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Hands-On: Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Article Comments  16  

Sep 5, 2014, 10:00 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is a refined device from the Korean giant that hopefully signals a new direction in the company's design language. Here are our initial impressions of what may be Samsung's finest phone.

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Samsung debuted the Galaxy Alpha before the IFA trade show in Berlin, and had it on hand at the booth this week. After spending some time with the Note 4, Note Edge, and Galaxy Alpha, I'd probably pick the Alpha were I to spend my own money. Here's why.

Samsung has long been bashed for using what many describe as cheap plastics in its phones. I've complained about this myself, and I stand by those criticisms. Devices such as the Galaxy S series (S though S5) could have been much more appealing had Samsung put a little more effort into crafting certain aspects of the phone. With the Alpha, Samsung finally shows us that it can do better.

The Alpha trades in at least some of the plastics for an attractive metal frame that circles the outer edges. It is polished to a nice sheen, and the edges are chamfered to give it a premium look. I am not going to say that Samsung copied any specific device or manufacturer's design, but there's something familiar about this particular choice. There are slight curves in the frame close to the bottom and the top, which gave Samsung just a wee bit more space internally for components such as the antennas.

The front looks like most other Samsung devices. The bezel around the screen is kept to a minimum, though, which helps keep the phone compact. It has only a 4.7-inch display, so the overall footprint of the device is quite appealing. It is small enough for easy one-handed use, and I found it comfortable to hold, despite the side edges being at right angles to the front and back surfaces. The front has a physical Home button and capacitive Back and Multitasking buttons, which is typical of Samsung's Galaxy-branded smartphones. The back panel has a pattern similar to that of the GS5, but the back panel plastics feels better to me. The materials are simply improved. It really looks great.

Galaxy Alpha  

I liked the display, despite the 720p HD resolution. Samsung's Super AMOLED screens have always impressed, and the Alpha's is no different. It is crisp, bright, and colorful. I had no trouble viewing it in bright light.

The volume toggle is on the left side of the phone, positioned close to the top. The up and down halves of the toggle each has its own little nub, making them easy to tell apart. The toggle provided great travel and feedback. The screen lock button is on the right side. It is a bit small, and travel and feedback was a bit stiff. The USB port is on the bottom and the headphone jack is on the top. The bottom has drilled holes forming the speaker grill.

The user interface is the same TouchWiz that we all know and love from the GS5, GNote 4, and other modern Samsung smartphones. It performed really well in the few tests that I ran on site. I didn't see any problems at all.

US carriers have stepped up and said they'll sell the Note 4 and Note Edge, but we haven't heard word yet about the Galaxy Alpha. Keep your fingers crossed that they decide to carry it, because it could be the perfect phone for those who prefer compact devices.

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bluecoyote

Sep 5, 2014, 8:23 PM

Translation to English

"Samsung has long been bashed for using what many describe as cheap plastics in its phones. I've complained about this myself, and I stand by those criticisms. Devices such as the Galaxy S series (S though S5) could have been much more appealing had Samsung put a little more effort into crafting certain aspects of the phone. With the Alpha, Samsung finally shows us that it can do better. "

Translation: Samsung phones have felt like garbage because they're made of junky, happy meal toy materials.


"I am not going to say that Samsung copied any specific device or manufacturer's design, but there's something familiar about this particular choice. "

Translation: They ripped off the iPhone and made the minimum choices their legal decide...
(continues)
>>Translation: Samsung phones have felt like garbage because they're made of junky, happy meal toy materials.

Translation: Samsung phones are more durable that iPhones; and I'm jealous. So, I bash them.

>>Translation: They ripped off the iPhone ...
(continues)
...
Zpike

Sep 5, 2014, 10:33 AM

I don't get it and I never will

If anything, I find the white edges with the silver band obnoxious. It's a distracting contrast from the gray and whatever colors may be on the actual screen. I find it jarring and disturbing. The contrast with the rear cover is even worse. The color palette on this device is far from uniform or pleasing. If this is what a premium device is supposed to look like, I don't want one. Plus they gimped the specs back so far this isn't even a viable consideration for any power user. Samsung should stick to making powerful devices that actually do something. I'd be surprised if very many of these sell.
I think it will sell, its Sammy's "Premium" model, and the "premium" model always sells, even if its something as stupid as a champagne color they are calling gold.

They don't spec out this phone because they are still making a hefty profit by recy...
(continues)
...
"obnoxious"? It's a phone! Not a little kid! You sound like one of those sorts of people who is easily annoyed!
...
robertkoa

Sep 5, 2014, 11:35 AM

Alpha, A1000,

The Alpha is pretty, and cool but ultimately at the Top of Samsung Range we want:

Alpha Pro or A1000- thicker Device 9 or 10 mm thick to enable larger Battery, SD Card.
4.7" Screen with Powerful SOC Exynos Octacore, 3 GIG RAM, Camera from Note 4.
Compact Flagship- don't worry about a few millimeters thicker and an ounce or 2 heavier.
Still Pocket Sized, and Professionals, Artists , and Athletes can bench press 6 ounces, I checked.
So Alpha Pro or A1000 a Flagship Compact.

Then Galaxy S6 Metal with all the latest features of the Galaxy Series in these new , more Durable Metal Frames. Plastic Back is OK - better reception, disregard reviewers.

Note 4- You have this now.

So- we want Three Flagships at the Top the Compact Alpha P...
(continues)
 
 
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