Another year, another Samsung Galaxy S smartphone. It seems that Samsung isn't going anywhere for a very long time, as long as it continues to make bestsellers. Despite stiff competition, the Galaxy S line is still a strong brand today.
The fifth Galaxy S hopes to continue that success this year, with new features such as a fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor and a water-resistant shell.
It's probably tempting enough to make you want to upgrade. Already I hear people asking for its availability at mobile phone stores days before its arrival.
But before you make that upgrade, here are some considerations to help justify your purchase.
Design has not changed much
Samsung still retains its signature Galaxy S4 design here. Looking at it from the front, the S5 looks identical to the S4 and to an extent the S3 of two years ago. Some people might like this cheap-feeling plastic design, while some won't.
There's a slight increase in the display from last year's model, but you won't notice the difference easily. There's just not much of an increase from 5-inch to a 5.1 inch. At least the OLED display has been improved significantly.
Unfortunately, we're getting more plastic instead of more screen. The S5 has fatter bezels, and if you put it side by side with an S4, it's hard to not prefer the S4's slimmer design.
The back cover has soft-touch textured and pitted finish, which is an improvement to the S4's glossy plastic back.
Samsung calls its new design on the S5 the "glam look", and its only trying hard to make sure it looks different than the S4.
But unless you're used to only seeing Galaxy phones, the S5 is no longer the prettiest of the 2014 phones. The HTC One M8, the Oppo Find 7 and the Sony Xperia Z2 are more stylish.
The heart rate monitor is probably just a gimmick.
The heart rate monitor is the new feature Samsung has thrown in to the Galaxy S5.
As you put your finger on the sensor under the camera, the phone will measure your pulse, and you'll get your reading on Samsung's S Health application.
But while the scanner works, you might not use it a lot, unless if you're a fitness junkie maybe. I don't think one-shot heart rate monitoring is anything useful.
A lot of Samsung Galaxy Note users don't pull out their S-pen that much, and I'm pretty sure I won't be seeing people checking their heart rates with their S5 all the time.
You probably don't need the smart watch
Samsung will tempt you to get its Galaxy Gear 2 smart watch to complete the Galaxy experience. The company showed off its new smartwatch and how it works seamlessly with the S5 during the product launch two months ago.
But the Galaxy Gear 2 isn't really a great product, despite Samsung's second attempt in the smart watch following the failure of the first Gear.
The Gear 2 is also pricey. You'll be throwing in another $400 for it.
The other smart wearable, the Gear Fit, may be a better choice for those with active lifestyles, but it also has its shortcomings.
We're still waiting for the smart watch that will truly blow our mind, until then, it's best to avoid the Gear.
The Bottom Line
If you're new to Samsung's galaxy and really want to have a taste of a good Samsung phone, you'd be happy with the S5, although I would also recommend the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 as Samsung rules the phablet market right now.
If by any chance you are a Galaxy S4 user and are thinking of upgrading to the S5, you'd probably be disappointed with the lack of innovation being put on this new phone. S3 users will be thrilled with the tremendous speed bump from the quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor and the larger 1080p display on the S5, however.
Also, there is now a great selection of flagship Android smartphones to choose from that offer more compelling features than the S5, if you are willing to explore other brands.