Reviews of the most anticipated smartphone of the year, the Samsung Galaxy S5, are beginning to appear and the technology press are, rather predictably, fawning all over it.
The chaps at Recombu.com appear particularly smitten and while I wouldn't begrudge them their lust, I'd argue the S5 isn't as good as it could have been. In fact, I'd go as far as to suggest Samsung -- and the mobile industry at large -- is showing symptoms of innovation exhaustion.
Don't get me wrong, the S5 is a good phone, but so was the S4 and S3 before it. Ultimately, Samsung's new flagship is symptomatic of an industry that seems to have plateaued and is now churning out evolutionary rather than revolutionary updates to increasingly jaded consumers.
Call me greedy, but I expect more. Having bigger numbers next to each item on the spec sheet is a cop out. I want any phone that purports to be the very pinnacle of mobile tech to be exponentially better, faster, prettier than anything that came before it. I want true innovation. Every time I put it to my ear to make a call, I want it to blow my mind through my opposite ear.
There are new features aplenty on the Galaxy S5, sure, but nothing that makes me want to hurl my iPhone 5S (or even my Galaxy S4) through a window in a fit of jealous rage.
Don't get me wrong; I think the new fingerprint sensor is a great new addition - when it works - and the fact it'll authenticate PayPal transactions is fabulous news for my bank manager. Likewise, the S5's ability to combine 4G and WiFi signals to increase download speeds is genuinely clever. But as far as I can see, the remainder of its feature list consists of ever-so-slightly updated hardware, marginally tweaked software, stuff borrowed from other handsets and gimmicky nonsense that nobody will ever use.
A slightly faster processor? Great. A streamlined user interface? Congrats. A subtle boost in the camera's sensor size? Didn't see that coming.
Some may point to the built-in heart rate monitor as evidence of progress, but I can already download apps that serve that purpose, and these things never work as well as a dedicated heart monitor.
The Samsung Galaxy S5 is the first handset I can think of that delivers 4K video at a usable frame rate (30fps) but as impressive as that is on paper, it too is ultimately a gimmick. I don't have a 4K TV and even if I did I can think of better things to be doing with my time than watching pin-sharp (but ultimately still quite murky) home movies of my toddler or cat.
Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S5 isn't the first flagship handset to underwhelm in such a way. Apple virtually re-invented the wheel with the first iPhone, but finds it increasingly difficult to capture people's imaginations with subsequent releases (notice I said 'people' - Apple disciples that queue for weeks for new iStuff are a species unto themselves).
The same can be said of Samsung's S range. The S3 and S4 were hugely popular, and rightly so - but I'm not convinced such a predictable, iterative approach to product updates is sufficient to prevent these devices losing their impact, and consumers becoming jaded.
Ask the folks at Nokia, who started innovating when it was arguably too late.
Perhaps I'm being too hard on them. Perhaps it's unfair of me to keep expecting each new generation to impress in the same way their predecessors did. Perhaps designers are doing their best. But I refuse to believe we've reached an innovation ceiling. I genuinely think mobile phone manufacturers are playing things too safe and have it within themselves to deliver truly groundbreaking products.
So come on Samsung, Apple, Nokia - the lot of you. Let's escape the tedious trap of adding a few gigahertz here or a couple of megapixels there and do something truly amazing. I know you have it in you.Suggest a correction