12 June, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S4 Repeat Features Into 16GB Galaxy S5 ships with 8.65GB storage

Samsung is facing new criticism over the amount of available actual user space found in its 16GB Galaxy S5. The issue is the same one the company faced last year with the Galaxy S4.
Samsung has made it clear to the world that it does not see Android in the same way that Google and other licensees see the mobile operating system. The Korean company has taken an approach to its Android-based smartphones and tablets similar to the approach taken by Amazon and HTC. It offers users a simplified experience that takes advantage of the hardware it's running on and adds some cool new functions.

This year's Galaxy S5 is both water and dust-resistant, making for a tougher exterior while maintaining its thin and light build. It also has a high-end 16-megapixel camera.

The Galaxy S5 is more of an evolution from the Galaxy S4, it adds some nice refinements, features, and tweaked design. However, the Galaxy S5 also brings over a criticism the company faced last year with the 16GB Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S4 smartphone shipped with usable storage that was far below its advertised amount. Samsung first told consumers to use the microSD card slot with the Galaxy S4 to alleviate the problem, but after facing criticism, the company released a software update to address the issue and free up more storage space.

This year's 16GB Samsung Galaxy S5 has 8.65GB of user available storage, far below its advertised 16GB drive. The extra space is taken up by Samsung's TouchWiz skin and its own exclusive apps. The company has also preinstalled many of its own software applications, like S Health and S Translator, which apparently take up a bunch of space. The company has not announced if it plans on releasing an update to address user space like it did last year with the Galaxy S4 at this point. The company, however, has a jump on working on a fix, since the device isn't expected to hit carrier's shelves until sometime in April.

Apart from the poor usable stroage capacity size, Galaxy S5 is actually an impressive device. It features a 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and a pixel density of 432 pixels per inch (ppi). It's powered by a 2.5GHz Snapdragon 800, an Adreno 330 graphics processing unit (GPU), and 2GB of RAM. It will be offered in both 16GB and 32GB models, and it also includes a microSD expansion slot that will support up to 64GB microSD cards, which will come in handy for this storage issue.
Camera and Selective Focus

The Galaxy S5 will ship with Android 4.4.2 KitKat and an updated version of Samsung Touchwiz UI on board. Its camera capabilities include a 16-megapixel rear camera that has the ability to record Ultra HD video @ 30fps, HDR rich tone, selective focus, and more. It also has a 2-megapixel front facing camera for video chat and selfies......

I'll dig through the camera's power in more depth later in this review, but there are some top-end features that it's worth talking about here as they're some of Samsung's big hitters.
Selective focus (or background de-focus, depending on how you want to term it) is the Big Thing for smartphones manufacturers this year, with the likes of Sony, LG and HTC all joining Samsung in making it possible to take a photo and then give it a 'pro-effect' by defocusing the background with bokeh and keeping the subject in place - something Nokia started offering back in 2013.
HTC has by far the best implementation of this, thanks to adding in dedicated sensor to give the depth information needed to properly make .
Sadly, Samsung seems to be the worst of the bunch at doing the same thing, as the method used here is excruciating at times.
Once you've fired up the camera, you then have to toggle 'Selective Focus' on the left-hand side. Then hope that the subject you want to look all nifty conforms to the S5's stringent parameters of what it can see, as too often I found a message telling me that it couldn't work out what was in the foreground.
The phone then takes a few pictures and processes them - again, not a swift task. From there it's a trip into the gallery and a tag on the icon to start processing the image, which is another few seconds. And if that all falls into place, you can choose to have the foreground or background blurred - with no option to save both styles.
Normally this would be dismissed as a gimmicky feature, and it is in some respects, but given Samsung made a big deal about it at launch and HTC has done it so well on the One M8, it seems a real shame that the South Korean brand made it feel like such an afterthought.
Thankfully, the rest of the camera is slightly better implemented, with a powerful sensor and swift autofocus the main things that will engage the user.
It seems that the brand hasn't quite worked out the kinks in its software here though, as firstly, the camera is very slow to fire up, especially from sleep mode. I also noted that while autofocus was swift, it didn't always sharpen the image enough, so Samsung's claim that this phone is great for capturing the image you want doesn't really hold water.
If you've got a bright, well-lit scene and you know what you want to capture (and therefore have the camera ready) it's a good system... but that's not what we use camera phones for most of the time.
S Health
One of the most obvious things about the Samsung Galaxy S5 is the heart rate monitor stuck on the back under the camera.
It's designed to be something that allows you to get the most out of your day to day activity by moving forward into the 'quantified self' - namely, seeing all the data on your daily activities.
S Health 3.0 is a good upgrade, and fills in a lot of the blanks that a lot of other apps miss. You can get better apps for each element that S Health offers - for instance, My Calorie Counter does a better job of managing your calorie intake - but for convenience with one central app, this is a pretty good offering.
The pedometer is, like on most phones, largely useless as it gives you an arbitrary number of steps to follow each day, which you can only hit if you're going to glue the Galaxy S5 to your thigh.
It's also not as accurate as something that's wrist or shoe based, and given Samsung has put a lot of effort into the Gear wearables, this seems to be something that's more novelty than helpful.
You can track exercise from the phone better though, which is a neat feature as it adds that data into the centralised pot. Again, there are much better apps out there for tracking your runs - Adidas MiCoach, Runkeeper or Endomondo are nice alternatives - but this is a good place to start for the novice runner, albeit without much structure on the kind of runs to aim for.
The big hitter for S Health this year on the Galaxy S5 is the new heart rate monitor on the back of the phone, just under the camera and giving you easy access to your pulse rate whenever you fancy it.
But that's the thing: why would you fancy it? It's one of those elements that seem to be there for the sake of it, like Samsung was trying to think about what it could add into the S5 mix to make it seem shiny and new.
And, to its credit, it mostly works. It's nowhere near as robust as something that's wrist or chest based (I found that it couldn't find my pulse one in every three or four tries) and there's also the issue of when you'd use it.
Ideally, you'd remember to take your pulse the second you wake up, when you're relaxed and able to easily access your resting heart rate.
And maybe at key points of exertion throughout the day would be helpful too, so you can track your increasing fitness over time, assuming you're using the app properly.
But it's really had to remember to perform this action at the right times, meaning your average can be largely skewed depending on what you're doing each day.
Someone I know is currently recovering from heart failure, so I asked her how she felt about having such a function, and for those that need to take a heart rate throughout the day, or just to check if it's gone up from exertion, it's a really handy thing to have (although this isn't exact enough for medical readings).
So S Health is a great app for those that have a medical condition and require non-exact read outs (the monitor on the Galaxy S5 isn't intended to replace proper medical equipment) but for those that don't have such a condition I can see this quickly falling into the 'show people at the pub and see who has the lowest heart rate' category....

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