The one thing when first writing this review was it left me thinking: Samsung HAS to be making another premium model to show us later in the year.

That world came to pass in the shape of the Galaxy S6 and even-better S7, and the S5 feels really outdated as a result.

In 2014 this wasn't the premium model I was hoping for, meaning Samsung limped to 2015 and the Galaxy S6 before it could rectify its need for a more polished handset. It's still sold millions of the Galaxy S5 model, of course, but there's no denying it's missed a few chances to get back to the head of the pack here.

We liked

The Samsung staples are still here, and that's excellent. That means that the screen is powerful, bright and a joy to watch movies on, be they HD or SD quality.

Samsung Galaxy S5 review

The sound output is also excellent, bringing you the best from your tunes and making it easy to follow dialogue and hear effects even when on noisy public transport. While I wouldn't recommend whacking up the volume all the time, in certain instances it's excellent.

The 16MP Isocell camera was a step forward for the brand - maybe not offering stunning pictures each time (unlike newer Samsung models, which are far superior), but on the whole delivering very attractive snaps, especially when you take the time to set the scene.

I'll never tire of highlighting the microSD slot and removable battery as good things to have, if nothing else for peace of mind, and I'm impressed by Samsung for sticking to its guns there.

The battery life is also, once again, excellent, and if you're after something that will keep chugging along no matter what, this is a top smartphone to check out.

We disliked

Despite the fact Samsung has sold record number of Galaxy S5 units, I can't help but think it's missed a massive trick by popping out another phone clad in plastic. Spin it however you want, the S5 feels cheap and if it came from a no-mark smartphone brand would be dismissed as uninspiring - it's only because the adverts everywhere ram it down our throat do we discuss it.

There's got to be something better here - when, for the same price, HTC and Sony were able to bring out appreciably superior designs, Samsung realised its mistake and made far superior models in recent years.

I wasn't always impressed by the speed of the phone either - the camera could take a while to load, games sometimes showed lag and opening the gallery will always be a sticking point for me.

There's not a lot that's particularly wrong with the Samsung Galaxy S5, but it feels like the Galaxy S3-S-S... another iterative design and power boost when it needed a reboot after the S4 didn't add much to the Galaxy mix.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S5 was an OK phone - the problem is we're now in a world where stunning smartphones are becoming the norm.

Samsung banked on the fact it knows there will be some people out there who will buy its devices no matter what, else it would have jumped to a more premium design.

Some might think I'm overstating my disappointment in how the S5 looks, but this is a critical part of the buying cycle. You can't rely on brand recognition and loyalty for long if competitors are making something that can cause design envy.

If you're on the fence, or in the iPhone camp, it was fair to decry this as a mere update to what came before, offering uninspiring design and a feature set that doesn't mark it out well enough from the competition, and the iPhone 6 was  a big jump forward that Samsung didn't take.

Samsung did enough with the Galaxy S5 for it to still be a decent smartphone of 2014, and I would still recommend it as a solid, if unspectacular, smartphone that ticks the boxes it needs to and very little more.

If you're thinking of buying it now, I'd urge you to consider whether it's really worth the effort. It's got outdated software, won't be supported by Samsung for much longer and doesn't perform as well as new phones that cost the same to buy today.

If you're a Samsung fan, this is the phone you should check out if you're desperate to save a large chunk of money, but then again something like teh Samsung Galaxy J3 may be worth a look. 

First reviewed: April 2014

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Global Phones, Tablets and Wearables Editor

Gareth (Twitter, Google+) has been in charge of phones, tablets and wearables at TechRadar for the best part of a decade. He can instantly recommend the best phone for you, or can be found running around the nearest park with the latest fitness tech strapped to his wrist, head or any other applicable body part.