Five things you need to know about Lollipop on the Samsung Galaxy S5

TouchWiz is far from dead. In fact, it's Material Design that feels like the stranger.

Samsung surprised everyone recently by rolling out the update to Android 5.0 through some of the notoriously difficult update channels, leaving many Galaxy S5 owners with a whole lot of new buttons to press and a couple of curious interface choices. While every upgrade to Android 5.0 is going to cause something of a learning period, the way Samsung meshes together Google's new user interface decisions with their existing user interface is likely to leave a few folks somewhat lost. Here's quick roundup of the good, the strange, and the slightly broken things about Lollipop on the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Read more: Five things about Lollipop on the Samsung Galaxy S5

Lollipop notifications work well, but the lock screen and system tray do not

Galaxy S5 Notifications

Anyone who has used Android 5.0 so far knows that the update notifications system is one of the new stars of the show. The animations are slick, you can expand a great deal of notifications to interact without leaving the app you are currently in, and to be able to do all of this from the lockscreen is a genuine pleasure. Samsung made sure to get the pretty part of the notifications right, but everything else about this system is competing with TouchWiz. For example, on the lockscreen you can't just double tap on a notification to unlock the phone and launch the app. You have to unlock the lock screen notifications with a downward swipe, and only then are you able to expand notifications and jump to apps.

The notification tray once you've unlocked the phone is equally confusing to any who have seen Lollipop already. The notifications can be swiped and expanded as you would expect, but the top of the notification tray and the two-finger swipe to access to extended notification tray is classic TouchWiz. The darker blues and simple circles for activating features aren't going anywhere, and if you were hoping this part of the phone would start to look more like stock Android you're unlikely to be particularly happy.

Ultimately, if you're happy with the Galaxy S5 right now the lack of change may be a good thing. The only real functionality issue is when notifications tell you to tap in order to get an answer when the lockscreen on the Galaxy S5 has added an extra step without telling anyone.

Material Design is awkwardly sprinkled throughout TouchWiz

Galaxy S5 Material Design

There are a lot of places on the Galaxy S5 that look exactly the same as it did before updating to Android 5.0. Most of Samsung's apps, for example, look and function identically to the previous version of Android. Samsung's launcher still functions the same way, thought the status bar is now transparent. Where things really start to get interesting are the seemingly random Material Design elements that pop up all over the place.

The card that pops up from the bottom of the screen to confirm which app you want to use to open something, the floating action button in the bottom right of the contacts section of the dialer, and the sort of hybrid Material look of the Settings panels now are the biggest places you'll notice this split UI. It's a lot of little things, and for the most part what you get is an experience that feels like Samsung only used the parts that were easy to add and left everything else on the cutting room floor.

There's plenty you can do to get more of that Material goodness in your life if you so desire, especially through replacement launchers, but if this is a sign of what we can expect from Samsung moving forward it'll be hard for a lot of folks to get excited about Material Design.

Individual Chrome Windows are enabled by default

Galaxy S5 Lollipop Chrome

Love it or hate it, Google's decision to let individual Chrome windows exist in the multitasking tray as separate items instead of tabs on a single window is a big part of Android 5.0. The design decision is one that users constantly discuss as though it is either the best feature ever or something to be turned off immediately after you boot the phone up.

Like the Nexus 6 and the Moto X, this Lollipop feature is enabled by default on the Galaxy S5 but is just as easy to disable as it is everywhere else. You can hop into Chrome and flip the switch to turn this feature off by heading to Settings in Chrome and flipping the toggle labeled "Merge tabs and apps", or you can give it a try and see how you like this new way of doing things. Especially with the new Lollipop multitasking window, you may find that the colorful windows created by Chrome make this your new favorite feature.

Mute and Priority mesh well together in the audio settings

Galaxy S5 Lollipop Volume

Folks who have just started to get a hang of Android 5.0 have noticed there's a button missing from the volume settings on some phones. For reasons passing understanding, Google has decided most people don't actually want to mute their phones. Instead, there's a Priority mode and a None mode for volume controls, and the lack of something in between bothers a lot of people. Samsung's new volume controls are a hybrid of what was available before and what Google thinks is best, and their implementation is one of the better changes that have been made.

If you want to mute on a Lollipop Galaxy S5, you can either hold down the volume button until the mute setting pops up, or you can tap the gear and select it out of a list. The expanded volume controls offered by tapping the gear gives users access to Priority notification controls, as well as the ability to set a timer on Mute. It really is the best of both worlds, and the granularity found in Priority notifications gives users the ability to thoroughly customize their setup.

