Achieving an excellent DxOMark Mobile score of 79 points, the Samsung Galaxy S5 doesn’t disappoint and ties in first place for the coveted top spot with the Sony Xperia Z2.
Like the rival Sony handset Samsung’s new Android Kitkat (4.4.2) powered smartphone boasts a water and dust-resistant case and optional UHD (4K movie clips). Equipped with a slightly extended 5.1-inch SuperAMOLED 1920×1020 pixel screen than its predecessor the GS5 adopts one of the most talked about features of the Apple iPhone 5s…a fingerprint scanner for security and verifying certain payments.
In addition Samsung is keen to support a healthier lifestyle by including a built-in heart rate sensor and has improved the S Health app and personal fitness tracker. But it is of course the new 16-Mpix camera complete with video that’s of interest to us here at DxOMark.
From our industry-standard tests the GS5 has reliable auto-exposure in difficult outdoor lighting. Also it has fast and accurate autofocus in the camera’s ‘trigger-mode’, though noticeably less so in the standard auto-mode. Still images retain a high level of detail in the frame center. The corners are however slightly blurry. Noise levels are well controlled in low-light, albeit then with a noticeable loss of detail.
For video, from our tests, the GS5 is the best performing handset tested to date, achieving a DxOMark Mobile Video score of 79 points, up 6 points on the Sony Xperia Z2.
Imaging results: Well-rounded performer
The Samsung Galaxy S5 can’t quite match the Sony Xperia Z2 for stills it has accurate auto-exposure even under tricky outdoor scenes, and images have pleasingly rich yet still realistic looking colors under a variety of lighting types.
It also has reliable white balance with few inaccuracies. However, there were a few scenarios that the S5 found challenging. In high-dynamic range (strongly backlit) scenes, some details can be lost in the highlights. The results in such conditions is however far better than what most smartphones do. Under low tungsten lighting, color shading was evident.
The Samsung GS5 may have a slightly lower pixel count than the very latest rival cameraphones but images aren’t lacking detail. In our tests, the GS5 delivers good color and, for the most part, renders fine detail across the field in well-lit outdoor scenes.
Autofocus is generally reliable and accurate in bright light when set to either the optional ‘trigger’ mode, or the standard auto mode.
However, in low light levels autofocus accuracy is poor using the Auto mode. It’s then that refocusing occurs sometimes, leading to reasonably sharp centers but noticeable softness at the borders of the frame. As a result it can’t quite match the detail of its predecessor in the periphery, but, more importantly perhaps, it is ahead of the Apple iPhone 5S.
It is also worth noting that measurement at 20 lux for noise and texture achieve better results than at 100 Lux. This could be explained by a night mode automatically activated which would lead to a multiple shot fusion.
While it’s a possibility the lens may not be optimized for the ultra-wide 16:9 aspect ratio, the imaging system as a whole has excellent fringing suppression while ringing artifacts are barely noticeable, even at pixel level.
Some color shading is evident under low-level (20 lux) indoor (tungsten) lighting, and when mixed with the built-in flash but it’s not apparent in well-lit outdoor scenes. Relying solely on flash, the GS5 has good detail preservation, accurate white balance, and pleasing color rendition.
In low light noise levels are well managed generally, and an improvement over the GS4. Details are still visible in our test scene in low light (20 lux) under tungsten illuminant at pixel level (100%) and yet images are devoid of the distracting chroma component.
Video Analysis: Class leader
Although we’re not yet including UHD video capture in our Mobile assessment, the GS5’s HD clips are the most impressive we’ve seen to date.
Autofocus reliability and accuracy is an improvement over the camera’s photo abilities, and it’s superior to its overall closest rival, the Sony Xperia Z2. Autofocus is smooth and generally stable, and it has some albeit limited tracking capability. Clips are sharp and noise levels are reasonably low albeit some low-frequency noise is evident at times. Color and contrast remain impressive, though colors are often oversaturated in daylight conditions.
- Good auto-exposure, pleasant, rich and realistic colors, good white balance.
- Low noise level in low light conditions.
- Good sharpness and details in the center of the field
- Almost no color fringing, ringing artifacts barely noticeable.
- Good image quality with flash.
- Best mobile video quality tested to date.
- Well-balanced device, without major flaws.
- Good autofocus.
- Good rendition of texture.
- Noticeable loss of details in low light conditions.
- Non-uniform sharpness across the image field.
- Autofocus inaccuracies during auto mode.
- Noticeable color inaccuracies under some lighting conditions.
- Good video stabilization but residual motion is higher than the best devices.