It's back to basics, Samsung says about the Galaxy S5. Time to focus on what matters — displays, batteries, and cameras — and to start to let the rest go. That's the approach Samsung needed to take, but all it was was lip service.
Make no mistake: this is a very good phone. And Samsung did nearly all the important things well. With a great screen, great battery life, and a good camera, the S5 leaves me with few reasons not to recommend it — and the waterproof body is a fantastic bonus. But I don't love anything about this device. It's not beautiful like the One, not polished like the iPhone, not full of cool new software like the Moto X. The S5 is a very good phone, but it leaves me wanting more. I want Samsung to care about design, to believe that its customers have good taste and that there's more to building brand loyalty than beating customers over the head with clever commercials. I want it to give me something, anything, that's both truly different and truly great. But that's not what Samsung does.
I like the Galaxy S5. I do. Millions of people will buy it, and very few will have problems with it. Yet I can't help but hope that one day we all decide "good enough" isn't good enough anymore. That we demand devices that are different, interesting, special. Samsung's proved that it can do anything it sets its mind to — I can't wait to see what happens if it decides to really, truly care.
Photography by Michael Shane