AT&T isn't the only US carrier to get its hands on a more robust version of the Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. Sprint also announced a toucher S5 variant, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport, which goes on sale July 25 for $200 with a new two-year agreement (and after a $50 mail-in rebate), or about $650 all in, either through24 monthly payments of $27.09 or an up-front sum.
Different, dimpled design
With a few exceptions, Sprint's Sport is nearly identical to AT&T's Galaxy S5 Active. It has the same specs under the hood, and also shares the thicker corners, squarer camera module, and three physical home buttons on the phone's front.
However, Sprint's model comes in cherry red and electric blue (versus ruby red, titanium grey, and camo green) and carries over the S5's dimpled backing rather than AT&T's smoother surface. This extra tactile boost is a good thing as far as I'm concerned; the S5 Active's slightly taller and wider form was harder for me to grip.
It's also missing one of my favorite S5 Active features, a physical camera button on the phone's spine that launches the camera, takes photos, and also calls up the Activity Zone app.
Like the other S5 phones, this Sport is rated IP67 to shrug off dust, and operate in 3 feet (1 meter) of water for up to 30 minutes. The heart-rate monitor on the back directly supports the S5 Sport's fitness apps.
Sprint's special touches
In addition to the Sport's physical modifications, Sprint is connecting the S5 Sport to its Spark network, a faster LTE network with a theoretical peak speed of 60Mbps down. Sprint is also enhancing the S5 Sport with its HD Voice feature, an audio-booster the network recently launched.
The Sport also comes preloaded with Sprint's Fit Live app, a portal for even more health and fitness apps. In addition, a deal with Spotify gives Sport owners free access to Spotify's workout playlists (6 months for Framily plan and 3 months for other Sprint customers). A separate partnership with Under Armour gives Sport owners a free yearlong trial to the company's MapMyFitness app, an activity-logging app that uses GPS to map your route and store your stats.
Specs line up
When it comes to flexing its power, the Samsung Galaxy S5 Sport comes with the same specs as both AT&T's Galaxy S5 Active and Samsung's flagship S5. It starts with a 5.1-inch 1080p HD Super AMOLED display, Android 4.4 KitKat, and a 16-megapixel camera with ultra-HD video capture.
On the front, a 2.1-megapixel camera takes self-shots, and under the hood a 2.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset powers up the entire show. Samsung's TouchWiz interface includes a mass of additional features, including additional screen shortcuts, Privacy Mode, and extra camera features.
Fingerprint-scanning security is the one major S5 capability that the S5 Sport -- and S5 Active -- lacks.
It's great that Sprint is getting its own sportier alternative to the Galaxy S5, and one that costs the same as the flagship model when all is said and done. It's too bad that Sprint's traditional contract customers have to go through the rigmarole of a mail-in rebate to get the $200 price -- though I'd hardly let this stop me from kickin' it with the S5 Sport.
In pictures, at least, I prefer the Sport's look and feel over AT&T's S5 Active. However, it's a shame Sprint's model lacks the S5 Active's actually convenient convenience key, one of my favorite parts of the phone's functionality.
More active Sprint customers should definitely check out the S5 Sport if you like its more colorful approach, less delicate finish, and handful of extra tools. Athletic types who did get the S5 original shouldn't worry about missing out on the Sport. Performance-wise, the lightly-reinforced phone should operate identically to the Galaxy S5 across the board, but doesn't add a tremendous amount of must-have benefits that you couldn't get with an aftermarket case and a couple of fitness apps.