Attention iPhone users:
- Your screen is too small
- Your device isn’t waterproof
- You’re missing the ability to do 4K HD video
- Your wifi is too slow
- Your phone can’t do NFC “swipe to pay”
- You don’t have have Kids Mode
If I was in charge of marketing at Samsung, I’d be printing up full page ads like this. Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone offering is the Galaxy S5. They’ve taken the Galaxy S4 and caught up on a few features that Apple beat them to, like a fingerprint scanner, and then have leapfrogged ahead with beefier specs and new features.
1. Your screen is too small
The Galaxy S5 has a 5.1” screen with full 1080p HD resolution. This is slightly larger than the Galaxy S4’s screen (5 inches) and huge compared to the iPhone’s 4 inch screen. Rumors are that Apple will bump up their screen sizes with the iPhone 6 but just about any Android phone has a larger screen than an iPhone.
2. Your device isn’t waterproof
According to SquareTrade, 17 million iPhones were broken in the United States during 2013. Many of these smartphone deaths probably involved water. The Galaxy S5 is IP67 rated, meaning that it’s dust-proof and is waterproof and will withstand being 1 meter under water for 30 minutes.
Unlike early waterproof phones, the Galaxy S5 doesn’t have that beefed-up size and rugged construction worker look to it. To the casual eye, the Samsung Galaxy S5 looks like any other sleek smartphone. If you look closely, you’ll notice the waterproofing when you realize that there is a silver cover for the USB charge/sync-port, and rubber weather stripping on the inside of the battery cover.
While I haven’t given the Galaxy S5 the toilet drop test (ewww), I was able to test the waterproof features of the phone recently. This summer, I was caught in an afternoon thunderstorm on a recent trip to New York City. Without hesitation, I pulled out my Galaxy S5 and used it to locate a great nearby restaurant on Yelp so I could have lunch while waiting for the rain to stop. Once picking the restaurant, I kept the phone out in the rain and used Google Maps to navigate there while getting drenched. Note: The touchscreen gets confused when you’re trying to type and there are lots of big puddles on the screen.
You’ll also notice that the headphone jack doesn’t have a rubber plug covering it. It’s not needed. The headphone jack has been sealed to prevent damage to the phone.
3. You’re missing the ability to do 4K HD video
Now that HDTV is pretty much universal, the TV makers are pushing the next standard, “Ultra HD”, or “4k HD”. The Samsung Galaxy S5 captures UltraHD video, which is a feature you might not appreciate until you have an Ultra HD TV. Having such a high-resolution video camera means that you can zoom-in on your videos and they won’t become grainy, which is a great bonus.
When Katy Perry came to DC, there were signs on the doors saying that GoPro cameras were explicitly banned. I had to laugh because I was carrying a cellphone with similar (if not better) video capabilities. Some test video clips that I took were really quite good and if you zoomed in, you could really see what was happening on-stage. Due to copyright restrictions, I can’t post them. Sorry.
Plus the HDR function that’s showcased through the video above makes your photos even better. Sorry iPhone users!
4. Your wifi is too slow
In the world of WiFi, the latest standard is called 802.11ac. It provides capabilities for what the marketing people call “Gigabit” WiFi. The Samsung Galaxy S5 supports 802.11ac (iPhone 5s doesn’t).
Not only does the Galaxy S5 support 802.11ac, but it’s a “dual-stream” device, meaning that it can send and receive two simultaneous streams of data from your WiFi router. This has the potential to double your download speeds. This fancy WiFi might not be of much use to you at the local Starbucks but it is important for the ability to stream hiqh-quality video from your phone to your TV, or for getting flawless streaming performance.
