Samsung Galaxy S5
IBTimes UK

Samsung has played it safe with the Galaxy S5. With rumours of basic plastic and premium aluminium models, a curved screen and a major redesign, the technology world was braced for the shot in the arm Samsung's flagship range needed.

But it didn't happen, and the Galaxy S5 simply left me cold. A 'first impressions' or 'hands-on' article will be an opinion by its very nature, and my impressions of the S5 may not correlate with other reviewers, but for me, Samsung held back when it could have done more.

At 5.1in the screen is fractionally larger than on the Galaxy S4, but rumours of a display with 2K resolution (2,560 x 1,440) failed to become reality. I can live with that, because any larger and phones become difficult to use comfortably, and Full HD is still plenty sharp enough. No, it wasn't the screen or the improved-but-similar quad-core processor that left me disappointed - it was the deisgn.

Judging a smartphone on its aesthetic value would have been crazy just a few years ago - but now that all high-end devices offer almost identical performance and features, a higher screen resolution and a faster processor is no longer enough to convince consumers to part with more than £500 of their hard-earned cash.

Samsung Galaxy S5
IBTimes UK

Where the iPhone 5s, HTC Ones and even some high-end Nokia Lumias have a premium feel to them, a sense of value, the Galaxy S5 (and S4 and S3 before it) does not. The shockingly light weight isn't a problem here - indeed, it was a welcome surprise given the screen size and larger battery - but the cheap-feeling plastic is.

The Galaxy S5 looks cheap and feels cheap; the shiny chrome edge feels like it will scratch and chip the moment it's jammed into a pocket with keys and loose change, while the rear cover is just...weird.

Reminding me of the original Google Nexus 7 tablet, the back of the Galaxy S5 has a dimpled finish that feels like a blend between rubber and leather; it's more fabric than plastic, and that just doesn't sit well with the glass front and plastic sides. It's as if Samsung really wanted to make changes to the S4, but daren't rock the boat too much, so put the biggest visual change on the back.

The blue S5 I tried had a metallic finish to it which, if I'm being honest, came across as vulgar. It will no doubt look at home in a Harrods window with similarly coloured and needlessly shiny 'lifestyle' products, but on a phone it doesn't work.

Having endured the weeks of speculation - and enjoyed an uncharacteristic lack of credible leaks - I left Samsung's enormous Unpacked press conference with a nagging feeling that the company could and should have done more.

Samsung Galaxy S5
IBTimes UK

I'm bored with Samsung design and I'm bored with picking up what's meant to be an industry-leading, flagship smartphone only to realise I would seriously struggle to explain why a consumer should upgrade from the S4 before it.

Yes, it has a heart rate monitor next to the rear camera flash, and no I can't work out why either. Yes, Samsung has held back on the camera and accelerometer gimmicks which plagued the Galaxy S4 - although I imagine most are still there - and yes the Kids Mode is a good idea, albeit one lifted from Windows Phone.

But the Galaxy S5 left me cold. Samsung is at the very top of its game, yet it is becoming complacent. Perhaps it feels it doesn't need to work as hard as its rivals - and maybe it doesn't - but I now wonder how long it will be before the consumer realises how lazy Samsung is being, and jumps ship.

Samsung Galaxy S5
Kids Mode on the Galaxy S5 gives children a section of the operating system where they cannot access parent's data.IBTimes UK

Those who bought a Galaxy S3 - to my mind, the defining device in Samsung's smartphone history - two years ago will be looking for a new contract and an upgrade from May, and I can't help but wonder if many will look at the S5 and see two years' worth of improvement.

Having said all this, first impressions are exactly that and I look forward to spending a couple of weeks with an S5 - and the newly announced Gear 2 and Gear Fit smartwatches - to see if Samsung can change my mind. For now the S5 could be passed off as 'evolution not revolution' but that excuse can't last forever. Time to rock the boat, Samsung, before consumers look elsewhere.

The Galaxy S5 goes on sale on 11 April, prices are yet to be announced.

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