The 4.7inch Samsung Galaxy Alpha is officially on sale now in Singapore at major stores and telcos. It is a shift away from the normal Galaxy line, with this being a new design approach. With metal rims and the standard textured back cover synonymous with most Samsung flagship phones, the Galaxy Alpha is actually one of the best Samsung has come out with design wise. It is available in 3 colours(Black, White, Gold) with a 32GB internal storage space. You can pick it up at the 3 major telcos now: M1, Singtel and Starhub with a 2 year contract.
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is priced at $948(w GST) without contract at Samsung retailers.
Samsung Galaxy Alpha Prices(SGD) at telcos
|Basic Data Plan||M1||Singtel||Starhub|
|Name||i-Lite+||Combo 2||4G 3|
|Upfront Price (SGD)||$548||$598||$599|
Design and Build:
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is one of the best looking phone that Samsung has produced thus far. Compared to the full plastic body of the Galaxy s5, it has well designed sleek metal rims and edges. It really feels solid and a premium product in my hands. Although Samsung opted a metal bezel, the phone is surprisingly thin and light. At just 115g, and at only 6.7mm thick (which is thinner than the iPhone 6), Samsung has scored in design with this phone. It is good to note that there are few 4.7inches phone in the market now that weighs this light.
Samsung has chosen to use a dimpled soft touch back, which looks slight different as compared to its flagship Galaxy S5. It is also removable, so you can carry along an extra battery if you want.
The home button doubles as a fingerprint scanner, which can be used to unlock the phone and authorise online transactions. Samsung has also added a heart rate monitor at the back of the phone next to the camera which can be useful for those health conscious people out there. The camera is also slightly protruding out from the phone as with the iPhone 6.
The lock button is standard as with most Samsung phones, at the top right bezel and the volume rocker buttons on the left. The metal buttons both feel really well constructed.
One slight detail of the metal bezel of the Galaxy Alpha is that the corners are gently raised (not very noticeable) at all 4 sides to help out with gripping in landscape mode. Little details such as this has been taken note of and overall makes it an attractive looking phone.
However, the lack of a microSD card slot in the Galaxy Alpha really surprises me as it is one edge Android devices have over Apple these days. The SIM card size has also been reduced to nano SIM, so for those who are thinking to get one without contract, you have to go down to the telcos and get it changed.
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha features a 4.7 inch 720p HD screen, 720 x 1280 pixels which leads to about 312 pixels per inch (PPI). In comparison, the iPhone 6 has a 326PPI screen although it is negligible.
Samsung uses the Super AMOLED panel on this model leading to an exceptionally bright screen. However, colours on the Galaxy Alpha are not as accurate and as rich as compared to the Galaxy s5. Although the Galaxy Alpha performs well screen wise, I personally feel it is a shame and Samsung should have gone with the same full HD 1080p resolution as with the S5.
Processor, graphics and performance:
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha runs on a Exynos 5 Octa 5430 Chipset and has a Quad core 1.8Ghz A15 CPU and a 1.3Ghz Cortex A7 CPU. This as compared to other phones in the market is relatively fast and its processing power should be more than enough to handle your daily mobile needs without any lag. The 2 CPUs present in the phone allow you to handle demanding tasks and the other will allocate power usage more efficiently. It comes with 2GB or ram so multitasking wasn’t a problem at all during testing. Comparing it with the Galaxy S5, online tests such as the Geekbench 3 benchmark test puts the Samsung Alpha way ahead. This is indeed a very powerful phone.
In addition, it comes with the standard accelerometer, Gyro, Proximity, Compass and the all new heart rate sensor.
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha comes with 32GB of storage. However with the Android ecosystem and the pre installed Samsung applications, you will probably get approximately 26GB out of the box.
However with the cloud hype these days, you can probably use Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox to store your documents. This said, I would again prefer Samsung to have included a microSD card slot in the Galaxy Alpha.