Just a touch faster, but battery life is about the same

Galaxy S5 Lollipop

Android 5.0 brought with it a bunch of performance enhancing and battery extending software. The existence of 60fps animations and better battery life on any Android device is exciting, but it's honestly a little tough to see on the Galaxy S5. The biggest places you'll see improvements in performance is the camera app and the notification tray, which both feel smooth and launch faster than the previous version of the software. This is coming from an over the air install, so while your mileage may vary slightly based on usage you should have some subtle improvements.

As for battery life, after a week of use there was no obvious difference between the previous version of Android and Lollipop. We know that the big battery boosting bits of Project Volta require developers to do their part in the apps they release, so it's likely this will get better over time, but expecting any huge shift in battery life isn't likely to happen on this phone.

What do you think of the Lollipop update?

We've had some great feedback from a lot of people so far, and while there's some discussion on whether or not the Galaxy S5 is any faster with this update, the lack of any obvious outstanding bugs has been a huge relief for many. Samsung's deployment of Android 5.0 seems to be going smoothly, which is great news not only for the Galaxy S5 owners who have yet to see the update, but also owners of Samsung's other devices.

Don't forget to head to our Galaxy S5 forums for more info on this update!

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

168 Comments
  • I can't remember, which US carrier got the update first? Posted from my Droid Turbo, Kelly and Ozone
  • Lol the one that occasionally surprises us! Posted via the Android Central App
  • The one which has the ugliest logo and makes even the well designed phones to look crap. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No...it wasn't T-Mobile Posted from my Droid Turbo, Kelly and Ozone
  • T-Mobile doesn't modify the phone's appearance with carrier logos obnoxiously placed everywhere. And they're the only one with a cute logo.
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-SHMEHtyHA38/TnAww07zQLI/AAAAAAAAFkA/gCnpWYE2MX...
  • Verizon
  • Sprint, also The Samsung Active 2014 is getting updated right now as well on sprint
  • I got it a week ago on Att for my SG5 Active.I was crying for a day but now I came to terms with it.
  • I have an Active unrooted with 4.4.4, how did you get Lollipop?
  • I was working on it when suddenly the update popped up and told me to reboot.It didn't say that it was Lollipop.I have to assume it was from the carrier,ATT.
  • I updated my S5 the day the update came out and I definitely recommend a factory reset after the update. It was fine the first day but started acting funky until I did the reset this past Sunday and it has been fine since then.
  • Agreed. I've reset a couple times and now we seem to be smoother.
  • The only thing you need to know about Lollipoop - It sucks. I'm going back to Kit kat this weekend. Posted via the Android Central App
  • More information?
  • He doesn't like hard candies...he's going to eat a chocolate wafer bar on Saturday.
  • It is rough. It is beta and never should have been released. But it is better Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • O please stop with the beta crap.
    It's been released their might be bugs but no OS is perfect. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It definitely needs some bug fixes...i've factory reset and still I get random slowdowns, especially with Facebook Messenger.
  • I have that problem too get's really hot as well. How many resets you done?
  • your mom is beta
  • That'll show em... Posted via the Android Central App
  • nailed it Posted via the Android Central App
  • Good for you, your note 3 on the useless carrier is not going to get the beta software until at least the next beta version is released. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Its okay. New things are scary. Posted via the Android Central App
  • No its not okay Posted via the Android Central App
  • First thing you need to know is Touch Wiz is still there.. Posted via the Android Central App
  • One has to be an idiot to think TW won't be here.
  • Do you like it more now? Posted via the Unrivaled Note 4 or Tab S 10.5
  • Awkward!
  • Yeah can you now stfu about the FUD you spread? Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • LOL!
  • Material Design is awkwardly sprinkled throughout TouchWiz Section 'headline' within the article.
  • Other than the bright blue quick toggles in the notification panel, I think it looks good throughout the OS Posted via the Unrivaled Note 4 or Tab S 10.5
  • Ya i just think performance went doen the drain Posted via the Android Central App
  • "Yeah can you now stfu about the FUD you spread?" -Elmer FUD himself
  • Thanks Russell. Good read. I'd love to see more articles like this detailing large Android version jumps on popular phones. Thanks!
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Agreed Posted via Android Central App
  • Question, I hear people say that Samsung phones are prefect for individuals who are new to Android. Who here besides me thinks Samsung's phones require more of a learning curve than stock Android? Posted via the Android Central App
