Samsung S5

Here’s what you need to know about the new flagship smartphone from Samsung: It can swim, but it won’t make any waves.

The Galaxy S5 has a waterproof exterior that survived a dunking in a margarita, a plunge in to a toilet, and left overnight in strawberry Jell-O. (Yes, I tried.)

The Galaxy S5 is resistant to water — and coffee. F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal
In most other ways, this update to Samsung’s top-selling Galaxy S4 barely moves the needle. Aside from the waterproofing, the Galaxy S5’s most original new feature is a heart rate sensor that works well only if you hold very, very still. It also has a fingerprint reader more versatile than that in Apple’s iPhone 5S, but a camera that still doesn’t take great pictures in

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Anybody weighing this phone as an upgrade or a switch from another model may rightly wonder: Has smartphone evolution stalled?

When Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S5 in February, the company said it was going “back to basics,” simplifying the parts of the phone that matter most. Now that the phone is hitting stores, at $200 with 2-year contract, it is clear these adjustments do make for a better, faster phone—but they often don’t go far enough.

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