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Samsung Galaxy S5 is Good, but no wow factor

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By Javed Anwer,TNN

Fast, functional and pricey – this is Galaxy S5 in one line. Samsung’s top Android phone, which went on sale in the Indian market a few days ago, is the best phone the company has made so far. We have been using one since last week and we can tell you that it is an impressive device.

Galaxy S5 has (almost) everything you can ask for in a smartphone. Yet, there is something missing. It lacks a feature that truly stands out. It lacks appeal that can make it irresistible to consumers. It lacks the wow factor that can make anyone pick it up and pay the big bucks Samsung is asking for it.

So, should you buy Galaxy S5 or not? May be you should. Or may be not. It all depends on what you want your phone to do.

We will deal with this all-important question in a while (or you can skip to the verdict if you are running short on time). But before that, let’s take a look at the device and what it can do.

Build and design
Samsung phones and tablets have similar designs. If you have seen a Galaxy S4 or Galaxy Grand 2, you will recognize Galaxy S5 as a Samsung phone at first glance. The only major change is the back cover. It is made of plastic – hardly a surprise – but unlike the shiny and slippery finish found on the earlier Galaxy devices, the back cover in Galaxy S5 has a soft matte finish with perforated pattern.

One key feature of Galaxy S5 is that it is a waterproof phone. It can survive rain. You can use it in shower. You can carry it in a swimming pool if you are not going to dive deep. As part of the waterproof design, the charging port, which supports both USB 2 and USB 3, is covered with a flap.

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While there is no doubt that iPhone 5S or Xperia Z1 are better looking phones, Galaxy S5 gets the job done. The finishing and build quality of the device is top class. The design, though boring, is excellent in terms of functionality. We have seen phones that have exotic designs but don’t feel comfortable to hold. Galaxy S5 fits well, at least as well as a big phone can, in hand.

Display
The top Galaxy phones always come with spectacular displays. Galaxy S5 carries on with the tradition. The 5.1-inch SuperAMOLED screen in S5 is gorgeous! It shows vibrant and rich colours and has excellent viewing angles.

The display is sharp due to the Full HD resolution of 1080×1920 pixels. On this device, the text doesn’t show pixilated edges in ebooks or on a web page. It is also very bright. Unlike Galaxy S4, which has some trouble in sunlit areas, Galaxy S5 screen remains bright enough to display text during outdoor use.

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Special features
With the days of massive performance jumps or big updates over, Samsung is trying to woo consumers with some unique features. We have already talked about the waterproof design (high-end Xperia phones are also waterproof) but Galaxy S5 has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Are these special features useful?

Fingerprint scanner: Apple introduced it on iPhone 5S. But now Samsung too allows users to unlock their phone through a fingerprint scanner. This feature is a novelty. It looks cool when you unlock the phone using the fingerprint scanner. It works best when you swipe the fingerprint slowly and firmly on the scanner. This means 40-50% time when you swipe your finger, it will probably fail. It is not frustrating. But it is pointless.

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Also, finger has to be swiped in vertical motion, something that is impossible when you are using the phone with one hand.

Summary: Cool feature but unlocking a phone through PIN or pattern is faster and more convenient.

S Health: We loved this feature in Galaxy S4 and we love it in Galaxy S5. With S Health, you can record your walking or jogging sessions. You can see how many steps you have taken each day or how many stairs you climbed. It is useful.

IR Sensor: This allows a user to control TV or set-top box with Galaxy S5. Useful and easy to set up.

Heart rate monitor: Under the primary camera in Galaxy S5, there is a heart rate monitor. You can put your finger on top of the sensor, open S Health app and check your heart beat. The device takes around 5 seconds to display heart rate and is mostly accurate but we won’t pop a pill on the basis of Galaxy S5 readings. ​If you think your heart rate is not normal, see a doctor.

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Again, this is a cool feature but not very useful for two reasons. One, any phone with a flash and camera can check your heart rate through an app like Instant Heart Rate. And two, you can’t use it in gym or while jogging because keeping an eye on “heart rate zones” require real-time heart rate monitoring that can be performed only by a device that you can strap on your chest or wear on your wrist.

