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Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL Review

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Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL Review

James Shisiah

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What We Love

  • 5.1 -inch super AMOLED Full HD screen.
  • Extended battery life.
  • A stunning 16MP camera
  • First Unlocking with a Finger Print Scanner
  • A powerful quad-core processor
  • Water Resistant

Overview

Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL is a smartphone launched back in 2014. At the launch date, it was running Android 4.4 KitKat since it was the latest Android version at the time, but it has now been updated to Android 5.1 Lollipop. More than two years down the line, the Galaxy S5 remains a powerful device. It comes with a quad-core processor and plenty of RAM to ensure all your operations go through successfully. This being a CDMA phone, it operates on the Verizon network so before ordering, be sure to check that you have Verizon cell towers/coverage in your home area. Like all flagship phones from Samsung, the Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL comes packed with amazing features. Let's find out as we go along in the review.

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Unboxing

The Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL is available from the Straight Talk Wireless and Tello Mobile websites. In the box, you will find the Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL, battery, wall adapter, standard USB cable, a pair of headsets, activation card, service guide and quick setup guide.

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Design

Samsung always puts in the best when it comes to exterior designs of their phones. The Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL, which was a flagship at the time of launch has that premium design, as we all expect from a high-end device.

A metallic plastic rim snakes around the sides of the phone. The power/lock button is well placed on the right edge at a position your thumb can reach easily when holding the device, while we have the volume buttons on the left edge. The top edge has the headphone jack, Infrared LED, as well as the noise cancellation mic. The bottom edge has your charging port as well as a mic.

On the front, we have the 5.1-inch display. The upper part of the display has a notification light, earpiece, proximity/light/gesture sensor, and the front camera. The bottom of the display hosts the navigation keys; recent apps button on the left, home button in the middle, and the back button on the right.

The back cover has a dimpled finish which feels nice in the palm. The upper part of the back cover has the rear camera with its LED flash, heart rate monitor sensor, and the hands-free speaker on the lower part of the back cover.

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camera

At the time of launch, the Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL had one of the most powerful cameras fitted in a mobile phone. It launched with a CMOS 16MP rear and 2MP front cameras with the capability of shooting UHD 4K videos at 30 frames per second. As it is expected of Samsung, the cameras have a feature-packed supporting software.

All features included are addictive and most people would fall in love with the phone. For instance, the camera has 0.3 seconds autofocus capability allowing the taking of very sharp images, fast. I fell in love with the selective focus (pan, far and near) feature while taking photos. Based on this, you can choose what to focus on during a shot. Pan focus allows both far and near focusing. Macro mode allows the taking of close up shots. When it comes to cameras, Samsung takes it to another level.

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Display

It doesn’t take long after looking at this device’s screen to realize that Samsung adores screen technology and tries to show off its muscles while at it. The Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL  has a full HD display, a 1080p clarity which is impressively sharp in everything. The display size is 5.1 inches, 1080 *1920 pixels resolution, super AMOLED technology. In other words, it’s a detail-packed portal to your digital world!

Color vibrancy is unaffected based on locations you use the phone. Viewing angles are great allowing you to see items clearly even in steep angles. The display automatically adjusts lighting based on ambiance, another feature to appreciate, especially if you an on-the-go person. After shooting a 4k footage and later watching it on this display, I noted its ability to compensate for natural colors, the absence of noise and flawless playback capabilities. It’s just amazing!

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Battery

Like everyone else, I want a powerhouse for a battery in my phone, and this is exactly what it is, based on its battery life. Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL has a 2800mAh battery pack that will give you up to 29 hours of talk time. For music lovers, you get 77 hours of playback and up to 14 hours of video playback and an average of 12 hours of internet use as claimed by Samsung.  I have stayed on the phone for over 8 hours on Internet, and as I have used certain phones that wouldn’t go over 5 hours on the internet, I believe Samsung packed battery optimization features in the Samsung Galaxy S5.

For a light user, you are able to enjoy an all-day use of the phone with a single charge and still have 15 to 20% left by the end of the day. Light use here means standard browsing, a couple of calls and texting. Such battery life is backed up by a good battery and its Snapdragon 801 processor that manages processes quite efficiently, even without the user noticing. I also noted after few days of use that the display, which is responsible in battery’s quick drain in most devices, is quite efficient. This is a device you can trust with a single charge in the morning for an outdoors day ahead.

