Samsung Galaxy Alpha hands on review: beautiful but flawed

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is the most attractive Galaxy phone Samsung has produced to date. It is the first phone to use Samsung’s new design.

Galaxy Alpha boasts polished aluminum sides, chamfered edges, a thin profile and a polycarbonate back. The same design is used on the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge.

Available exclusively on AT&T for $200, the Galaxy Alpha does not sport the best features among all smartphones. It definitely has high end features but it’s more of a good looking phone.

Samsung has succeeded to produce its most prettiest phone but it’s not enough to make user want to buy one. Let’s check out our review on Samsung’s latest offering.

PROS

  • Premium and elegant design
  • Powerful processor
  • Excellent camera
  • Compact and lightweight

CONS

  • Expensive
  • No expandable memory
  • Low battery life
  • Low resolution screen

DESIGN

Galaxy Alpha has the new metal design which makes it different from the Galaxy S5. The Alpha feels solid and luxurious, although the back panel is still plastic, meaning there’s no flex when pressed, which helps it feel like it’s a one-piece design.

Galaxy Alpha weighs just 115g, making it lighter than the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 (129g), the S5 Mini (120g) and slightly heavier than the iPhone 5S (112g).

It is 132mm long and 65m wide and 6.7mm thick and very comfortable for one hand usage. The back panel has a similar rubberised, dotted pattern as Galaxy S5, and the Samsung logo and silver-edged home button.

Alpha’s heart rate monitor is placed at the back which works out okay if you hold the phone in your right hand, but the camera hump comes in the way if you use the left hand.

Speaker holes are at the bottom and the metal dips in slight on the sides between the corners. Galaxy Alpha has lost the water resistance that featured in the S5. The microSD card slot is also missing, meaning users cannot expand the memory storage.

The volume rocker is on the left edge and on the bottom there is micro USB charging port. Like the S5 Mini, the Galaxy Alpha misses out on USB 3.0 support.

DISPLAY

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha sports a 4.7 inch Super AMOLED display with 720p resolution, which is a letdown considering the price of the smartphone.

It does not match the S5’s Full HD screen resolution and has more in common with the 4.5-inch S5 Mini. It has a pixel density of 312 pixels per inch, which is lower even than the midrange Galaxy S5 Mini’s 326ppi screen.

The only advantage is, the screen is very bright and has extremely rich colours, which makes videos and movies look vivid. Also you can change screen modes if you prefer a more natural screen tone.

USER INTERFACE

The Galaxy Alpha uses TouchWiz UI on top of Android 4.4.4 KitKat, which is technically the latest consumer-facing version of Google’s mobile OS. Samsung has given the same TouchWiz skin as you will get on the S5.

It comes with features like a heart rate sensor, fingerprint scanner, and the Samsung’s S Voice digital assistant. The TouchWiz allows the Multi Window mode which lets you run multiple apps in separate windows simultaneously.

Samsung has squeezed in some of its own apps to accompany the selection of Google and Google Play apps already pre-installed. S Planner, the My Galaxy app store, Siri-rival S Voice and S Health are all present.

The UI has vast notification panel,  settings menu. There’s also My Magazine, which is a feature that’s been on several Galaxy devices over the last two years.

Other features include Easy mode, Blocking mode and Private mode.

CAMERA

The Galaxy Alpha sports a 12MP rear camera sensor based on Samsung’s own ISOCELL technology with an accompanying LED flash.

Alpha is capable of taking high quality pictures, helped by the HDR feature taken from the S5. The main sensor can shoot 4K quality video. However the pictures taken in low light might have noise and blur.

The camera uses Samsung’s ISOCELL tech which is designed to improve sharpness and deliver better low-light performance and more accurate colors.

There is also a 2.1MP front-facing camera, which you can shoot full HD 1080p video.

There are the Core camera settings, which allow access to the new selective focus mode and manual features like adjusting white balance and exposure levels. You can still capture Panorama pictures and add more shooting modes by downloading additional ones from the Galaxy Apps store.

UNDER THE HOOD

The Galaxy Alpha is powered by the 2.5GHz quad core Krait 400 processor paired with 2GB RAM. It uses the same Snapdragon 801 chipset found in Galaxy S5.

The device has an internal storage of 32GB, but there is no MicroSD card slot to expand the storage memory.

Galaxy Alpha is fueled up by a 1860mAh battery which claims to provide talk time up to  11 hours. It also features the Ultra Power Saving mode.

High end games like Asphalt 8 and Beach Buggy Racing run smoothly without any lag.

WRAP UP

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is a elegant-looking phone, but it lacks out on some of the S5’s most impressive features. Galaxy S5 can be purchased over the Alpha. It has a bigger, nicer screen and costs about the same.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha -1

Galaxy Alpha even lacks in storage. Users might consider the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which starts with 32GB and has a microSD slot for 64GB more.

Another letdown for Galaxy Alpha is its screen, which needs to pack in more pixels in order to match both the premium design and high price tag.

Vishal Kawadkar
editor@gizmolead.com

THE LATEST

Samsung unveils five new devices to take on Huawei

Samsung on Wednesday unveiled five devices in its Galaxy models to take on the new smartphone market leader Huawei. Note20 and Note20 Ultra with enhanced...
`