Ahead of Samsung’s unveiling of the Galaxy S5 yesterday, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a great deal was expected from this much-vaunted smartphone. The Korean manufacturer has big plans for its Galaxy range this year, intending to displace Apple at the head of the smartphone market.

Samsung Galaxy S5 gold

However, the reaction to the Galaxy S5’s reveal event has been pretty lukewarm. This was by no means such a disastrous event as the by now infamously mocked Xbox One launch, but the general reaction to it has been a little underwhelming.

Expected features not included in Samsung Galaxy S5

It is interesting to note that several of the rumored features failed to materialize. It was strongly indicated via leaks that the Galaxy S5 would feature a metallic body, and Samsung executives spoke about a radical overhauling of the appearance of the device. This appears to have all been a red herring from day one, as there was no sign of a metal Galaxy S5, nor of the somewhat less likely curved display.

If this was a surprise then perhaps the biggest disappointment about the Galaxy S5 for me personally was the lack of the strongly rumored 2K display. It was widely reported in the media that this would be the first smartphone to feature a screen resolution which exceeds that of full HD, but the reality turned out differently, as the Galaxy S5 is still based on a 1080p resolution. It would have been interesting to see how a higher definition mobile display functioned, but in mitigation many observers apparently consider this a relative triviality.

Certainly the Galaxy S5 is a more powerful device than its predecessor, and significantly so. During the Barcelona presentation, the Samsung team made a lot of capital out of the Galaxy S5’s photograph taking capabilities, and these are certainly excellent. The ability to shoot 4K video is particularly interesting, and could be a boon in the near future as this format becomes more mainstream.

But at the same time, its spec list isn’t a knockout by any stretch of the imagination. This is not a game changing device in looks, capabilities or specs. It perhaps indicates a point at which it is getting more difficult to cram massive functionality into a smartphone, and at which the upward curve in hardware innovation and development is beginning to level out.

Pragmatic economic considerations drive spec

It is also possible that Samsung is trying to deliver a more mature device with the Galaxy S5. Its previous smartphone launches have been technically impressive in terms of the quality of their spec list, but perhaps haven’t always delivered the sort of intuitive and slick experience which is provided by iPhones almost as a matter of course. What the Galaxy S5 perhaps represents is a solid all-rounder that will do everything that it can do better than any Galaxy has previously.

Perhaps this is a little less than many were hoping for, but it seems to me that in these tricky economic climes it seems likely that Samsung has decided that producing a high-quality phone at as affordable a price as possible makes simple economic sense. Over to you Apple.