Should you buy Samsung Galaxy S5?

The successor of Samsung Galaxy S4, the Samsung Galaxy S5, was unveiled three days ago. Reviewers have had time to talk about the new flagship device by the mobile giant and we too have had time to have a look at reactions to those reviews. The reactions have had one message – disappointment!

Techies and other consumers were expecting more in the Samsung Galaxy S5. Outrageous expectations like flexible display on Samsung Galaxy S5 were there; so did fans expect Samsung to change the casing from cheap plastic to premium metallic casing, revamp the resolution to at least 2K and give the device a 64 bit processor. Samsung answered no to all these expectations – so the question is, should you buy Samsung Galaxy S5?

The answer is both a yes and a no. As a smartphone with interesting features yes, one should buy the Samsung Galaxy S5. The Galaxy S5 is one of the few smartphones that promises to serve you for 24 more hours after your standard 21 hours talk time has run out thanks to the 2800mAh battery and the incredible energy saving feature that enables the phone to go into black and white screen and shut down almost all functions except being able to send and receive text messages. The phone also has a private mode accessible only by authentication via fingerprint and a kids mode so that your kids don’t delete important files or interfere with settings.

Although Samsung has disappointed many by not working on the screen, the size, and the weight of the phone, it has however been able to work on the camera. Samsung has been able to put a 16MP on the flagship device with better autofocus at only 0.3 seconds, HDR shots on burst mode, and selective focus allowing user to blur the background . This is not to say that the camera on S5 is the best out there as Nokia and Sony have really cool cameras in their flagship devices.

But if you are looking forward to spending on Samsung Galaxy S5 as a suitable upgrade from Samsung Galaxy S3 or Galaxy S4, I really do not think that the Galaxy S5 is worth the dime. Ever since Samsung introduced the S series as its flagship device, only the Samsung Galaxy S3 had revolutionary features in Smart Stay, Direct Call, Smart Alert, Shake to update, Burst shot, and others. The S4 was able to improve on these and add a few other redundant features like Smart Scroll, Gesture Mode and a number of health functionalities. Then we are now talking about the Samsung Galaxy S5; apart from revamping the health functionalities of the S4, the S5 seem to lack any new feature.

Design wise the Galaxy S5 is a total disappointment. Other than lacking a metallic casing, Samsung Galaxy S5 was expected to do away with the bezel and feature an all round side screens that could be useful for reading quick messages but the phone will actually come in bigger bezel. The phone is also heavier than the S3 and S4 and apart from the perforated back cover, there isn’t anything really that separates the S5 from S4….OK the metallic ring around the edges makes it looks more like the Note 3.

Hardware wise the Galaxy S5 has the same RAM as the one on the S4 although it is being said the RAM on S5 will use less energy and boast of faster response time. The processor is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core clocking 2.5Ghz up from 2.3Ghz on S4. The disappointment in this area is that Samsung has introduced a 3GB RAM on Note 3 so people generally expected the Note 3 RAM to be available on the S5. Samsung had also mentioned that they are able to make a 64 bit processor to match the one on Apple’s iPhone 5s but this again is lacking in the S5.

With a better fingerprint scanner on iPhone 5s, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is way inferior to the last year’s flagship device from Apple. The fingerprint scanner on Samsung Galaxy S5 is being seen a copy of Apple’s iPhone 5S yet Samsung was expected to introduce retina scanner on its flagship device this year – leading to another disappointment. Comparing Samsung and Apple, remember techies generally agreed that Samsung Galaxy S4 was better than the iPhone 5s except for the fingerprint scanner and the 64 bit processor (that phones really do not need). This implies Samsung Galaxy S5 is even a better phone than the iPhone 5s but it should at least have beaten the iPhone’s fingerprint scanner and matched the 64 bit processing power – just for the sake of appearing cool!

So, if your decision to buy a smartphone is based on remarkable features and functionalities then Samsung Galaxy S3 is still worth considering (with appropriate apps you can still monitor your heartbeat with an S3). But there are limitations on the Samsung Galaxy S3 especially on RAM that will likely cause it not to receive the Android Kitkat that is already available for Samsung Galaxy S4. Samsung Galaxy S4, although it came with redundant features that you would likely turn off, the phone has better performance in terms of hardware improvement. The RAM on S4 is double that on S3, it has over 60% better processor and has better screen. The very excellent hardware specs in Samsung Galaxy S4 are not so different from the specs in the new Samsung Galaxy S5 so if you don’t really care about the camera, then Samsung Galaxy S4 is still your phone of choice.

Samsung Galaxy S4 will remain a good choice for the year 2014 for two main reasons; the hardware and software differences between it and the latest Samsung Galaxy S5 will be negligible but the pricing difference will be huge. Although Safaricom, FoneXpress and other retailers are still selling the S4 at prices above Kshs 65,000, Jumia has already brought its price for S4 down to Kshs 48,000. Assuming that Samsung Galaxy S5 will launch at the same price point of Samsung Galaxy Note 3 thanks to VAT, then Galaxy S5 is likely to sell at prices around Kshs 80,000. There are rumors that S5 might be launched at lower prices than the predecessor so prices close to Kshs 70,000 is also to be expected.

Even if Samsung Galaxy S5 launches at Kshs 70,000, I do not think spending an extra Kshs 22,000 will be worth the meager hardware upgrade without innovative features and functionalities to write home about.

For those who must have an Android flagship device each year, it will be proper to first wait for HTC to announce its phone (HTC One2 or HCT One+?) due in March before you spend your hard earned cash on the Samsung Galaxy S5.


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