Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S5

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We were able to get a little time with the Samsung’s newest flagship device a day before the official launch. The short learning session, meant to show off the capabilities of the S5, was a great time to get acquainted with the device. We had some face time with the S5 before, but that was an engineering unit thatdidn’t have all the features both inside and out.
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The outside of the device, while plastic, felt very solid. The rear case looked and felt great, with the extra texture adding both better grip and a much more interesting appearance.

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Samsung Galaxy S5 Camera with HDR on

One of the biggest improvements of the S5 over last year’s S4 is the design. The device is now IPX67 compliant, meaning the occasional bump or quick dip is nothing to the phone. A rubber gasket on the inside of the back case keeps the outside world out and away from the phone’s sensitive electronics. This rubber seal is also present in the optional, authentic Samsung  S View case–something that can’t be said of cheap knock-offs, so if you’re fond of hady third-party acecssories, you might want to rethink your S View cover purchase. The S5’s data/charging port is also covered with a sturdy flap to ensure your next adventure won’t result in a waterlogged device. The overall feel of the waterproofing is solid, and doesn’t seem like it’s going to come off at an inconvenient time.

The camera on the S5 now boasts a focus time of one third of a second, and while we were hesitsnt to believe it at first, hands on a final release unit confirmed Samsung’s claims. The 16MP camera is fast. They weren’t kidding. On top of fast focus speeds, the camera can also shoot in live HDR, so you see the results without having to snap the photo first. Again, the S5 delivered as promised. HDR on the S5 looked stunning, with visibly better color reproduction compared to the S4.

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Another feature we finally got to try was the integrated heart rate sensor. We were able to launch the app and take an accurate reading just by placing a finger on the sensor, located on the rear of the device, just below the camera. While it might not be the most useful option while in the middle of a run, it’s a handy feature that will no doubt have its fans.

The S5 is also able to load-share data across both its Wi-Fi and LTE connections, allowing users a massive speed boost. Though we weren’t able to test this feature at the session, we did learn a little more about it. Apparently, the S5 will only load-share when connected to both Wi-Fi and LTE. Should you lose your LTE connection, the phone will revert to using purely Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet.

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Also showed off at the session was the S5’s Ultra Power Saving Mode, which can give up to 24 hours of standby on your phone’s last 10% of battery, or a solid 12.5 days of standby on a full charge. You can customize which features will be disabled in this mode, so if you absolutely need Data, you can still tey and save as much power as possible.

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Apart from the Galaxy S5, Samsung reps were proud to show of the Galaxy Gear Fit. We had encountered the device before (or at least the spec sheet), but we weren’t prepared for the device in the flesh. The Geat Fit was so tiny and light, it was almost impossible to fathom the amount of technology crammed into such a tiny footprint. The curved AMOLED screen was absolutely gorgeous, putting to shame many smartphones available on the market today. Its sticker price of just a hair less than PHP 9000 is certainly going to appeal to tech-head fitnedd buffs.

The Galaxy Gear Fit’s companion app was also briefly discussed. Within the Android app, Fit customiation options are available, along with connectivity status and other functions that would otherwise be a bitt clunky on the Fit itself. Connectivity was seamless, and didn’t drop during our testing.

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Last was the Samsung Galaxy Life app. The app, set to launch in the local Google Play Store alongside the S5, gives Samsung Galaxy users access to unique deals from local merchants. Already running in Malaysia, the Samsung Galaxy Life app gives merchants an opportunity to reach consumers in a new, engaging way. Users, on the other hand, have access to up-to-date deals, send right to their Galaxy device, with absolutely no hassle. Just find the deal you want in the handy timeline format, activate it, and head over to the relevant merchant to redeem, just with your mobile phone.

The S5 is meant to be  a life companion, and with the apps, upgrades, and companion devices being offered, we think they’re right on the mark with this one.