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Is the Samsung Galaxy S5 a genuine step forward?

With its similar look and iterative tweaks on the S4, is the Galaxy S5 the phone consumers have been waiting for?

opinion It's not the smartphone that many people were hoping for, but is the Galaxy S5 still a winner for Samsung?

The S5's integrated fitness app. (Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Looking back on the list of rumoured specs for the Galaxy S5, it's amazing how far off base they were. Metal body, 2K-res screen — at 5.25-inches, no less — and Note 3 sized battery: all a big no. In fact, the 16-megapixel camera might be one of the few that was on the money.

What Samsung actually showed us this morning was a smartphone that looked a hell of a lot like the S4. My colleague Jessica Dolcourt called the design 'tepid'. Analyst group Ovum said that the Galaxy S5 "inched forward" from its predecessor.

Certainly rivals Nokia and HTC decided to make hay, taking to social media to make jokes about "Samesung" and "buyer's remorse".

But is the S5 really a misstep? Personally, while I would have liked to see some design changes, I'm quite happy with the Galaxy S5. It feels pared down from the feature bloat of the S4 and that's a good thing.

At the S4's cringe-inducing Radio City launch much was made of the phone's more byzantine features such as eye-based page scrolling and its ability to keep the screen on when you were looking at it. I never once had one of those feature work — apparently wearing glasses causes issues with the eye tracking abilities.

The air gesturing, where you could wave your hand over the S4 to answer or browse photos etc, certainly did work but after you'd shown off how cool it was to your friends you were stuck for a reason to use it.

The Galaxy S5, on the other hand, has features I do want. I want the water- and dust-resistance from the S4 Active. I am very interested in a biometric security device — the fingerprint reader — that actually ties in with a mobile payment service such as PayPal. And I am also keen on the fitness features, although I worry the heart-rate monitor might end up slightly too gimmicky and overkill given the fact the Gear 2 and the Gear Fit both already have one.

Samsung certainly aren't the only vendor to keep to rigid design principals — Apple has made a killing out of it — but if the company wants to go down this road, they need to make sure consumers understand what the differences are between the models.

While I think that the MWC launch made that clear, it's up to Samsung's marketing department to hammer that message home before the 11 April launch.