1. downsize me
the tech world used to be all about making gadgets ever smaller and more discrete. Over the past year, though, the smartphone sands reversed, with the rise of both phablets and oversized 5-inch-plus superphone flagships leaving the iPhone fighting the lonely, but still very successful, smaller-screened fight. This dichotomy has now left every phone brand searching for that Goldilocks sweet spot that blends mucho screen real estate with necessary portability.
There is, of course, another way: release two or more handsets at different size points and see which one sticks – and no company favours this approach more than Samsung.
There are Sammy phone screens in pretty much every size you can imagine already. But while the new Galaxy S5 Mini is clearly a scaled-down, budget edition of the S5, this upcoming Alpha is smaller yet boasts better specs, a premium metal finish and a high-end price. Could it be here to tackle the rumoured 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 combo that Apple is expected to drop in September? Or vice versa? You may well think that, but we couldn’t possibly comment.
Whatever the state of play, there’s no doubt that the Alpha, with aluminium edging replacing plastic on its 6.7mm, 114g chassis, is the most iPhone-homaging phone Samsung’s put out since litigation got real.
There aren’t many similarities beyond the look, though. The screen is a 4.7-inch 720p Super AMOLED, with processing options of either a 2.5GHz quadcore or dual quadcores clocked at 1.8GHz and 1.3GHz. The fixed 2GB of RAM is perfectly adequate but not class-leading, while storage is stated to be a similarly straight 32GB – although Samsung’s said that before and unveiled a 16GB option.
The Alpha lacks the S5’s water and dust protection, but is still festooned with sensors and trackers, from accelerometers to light sensors, fingerprint scanners to pulse readers. The rear, 12-megapixel camera features realtime HDR, panoramas and selective focus. It can also shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second, although you can’t make use of the generous pixel counts on that 320ppi screen.
In terms of connectivity, you’re looking at super-fast, super-not-supported AC Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and category six LTE , meaning it’s capable of 300Mbps downloads, which is an obvious case of future-proofing.
And that is, after all, what the Alpha is about. Whether it’s a pre-emptive strike against the iPhone 6, or just another shot at HTC and Nokia’s sprawling range of handsets, the Alpha is yet another top-tier option to ponder. $TBC, samsung.com/au, out september
Shrinking the 5.1-inch screen of the S5 down to a “tiny” 4.7 inches has meant
a resolution drop from 1080p to 720p – but also a
ppi fall from 432 to 320.