HOUSTON -- AT&T recently let me borrow Samsung's latest smartphone: the Galaxy S5.
Released in early April, it currently retails for $199 on a two-year contract or $649 without a contract.
My current personal phone is a S4. The S5 is slightly thicker and heavier but not enough to be a deal breaker. In fact, it feels like it has a better build quality. In addition, it has a really nice 'soft' plastic feel to it with a leather-like backing. Color choices are white, black, and "copper gold."
As a follow-up to the S4, Samsung released an "active" version of its powerful smartphone that touted water resistance. But now water resistance is standard on the S5. The USB port and the battery cover are both rubber sealed -- just make sure they're snapped in properly.
While I'm not a huge fan of S5's modifications to the Android system (feels a bit bloated), the S5 overall is blazing fast with great graphics. A PC Magazine survey of Houston-area users shows that AT&T's LTE network serves up data, on average, faster than anyone else at around 15 mbits/sec. And the S5 can certainly handle all that data.
>> The Galaxy S5 is the first to boast a dedicated heart-rate monitor
>> Fingerprint scanner to unlock phone and make payments
>> Big 5.1" 1080p display
>> 16-megapixel camera with HDR
>> Faster auto focus than on the S4
So, is it a good gift for grads? Pretty much any college student who is not Apple crazy would love to have this phone. While the HTC One has front facing speakers that are great for music lovers, most people use ear buds or headphones to get the best sound quality anyway. And the S5, like its predecessors, has a swappable battery for those who find they need more than a full charge per day -- something the HTC does not offer.
Is it good for dads? Any dad who likes the latest and fastest in tech will like this. If he's more into the basics, this phone may be a bit overkill (as it's packed with features) although Samsung does offer an "Easy Mode" to help get new users started.