- Noticeable blue tinge on whites
- Mediocre battery life
With the Galaxy Alpha, Samsung has finally moved away from an all-plastic design to one that incorporates a real metal frame. Despite the use of real brushed aluminum, the phone is surprisingly light at 115 grams, making it 14 grams lighter than the iPhone 6, and quite slim at 0.3 inches. Reviewers describe it as "sleek" and "svelte" noting how comfortable it felt in their hand. The back panel still offers the same textured plastic back and at first glance critics had a hard time distinguishing the Alpha from the S5. CNET adds, "It's unquestionably a phone you need to physically hold to fully appreciate." The only downside to the new metal frame is the loss of the S5's water resistance.
The design of the Alpha might seem premium, but the display left critics unimpressed. At 4.7-inches, the 720p resolution provides a good pixel density of 312ppi. But it isn't the sharpness of the display that turned off experts. Like Samsung's other phones, the Alpha uses Super AMOLED technology in its display and like the others provides exceptionally rich blacks and vivid colors. Unfortunately as many critics noticed, this came at the cost of the white color balance. Ars Technica states, "The bluish tint seen on whitespace in messaging apps and white webpages made surrounding text and images look weird…" In other areas, however, the display performed well. Reviewers were able to easily read it in both indoor and outdoor lighting situations.
The screen might be a downgrade in resolution, but the specs are on par with the S5. US users will see the same 2.5GHz quad-core processor while the UK version has a 1.8GHZ octo-core processor. Both versions come with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. Regardless of which version reviewers tried, they experienced speedy and smooth performance from more basic tasks to processor-intensive ones. The small 1,860mAh battery was able to make it through about 11 hours of moderate usage before reviewers needed to charge, but when watching video or play games, it dropped to around 9 hours.
Around the back of the Alpha is the 12MP main camera. It comes with the core Samsung settings which gives access to various mode and manual features. As well, it utilizes detection autofocus instead of contrast detection. Samsung boasts that this technology allows the camera to focus faster than others. When put to the test, experts did notice it was a bit faster than previous generation Samsung devices. Unfortunately, they also found that images tended to come out blurry more often than not.
Despite the sleek, new design and excellent performance, reviewers have mixed feelings about the Alpha. Trusted Reviews states, "The Samsung Galaxy Alpha conjures some mixed feelings. This is undeniably the best-looking phone Samsung has come up with…The big problem is that despite costing more than the Galaxy S5, it doesn't supersede the larger Samsung in any way." Engadget adds, "The only reason you'd want to pick this over the Galaxy S5…is that you prefer a smaller size or more solid build…Furthermore, it's not the best sub-5-inch Android device on the market…"