Designer model Galaxy that's not quite out of this world
Samsung Galaxy Alpha. Price: From free on contract. Rating ****
DESPITE its gazillions of handsets, Samsung has been missing one thing: a designer model. It sat back watching Apple, HTC and, to a lesser extent, Sony claim plaudits for the most 'beautiful' handsets.
The Galaxy Alpha is an attempt to put that right. It relies on one main effect to achieve this: metallic rims. Does it succeed? In my brief time with it, I wasn't moved. To me, it is a pared-down ('mini') version of the Galaxy S5. with a little less plastic.
That's not a bad thing, as the S5 is a hell of handset. But for those who prefer function over 'exquisite' form, there isn't much point.To be fair, I am not the target market here - it doesn't matter to me what my handset looks like when I take it out of my pocket. And the Alpha does have one practical benefit over most rivals: it is inordinately light. This means it can be transported in pockets without creating huge imprints.
But its lightness is also related to its small battery size. Samsung says the efficiency of its octo-core processor makes it possible to skim the battery size down. I'm sceptical: a sub-2,000mAh battery powering a 4.7-inch high res screen makes me worried about requiring top-up chargers. Samsung has also scaled down its camera firepower somewhat. It's still a very decent 12 megapixels, but not quite as good as its sibling models.
However, almost all the other technology embued in the S5 is on board the Alpha, including the fingerprint reader, eye-tracker and 4G LTE. I can see this handset doing well, as it's marginally prettier than other Samsung phones and packs a lot of technology.