Samsung's flagship smartphone for 2014 is the Galaxy S5 but does it have what it takes to fend off tough competition from rivals?

From a design point of view, little has changed since the Galaxy S4. The device looks almost identical and much like Samsung's other smartphones. See also: Samsung Galaxy S5 review: flagship has new features but doesn't stand out from the crowd.

While there's added dust and waterproof credentials a removable rear cover means this is risky business. It's too easy for the rear cover to be not completely clipped in, leaving a gap so you'll have to make doubly sure before taking the plunge.

Our main gripe with the design is a lack of that premium feel and materials which all flagships should offer. Compared to stunning products like the HTC One M8 and iPhone 5s, the Galaxy S5 looks and feels distinctly plain.

On the hardware side of things 2014 flagships haven't moved on much from last year and the S5 is no exception. That doesn't mean what's on offer here is bad though, a slightly larger 5.1in display is one of the best on the market with vivid colours, great viewing angles and good performance in different lighting conditions.

See also: Where to buy Samsung Galaxy S5: Galaxy S5 price and UK best deals for Galaxy S5

A competent Snapdragon 801 is under the hood but there are some minor lag issues when quitting apps, switching the screen on and launching the camera app. It's not hugely bad but seems sluggish compared to the instantaneous nature of its rivals.

Storage is a fairly standard 16GB and while there is a model which has double that amount, buying it will be like trying to find a super rare Pokémon. A microSD card slot able to take up to 128GB is a handy feature.

The 16Mp camera is a highlight and although it take a while to get going in the first place, a superfast autofocus really helps to capture moments. The quality of both photos and videos is excellent.

Video can be shot in up to 4k resolution but there's only digital stabilisation on offer. A new feature is selective focus but this is a little gimmicky and is outdone by the Duo Camera on the HTC One M8.

Read: 22 best smartphones: The best phone you can buy in 2014

A fingerprint scanner is a key new feature and resides in the home button. Unlike the iPhone 5s, you have to use an awkward swipe gesture across it and the device can only store three prints. If you can be bothered to use it then it is more secure and can be used to authorise your Samsung account and PayPal payments.

It's certainly far more useful than the heart rate monitor, though, which sits below the camera. We can only see this being useful for health enthusiasts and seems like a feature which is there for the sake of being new.

The Galaxy S5 comes with Android 4.4 KitKat and while the TouchWiz interface has been tidied up a bit with round icons, it's still quite brash and in your face. Sections such as messaging and contacts looks dated so TouchWiz doesn't win any style awards from us.

Much like HTC's BlinkFeed, My Magazine is a swipe away from the main homescreen and brings an aggregated feed of news and social network updates. Luckily you can switch it off if it's not your thing.

New features include a kid's mode which offers restricted access and a private mode so you can keep your content from prying eyes.

The battery in the Galaxy S5 is still removable and capacity has increased slightly. Our tests show the device will last most users two days which is good. An ultra power saving mode switches the screen to greyscale and limits both functionality and connectivity to help you go even further, especially when the battery level is low.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 has some decent hardware – particularly the screen and camera - but overall it fails to stand out from the crowd. Not much has changed compared to its predecessor and new features like the fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor are respectively clunky and unnecessary.

Most disappointing of all is the very plain and non-premium plastic design which just isn't good enough for a flagship smartphone. We award four stars.

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