Samsung Galaxy Alpha reviews: first look at metal-body smartphone
The new smartphone from Samsung, the Galaxy Alpha, is the first to feature a metal iPhone-style frame
The first reviews and previews of Samsung's latest smartphone are starting to appear after the company unveiled its Galaxy Alpha online this week, even though there is still no official release date and few reviewers have managed to get their hands on the Alpha.
The big selling point is in the presentation: this is the first Samsung smartphone with a satisfyingly solid metal casing - and the design has already been compared to Apple's iPhone range.
But while it may be pleasing to your palm, can the Alpha hold its own against the rest of a competitive market - and particularly the upcoming iPhone 6, its chief rival?
Phone site GSM Arena says the shift in design from the standard Samsung phone to the Alpha "has to be felt to be believed". While the phone looks not unlike its S5 mini sibling, the metal chassis gives it "a sense of rigidity that plastic never quite manages". The front is glass and the back plastic, not unlike the iPhone 4 or Sony's Xperia series. The metal and glass are "premium materials", notes Digital Spy, and at just 6.7mm thick, this is the thinnest Samsung device yet. Tech website Design and Trend describes the new metallic design as "satisfying", but Android Community calls the device "a mediocre metal-bound oddity".
The Galaxy Alpha has a 4.7 inch 1280 x 720 Super AMOLED display giving a pixel density of 312ppi, according to Pocket Lint. That's a long way off the "heights of the market-leading devices," says Trusted Reviews. There are no precise specs yet for Apple's iPhone 6 - but it is also expected to come with a 4.7-inch screen. Another Alpha rival, the HTC One M8, has a "bigger and better display," says Pocket Lint.
The Alpha's octo-core or quad-core chipset is "a little speed devil," according to GSM Arena, while the iPhone 6 is "likely [to] stick at a dual-core chip" but rely on clever tweaks to achieve its speedy processing. The Alpha's 12-megapixel camera also looks "very promising", shooting full HD video (Ultra High Definition - 3840 x 2160 pixels). The iPhone 6 camera can be expected to be at least on a par with the Alpha's, if not better, Digital Spy adds.
According to Forbes, the Alpha feels like "Samsung’s counter to Apple’s iPhone 6… but don’t expect a declaration of a winner just yet".
This is no flagship, says GSM Arena, as there isn't enough innovation here. Rather it's an "offshoot of the Galaxy family tree". "A strange bird indeed, [but] nice," concludes the site. Admitting that it's a "matter of opinion", Digital Spy predicts the iPhone 6 will knock the Alpha "out of the park". Pocket Lint says the Alpha is roughly on a par with the HTC One M8.
In a head-to-head comparison, Gizmag detailed the many similarities between the Alpha and the M8, noting that the new Samsung phone will come with larger storage as standard, but that it has a smaller screen, inferior display and no front-facing speakers.
Mobile Gazette says the Alpha is the phone for anyone who is currently toying with buying a Galaxy S5 mini. "The upcoming Samsung Galaxy Alpha manages to do everything the S5 Mini does, but better".
No date has yet been fixed for the Alpha's release, but it is expected to be available "at the beginning of September, which "basically means whenever the iPhone 6 doesn't launch", says Digital Spy. There is no word yet on price but the site hazards a guess of £350-£400, with the iPhone 6 at perhaps £550. Contracts will make the phones cheaper.