Reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S5, part 3: Sensors

Reviewing the Samsung Galaxy S5, part 3: Sensors

Differentiation is key in any competitive selling environment and no market is more demanding than wireless phones. Small add-ons can steer sales worldwide, if they work well and especially if they are hard to find on models put out by other brands.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Heart Rate Monitor and Pedometer

The S5 offers a new health package that includes a pedometer and heart rate sensor. Both are based on proven technologies, but both have inherent limitations that come with the phone’s form factor. That is, the S5 is so large that it is less likely to be always on your person which the pedometer requires for accuracy. The more active you are, the more likely you’ll be better served by a FitBit, Gear Fit or other more wearable device than the gigantic S5 which tends to reside in purses or on desks.

The limitation with the heart rate sensor is also related to the S5’s size. It can be hard to position your finger in the sweet spot of the pulse-reading window while holding the phone safely with your other hand. It’s the downside of the Galaxy’s giant, gorgeous screen. You have to float that mini-HDTV over your finger precisely.

The crossed-accelerometer tech used in the pedometer is the same one used in other fitness devices, but because of the way the phone may be carried, its mileage counts may be less accurate, yet still good enough to egg on the sedentary. Athletes will favor a lightweight, more robust and dedicated device.

The optical pulse reading is also valid science, but it is more subject to interference than electrical sensors such as those used in Polar brand fitness watches. It’s also hard to imagine a training tri-athlete, covered with perspiration, pulling out the S5 during a run, so there will remain a place for always-on, wearable pulse readers.

Still, like a Swiss Army knife, it can’t hurt to have options and these two fitness-related ones will fit well into a world that is tending more and more toward overweight. And they won’t have a noticeable impact on the handset’s battery life.

The other novelty will likely prove more popular. The home button below the screen on the S5 now serves as a fingerprint reader. It works well and provides an added measure of security to the platform. The only caveat is that it can be hard to use unless the phone is on a desk or other horizontal surface. Sideways finger slides are valid, but the sheer size can make the swiping your digits without unbalancing the phone a bit of a challenge, but the scanner can be turned off in favor of other, more standard Android log-on options.
Next: A look at the S5’s benchmarks in standard tests. How does its quad-core actually perform?

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