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha has the latest wireless connectivity feature as you would expect. It comes with LTE Cat 6 (up to 300Mbps download speed) and the usual 3G and 2G connectivity. Latest Wifi a/b/g/n/ac standards are also all supported.
The Alpha also comes with low energy Bluetooth 4.0 which can be use to connect to the various wireless accessories such as the android watches being released these days without using too much battery. It also includes Near Field Communication (NFC).
Photos taken by Samsung Galaxy Alpha in bright light and low light
Photos taken by iPhone 6 in bright low and low light
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha generally has a decent camera. It comes with a 12.1 megapixel back camera with LED flash and a front facing 2.1 megapixel camera which can also be used to shoot full HD videos. The back camera can shoot video qualities of up to 4K which is ultra high definition videos. The image sensor has a 16:9 aspect ratio, which means it shoots widescreen photos.
Samsung has loaded a variety of modes into its camera app, including Panorama, Virtual Tour, Dual Camera and Beauty Face. You can also now download new camera modes from the Galaxy App Store (e.g. Surround Shot).
The camera held itself well when photos are taken in daylight. Together with the HDR mode, it is able to brighten darker elements in an otherwise bright background. However, in low light conditions, the image quality isn’t as good. As compared to the other phones such as the HTC One M8, the Galaxy Alpha struggles for photo sharpness in low light. Do note that colour accuracy of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is one of the better aspects of the pictures taken by the phone. The front facing camera produces decent enough selfie photos.
Video recording wise, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is able to shoot at 2160p. You can choose the resolution of the video quality from 2160p all the way to VGA quality. The slow motion effect on videos that are getting quite popular these days is also available but only if you switch the resolution settings to 720p. Shooting at 2160p or ultra high definition puts certain limitations such as a 4 minute restriction and certain shooting modes are disabled.
The Galaxy Alpha runs on the latest Google Android 4.4.4 Kitkat out of the box with Samsung’s own TouchWiz UI. Samsung has listened to consumers in recent years and have met their software less bloated and cleaner in general. There is also a new customisable Magazine UX that appears as a screen which allows you to view information that you want.
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha has a feature called Screen Mirroring. It allows you to switch seamlessly between Samsung phones and tablets. It seems useful for people who own a variety of Samsung products. However, I have not tested it out myself and the convenience and functionality of this feature cannot be confirmed.
After using the phone extensively for one week and with numerous apps downloaded for the app store, performance of the phone is still snappy and there is no noticeable lag or delay. Do note that as the Alpha launch is not as great in magnitude as the flagship Galaxy S series, future android software updates may not be as frequent as as quick.
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha comes with a removable 1860mAh battery. It is small in capacity in comparison to the Galaxy s5 2800mAh battery or the iPhone 6 Plus 2915mAh battery or the 3100mAh battery on the new Sony Xperia Z3.
While it is capable to get you through the day with normal usage, I highly suggest you bring along an additional battery or a power bank just in case. If you choose not to or one is unavailable, the Galaxy Alpha has a Ultra Power Saving mode which keeps only the core functions of the phone running. (etc. messages and calls)
Based on tests done online, a 30 minute charge will get you from 0% to 25%. It sadly does not have the fast charging feature Samsung has recently incorporated in the Samsung Note 4.
I personally feel Samsung should have included a larger battery capacity to provide longer usage hours at this price point.
Samsung introduced this phone to battle with the iPhone 6 maybe the Sony Compacts. With its all new metal sides together with the ubiquitous plastic faux cover, it is at best slightly better than a mid range phone. Although its specs and camera can match flagship phones from Sony or HTC, it seriously falls short in the battery department and the lack of a microSD slot.
So the question is should you get this? If you are in love with Samsung approach towards the Android ecosystem and want a solid and better designed phone, yes. If not, at this price point, there are certainly more options to consider such as the iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S5 or the Sony Xperia Z3.
Credit: Daniel Lim