Galaxy S5 moves forward, still comes up short to some of its Android based competitors

Samsung’s newly unveiled Galaxy S5 is a solid incremental step up from the year-old Galaxy S4 in terns of specs and features. It’s faster and more powerful than its predecessor, while also adding fingerprint sensor technology similar to what Apple introduced on the iPhone 5S last year. But while the Galaxy S5 is clearly superior to the Galaxy S4, Samsung still comes up short in comparison to its Android based competitors in some key areas. Android buyers will have to decide whether these shortcomings are relevant enough to sway their purchasing decisions.

The Galaxy S5 clearly has technical specs superior to that of last year’s HTC One. But what the One offers is a superior physical design, employing an aluminum body that’s proven to be far more sturdy than the plastic which Samsung has long employed on its Galaxy lineup. Once HTC inevitably comes out with its One-based answer to the Galaxy S5 with equally current technical specs, it’s likely to become a superior overall device, just as the One was clearly superior to the Galaxy S4.

In the software department, Google’s own Nexus 5 is the only Android based smartphone which can be counted on to be immediately compatible with newly released versions of the Android system software. That’s in contrast to the fact that weeks or months tend to go by before newly released versions of Android system software are made compatible with Samsung’s smartphones. The Galaxy S5 will ship with the latest system software, but from that point onward any subsequent updates can’t be counted on to arrive in a timely manner. Samsung has made some inroads on this matter by offering a “pure Android” version of the Galaxy S4 which is automatically compatible with future software updates, but that model has only been made available on some carriers, and even then only at unsubsidized pricing.

That means that those who opt for the Galaxy S5 will have to settle for a second rate hardware build in comparison to the HTC One and second-guessed software update compatibility in comparison to the Nexus 5. The two primary reasons to consider the Galaxy S5 over its Android based competitors are the inclusion of the iPhone-like fingerprint sensor, and the greater compatibility with the rest of the Samsung universe including its smart televisions.

Matt Saye

Matt Saye

Matt Saye is an English professor at University of Mississippi. He covers political and social issues.
Matt Saye