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Virgin Mobile Samsung Galaxy S5 review: Awesome smartphone, no contract

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Samsung's new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, has arrived with no-contract carriers such as Virgin Mobile with a bang.

The wildly popular Galaxy S series has long surpassed iPhones in look, feel, technology and usability. In terms of screen size, the Galaxy S5 beats the iPhone 5 by over an inch, with its 5.1" touchscreen display. Its 5.6" by 0.3" by 2.9" measurements and 5.1-ounce weight make it feel incredibly light for its hefty screen size.

The Galaxy S5 runs Android 4.4.2 Kit Kat, and its 2.5 GHz quad-core processor with 2 GB RAM makes short work of installing and running apps. With 16 GB of onboard memory and the ability to add a microSD card, you should have no problem having enough space for your apps, pictures and videos. I recommend using a free cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Google Drive for backing up your media files and syncing them with your computer, if desired.

Excellent camera and vibrant display
Excellent camera and vibrant display Beth McIntire

Excellent camera and vibrant display

The phone's 16 MP camera with autofocus takes excellent photos and HD videos, and it offers numerous features and picture editing tools as well. You can even add enhancements to your pictures such as frames, effects and cartoon graphics like funny glasses, bows, beards, hearts, stars, hats, helmets, crowns, animals and mustaches.

The S5 also features IP67 Dust and Water Resistance, though I'm not willing to test these capabilities by dropping the phone in water or walking through a dust storm. However, it's something to keep in mind if you have a habit of dropping your phone in water or you work or spend a lot of time outdoors or in an dusty or dirty environment.

You can watch YouTube or other videos in vibrant, gorgeous detail on the Galaxy S5's 1080p Super AMOLED HD display. Games like Angry Birds and Words With Friends also look fantastic and play smoothly, with just the right amount of sensitivity on the touchscreen. Text in messages and articles looks crisp and clear.

Large, multi-function keys
Large, multi-function keys Beth McIntire

Large, multi-function keys

A center bottom button takes you to the home screen, with soft buttons for escape/go back and recently opened apps. With such a large screen, the virtual keyboard on the Galaxy S5 sports large enough keys to type accurately. Its multi-function keys let you hold in a letter to get a number or symbol, which makes typing more speedy and convenient.

Of course, you can also use your voice to speak your text instead of typing on the keyboard. Samsung's highly evolved S Voice app lets you speak not only emails, text messages and Web searches but also commands such as opening a particular app, finding the local weather forecast, looking for nearby restaurants, sending an email to a certain person and a variety of other possibilities.

Great bundled apps and battery life
Great bundled apps and battery life Beth McIntire

Great bundled apps and battery life

The included Polaris Office 5 lets you work with documents and spreadsheets on the go. In addition, the Galaxy S5's S Health + Heart Rate Monitor gives you the first-ever built-in heart rate sensor, which responds to your touch. It can track your steps and help you choose exercises and set fitness goals.

The Galaxy S5's other unique features include an ultra power-saver mode you can use to shut down non-essential apps and turn the screen to black and white if your battery becomes low when you can't get to a charger. There's also a fingerprint scanner to unlock the screen.

The Galaxy S5's battery lasts an impressively long time. An entire day of moderate usage, including playing games and browsing social media apps, drained the battery less than halfway. You likely won't have to charge your S5 phone every night.

Available with no contract
Available with no contract Beth McIntire

Available with no contract

The Virgin Mobile Galaxy S5 which I tested comes with a hefty price tag of $599.99 since it doesn't attach a contract or commitment. It uses Sprint's 4G LTE mobile network where available and 3G elsewhere. With Sprint's ambitious and ongoing 4G LTE expansion, I picked up a strong, speedy 4G LTE signal almost anywhere I went with the S5.

All mobile networks have some dead areas, so you may want to check with a coworker or friend who uses the Sprint network to verify coverage in the places where you spend a lot of time.

Virgin Mobile offers mobile plans with unlimited texts and 2.5 GB of full speed data for $35 with 300 monthly voice minutes, $45 for 600 voice minutes or $55 for unlimited voice minutes. The company doesn't charge extra if you go over 2.5 GB, but they can slow down the speed substantially. This shouldn't pose a problem for most people, especially if you connect to Wi-Fi on a regular basis.

Exceptional smartphone
Exceptional smartphone Beth McIntire

Exceptional smartphone

I've loved all of the Galaxy S series phones so far, including the spectacular Galaxy S5. If you already have a Galaxy S4, the S5 shouldn't make you rush to upgrade, since the average user probably wouldn't notice many of the enhancements. However, if you're looking to replace your phone and don't mind paying extra for one of the best smartphones on the market, look first to the Samsung Galaxy S5.

If this article helped you or if you have further suggestions, please feel free to comment below. If you enjoy my writing, please consider subscribing to my articles by email or following me on Twitter @RaleighTech.

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