The Samsung Galaxy Alpha has come at a very good time. Given that Samsung is obviously feeling the pressure due to the impending iPhone 6, launching a phone that has design chops that would impress even the most seasoned Apple fan was a shrewd move by the company.
I managed to get my hands on the Samsung Galaxy Alpha at IFA 2014 and was smitten by its look and feel. The entire design of the handset is punctuated by premium.
The chassis is super slim and the metal frame is similar to that on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which means we may see even more devices from Samsung with this type of design.
In the hand it feels wafer thin. Its specs show that at just 6.7mm thin the Galaxy Alpha beating both the Samsung Galaxy S5 (8.1mm) and iPhone 5S (7.6mm) with room to spare.
Design and layout
But it isn't thin enough to feel brittle. The metal frame makes sure that it is sturdy enough with absolutely no flex when using it. The only let down is that Samsung has kept the polycarbonate back.
I would have loved to have seen an all-metal unibody chassis, rather than just around the rim but it doesn't do much to dent the 'wow' factor the Samsung Galaxy Alpha has. And it would have made the phone heavier than its current featherlight 115g weight.
Having the same back as the Samsung Galaxy S5 does mean that it is removable. Surprisingly this doesn't mean there is a MicroSD card slot, though. So you will have to just stick with the 32GB of on board storage.
I think the reason I like the design so much is because it reminds me of the Samsung Galaxy S2, which is a handset Samsung has yet to really top.
Those who are familiar with Samsung phones will also be familiar with the Alpha's button layout. It's the same as the Galaxy S5, with the lozenge shaped home button centred on the bottom of the device, flanked by the tab and back hotkeys.
The premium look of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is unfortunately not matched when it comes to the screen. Samsung has decided to put a 720p screen on the device which is a bit of a disappointment.
There's a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED screen on board and boasts a resolution of 1280 x 720.
This is significantly lower than what is found on the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S. But as it is Super AMOLED at least colours ping like they should.
But while I felt a little let down with the screen, power performance on the Galaxy Alpha is a real treat. Screen swipes zip at a quick pace and jumping between apps using the tab hotkey was effortless. This is all thanks to the 2.5GHz quad-core chip.
When the Samsung Galaxy Alpha launches in Asia, it will come with an octa-core chip. This means it will be blisteringly fast, given the quad-core version glides like a knife through butter.
Although I didn't try out any games on the Galaxy Alpha, it does have 2GB of RAM so I don't expect you will run into any problems when using the phone for some downtime.
I did have some time with the camera and the results are impressive. On board there is a 12MP camera on the rear and a 2.1MP one on the front - which is better than the Galaxy S5.
The clarity in the images taken was superb and like the S5 you can have a shortcut to the camera straight from the lockscreen.
All the modes you expect from Samsung's camera are on board, including HDR, Dual Camera, Beauty Face and Panorama. And you can also shoot 4K video to playback on any compatible television.
In fact, all the software quirks you find on the S5, you will also find on the Galaxy Alpha. It has the same TouchWiz interface on board, as well Android 4.4.
I have never been fully behind TouchWiz but it wasn't a surprise that this was on board. Though it would be great to have a vanilla Android version of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha - an OS as clean as its design would certainly levitate the phone in my eyes.
After a short time with the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, it has to be said that there is a lot to like about the device. If you can forgive its screen shortcomings and the lack of expandable memory, what you are left with is a beautifully designed phone that is up there with the likes of the HTC One (M8) and the iPhone 5S.
It's a handset that proves Samsung is pushing the boat out when it comes to style. It's design flourishes have a lot in common with the recently announced Samsung Galaxy Note 4 which points to more design flourishes to come in future handsets.