Samsung recently unveiled the Galaxy Alpha, the first of its smartphones to include prominent metal design elements. Featuring a metal-framed casing with chamfered edges, the Galaxy Alpha appears to be aimed at the high-end smartphone market long dominated by Apple’s iPhone. The Galaxy Alpha is “the first Samsung Galaxy smartphone with a high-quality metal frame and luxury look and feel,” according to the company’s official website.
Various rumors about a new high-end Samsung smartphone alternately known as the Galaxy F or the Galaxy S5 Prime have been circulating for several months. Late last month, the speculation appeared to be confirmed when Samsung senior vice president of mobile communications Hyun-Joon Kim announced that the company would soon be releasing “a very attractive new model that uses new materials and new displays,” as reported by CNET.
Besides the use of metal in its design, the Galaxy Alpha is also differentiated from previous Galaxy smartphones by its thinness. According to Samsung, the Galaxy Alpha is “the sleekest Samsung Galaxy smartphone ever” with a thickness of just seven millimeters. This is over a millimeter thinner than the Galaxy S5, which is 8.1 millimeters thick.
So will the Galaxy Alpha give Samsung a foothold in the lucrative high-end smartphone market? Although the Galaxy Alpha’s chamfered metal edges gives the device what Samsung calls a “luxury look,” the Galaxy Alpha still retains many of the design elements that were seen in previous Galaxy smartphone iterations, such as the dimpled plastic rear casing. Oddly enough, the Galaxy Alpha’s technical specifications also fall below the Galaxy S5’s specifications, which places the Galaxy Alpha’s capabilities somewhere between the Galaxy S5 mini and the current flagship Galaxy S5.
According to technical specifications provided by GSM Arena, the Galaxy Alpha features a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen with a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution for a pixel density of 320 ppi (pixels per inch). Although the Galaxy Alpha features the same screen used by the Galaxy S5 mini, it offers a more powerful “octa-core” chipset that includes two quad-core processors. The Galaxy Alpha’s 12-megapixel camera puts the device’s photographic capabilities squarely between the Galaxy S5’s 16-megapixel camera and the Galaxy S5 mini’s 8-megapixel camera.
However, some of the Galaxy Alpha’s technical specifications lag both the Galaxy S5 mini and the Galaxy S5. While the Galaxy Alpha includes the fingerprint scanner and heart rate sensor introduced on the Galaxy S5, it lacks the microSD slot seen on most of Samsung’s other devices, including the Galaxy S5 mini. Samsung also apparently had to sacrifice some battery capacity in order to make the Galaxy Alpha “the sleekest Samsung Galaxy smartphone ever,” since the device only features a 1,860 mAh battery, instead of the 2100 mAh battery used by the Galaxy S5 mini.
Although Samsung has yet to announce an exact release date, several media outlets have reported that the device will be made available in September, around the same time that Apple is expected to release its highly anticipated iPhone 6. While it remains to be seen if Samsung’s metal-framed Galaxy Alpha will impact Apple’s iPhone sales, this doesn’t seem likely considering that the only novel feature offered by the device appears to be its outer design, rather than a new technology. However, once Samsung begins applying its new design approach to devices that offer higher technical specifications or new technologies, the Korea-based company’s move to metal-based smartphone design may present more of a challenge to Apple’s dominance of the high-end smartphone market.
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