Samsung’s all-metal Galaxy Alpha is 2014’s most pointless phone


Can you list all the models available in the Samsung Galaxy family today? I just tried, but ran out of fingers. Perhaps it’s fitting then that the Korean tech giant should add yet another device to its over-complicated and never-ending lineup, just before the iPhone 6’s launch.

And wouldn’t you know it? The phone Samsung’s aiming squarely at its American rival is flaunting a similar jacket and shades, like a less popular kid trying too hard.

“With an entirely new appearance, the Galaxy Alpha focuses on both beauty and functionality combining a stunning metal frame and slim, light weight design with the same powerful hardware and features users expect from a flagship Galaxy mobile device.”

This was JK Shin’s (head of Samsung Mobile) comment upon announcing the Alpha. While the company’s sales figure takes hit after hit, is it wise to launch a phone to rival the iPhone that looks exactly like it? It’s debatable. This method seems to work well in China (just ask Xiaomi), but what about the rest of the world? Is the Alpha Samsung’s most pointless releases to date?

Vastly unbalanced, mid-range hardware


Right off the bat, i’ts certainly a swift device. The new in-house baked Exynos 5430 octa-core SoC fitted outperforms the Samsung Galaxy S5‘s Qualcomm Snapdragon by quite some margin in certain benchmarks, and will likely be the company’s fastest phone to date. Although it’s undeniably swift, it seems a short deal when the entire package is viewed from above.

Puzzlingly though there’s no hint of a microSD card slot — a massive missed opportunity. Granted, the iPhone 5S and upcoming 6 won’t feature card slots either (or so the rumours suggest), it’s still remarkably strange that Samsung chose to leave this out. 2GB RAM with 32GB storage is also employed, which can’t hold a candle to the LG G3 let alone the Galaxy Note 4, while a rather lacklustre 720p screen is also stuck on.

Some suggest that the Alpha is not Samsung’s flagship phone, but then what is?

“Who am I?”


This results is a bit of a crisis for the Alpha, even before it’s released to the world.

Its full metal jacket is certainly a turn on for those wanting a stately device, and it is by far the best looking Galaxy, but it’s not enough to compete with its brothers and sisters, let alone the evil witch from Cupertino.

The Galaxy S5, hardware wise at least, is the more complete package, featuring a denser 1080p, 5.1″ AMOLED, microSD card slot (support for up to 128GB) and larger 2800mAh battery (compared to the Alpha’s anemic 1860mAh). And that’s just mentioning the important hardware.

Although it’s plastic and has that garish fake leather rear panel, the Galaxy S5 is the more comprehensive phone, and the better deal overall. Regardless of the Alpha’s sex appeal, it won’t be the phone that saves Samsung, not unless it can outsell its fatter brother.

Considering that it’ll likely cost an arm and a leg (around US$690) makes it even more questionable, especially since the S5 costs just a sixth more in comparison.

So should I just get an iPhone?


Here’s the question Samsung is hoping to answer with “Hell no” but unfortunately, the Alpha doesn’t quite hold a candle to the iPhone 6.

Three advantages shine through for the Alpha — it will likely be cheaper, feature a removable battery and likely sport six more SoC cores than its Californian rival, but I hardly think that matters to prospective iPhone buyers. Apple customers purchase theses products for their pedigree, build quality and the entire Apple ecosystem — the seamless nature of iOS/iDevices.

The Alpha lacks this, at least regarding the symbiotic OS/device relationship. TouchWiz, for one, is a hindrance not a hero. And while it may show its class here and there, the Alpha just can’t beat the iPhone at its own game. What would’ve made more sense is a metallic Galaxy S5, or at least the same specification list in a slightly smaller body.

It’s definitely not what it’s trying to be

What’s the Alpha’s purpose?

There seemingly is none. Something that Samsung fails to mention in its press releases, is that the Alpha is pointless. It serves no purpose but to bolster its already confusing lineup. Mid range specifications, meshed with mediocre UI , a fairly steep premium for little reward and the lack of any discerning pedigree cannot be hidden by shrouding it in a metal body. It’s still an overpriced, lacklustre phone.

It’s brilliant that Samsung is finally thinking of metal finishes for its products, but would it not have made more sense to encase the Galaxy S5 or Note 4 in metal?

The Alpha is a good-looking phone, and who knows? It may sell like hotcakes and leave me red-cheeked post-launch, but judging by its cheat sheet, it is undoubtedly the most confusing and pointless release of the year.

Andy Walker, former editor


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