5. You still can’t “swipe to pay”
This complaint about the iPhone might be one you notice the least, but it’s probably the most frustrating. In the United States, the idea of swiping your cell phone at the convenience store, subway turnstile, or grocery store to pay for something simply has not caught on. Swipe to pay is being pushed by Google Wallet and the unfortunately-named “ISIS” venture backed by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
Some merchants have the hardware to support this but people rarely use it. Perhaps this is due to the Chicken-and-Egg problem that our country has with mobile payments. Apple doesn’t see the consumer pressure to add NFC to the iPhone because it hasn’t caught on in the US. But NFC won’t become huge in the US until Apple supports it. With the Galaxy S5, you can be a first-adopter and impress your friends by paying with the ISIS wallet (yes, they are going to change that name).
The NFC technology in the Samsung Galaxy S5 also allows me to easily upload photos from my Samsung SMART Cameras (NX300, NX30, NX3000, and NX Mini) with just a tap. With the iPhone, I have to go to Settings and choose WiFi to connect to my camera’s private wifi, and then activate the Samsung SMART Camera App to upload photos to my phone before posting them to my social networks, emailing, etc. It works but it’s far more cumbersome on an iPhone or other non-NFC device than the Samsung Galaxy S5.
6. You don’t have Kids Mode
One interesting feature on the Galaxy S5 is the Kids Mode. At some point during an important conference call, long car trip, or dinner out with painfully slow service, everyone hands their phone to their kids in hopes of buying a little more peace and quiet time. Kids Mode restricts the phone’s functions so that your darlings aren’t accidentally returning your work phone calls, reading/deleting email, or getting inappropriate SMS messages from your inappropriate friends.
Once you install and enable Kids Mode, you are given the choice about which applications on the phone are accessible through Kids Mode. This lets you decide- for example- that they can only play Angry Birds, Subway Surfers (or maybe explicitly do ANYTHING but play those games…. I won’t judge!)
Kids Mode comes with a kid-friendly backdrop image, making it clear that you’re not in “normal” mode. The allowed apps + a set of Samsung base “Kids Mode” Apps are laid out in a grid on the home screen. Included is a Kids Camera and a Kids Voice Recorder.
The Kids Camera is actually a lot of fun. It’s like the regular Galaxy S5 camera, but it includes a sunglasses mode, a pirate eye patch mode, a “looking-over-half-glasses mode”, and others. The kids don’t have to apply sunglasses, the camera detects eyes and adds them in the correct position. You can alternate between the front-facing and rear-facing cameras to put eye patches on yourself or your friends/parents. I even tried the camera on the dog, with mixed-success.
The facial-recognition software couldn’t place sunglasses on the our dog’s face most of the time, even when he stood completely still thanks to a piece of bologna held out to keep his attention. It did work sometimes and as you can see, the dog got some library glasses. Clearly it was designed for humans, and it’s pretty cool that it sometimes worked on the dog making the kids hysterical when seeing photos of Oliver donning new accessories. Note: Kids Camera was not tested with cats due to cat allergies.
The voice recorder lets you record a voice memo and then the alligator mouths the words as your voice memo is read back to you. I made the alligator say “Pardon Me, but do you have any Gray Poupon?” Pull down on the rope and the alligator changes into different voices.. a robot, a chipmunk, a moose, a helium balloon. Hearing the same phrase said in different voices was still highly entertaining for our kids, even at ages 8 and 10. Truth be told, it’s pretty fun and could drive a parent absolutely nuts if operated without headphones.
A simple drawing app lets kids make doodles. In elementary school, my art teacher always prohibited erasers in the classroom. “Make your mistakes into art,” she would always say.
The App does have an eraser. It allows you to make blank doodles, fill in some included coloring book pages, or doodle on top of the photos you’ve taken with the camera. So you can take your pirate-eye patch photo, doodle on top of it, then add rosy cheeks, and a novelty cowboy hat.
There’s also a video player but videos have to be placed there by the parents (thankfully) for anything to be available.
Kids Mode also has an Android App Store. Kids can browse apps, but there is NO way to purchase them from within Kids Mode (hallelujah!). A parent can log into the parental screen and then see which apps their child has marked with a star and then purchase them if desired.
