Samsung Galaxy Alpha review: Samsung's most beautiful phone yet

Jeffrey

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Samsung's Galaxy Alpha: The name alone exudes confidence. Although the term typically signifies the first in a series, the Alpha obviously isn't Samsung's inaugural Android phone; rather, it ushers in a completely new design direction for the company. It's not a top-of-the-line flagship device on the inside, but what matters is that it actually looks like one on the outside, thanks to its premium aesthetics, metal frame and sleek body.

PROS

  • Beautiful and elegant
  • Wonderful performance
  • Compact size makes it comfortable, easy to use
CONS

  • Priced too high
  • Lacks several features found in the Galaxy S5
  • Battery life is nothing special
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The Galaxy Alpha is the most beautiful Samsung device I've ever handled. It's the very first device to take advantage of the company's brand-new design language, which features polished aluminum sides, chamfered edges, a thin profile and a polycarbonate (plastic) back; the same design is used on the Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Note Edge (and arguably, the iPhone 5/5s and last year's HTC One), but the Alpha is the first to actually make it off the production line. It's simple, yet elegant; minimal, yet profuse. Featuring a 4.7-inch frame and 6.7mm thickness, the Alpha is more than sufficiently sleek and svelte.

I'd be tempted to think of the Galaxy Alpha as a GS5 mini, if the name weren't already taken; in many respects, it's a smaller version of Samsung's current 5.1-inch flagship smartphone. It packs the same Snapdragon 801 chipset (though an Exynos option is also available in certain markets), so it should be similarly powerful, and it also comes with a fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor and Samsung's TouchWiz UI. But while the Alpha easily beats the GS5 in style (while matching it in oomph), the rest of the spec sheet isn't as impressive. It's not waterproof; it lacks a microSD slot; the battery is smaller; it uses a lower-res camera; and it doesn't come with an IR blaster. It also features a lower-res 720p Super AMOLED display.

Since it's not designed to simply be a miniature GS5, these omissions theoretically shouldn't be a big issue. It still packs plenty of a punch, after all, and even the 720p display is considered top-of-the-line for similarly sized devices. (Also, with smaller phones, manufacturers don't have as much space to cram in extra components.) The problem is that you're paying a premium price for the premium look; you can get the Alpha on AT&T in the US for $200 on-contract, or $613 with no contract attached. This is the same on-contract price as the GS5, and only $37 cheaper at full retail. To be fair, AT&T's Galaxy S5 only comes with 16GB internal storage, whereas the Alpha gets 32GB, so that explains some of the difference. Even so, the GS5 at least has a microSD slot for expandable memory.

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