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Storage

The Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL has an internal storage size of 16GB with the support of the expansion of up to 128GB. It also has a 4 GB RAM that support all your multi-tasking needs. I happen to be one of those people that have massive apps installed, and the 16GB worth of memory supports that quite well. During my use, I happened to run out of space after taking dozens of videos and pictures, but that was not a big issue with the option of expanding it to a maximum of 128GB. In general, I loved how the phone runs, supported by these storage capabilities.

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Performance

As expected, after putting all the above parts together, the Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL is phenomenal in general. Ranging from the AMOLED display to a 4k enabled camera, it is not in vain branding it a high-end device. It’s a device that excels at everything that matters. With an impressively beautiful display and Android KitKat OS, the UI is indulging.

With circular icons and a geometric layout, it has a premium appeal. Some people have claimed to find animated transition between home screens a bit slow which I discovered to be a negligible wait and also dependent on what one has loaded on their devices. Another feature worth noting is the design of the settings menu. The divisions are quite simple to follow, and when I couldn’t find what I wanted, fast searching was available.

Update to Android Lollipop that rolled out targeting the subject device improved the lock screen and notification. More so, I noticed more of material design to its TouchWiz interface that runs on top of the Android 5.1 Lollipop.

Its performance is backed up by a 2.3GHZ CPU with a Qualcomm 801 chip which is still a market leading processor of mobile devices. Supported by a 4GB RAM, the Galaxy S5 is a good experience. Nevertheless, I noticed a delay in the camera start up which is compensated by a 16MP of resolution! Frame rate was also optimum with standard videos and games and whenever I experienced any slowness, restarting the device restored it to its initial impressive performance, which I later figured is attributable to my heavy multitasking. If you are not heavily multitasking, you know, like having a hundred apps running in the background, the Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL is a breeze.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL originally shipped with Android KitKat OS. A special characteristic I noticed in this particular phone is the amount of ROM taken up by the operating system. While Samsung is known to have huge OS for their devices, the Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL has an approximately 5GB out of the 16GB available taken up, leaving the user with over 11GB of free space.

The phone has other impressive features too. Fitted with a number of sensors, the Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL has an intuitive environment-based response ability. With a gesture, fingerprints, hr, hall, accelerometer, geomagnetic, gyro, light and proximity sensors as well as a barometer, it's as sensitive to the environment as its user would expect. The home button is a fingerprint scanner that I used to unlock the screen and authenticate payments. Fitted with a heart rate monitor on the back of the phone, it’s pretty easy to tell your heart rate for health monitoring. Taking a reading is as easy as placing a finger vertically on the sensor while the Samsung health app does the rest. The phone adjusts perfectly to light, proximity, and movements.

The phone is also 4G LTE enabled for fast browsing, NFC for compatible fast payments and tagging, GPS, and water and dust proof. I found the USB port seal a bit inconveniencing but that is the give and take of the phone being waterproof. With every unplugging the phone reminds on sealing it all again, which is great because, with the USB seal on, it ensures the phone remains dust/water proof.

Samsung Galaxy S5 S903VL supports networks inclusive of 4G LTE, GSM, and CDMA, single-sim with a spectrum of bands. The SIM size is micro. The phone supports straight talk plans perfectly, which I discuss later in this review. Other networks include WI-FI 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi Direct for hotspot creation.

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Specifications

  • 4G /LTE Wi-Fi/CDMA.
  • 5.1-inch Full HD Screen.
  • 16MP back camera. 2MP front camera.
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop.
  • 2.5GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon Processor.
  • Battery capacity: 2800mAh. Talk time up to 29 hours. Standby time up to 27 days.
  • Internal Memory 16GB. Supports Expansion up to 128GB with an external microSD card.
  • RAM: 2GB.
  • Dimensions: 5.59''(H) x 2.85''(W) x 0.31''(D) inches.
  • Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Technology.
  • GPS Capabilities.
  • Sensors: Fingerprint Sensor, Accelerometer,  Gesture Sensor, HR Sensor, Hall Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Light Sensor, Barometer, Proximity Sensor.
  • NFC.

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