Kids Mode: On Galaxy S5 you can enable Kids Mode before you pass on the device to a kid who wants to play game on it or wants to draw something. With Kids Mode enabled, the phone displays colourful and cartoonish theme. You can choose the app you want the kids to access. This feature works well and is useful.

Bonus: There is an animated crocodile (swipe left from the home screen) in this mode. Kids can dress this crocodile in various attires, including different hats.

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Ultra Power Saving Mode: Enabling this feature puts a greyscale theme on the phone. All non-essential services, including push notifications, are stopped to conserve the battery. We tested this mode with only 5% battery left in the phone. We used Twitter in greyscale, opened a website and read a few articles, and made a few several calls. The phone lasted for little over an hour with just 5% battery in this mode. Useful, we say.

Software
Galaxy S5 runs Android 4.4.2, which is the latest version of Android, modified with TouchWiz, Samsung’s proprietary user interface. Depending on your aesthetic sense, TouchWiz, with its emphasis on rich and bright colours, will either look garish to you or playful.

We prefer the stock version of Android available in a phone like Nexus 5, even though this time Samsung has toned down some of in-your-face design elements found in TouchWiz.

The big changes in terms of usability and aesthetics are three. One, the icons in settings panel and in the quick action bar in notification shade are round and flat. It is not a big deal but these new icons do look better.

Second, My Magazine now takes the full left screen adjacent to the homescreen. This is similar to how Blinkfeed is presented on HTC One devices. Unfortunately, My Magazine, which is based on Flipboard and shows news stories as well as updates from social media, is not very useful. In its place Samsung could have put Google Now, just the way it is available on Nexus 5.

Third, Samsung finally has the multi-tasking button on its Galaxy phone. The button on the left of the home button now opens the task-switcher. This is a welcome change. Though, users can still access menu by a long-press on this button.

The other TouchWiz features are part of Galaxy S5. The device has multi-window feature, which allows users to open and work on two apps simultaneously. It has S Voice, which we don’t find too useful (Android voice search is supported too through “OK Google” phrase). It also contains a new feature called ‘toolbox’ which puts a floating and translucent round icon on the screen. Tapping on this icon allows a user quick access to a few apps like notepad and browser. For example, if you are in Facebook app and then you have to quickly open the notepad app, you can do it through ‘toolbox’ if you have enabled it.

Smart gestures like ‘Air View’ and ‘Direct Call’ are still part of the phone and can be enabled or disabled from the settings. They are not very useful though.

Camera
The primary camera in Galaxy S5 can capture images in 16MP. Samsung is using ISOCELL technology in the phone. According to Samsung, this technology should help users click better images in low light.

We found that Galaxy S5 is capable of shooting some fantastic pictures. Images that we shot with it in proper light had good amount of detail and pleasant colours. However, in scenes where the source of light was too prominent (a difficult scene for any camera) we found the images had off-the-mark contrast. Fortunately, in most of the cases this was fixed by using HDR mode, which was just a toggle away.

Galaxy S5 is one of the rare smartphones where HDR mode in the camera works well enough and is fast enough to be of use.

Talking of speed, the camera in Galaxy is very fast in getting focus. You point it at something and zap, the subject is in sharp focus.

In low light, the performance is good, though a lot depends on how well you shoot. If you hold the hand steady while taking images, Galaxy S5 can take some nice photos in low light. The HDR mode also helps here. But the way camera processes images, aggressively trying to reduce noise, robs them of fine details.