I wanted to see what would happen if someone called while your child was in Kids Mode. The phone still rings and shows caller ID. This is good because you probably want to take the call. Just know that your child could answer the phone if they were quick enough. On inbound text messages, the phone plays an alert sound and then the first few words are visible at the top of the screen for a few seconds. It’s not possible to read the entire message or respond from within Kids Mode which is a nice feature.
In the parent screen, you can keep track of your child’s total playtime and most frequently used applications. Parents can set a daily playtime allowance that can range between 5 minutes and 3 hours per day.
As your kids get older and as they get bored with the included apps, you can add more apps to Kids Mode, both from the Kids Store and from the regular Google Play store. This will help to keep the little ones occupied when you need to finish dinner at a restaurant.
Criticism: Kids Mode asks for your child’s name and birthday and offers to take a photo of them. Why does it need this information? The app doesn’t allow for multiple kid profiles so if you have multiple kids, everyone shares the same profile. But since there is only one profile, why does it need to know this information? For parents who want to keep their kids’ information private, I’d recommend using an alias and a fake birthday.
Installing Kids Mode
After reading about the Kids Mode, I tried to find/enable it on the phone. On the AT&T Galaxy S5, it’s hidden in the most bizarre of all places—the widget screen. It’s not visible in the Applications Menu and it’s not available for download from Samsung’s App Store. It seems like someone forgot to put it in the Apps menu or else someone wanted to hide it where it would never be found.
If you want to download/enable it, here’s what you’re looking for. It has the icon of a green dinosaur on a yellow background, like this.
You have to place the widget on one of your home screens and then click on it. Kids Mode isn’t pre-installed, the widget is only a pointer to where to download it.
Once you install the application, it makes you setup a parental PIN that serves as the key to exiting the mode. For some reason, it wants you to set a backup “alternative password” in addition to the PIN. This isn’t the same as the “alternative password” that the fingerprint scanner requires. Just for the record, you might have 4 different passwords to your phone: a screen lock password, a fingerprint alternative password, a kids mode exit password, and a Kids Mode alternative password. Got that?
Other Galaxy S5 features:
- 16MP Camera — The camera on the Galaxy S5 phone shoots 16 megapixels for the main camera. The software on the Galaxy S5 includes a low-light mode (HDR) that worked well in taking pictures of my kids in badly-lit situations. Two different iPhone users I know have commented about how they think the Samsung phones take better pictures. It’s hard to say but I have no complaints about the Galaxy S5’s camera. I’m attaching some full-res photos taken with the Galaxy S5 camera.
- Android KitKat— The Galaxy S5 ships with Android 4.4.2 (KitKat). It has great integration with GoogleNow to proactively send you alerts based on your email and Google search history for information about upcoming flights, appointments, sports scores, package tracking, and more. The user interface is clean and smooth.
- Fingerprint Scanner— The fingerprint reader on the Samsung Galaxy S5 is similar to many Windows PCs where you swipe your finger down over the rectangle sensor. Like the iPhone, the sensor is built into the button at the bottom center of the phone. I tried it out and it works pretty well. One word of caution though: If you put a thick case on your phone, it can prevent you from being able to keep your finger on the sensor as your swipe down. So be sure to try the sensor out before committing to an expensive case.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 has a beautiful screen and a 16 megapixel camera that shoots UltraHD video. Samsung has upped the ante in the smartphone wars with their latest offering, putting the iPhone on notice. Having a water and dust resistant device and the ability to install Kids Mode makes this a must-have for parents. Not a parent and just love gadgets? The Galaxy S5 provides plenty of bells and whistles to satisfy almost any gadget lover looking to make the jump from their iPhone.
I received a Samsung Galaxy S5 for testing purposes but all opinions are my own. I am a Samsung #Imagelogger and get camera bodies and lenses as part of my involvement in this non-compensated program. Amazon Affiliate links are included in this post.