Samsung Galaxy Alpha hands-on

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha has made an official appearance a few weeks ago ushering in a new era for Samsung: that of beauty and style, of sturdy metal rather than plastic. Has the world turned upside down?

In a way - yes. At least, the mobile world of devices. The Galaxy Alpha is gorgeous and powerful, and those might be the new things that you think about when seeing the Samsung logo on the back of a device. We got to spend some time with Samsung’s latest at IFA 2014, and right below, you’d find our first-hand impressions.


Design is the biggest focus of the Galaxy Alpha. The 4.7 incher marked the beginning of a new era for Samsung. The company that was once the very emanation of plastic gadgets, has turned to premium look and feel for the Alpha. The crux of that strategy is the new metal frame that is also in the Note 4: it’s elegant, sturdy, with meticulously chamfered edges. The buttons are also crafted brilliantly with attention to every little detail and with nice click and travel.

The back cover is the only remnant of plastic - you have a faux-leather cover similar to the one in the Galaxy S5, but this time around rather than featuring a dotted pattern, it’s got a cross-stitch decoration.

In terms of size, the Alpha is very compact and could even be used (with a little stretch) single-handedly, which is great.


Samsung takes a page off the book of Apple rumors and has equipped the Galaxy Alpha with an iPhone 6-anticipated 4.7-inch display. We’re saying this because one of the two new iPhone 6 devices that Apple is expected to announce measures exactly 4.7 inches.

The Galaxy Alpha sports a 720 x 1280-pixel resolution, which works out to a pixel density of 312ppi. That’s definitely enough to have a fairly sharp experience, but pixel perfectionists will notice that if you stare up close you can actually some slight pixelization.

In terms of actual technology, the Galaxy Alpha uses a Super AMOLED panel with deep blacks, excellent contrast, and it also enables functions like the awesome Ultra Power Saving Mode. We’re yet to get the phone through our display benchmarks, so we’ll comment on the color accuracy in the final review that’s coming up (stay tuned).


Android 4.4 KitKat with the TouchWiz UX is probably a better known version of Android than the stock version of the operating system that Google preaches. After all, Samsung sells the majority of Android devices out there.

The Alpha is no exception, it’s got the TouchWiz-infused variety of Android, with colorful icons, wallpapers, and it’s full-packed with features big and small in a typical Samsung manner. Some like it, some don’t, but at the end of the day the TouchWiz functionality remains its biggest advantage, and its slight but consistent across apps lag - a downside.

Processor and Memory

The Galaxy Alpha sports an Exynos 5 octa-core processor pushed to clock speeds of up to 1.8GHz and running alongside 2GB of RAM. It’s a fairly fast chip that performs admirably, and makes the Galaxy Alpha look good not only on the outside, but on the inside as well.

Internal storage comes in at the quite plentiful 32GB, but in a typical Apple-rivalry fashion, Samsung has decided to skip the microSD card slot, so you cannot expand on that initial allowance.


Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Alpha with a 12-megapixel CMOS image sensor of its own making with the ISOCELL technology and a native 16:9 aspect ratio.

ISOCELL is a technology that took years in development and it made a debut in the Samsung Galaxy S5 on a 16-megapixel Samsung sensor. Now, in the Galaxy Alpha we’re looking at some of the same features: ISOCELL (but on a 12-megapixel scale, and unknown sensor size) and phase-detection auto-focus.

In its official blog, Samsung promises that images taken on the Galaxy Alpha will come out “sharper than ever with natural colors.” Skipping the PR talk, though, we should say that ISOCELL brings a couple of important advantages over non-isolated photo cells used in traditional BSI sensors: first, crosstalk is reduced from 19% to 12.5% in ISOCELL, next, luminance signal to noise ratio improved from 150 lux to 105 lux, and finally, full well capacity increased from 5,000e- to 6,200e-.

Those are all the technical details, but they would not matter if the camera did not perform well.


The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is definitely an impressive piece of technology with reasonable size, great looks, and all it takes to capture a loyal following. Except that it won’t be launched on the same massive scale as most flagship phones of the company. It will instead arrive to only limited markets and it is telling that Russia will be one of the biggest launchpads for the gadgest. For all else, though, the Alpha is a premium looking powerful gadget that signals about the beginning of new times in tech.

Related phones

Galaxy Alpha
  • Display 4.7" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 2.1 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 5 Octa, Octa-core, 1800 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Battery 1860 mAh(11h 3G talk time)



1. camera531

Posts: 346; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

Why skip the US market!? I just don't get it.

19. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

To troll Apple and their ifans. Basically they are trying to send the message that a phone that is every bit the equal of the iphone 6, is not good enough for a global release. So therefore the GS5 and Note 4 must be crazy because they are worthy of a global release.

20. gregoryyy3 unregistered

That doesn't make sense

2. htcforlife

Posts: 73; Member since: Apr 15, 2014

Just to make it an iPhone competitor, they had to decrease the resolution?

3. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

I like this more than GS5 somehow.

4. Ninetysix

Posts: 2966; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

A hands on without battery tests? Here's the one your sister site. Samsung Galaxy Alpha (Exynos) Talk time: 13:20h Web Browsing: 8:25h Video Playback: 8:05h Apple iPhone 5S Talk time: 10:46h Web Browsing: 9:58h Video Playback: 10:31h

8. Iodine

Posts: 1506; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Answers on posts like one above will suddenly change from "Alpha will crush iPhone in battery life, thanks to super amoled, 20nm SoC, because iOS 7 is unoptimized crap (btw, that test was made at iOS 7.0.0 the most unoptimized public release, can be a bit better now) and bigger battery as well." To "But alpha can multitask.... That's why it's a bit behind, it actually plays two videos at once"

15. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

It doesn't matter if it is a bit behind the Iphone 6 in battery as long as it is in the same ballpark. The goal was to troll the Apple tactics by making something quite appealing despite having a low res screen and small battery. If it is anything near or better than the iphone 6 in battery it has succeeded. Most likely will be more compact than the Iphone 6, multitasks better, similar screen, similar battery life etc. but at the same time they would make the GS5 LTE A look like a super power. You better hope the iphone 6 has better battery life or this will be a direct bulls eye from Samsung. Same specs but more compact and a more flexible OS compared to the iphone 6.

21. Phonedingo

Posts: 399; Member since: Aug 16, 2014

Or that they both have s**tty battery life....

10. vuyonc

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Yeah the battery life results were pretty embarrassing. Didn't get past iP5s, Z1C or any midrange minis. It's going to be doubly embarrassing if the SD801 version fares better, triply embarrassing when the Z3C fares better and just downright sad if the iPhone 6 fares better.

11. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

UM the iphone 5 had 51 and 5s 54. Plus who knows hallparkow the iphone 6 will fair. Probably same ballpark.

13. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Nothing sad about it. If the iphone 6 ends up with a 52 or 54 than the Samsung trolling Apple was a huge success.

12. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Um, hands ons usually dont include battery tests. That's why it is called hands on and not battery test or review. Apple fans are getting more and more retarded by the day.

14. Ninetysix

Posts: 2966; Member since: Oct 08, 2012

Whatever you say potaTers..whatever you say :) Your jimmies are just rustled becauase your beloved Beta phone sucks in battery life. Can I call you wall magnet when you buy your Galaxy Beta?

16. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Actually I'll probably go with the Z3 compact but yeah iphone 5s 54 rating is more than enough for me so this would be fine at 52. Either way, this is a nice phone.

5. promise7

Posts: 894; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

Love the design of this and the Note 4, but this is too small and weak specs for me and the Note 4 is too big for me... I'm hoping the Galaxy S6 follows the same design and stays at 5", but April is so far away.

6. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Hmm still deciding between this and the Z3 compact.

23. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

Z3 Compact IMO...

24. TheGenius

Posts: 339; Member since: Mar 06, 2014

Alpha undoubtedly for that 20 nm chipset and that slim waistline.! Also isocell is amazing.!

7. NokiaFTW

Posts: 2072; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

Is the back cover also metal or just the frame?

9. promise7

Posts: 894; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

Just the frame/band around the phone. The back is still the same faux leather plastic. Note 4 is the same.

17. tedkord

Posts: 17489; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

"... pixel perfectionists will notice that if you stare up close you can actually some slight pixelization." But I thought that once you got over 300ppi (retina display), the human eye couldn't notice the difference.

18. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

That's just what Apple feeds it's cattle.

22. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

Wow, PA, you guys really need to work on being less biased towards Apple and Samsung. 720p is definitely not enough for a "fairly sharp experience", especially when it is Pentile...

25. gigaraga

Posts: 1454; Member since: Mar 29, 2013

Honestly, the Alpha's design is better than the Note 4 (subjectively). The loudspeaker for one, is in a better position (not sure about quality or loudness), and the LED flash/heartrate monitor next to the camera lens instead of under looks much better (doesn't look as good when placed underneath like on GS5 and GN4).

26. f1r3z0r

Posts: 92; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Anyone know is it available for sprint? Please you could answer me at my email in case I don't see the response

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