I am no technology geek, nor would I consider myself an expert, but I would be remiss if I didn’t post a review after a little over a week with my new toy. This is no ordinary smart phone, folks. Thanks to #ATTDenver, I won a brand new Samsung Galaxy s5 Active with the Gear Fit watch. I wanted to make the switch to an Android from iPhone for a very long time, and I no longer had excuses. I think the only reason I stuck so long with a teeny tiny iPhone and iOS was because of the free texting (iMessages) between iPhones. I do not think I can go back to iOS or anything resembling a teeny tiny phone ever again. I absolutely love the Samsung s5 Active. I have AT&T and have had it for a long time now – I think since 2004. I like their service, and have never had issues. The best feature for me is being able to talk on the phone while I am on the web or drafting emails. It is a multitasking mom’s dream come true, but not while driving, of course. The Samsung is an amazing phone with a large screen. I like the screen so much that I email documents from my work phone to it, so I can read it and then I can discard the pdf documents easily as well. It is just easier to read, to maneuver, and I absolutely love the larger device. That being said, people have asked, “well how do you put it in your pockets since it is so large?” Answer: Well, for one I do not wear hoochie mamma pants with teeny tiny pockets so that helps. But, honestly while the screen is larger, this phone is thinner and lighter than the iPhone to me. Once you put a case on that delicate little iPhone, it is too thick for your pant pockets. For me, this phone is thinner and sleeker so it fits into my pockets without a problem.
Some of the best features of the phone? Well, AT&T has a list on this website- yes, water resistant, dust resistant, heart rate monitor built in, and so much more. For me, the camera is amazing- 16 Mega Pixels produces some amazing high quality photos. I can’t wait until this weekend when I take pictures of family and friends adorned in beautiful, vibrant outfits at an Indian wedding ceremony. The video quality is amazing too, and the lighting adjustment is unbelievable. With the bluetooth I can connect to all my gear – external speakers and my favorite new gadget, the Gear Fit watch. Wow! My boss jokingly calls it “the Space watch.” But, shhh- don’t tell him it is way better than that. I absolutely love this. It is a watch, stopwatch, pedometer, exercise monitor (cycling, walking, running), heart monitor, sleep timer, and notifications center all in one. It is literally a smart watch. With the bluetooth function activated, this teeny tiny, sparkly and good looking device is an all in one hub for your phone. I can even control media like music (stored on my phone) and play it, fast forward, rewind, or go to the next track. So, with bluetooth activated in a vehicle and all three connected, I can use this as a “remote” control and not have to look down or fumble around with the phone at all. If I have bluetooth headphones while exercising and the phone nearby, I can play music and control volume and what is playing using this gear fit watch on my wrist. It is awesome And, when hubby sends an emergency text, I get a notification. Of course, I can turn notifications on or off because at night, I do not want it to beep or vibrate and scare the crap out of me. Yes, it also monitors how long I slept. Unlike the UP jawbone(c) which I also own though, it does not tell me how well I slept and how many times I woke up, etc. It only acts as a stopwatch for sleep. The watch will also help me find or locate my Samsung smartphone. When I hit LOCATE, my samsung will turn its flashlight and a beeping sound on. Hard to miss. Overall, pretty cool gadget.
The biggest con of this device, now that I have exercised with it for a week, is that I cannot see the display clearly when I am running or walking outside in the Colorado sunshine. It is too bright out and the gear fit will only let me adjust the brightness up to OUTDOOR mode for up to 5 mins and even that is not bright enough for sunny Colorado. So, I had to duck under a tree to see my heart rate when I ran. I suspect it would be tough to push buttons on the touch screen whilst cycling too. So, in that sense, it seems like it is not really practical. But for daily use, I love it. If I am visiting my co-worker Charlie down the hall, and I left my phone in my office, my watch will buzz slightly on my wrist and it will say “husband calling.” So I can go run and go grab the call. That’s a cool feature for me. The watch and the Samsung Galaxy s5 sync too and so I can open the application on my Samsung and track my calories in, calories burned, and miles walked/ran etc., and just see my overall health.
I can also send a quick text back too. For example, if someone texts me and I am occupied or away from my desk, I can send a simple “canned responses” on my watch to quickly text back…”Okay” or “Thanks- I will write you soon.” It is nice and I can do that from the watch on my wrist. I cannot watch TV on it or stream music other than controlling what is on my Samsung Galaxy s5, but hey, it’s a neat little gadget.
Now, back to the Samsung Galaxy s5 itself, not all apps from the iPhone are available on Androids but there are comparable ones created to help out. Transferring over was a b!$&, but I blame Apple for that and its lack of compatibility with anything non Apple. If you get this phone and are switching over, immediately download SAMSUNG SWITCH app and all your files, contacts, a list of apps, and text messages will convert for you including music. Download the app on the phone and the software on your laptop and you can hard wire the Samsung and all your music will convert over which is super cool. For apps, you have to re-download them all so, back them up first on the iPhone using Itunes (what a pain), and then you can re-download using the list Samsung produces for you. The contacts transferred over but I lost some information. My other favorite feature of being back to an Android is that I can drag and drop files. So, ringtones, pictures, files, etc., I can just drag and drop them once the phone is connected to my PC. I love this feature and have missed it for far too long. Imagine this- I have control over my device, and not some dinky little software program starting with the letter i and ending with tunes. I also love that I downloaded ringtones straight in with the app already on my phone- so easy. That is how things should be. I disliked being forced to buy them from iTunes. The other big con is that Email accounts do not operate very well when they are on the phone. The iPhone handled that feature way better. So, that’s something to keep in mind too. If you want all your folders to work download the app for that Email. The iPhone is way more powerful with certain functions like email and push notifications than the Samsung based on my one week experience. I think for streaming, etc., they are both about the same.
Transferring the microSIM card was no easy feat only because the iPhone treats its like some super secret stealthy thing. It was paper clip hell for me as I transferred back and forth to get data. Since I won this phone, I can transfer back and forth without a new contract which totally rocks. The Samsung’s SIM card is in an easy location and obvious so it’s just easier. I did it all myself and went to the AT&T store to just buy accessories. They installed the screen protector for me – I bought the top of the line one because I am rough with my phones, and I got a decent case too. They are so helpful at the AT&T store which is so nice.
Everything else works about the same, and I have to say I am not impressed with the battery life. I think it is about the same if not worse than the iPhone 4S. But the Samsung does have this Ultra Power saving mode which is kinda neat especially if you are caught in Disneyworld with no outlets in sight. This ultra power saving mode shuts off everything not essential and then, you can get 24 hours more if need be. I have a lot to learn and play with still, since it has only been one week with my Samsung Galaxy s5, and my new Gear Fit, but I absolutely am in love and I feel liberated too. I have not yet tinkered with finger print scan (yes, Samsung 5 has one built into the home button), nor have I tinkered with almost 60% of the features, but soon, soon. Oh yes, soon! Oh and folks, do not go swimming with your phone or Gear Fit- they are water resistant and dust resistant, not water proof. So, beach is fine with a splash or two or more but don’t drop them into a bucket to test things out. Just saying… and no, I didn’t do that. I love my new Samsung Galaxy s5 Active with the Gear Fit. And if you don’t believe my review, check out CNET’s review on the Samsung Galaxy s5.
* Disclaimer: I won the Samsung Galaxy s5 Active at an event for bloggers hosted by AT&T in Centennial, CO. I did not receive compensation to post this review, nor was I asked to do so. All the views and opinions expressed here are my own.