Because I write a blog that more often than not focusses around parenting, and because we live in London, we occasionally get invited to come along to amazingly fun events that I know the kids will LOVE.
And sometimes, Sam, the non-blogger of the family, will ignore my first right of refusal and totally hijack these events for his own benefit.
“Testing out mobile phones and making toys? I’ll take Arlo to that”.
Of course you will.
And so it was that I found myself standing down so that Sam could scoop up all the brownie points with Arlo.
But I did have some very important window shopping to do.
(This is an iPhone photo)
All jokes aside, Sam really was the best person for this task, being the one with a vested interest in the Samsung S5. He jumped the iPhone ship a few years ago in favour of a much more affordable monthly cost and much larger memory via way of Micro SD.
However, his choice of android phone, an LG, has been problematic since the start, and more recently, has suffered a shattered screen at the hands of a two-foot terror. Naming no names.
With his upgrade date looming, Sam has his eye on the smartphone market and had marked the Samsung Galaxy S5 as one to watch. Being able to test it out in the flesh would prove a highly useful ‘try before you buy’ scenario.
The task? Go to the Build a Bear workshop in Hamleys, and document the bear-making process with the S5.
This was our family’s first Build A Bear experience. What struck us most is the staff’s effort to go the extra mile in making the selecting and customising process a really special experience for your child.
First, the children select a bear or animal. Then they can select a sound effect or song to go inside their bear. Next up is the stuffing process. All the while, the kids are encouraged to walk around the workshop in funny ways. Check out Arlo’s penguin shuffle:
Your bear then gets a heart, with the children encouraged to think of special traits they want their bear to have – rub the heart on your forehead if you want your bear to be smart, rub it on your arms if you want your bear to be strong, rub it on your feet if you want your bear to dance/run/rollerskate…you get the idea. (Apparently this is called a Heart Ceremony, which sounds a bit cult-like, but the kids LOVE IT.)
Arlo doesn’t typically show much affinity with cuddly toys, but I have to say that he is particularly taken with his Build a Bear creation, and I have no doubt that it’s entirely because of the staff’s dedication to making every child’s experience fun and memorable.
And also perhaps because his resulting creation was a Jingle Bells singing hippo with tap dancing shoes.
(This is an iPhone photo)
The verdict? Sam wanted to give a special mention for the screen size and quality. He thought the camera performed really well. Most important of all, interface usability was very good, with non of the lagging and unresponsiveness that he has experienced with his current LG android phone.
Sam and I then swapped, and I joined Arlo at Scoff and Banter for afternoon tea and a nice bit of blogger chat.
And because there was cake to be eaten. I am the best person for THAT job.
The task? Eat cake and cute little finger sandwiches and document everything on the S5.
A brief bit of phone history: I have definitely become one of those people that finds it very tricky to get to grips with a new phone. This is the number 1 reason why I am still loyal to iphone after many years and increasingly eye-watering tariffs.
As a self-employed, work on-the-go around my children type, my phone is my lifeline, and I can’t be dealing with any sort of non-user friendly, time-wasting phone hiccups. I need a phone that does it’s job VERY WELL, and does it without me having to set up a million and one things before it will work in the way I need it to.
So, I am pleased to report that I actually managed to get on with the Samsung S5 very well. Sam handed it over with no instructions, so I was left to figure it all out for myself. I managed to get passed the lock screen on the first try (Yes, even this has flummoxed me with some phone models). Google maps was the same as always (phew), and logging into my google account gave me all of my usual google stuff – my gmail contacts and documents on Drive, etc, making it easy to get going with work stuff straight away.
A quick search found that all of my most-used iphone apps were available on android. I wasted no time in setting up my instagram account on the S5, and Arlo wasted even less time loading on his favourite games.
(This photo was taken with my iphone)
At one point during our meal, I did a side-by-side camera comparison with the Samsung S5 and my iphone 6. It was late afternoon in an ‘ambiently lit’ room. Straight away I noticed that the S5’s camera was doing a much better job in low light – the picture was sharp and bright, the iphone 6 was surprisingly murky and unclear in comparison. I have so many memories of the kids from my camera phone, I could never have a phone with a rubbish camera, so the fact that I felt confident in the S5’s camera was a big plus point for me.
The verdict – The Samsung Galaxy S5 is very visually appealing, I really like the white model that we had. I like that it’s the same kind of size as my iphone 6 (the S5 is slightly bigger, actually). My first experience with Android OS was surprisingly positive. It’s definitely made the old ‘Stick with extortionate iphone prices or switch to more affordable handsets with larger memory?’ dilemma a bit more of a thinking point for me.
Although I think switching from iphone to android would be a little bit of a learning curve for me, I could see myself getting on very well with the Samsung S5 without taking too long to get used to a new system.
Thanks to Three mobile for our lovely day out. And thanks for adding the permanent Jingles Bells soundtrack to our lives.