When I attended the Samsung Launch Event that was held at their Samsung Experience Store in Tropical Plaza in Half-Way-Tree, I’d never expected to see the Samsung Galaxy Alpha as well as pointed out in my article Samsung Launches quartet of Note-worthy Products to Tab into the Gear S Alpha in all Jamaicans!
But there it was in all its diminutive beauty.
At 4.7”, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is smaller than its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S5. Additionally, it sports a Metallic Band, details of which I’ll explain later in my article. But the design aesthetic is refreshing and so are the colour options. When I laid eyes on it, were it not for the Google Android 4.4.4 aka KitKat running on the phone, I’d have mistaken it for the Apple iPhone 5S.
So what changes have Samsung made under the hood of their most successful smartphone in the Galaxy series that’ll make Jamaicans wanna snap up a Samsung Galaxy Alpha for US$974, despite appearing to be an Apple iPhone knock-off?
Samsung Galaxy Alpha – Smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S5 but with Google Android KitKat
That title pretty much sums it up, as it’s the first thing I noticed when I got the chance to manhandle the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. Its 4.7″ AMOLED Screen is physically smaller than the HD 5´1” Super AMOLED Full Screen of the Samsung Galaxy S5. The resolution is also a bit less compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5 as the Alpha has a resolution of 1280 x 720 with a 317 ppi (pixels per inch) compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5’s 1080 x 1920 resolution with a 432 ppi pixel density.
It’s also smaller and thinner than the Samsung Galaxy S5 in terms of dimensions, with amazingly svelte set of vital statistics; 132.4 x 65 x 6.7 mm (5.21 x 2.56 x 0.26 in) when compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5’s bulky 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm (5.59 x 2.85 x 0.32 in).
Consequently it’s a featherweight smartphone, weighing in at 115g compared to the slightly heavier 145g Samsung Galaxy S5, albeit the weight isn’t that noticeable. Effectively, this is a Girls’ smartphone, with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as described in US$1089 Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is a flatteringly fabulous Phablet with an improved S Pen being more of a Boy’s Executive toy!
Like I said, it looks a lot like the Apple iPhone 6 and the Apple iPhone 6 Plus but with Google Android KitKat as noted in Apple iPhone 6 and Plus with 128GB Storage and Apple Pay is Biggest iPhone Launch.
It also comes in the following fashion-forward colours:
- Charcoal Black
- Sleek Silver
- Dazzling White
- Frosted Gold
- Scuba Blue
It’s still brisling with the usual motley crue of Sensors we’ve come to expected of the Galaxy line that make you literally an AGENT of S.H.I.E.L.D:
- Hall Sensor (for Magnetic fields)
- Light Sensor
- Proximity Sensor
- Gesture Sensor
- Fingerprint Sensor on the Home Button
- HR Sensor
At least the Processor appears to be an Octa-Core Processor, albeit Samsung has been known to launch the Quad-Core Processors for Americans, reserving the Octa-Core for their South Korean and East Asian Markets. According to the Specs Sheet in the Press Kit that I received at the Samsung Experience Store Launch Event, the Processor can either be a Quad-Core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A1 or a Quad-Core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7 with an Exynos 5 Octa 5430 Chipset, plenty fast and not noticeable different from the Samsung Galaxy S5.
The Processor is supported by 2GB RAM with 32 GB or Internal storage. The surprise is that there’s no Micro SD Card slot, as I’d checked the Alpha repeatedly looking for one and found none. Support for Bluetooth means that hands-free Calling using a Bluetooth Headset is now going to be a big thing among Jamaicans and NFC (Near Field Communications) makes Google Wallet purchases a snap…..when it gets to Jamaica, that is!
Samsung Galaxy Alpha – Smaller Camera still packs a punch albeit Battery is smaller
The Camera is also a bit less, rated at 12 Megapixels for the Front and 2.1 Megapixels for the Rear compared to the Samsung Galaxy S5’s or even the Samsung Galaxy Note 4’s 16 Megapixels for the Front and slightly smaller 2.0 Megapixels for the Rear. HDR (High Dynamic Range) is now automatic though and the Samsung Galaxy Alpha’s Camera sports some interesting perks:
- Beauty Face
- Dual Camera
- Panorama Mode
- Selective Focus
- Virtual tour
- Ultra Wide Shot Mode
It can shoot video in 4K (3840 x 2160) at 32fps, which will make that 32GB of Internal Storage fill up quickly with videos in MP4, WMA FLV and a host of other formats. Recording in popular Audio formats such as MP4, FLAC, WAV and WMA are also supported.
So you see, albeit being less of a Camera and a smartphone that its predecessors and even the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 as per my article US$1089 Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is a flatteringly fabulous Phablet with an improved S Pen, it still packs a punch while managing to look stylish with its metallic band, STILL it’s most prominent feature.
The differences (and disappointment for the manly male) doesn’t end there folks as the Li-Ion Battery is smaller at 1860 mAh when compared to the 2800 mAh Li-Ion battery for the Samsung Galaxy S5. Still, that works out to about 11 hours of talk time that’s boosted by the presence of the Ultra Power Saving Mode that switches the display to monochrome when power levels fall to about 10%, effectively extending your battery life by 24 hours until you can find a power source to recharge.
Samsung Galaxy Alpha – Cloned Samsung Galaxy S5 Features as Wearables shrink demand for 5″ Screen smartphones
Features didn’t take a hit apparently.
S Health is back and so is the Fingerprint Mode, Kids Mode and Emergency Mode are back from the Samsung Galaxy S5 along with the Ultra Power Saving Mode. Samsung also has their owns set of Samsung Apps called Samsung Galaxy Apps that are tailored to their line of smartphones as noted in Kelroy’s article Samsung Electronics Launches Samsung GALAXY Apps.
Possibly the push towards a smaller design is an indication that the coming of Wearables with similar functionality like a smartphone will be disruptive to 5″ screen smartphones i.e. Phablets. Thus, Samsung may be forecasting in the future based on their internal stats that the demand for larger sized screens above 5” will soon begin to taper off.
This thanks in part of development of AR (Augmented Realty) Glasses such as Google Glass and even Contact Lenses which may one day act as a screen for displaying Data from a smartwatch as predicted in my article Google Contact Lenses with Cameras will be Next-Gen Google Glass Smartphone Replacement.
With other accessories such as the much rumoured Samsung Galaxy Glass that never appeared at IFA, the German Technology Trade Show in September 2014 or the very real Samsung Galaxy Gear S smartwatch that can make phone calls via a Bluetooth headset as noted in the article Samsung’s Galaxy Gear S Smartwatch coming to Jamaica while reppin’ for Tizen, larger 5” phablets will be going extinct by 2017.
In short, albeit the Samsung Galaxy Alpha may seem a lot less of a smartphone when compared to its bulkier predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the bigger phablet, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, it’s more likely to survive beyond the year 2017, when I predict Wearables will shrink the demand for 5” Screen smartphones.
At US$974, the super-cute Samsung Galaxy Alpha with that fashionable Metallic Band is set to go places in Jamaica, possibly on a Contract from Digicel with a Data Plan come Friday October 24th 2014 when the product officially goes on sale in Jamaica at the Samsung Experience Store.
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