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Shooting videos is fun with Galaxy S5, mostly because it captures footage that is clear, sharp and has good contrast. Galaxy S5 can shoot videos in 720P, 1080P and 4K resolution. Of the three, 720P and 1080P are better. In 4K, the quality takes some hit. In 720P and 1080P modes, the phone also offers ‘slow’ recording or ‘fast’ recording. Slow mode, as the name suggests slows down the video to a crawl. You can shoot a car moving at 60 km/h and you will see it crawling on the road. The fast mode speeds up the video. Both are fun mode to use though in “slow” mode, quality of video takes a noticeable hit.The 2MP front camera does a decent job while video chats.Performance
Galaxy S5 is powered by Exynos 5422 processor, which has eight cores. There is 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. This is a fast phone. The kind of mysterious lag often visible in TouchWiz user interface is not there in Galaxy S5. It feels as fast as Nexus 5, which is the fastest Android phone. On Galaxy S5, you can scroll through lists, switch tasks or open apps without seeing any lag.

We had a very positive overall experience while using Galaxy S5. It handles web browsing well and can play movies in most of the common formats and resolutions, including Full HD resolution, without requiring you to convert them into smaller files. The GPS in the phone is very fast and performance while using navigation or map apps is reliable.

The phone offers good call quality though it wasn’t as crisp as what we have found in devices like Nexus 5. Similarly, the mono speaker is loud and will satisfy you if you want to play a song or two but we have heard better sound from devices like HTC One that have stereo speakers.

Battery life is where Galaxy S4 really excels. Once charged fully, its 2,800 mAh battery can keep the device going for around 15 to 16 hours when used with a 3G connection. This battery life of around 15 hours is with around 4 hours of screen up time, which means we were using the device a lot. If you are not always connected to social media or don’t open a website on your phone every 15 minutes, you will get even better battery life.


Gaming
We played casual games like Angry Birds Go as well as some more demanding games like Asphalt 8 on the device. In both types of games, the performance of Galaxy S5 was fantastic. We could play Asphalt 8 at its high graphics settings with ease. The device gets little hot after 15 to 20 minutes of gaming but then this an issue that affects all high-end phones, including iPhones.

Verdict
Galaxy S5 is available in the market at a price of Rs 51,500. This means it is an expensive phone. In fact, it is a very expensive phone in a world where Moto G, Moto X and Nexus 5 exist.

As we noted earlier, we had a positive experience with Galaxy S5. It is a very capable phone and even though it lacks a killer feature, every little thing in the device, every new feature – such as waterproof design – adds to the user experience in a positive way.

But you may not need everything that Galaxy S5 offers. If you require a fast, functional and powerful smartphone, you can buy Nexus 5 without any second thoughts.

But Nexus 5 lacks something. It doesn’t have a slot for microSD card. It doesn’t have a heart rate monitor. It is not waterproof. It doesn’t have the camera or screen that Galaxy S5 has, although on both counts Nexus 5 is not too shabby.

There are three reasons to buy Galaxy S5. No matter what, you want to spend Rs 51,500 on a phone. If this is the case, go ahead and get Galaxy S5. It won’t disappoint you. It is a fantastic phone.

The second reason is that you are already using a Galaxy S3 or something similar. You want to upgrade, you are comfortable with a Galaxy phone and have no problems shelling out Rs 51,500. Galaxy S5 works for you.

The third reason is that you want something special that Galaxy S5 offers. May be you want an Android phone with fingerprint scanner. Or you want the S Health feature. Or maybe you want a high-end phone with a battery that can be removed. Or you want use an external storage card in it.

Go through the special features listed above and decide whether they are going to be useful to you or not. Are they worth spending extra $$? If your answer is yes (our answer is no, in case you are curious), go ahead and get Galaxy S5. You will enjoy using it.

 

Canadian News

Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory take part in a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of a deadly shooting in Toronto on Wednesday July 25, 2018. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont., and 18-year-old Reese Fallon of Toronto were killed in Sunday's shooting attack, and 13 other people were injured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.

While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.

At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.

We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.

Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.

We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.

A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.

Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.

We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.

We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.

We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.

Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.

Our emergency services keep people safe.

Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.

Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.

Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.

We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.

With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”

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Canadian News

Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality

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Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.

Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.

Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.

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Canadian News

Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?

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The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture.  That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries.  Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.

Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.

Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response.  However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.

Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth.  Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.

In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide?  Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed?  However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.

The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?

Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.

Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.

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