  • They are, out of the box. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah you are. There are more options for beginners than any phone. Notice I didn't say any other, I said any Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • I think there are two sides to it. On one it looks harder, but on the other it also has an easy mode and, which might be more important, it does more out of the box. From what I've noticed average users or beginner often care more about what it can do out of the box and not what it can do after searching for hours through the Play Store with some hit & miss experience.
    "Normal" users often just install apps after they got recommendations from friends, but otherwise they don't even know what they should search for. Just look on phones of average people, doesn't matter if those are Android,iOS or Windows phones. They've a whole bunch of crap installed because they read about those apps in magazines, but they barely find the apps they could really need or look for.
  • Great explication! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Explanation? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes LoL Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Samsung phone have an Easy Mode, that many have said is good for older users. Also since they are popular phones, it is likely easier to get assistance with them.
  • I hear people say a lot of things about Samsung phones. The truth is that they were never that good to begin with. It's amazing what commercials can make you believe. I'm glad people are starting to realize that Samsung is nothing special, and are buying handsets far more deserving from Moto and HTC etc. Sent from my Galaxy S5 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Sure, Lol Posted via the Unrivaled Note 4 or Tab S 10.5
  • After this abomination of a blend of Touchwiz and Lollipop filters down to all regular Samsung Galaxy S5 and S4 users it seems less probable the S6 will ameliorate plummeting acceptance of the brand. Remember BlackBerry and Nokia! Shit happens!
  • It sucks that is all Posted via the Android Central App
  • You think it's ugly? Posted via the Unrivaled Note 4 or Tab S 10.5
  • Mlyp Posted via the Android Central App
  • No i dont i just think it's slow Posted via the Android Central App
  • That sucks man. Factory reset?? Thst sucks too but it's the big fixer Posted via the Unrivaled Note 4 or Tab S 10.5
  • Wow sounds like GB and HC all over again Posted via the Android Central App
  • I heard Samsung left out the tootsie roll in the tootsie pop....er....lollipop....
  • " is equally confusing to any who have seen Lollipop already" How many GS5 owners will have seen lollipop before seeing it on their phone? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Nexus tablet owners? GPE owners who had to do an emergency phone replacement?
  • I'm sure many users (atleast I hope they do) watch reviews on YouTube regarding hope stock Android works vs skinned Android. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Normal people don't have time for such shit. Most don't even know what is a TW. And a majority of them will never update their phones even if an update is available.
  • "Normal" what are you trying to say? Do you think reading newspapers and only having a landline is normal? Are you saying people who actively pursue the knowledge of tech are abnormal? Here's the NEWS! People that don't take the time or make the time to learn about advancements in technology are LAZY! Posted via the Android Central App
  • Exactly! Lazy... And that's most people. You just inadvertantly supported his claim Posted via the Android Central App
  • You're so disengaged from reality it's amazing...
  • Those of us who read sites like Android Central and follow the news are something like 0.01% of Android users.  Most "normal" users (+80%) don't even know that there is a new version of Android out, let alone what it looks like.  It's not "laziness", it just doesn't matter to them.
  • I did and I dreaded the update.My battery life on my Nexus went downhill since LP.Plus my qq doesnt work,now I have to use the chinese version which I dont understand.
  • Samsung needs to learn from other OEMs: your skin is supposed to compliment the OS, not the other way around. It looks like they freaking threw touch wiz with material design in a blender and threw it on the phone. Posted from the Nexus 5 or Xperia Z3
  • Lol that is laughable. They should enhance the the crap that Google puts out Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • Yea, Android is crap. Samsung makes some seriously sick software, they should be showing Google how it's done and enhance the experience. We should go check out their new Tizen phone and switch to it. Its so amazing, just a brilliant OS. I like how you can't even put apps on home screens, it really let's me put my focus on the two other apps it comes with. Posted via the Android Central App
  • You're such a blind fanboy its not even funny. If you wanna say what google outs out is crap, the stop using Touchwiz and switch to Tizen, or whatever the heck you think is good. If you think that Samsung got Lollipop right with what they did with it, you're sadly mistaken. It looks bad. They could have done much better. They had all the time in the world to get it right, and it's awful. You can't deny that. Posted from the Nexus 5 or Xperia Z3
  • Aweful? Other than The launcher, what's so aweful about it? Ya because Sony's ui just looks great doesn't it. lmao Posted via the Unrivaled Note 4 or Tab S 10.5