Samsung Electronics Co. (KRX: 005930) has spent the last few years as the world's dominant smart phone manufacturer, but now cracks are starting to form in the Korean giant's glossy veneer. It's lost its first-place status in China and India, and while its still the market leader in the U.S., its facing another new iPhone this fall. In short, Samsung could really use a hit an for that, Samsung is turning to its next high-volume device, the Galaxy Alpha.
The Alpha is expected to be Samsung's attempt to bring high-end materials to the mid-market. Geared to take on products from Xiaomi in China and Micromax in India, it may not even launch in the U.S. This is what the device is expected to bring to the table:
One of the most anticipated aspects of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is that it may include metal in its external design. Samsung is known for outfitting its devices with polycarbonate plastic and simply painting on metal accents, for which the South Korean manufacturer has been heavily criticized as its high-end devices sell for upwards of $500. However, the recent downturn in Samsung’s smartphone sales could be just the motivation it needs to try something new.
Recent image leaks suggest that the Galaxy Alpha may incorporate aluminum along its trim. The images show a device that bears striking similarity to an iPhone; the flat and sharp edges in particular give the device a resemblance to the iPhone 5s. The Galaxy Alpha may have a rectangular shape and a perforated back panel similar to the Samsung Galaxy S5.
â€” Droid Life (@droid_life) August 4, 2014
In order to incorporate a host of high-end features on this mid-range device, Samsung may implement a low-resolution display on the Galaxy Alpha. Rumors have suggested that the Galaxy Alpha may include a 4.7-inch or 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with HD (1280x720p) resolution. Several leaks have backed up rumors, including a one from a Samsung developer’s Website and another from online retailer Mobile Fun.
Currently, Samsung implements full HD (1920x1080p) displays onto many of its high-end devices, and is now introducing QHD (2560x1440p) resolution displays. Such high-quality displays are typically the most expensive components of a Samsung device. However, using a low-resolution display for the Galaxy Alpha would key production costs, and in turn market costs, low.
Rumored hardware specifications for the Samsung Galaxy Alpha have circulated for some time and have also made an appearance on a Galaxy Alpha product page on Mobile Fun’s website. The Galaxy Alpha is expected to include a Samsung Exynos 5 Octa or Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset with LTE-A mobile data, 32GB of internal memory, a 12-megapixel rear camera and 2.1-megapixel front camera, connectivity including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP, EDR, LE, Micro USB, GPS and a fingerprint scanner; all of which are considered high-end features.
The Galaxy is expected to be 6-mm thick (about 0.24 inch), similar to the recently released Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablet, which has a thickness comparable to a stack of five credit cards. Similar to the Galaxy Tab S, Samsung may market the Galaxy Alpha for its thinness. A comparison between Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: APPL) iPhones 5s and a leaked Galaxy Alpha unit indicate that the Galaxy Alpha is thinner than the iPhone 5s.
Software And New Features
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is not expected to have any special software features; however, rumors indicate it should run the Android 4.4.2 KitKat operating system. As said, the device is expected to include a fingerprint scanner; the Galaxy Alpha would be the second Samsung device with this feature after the Galaxy S5.
Price And Availability
MobileFun indicates that the Samsung Galaxy Alpha may sell for ₤549 ($925), which is quite hefty for a mid-range device. Smartphone prices listed by third-party vendors prior to the release of a device tend to be inaccurate, which means the price of the Galaxy Alpha has likely not yet been revealed.
Originally, rumors indicated that the Samsung Galaxy Alpha might not be made available in the U.S.; however a recent leak of Samsung's user agent profile, which lists product information for mobile phones and other devices, indicates that U.S. mobile networks AT&T (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile US Inc. (NYSE:TMUS) may offer the device. The profile indicates that there should be several international models of the Galaxy Alpha.
The Samsung Alpha is expected to be unveiled on Aug. 13. The device likely won’t be introduced at a press event. There is currently no word on when the Galaxy Alpha will be available on the market.