Samsung launches its first metal smartphone to take on the iPhone 6

Noting criticism of flimsy plastic phones, Samsung has announced the metal Galaxy Alpha which will go on sale in the UK from September. Samsung has announced a new Galaxy Alpha smartphone with a metal body, signalling that it has recognised consumer disgruntlement with flimsy plastic phone parts.

Galaxy Alpha, which runs on Android software, replaces the characteristic chromed plastic seen on previous high-end Samsung smartphones with a metal frame with chamfered edges, reminiscent of the iPhone and metal band Vapor smartphone cases from Element Case.

“The Galaxy Alpha was built and designed based on the specific desires of the consumer market,” said JK Shin, Samsung’s CEO and head of IT & mobile communication.

It is likely to compete directly with Apple’s iPhone.

The Galaxy Alpha joins the Galaxy S5, which first released in April at the top end of Samsung’s line. It has a smaller 4.7in HD screen with lower resolution compared to the S5, but is thinner, at 6.7mm thick compared to 8.1mm, and at 115g is lighter than the 145g Galaxy S5.

The majority of the rest of the device is the same as the S5 on the inside, complete with fingerprint scanner and selfie camera, although the battery capacity is a third smaller. The main feature difference is the metal edging, which joins to a plastic removable back.

‘A metal band around the outside is not enough’

The move comes after Samsung steadfastly stuck to plastic materials for its smartphones and tablets for years - even as the competition from Apple and HTC moved to premium metal materials - saying that its plastic construction was more durable and flexible to consumer needs.

“The biggest problem is that Samsung keeps launching devices that are not as premium in terms of materials compared to its competitors,” said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research director for IDC, who has seen the Alpha. “If you want to charge $600 for a smartphone you cannot provide plastic covers – a metal band around the outside is not enough.”

“How can you charge a premium price for premium devices when competitors are providing much better materials making devices that look and feel more premium?” Jeronimo asked. Apple is expected to launch a new iPhone that is likely to be larger than the current iPhone 5S, with a 4.7in screen compared to just 4in, but will still be built using premium metal materials.

Jeronimo described the Alpha as a step forward for Samsung on design, but that it has nothing to set it apart from the competition.

“Going head-to-head with Apple and its iPhone 6 in September will be a tough sell,” explained Jeronimo. “As consumers start going to the store and putting one device against another, they will notice the difference in material if Apple sticks to the design scheme of the current iPhone.”

The Galaxy Alpha is will to be available in September. Samsung did not release pricing, but it is expected to go on sale for around $600 to $700 in the US, or around £400 to £500 in the UK, or cheaper through a mobile phone contract.

The guardian.com


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