As smartphones have become increasingly commoditized, the platform and hardware we use have become more of a lifestyle choice. Sprint’s new Galaxy S5 Sport takes that choice to a new level with a fitness-heavy offering.
We’ve already reviewed the Galaxy S5, so I won’t go over all the details for the device. Instead, we’ll take a look at some of the unique health and exercise features that Sprint is touting.
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For software, the Galaxy S5 Sport combines Samsung’s S Health app, Under Armor’s MapMyFitness and Sprint’s new Fit Live service to promote good health. An Activity Zone app also offers quick access to features like a compass and stopwatch. Sprint includes a 12-month subscription to MapMyFitness MVP and six months of free Spotify Premium.
On the outside, the phone comes with a rubberized case, different from the standard S5, that should keep it from slipping out of your fingers. It also includes hard physical navigation buttons. Samsung has also elected to drop the fingerprint sensor from the device, though it did keep the heartbeat sensor. That’s not necessarily a dealbreaker, but fingerprint unlocking was one of the key differentiating features of the S5.
The Sport, which comes in electric blue or cherry red, costs $199 with a two-year contract or $27.09 a month for 24 months. For a limited time, you can get a $50 discount with the Samsung Gear Fit smartwatch if you buy the two devices together. By comparison, Sprint sells the vanilla Galaxy S5 for $99.99 with a two-year contract and $50 mail-in rebate.
Since Samsung rates the Galaxy S5 as IP67 dust and water resistant, we took the Sport for a swim. Before dunking, the phone recommends that you press down around the edges of the battery cover to ensure that it’s sealed. I was interested in trying the MapMyFitness swimming mode to track my laps, but the app’s GPS tracking feature doesn’t work for swims.
You can still use it to track how long you’re swimming, play music, and take a few underwater selfies for giggles. Keep in mind, though, that the water resistance is only rated for 30 minutes at one meter depth, so don’t try and go diving with it.
MapMyFitness did come in handy for cycling. Using the app, I could see how many calories I burned during a ride – just enough to warrant a Slurpee. On one occasion, however, the recording feature shut off on its own in my pocket while I was pedaling, so I lost some data about that workout.
When I started testing the Sport, I was curious whether it would motivate me to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The pre-installed apps and homescreen shortcuts did have a minor impact on reminding me to exercise, but, in the end, I didn’t find the additional features to be worth the extra $100. However, if you can get the full value out of the free MapMyFitness subscription ($30 per year) and Spotify Premium ($60 for six months), that will make up most of the difference.
The Galaxy S5 Sport is a step in the right direction from carriers and phone manufacturers interested in tailoring their smartphone offerings to their customers’ lifestyles. Unfortunately, in my case, the fitness lifestyle that the phone targets is more of an aspirational one. If you’re already a fitness nut that’s due for a Sprint upgrade, the Sport offers a few features that you might appreciate. Otherwise, you’re probably better off spending the extra money on a fitness band.