“As the company’s first ever metal-clad smartphone, the Galaxy Alpha marks a brand new chapter for Samsung.”
Samsung has finally made its move towards metal as the choice of material for its new flagship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. With its latest smartphone, Samsung is targeting users who want a powerful Android smartphone inside a smaller-sized body. We got to experience the new Galaxy Alpha at the launch event that took place in Delhi, and here are our first impressions of this new device.
For Samsung, the Alpha marks the beginning of a new design strategy, one that features use of metal as the primary building material. And Samsung has used it in conjunction with high-density polycarbonate to make a smartphone which is durable as well as lightweight. The Galaxy Alpha features a metallic rim on the outside that encircles the device. At the back, the device gets a polycarbonate perforated back cover that can be removed to access the battery and the SIM card slot. Unlike the Galaxy S5, the handset misses out on water and dust proofing capabilities. However, at first glance it looks like the smartphone should be able to survive Indian weather conditions easily.
In the front, the company has made use of a glass based surface protector for safe-guarding against scratches and accidental knocks. Surprisingly though, the company has not opted for Corning Gorilla Glass, despite being a premium handset. The Alpha also features three hardware buttons, with one physical button and two feather touch keys, similar to what you see on most Samsung smartphones available today. The volume buttons can be found on the left, whereas the right spine is home to the power key. Up top lies a standard audio jack, while the bottom edge has a micro-USB port.
All in all, the Galaxy Alpha is a good looking device and even in terms of the build quality, it feels well built and very durable as well. Despite the metal band surrounding the device, it weighs a total of 115 grams, which is quite light. The Galaxy Alpha is also the slimmest Android smartphone from Samsung, with its waistline measuring 6.7mm.
In the display department, the company has definitely made a compromise as far as the resolution is concerned. For a 4.7-inch display, the Galaxy Alpha gets an HD resolution (1280 x 720 pixels) and for a flagship device, this is certainly on the lower side. However, the display has been constructed using AMOLED technology which allows the phone to be much more power efficient and bright as compared to an IPS display. In addition to power savings, the AMOLED display also helps enable the Ultra Power Saving Mode on the device, allowing it to stay on for a longer of time while drawing a miniscule amount of battery power.
The Galaxy Alpha runs Android KitKat 4.4 on top of which the company has layered its own TouchWiz user interface. The interface has nothing new to offer as per the first look, however we will be bringing you a detailed report on this as well in the full review.
For computing muscle, the Galaxy Alpha gets all its power from Samsung’s Exynos 5430 octa-core processor. This processor features two quad-core clusters clocked at 1.3GHz and 1.8GHz respectively, along with a Mali T628-MP6 graphics processor for visual and graphics prowess. Along with being an octa-core processor, the 5430 is the first processor from Samsung to feature a 20nm fabrication technology, which promises better battery performance as well. So theoretically the 1,860mAh battery packed in the Galaxy Alpha should be able to offer a battery life of one to two days.
In addition, there is 2GB of RAM and 32GB of inbuilt memory. Interestingly, unlike most Samsung offerings, the Galaxy Alpha doesn’t have an expansion slot. However, users can make use of the USB OTG capabilities to attach a flash drive when required.
The device supports Indian 4G/LTE networks and comes with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC connectivity as well. Additionally, Samsung has tied up with Airtel to offer free data to buyers, and users in 4G/LTE compatible circles will be able to enjoy 5GB of free 4G data for two months. For users in 3G circles, Samsung is offering 2GB of complimentary data for two months.
For imagery, the Galaxy Alpha gets a 12-megapixel shooter at the back, which sadly isn’t the ISOCELL sensor which is featured on the Galaxy S5 (review | cheatsheet). Supplementing the main camera is an LED flash for providing illumination. With the custom camera app, users can access tons of modes such as HDR, Selective Focus, Beauty Face and more. In addition, the phone has a 2.1-megapixel camera in the front. The cameras worked well when we tested them indoors, but we will be in a better position to comment about their performance once we review the smartphone.
Touting powerful hardware and an interesting set of features and functionality, the Galaxy Alpha offers a mix of good looks and performance to the users. However, at its asking price of Rs 39,990, it’s a pricey proposition, even though it brings an interesting design language to the table.
Nitansh Rastogi contributed to this article