Thats just not enough storage.And no the expandable storage didnt help(It is for media only,pics,videos and music).So this is really just a galaxy 4.5.The S4 is the point that i dropped samsung and went to the wonderful LG G2,It starts out at 32gb.I dont see anything on the S5 that would make me change back.Even if it was going to be my 1st phone ever theres nothing there that screams i gotta have that S5.Too many better choices nowadays.The last good phone samsung had was the still the very good S3.

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  • Karen Mulhern 5 months ago Link

    the biggest reason I switch/upgrade phones is for the camera. I'm very happy with my current S3 camera and wonder if the S5's cam lives up to the hype. If you could do a feature article on the S5 camera I'd love it!!

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  • David H. 5 months ago Link

    Well... a lot of the negatives aren't even a consideration for many people.
    For myself I won't even use touchwiz if I had this device, but apex launcher or nova launcher.

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  • Jeff Goldfinch 5 months ago Link

    I feel like they just push these new models out too fast behind a lot of hype .why would I replace my s4 with this .I just think if they actually waited longer until they actually had some decent new technology on them they would be doing themselves a favour .I love new phones but this is not worth the upgrade .I think at this rate your better off buying every second model to make you feel like it's was a big change

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  • Robert Flores Jr 5 months ago Link

    who's disappointed not me I'm getting it when it comes out yes Sir

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  • Chadwick 5 months ago Link

    Samsung's saving grace was the unrivalled power and innovation of their new flagship Galaxy S phones.. ppl were willing to live with touch wiz, bloatware, GPS issues and all the other glitches that came with owning the BEST Android smartphone in the world.. ppl evn forgave the ultra frustratingly agonizing waits for OS updates.. again.. you owned the BEST..

    but now those feelings.. the security and pride of owning the most powerful SUPERphone on earth and the willingness to come to terms with certain deficiencies and obnoxiousness.. are becoming feelings of frustration and betrayal.. by the lack of innovation and being ignored and dismissed en masse by Samsung creating a less than BEST product..

    the Samsung Galaxy S5 was supposed to be so much more..literally and figuratively.. without it being "THAT" phone so much of what Samsung hung it's hat on is gone

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  • HendrikJB 5 months ago Link

    Well, well I`ve been prophesying that Samsung will soon become SamGONE!! Mickey Dillard`s comment, as well as some others, shows that it is on it`s way out. Remember that BlackBerry also thought that they`ll always be on top. Whereas BB did nothing to stay on top, SamGONE is actually actively pushing themselves out of the market. I was hoping that the S5 will be worthwhile but it is obvious that it is not. Thus my next phone will most probably NOT be from SamGONE!!

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  • Philipp Junghannß (My1) 5 months ago Link

    2K display on a phone? Get real. Not really and and just a possible excuse to get the price even higher. But yet they roughly maintained their start price...

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  • plck74 5 months ago Link

    i accept the spec but still i go for note 4...

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  • CJ Brown 5 months ago Link

    As impressive as the S5 is? Both the S3 and S4 seem to be fine (in my opinion) with very little improvement to warrant upgrading to an S5 (sorry Samsung, but you pulled an Apple iPhone5 this year! Please go back to the lab and come out with an S5 that's similar to a Samsung Mega - only better, of course!) .....

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