Samsung Galaxy Alpha Review
IntroductionDesign, it’s arguably the first thing that draws people to a particular phone. From afar, certain devices have such a strong pull thanks to their solid designs – while others are simply forgettable due to their ordinary, boring looks. Samsung, as we all know too well, is a company that has taken the Android scene to a grander scale thanks to its line of top performing Galaxy smartphones. Having its devices armed to the tooth with all of today’s cutting-edge hardware, as well as some extra goodies, the only underwhelming thing about its phones is the lack of attention with their designs.
Yes, they’ve been able to improve upon the design of their phones with each iteration, but as a whole, they pale in comparison to the modern and industrial designs we see from companies like HTC, Apple, and Sony. However, that’s all changing with the Samsung Galaxy Alpha – a device that not only bears several rich qualities, but it has a design to die for. With this on tap, will it finally erase Samsung’s reputation of making top performing handsets that have no substance with their designs?
The package contains:
- microUSB cable
- Wall charger
- Quick start guide
Utterly gorgeous from head-to-toe, the Galaxy Alpha is the best looking phone we’ve seen from Sammy – ever!
Whoa! This folks is arguably the best looking smartphone Samsung has produced. That’s quite a remark to hear from us, since Sammy’s phones have never been too profound or polarizing with their designs. Indeed, the Galaxy Alpha’s chassis is mostly comprised out of plastic, but the overall construction of the phone is strengthened and elevated thanks to the premium aluminum trim that’s outlining the edges of the phone. It’s a pleasant contrast to the plastic, but it very much looks similar to the chamfered bevel edge of the iPhone 5/5s.
Another pleasant design characteristic of the Alpha that we relish a whole lot, is quite simply how compact, thin (0.26-inches), and lightweight (115 gr) it is. For a smartphone packing along a 4.7-inch display, we’re astounded by how compact it is to hold in the hand – more so when our thumb can comfortably extend to all corners of the screen without excessive stretching. Better yet, it’s unbelievably lightweight too, to the point that we barely notice its presence. Sure, the design shares some similarities to the Note 4, but we prefer the soft touch matte finish of its rear casing more than the Note 4’s leather-like pattern.
Before this, Samsung’s phones were pretty much using cookie cutter designs that lacked substance behind them. However, we give them credit for being daring for a change! If this is what we’re seeing now, we’re undoubtedly excited to see what they have in store with future flagships.
The placement of its buttons and ports are similar to other Samsung phone, like how the power button is placed on the right edge – while the volume control is on the left. Other familiar items found around its trim include its microUSB 2.0 port, various microphones, speaker grill, and 3.5mm headset jack.
Interestingly enough, it packs some features we first saw in the Galaxy S5 – like its finger print and heart rate sensors. With the former, it’s again incorporated into the home button and relies on the same implementation, which is a hit-or-miss process at times. As for its heart rate sensor, which his placed in the rear of the phone, it’s one of those things that simply add to the phone’s geek credit.
Even though it share some of the Galaxy S5’s new features, there are others missing. For example, the Alpha doesn’t offer a water-resistant constriction, nor does it pack an IR blaster. You can say that the tradeoffs were necessary in order to give the phone its more compact and more appealing design.
The size and resolution of the display are decent, but Sammy’s decision to going back to a PenTile matrix arrangement softens its overall glow.
Appearance alone, the design of the Alpha suggests that it’s a beast of a phone. Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite extend to its display – a modestly sized 4.7-inch 720 x 1280 Super AMOLED display. We can certainly agree that its resolution doesn’t scream something that we regard as top notch, but even though its pixel density of 312 ppi reads decently on paper, the fact that it reverts back to using a PenTile matrix arrangement lessens its sharpness. In fact, it lacks the crisp details we’ve been exposed to on recent Galaxy devices.
Despite that reality, there are several other attributes that make it very attractive. In the past, AMOLEDs in general have the reputation of producing overly saturated, inaccurate colors. However, they’ve been able to tone it down – to the point that it’s more accurate. Yeah, it’s still not quite perfect, but it’s a lot closer to achieving that than the Galaxy S5’s display. At the same time, its color temperature of ~6800 K gives the display a very realistic tone – so it’s not too cold. Outdoor visibility isn’t too much of a problem either, seeing that the phone automatically increases the brightness to a potent 422 nits. And finally, it’s able to maintain its clarity at even the widest of viewing angles.
Samsung has surely been tweaking its AMOLED panels, so they no longer have that reputation of simply being over-saturated. For all of the improvements Samsung has done of late, we’re just still a little disappointed that they opted to go back to using a PenTile matrix arrangement for something so premium in nature.
Things that are NOT allowed: