Samsung’s long overdue shift from chintzy plastic-made smartphones to gear constructed of more robust, premium materials is unfolding at last, although the Galaxy Alpha is likely a transitioning device rather than a revolutionary one.
It took the all-around ruler of the Android décor a lot longer than expected to crack under public pressure, but in the end Sammy ran out of excuses for exclusively using plastic polycarbonate on its best-selling, top-drawer gadgets.
Enter the oft-rumored, thoroughly leaked Galaxy Alpha, which marks the “evolution of Galaxy Design”, blending together Galaxy S5’s overall aesthetical vibe and a never-before-seen-on-a-Samsung metallic frame.
Just to be clear, the Alpha isn’t all aluminum, so it’s slightly less sturdy and premium-looking than, say, Apple’s iPhone 5s or HTC’s One M8. But the perforated rear is polished, refined and smooth, and the handheld measures a mind-blowingly slim 6.7 mm in depth. Yes, that’s nearly one full mm shaved off the wasp waist of the iPhone 5s.
As a displeasing consequence, the under-the-hood space was a bit cramped, restricting Samsung from fitting a very sizable battery in there. Thus, you’ll have to make do with merely 1,860 mAh of juice. In contrast, the S5 packs a 2,800 mAh ticker, albeit the Alpha lowers both the screen diagonal and resolution bars.
To 4.7 inches and 1,280 x 720 pixels, aka HD, which may sound disappointing, but given the minuscule battery, it’s actually a big blessing in disguise. No disguises needed for the on-board octa-core Exynos 5430 processor, a 32-bit homebrewed solution that, according to early benchmarks, outpaces Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 and 801.
Other cutting-edge specifications include a healthy 2 gigs of RAM, spacious 32 GB internal storage, 12 megapixel rear-facing camera, pre-loaded Android 4.4.4 KitKat and yes, even GS5’s fingerprint recognition tech, Ultra Power Saving Mode and heart rate monitor.
Too bad in its quest to beat Apple at its own game, Samsung borrowed the one thing universally hated at iPhones: the lack of expandable storage support. Oh, well, hopefully rumors of a 64 GB version will materialize sooner or later, preferably in time for Alpha’s commercial release.
Introduced in Russia of all places, the non-water-resistant device (another minor flaw you should know about beforehand) is due first in the Eastern European country on September 12, at a starting price of roughly $690 (24,990 rubles).
Over the remainder of September, Samsung plans to gradually roll the bad boy out in an extra 150 or so markets, with the US not yet confirmed to be on the list. But if it is, don’t worry, retail costs will be much lower than on Vladimir Putin’s home turf. Presumably, around the $500 mark.