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Review: Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung has upped its game with the newest iteration of Galaxy phones.
Samsung GS5


You know that sound. You’ve just unlocked a Samsung phone. Now get ready to play.

That’s really what the GS5 ($200 with a contract) is about—playing. It’s active and out there; you kind of want to take it on a raft in the middle of the ocean, Temple Run 2 loaded onto it for leisure, and see what happens. I talked a little while ago about brand identities, and how Samsung is poised to become even more über popular as it transitions into the phone for the active person. The GS4 was the evolutionary end (it seemed at the time) to Samsung’s feature-loaded, look-at-me phone, and the GS5 isn’t so drastically different that it would be called a reboot. However, there are a few major—major—differences that demonstrate how the new GS5 is worth a closer look for an adventurer.

First, some basics. The GS5 has the fastest processor on the market, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, and it’s snappy. The TouchWiz IU is cool and fun, if a little “middle school,” with bright colors and soft app icons. The display is bright, 5.1-inch tall, 1920 by 1080 pixels, full-HD resolution at 432 pixels per inch. The body is very similar to the GS4, but more rectangle-shaped, and the plastic back has little dimples, giving it a more premium look than its predecessor. And yes, it texts, has email, makes phone calls… it does everything basic that’s important. So why buy one? Well, it’s the upgrades, both small and large, that make this phone best for the active person.

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First one: Water-proofing. Well, water-resisting. Samsung took a page from Sony’s Xperia playbook, and it’s paid off. They’ve added a little flap over the USB port—I can only imagine engineers shaking their head, saying “obvious”—and the plastic body is water resistant itself, so you can dunk it in a toilet and not have to worry about frying the phone’s guts. I haven’t tried that, per se, but I did drop it in a cup of water. No change. While you can’t quite drown the thing, water-resisting is a huge step in the right direction for phones that people will use when they’re out and about.

Second: The integration of S Health. S Health is a health app that tracks your workouts, acts as a pedometer, and syncs to your Gear Fit smart bracelet. It also has a food component, where you can input your meals and track your macros, and a Coach component that sets goals for you in the exercise, food, sleep and even stress departments of your life. This might be the most obvious appeal for the fit, active dude. I haven’t seen a health app so comprehensive, and the GS5 is not only a phone that does everything better, but is fully integrated into your lifestyle. Although setting a goal of “Love your life” in an app (it’s in the “stress” component of S Health) seems a little… odd, these goals can be helpful reminders. Love your life!

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