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Five flaws in Samsung Galaxy S5's TouchWiz

Nermin Bajric | April 21, 2014
The Samsung Galaxy S5 is an evolutionary device; the vendor's new flagship is better than its predecessor across the board, without quite being revolutionary. But while it houses impressive hardware, it is let down by the infamous TouchWiz, Samsung's own interface overlay which skins Google's Android 4.4 Kit Kat operating system with heavy-duty software (and in some cases, gimmicks).

Unable to remove unused applications

Adding further to the issue of device storage is the fact that the Galaxy S5 comes bundled with a stack of preloaded applications which TouchWiz does not allow you to uninstall. There's a bunch of Google and Samsung apps, as well as a selection of partnership-related ones. While some prove very useful -- such as Smart Remote and S Planner -- not all users will require all of them. This means they sit around unused and consume storage even when disabled.

An unrefined menu system

The Samsung Galaxy S4's settings menu wasn't perfect, but it worked. It employed a hybrid tab and list system with clearly defined categories. It took a bit of getting used to, but once you'd been through it a few times, it became efficient to manage. The menu system on the Galaxy S5's version of TouchWiz is a step back from that.

By default, the settings menu is set to Grid View. Icons are nestled within three columns, and the total of nine categories can be expanded and collapsed depending on what you're after. Certain settings can be frustrating to find as the categories aren't well defined.

Samsung also provides two other view options to suit different users. List View leaves all nine categories permanently expanded, and lists each individual setting in a separate row so you'll be scrolling away through a long list. Again, some menus seem out of place. The Tab View is the closest to the Galaxy S4's style (it has the same hybrid approach), but even this mode is cluttered with a total of six tabs (with shorter lists, thankfully) and options that don't seem very well arranged.

We maintain that the HTC One (M8)'s menu system takes the cake. It's simple, has a limited number of tabs, and lists sub-categories very clearly.

It limits interface customisations

It seems Australian customers have yet again received the short stick when it comes to customising the home- and lock-screen experience. First and foremost, Galaxy S5 devices bought in Australia will not allow you customise your dock applications; you're stuck with having Phone, Contacts, Messages, Internet, and the Apps Drawer at the bottom of every home screen. This means that if you prefer Firefox or Chrome, you'll still have to put up with the Internet Explorer-esque default browser.

The Samsung Galaxy S5's default dock cannot be changed unless using third party overlays.

The Galaxy S5's TouchWiz does not allow you to set up lock-screen widgets either. This eliminates the convenience of quick access to apps such as a flashlight, voice recorder, camera, and so on. Note that these restrictions do not apply to all regions.

 

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