NEWS ANALYSIS: The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is a lower-end version of the GS5, with an iPhone-like metal band, that appears headed for the U.K.
Samsung, without ceremony, introduced the Galaxy Alpha
The smartphone is slimmer than the Galaxy S5
(as well as the Apple iPhone 5S); has a 4.7-inch HD Super AMOLED (1,280 by 720) display (down from the 5.1 inches and 1,920 by 1,080p resolution of the GS5); and while it retains the padded backing of the GS5, it features an iPhone-like metal frame.
It appears to be a phone for people who perhaps can't quite make up their minds between a used or older iPhone (one assumes the pricing will be lower than for Samsung's flagship, which is priced comparably with new iPhones) and the unmanageable list of mid-tier Galaxy handsets.
Or, maybe instead, it's for people who like the looks of the GS5 and the iPhone 5S, and wished for a lower-priced mash-up?
Or better, a mash-up with a smaller-than-usual (for Samsung) display. In some marketing materials
, Samsung says it took to the streets of London with the Alpha, and it quotes one fashionable woman as saying, "It's comfortable. Not too big. The screen's big enough, though."
It's an interesting, if odd, offering, particularly given that Samsung, announcing a drop in profits
July 8, said it would introduce a new flagship smartphone line in time for the holiday season—at which point one would expect a price cut on the GS5.
But there we have it, another consumer-geared (versus designed for the enterprise) option in the Galaxy lineup, which will be offered at the beginning of September (anyone interested can follow Samsung Mobile U.K. on Facebook or Twitter
to be alerted when it's time to preorder) through not-yet-announced carriers at an unknown price.
The Samsung Mobile U.K. tip and London promo do offer an excellent indication, though, of where the Alpha might launch first.
The Galaxy Alpha, like the GS5, runs a 2.5GHz Octa Core processor. It runs Android KitKat 4.4.4, is LTE-enabled and will come in black, white, gold, silver and "Scuba Blue."
Bluetooth and near-field communication (NFC) are on board, along with many of the health apps and sensors of the GS5, including the fingerprint, gesture and heart rate sensors.
The cameras are of a lesser quality than those of the GS5. The Galaxy Alpha has a 12-megapixel camera on the back and a 2.1 megapixel camera on the front (versus the GS5's 16- and 2-megapixel cameras).
But features like Beauty Face, Dual Camera, Panorama and Selective Focus have been included. And so, too, have GS5 goodies like the Ultra Power Saving Mode, the Download Booster, Private Mode and Quick Connect.
There's no microSD slot, but the Alpha does come with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory.
It measures 132.4 by 65.5 by 6.7mm and weighs 114 grams, making it particularly light for its size. (The iPhone 5S, with its smaller 4-inch display and measurements of 123.8 by 58.6 by 7.6, weighs 112 grams.)
Rob Orr, vice president of IT and the Mobile Division at Samsung in the U.K. and Ireland, said the Alpha "focuses on both beauty and functionality" and "is perfect for those that want style without compromising on performance."
Quite how that's different from other Samsung devices we may have to wait until September to find out.
Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.