The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the most powerful smartphone on the market, and we recommend AT&T's model just as highly as we do its sister on T-Mobile. With an unmatched screen, excellent LTE and Wi-Fi performance, stellar call quality, and a solid camera, the Galaxy S5 will make the most of AT&T's network. Still, though, I'm going to gripe a little, because AT&T couldn't help but mess with this excellent phone.
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AT&T's Galaxy S5 is physically identical to the T-Mobile and unlocked units except for a small AT&T logo on the back. Inside, there's one hardware difference: the four carriers' Galaxy S5 units have slightly different radio bands. In AT&T's case, you get all of AT&T's bands, of course. You don't get T-Mobile's AWS 3G band, but you do get the band used for super-high-speed LTE networks in Canada, where AT&T has an LTE roaming agreement.
Read my T-Mobile Galaxy S5 review for a full rundown of why this is the most functional (although, alas, not the most attractive) smartphone you can buy right now, and return here to find out how the AT&T model differs.
AT&T's Download Buster
The most disappointing change AT&T made was to remove Download Booster, Samsung's innovative Wi-Fi/LTE hybrid mode. The idea behind Download Booster is to fix shaky public Wi-Fi connections (like those slow Starbucks links) by juicing them up with LTE. AT&T doesn't like that, presumably because it wants subscribers to use as little LTE as possible. So it deleted Download Booster. The option to entirely turn off LTE and revert to 3G in weak-signal areas is also gone from the international model.
As usual, AT&T has also added its stack of bloatware. The apps can be "disabled," making them disappear out of your apps tray, but they can't be deleted. I counted 13 apps, including loss and theft prevention, cloud storage, account management, a data manager, and the subscription Beats Music service. If you don't like bloatware, keep an eye out for a near-future Galaxy S5 Google Play Edition, which will run stock Android (but also, presumably, without Download Booster).
Otherwise, It's Fine
I tested the AT&T Galaxy S5's performance, call quality, LTE performance, and camera, and got the same stellar results I saw on the T-Mobile version. LTE speeds, especially, burned up the charts. AT&T hasn't otherwise compromised the performance of this excellent phone.
On AT&T, like on T-Mobile, your high-end smartphone decision right now comes down to the Galaxy S5 and the HTC One (M8), with Apple's iPhone 5s in the wings for people who want a much smaller screen and iOS-exclusive apps. And just like on T-Mobile, we're giving both the Galaxy S5 and the HTC One our Editors' Choice awards, because the Galaxy S5's