Review Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Discussion in 'Gadgets and Consumer Electronics' started by JD666, Mar 15, 2015.

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  1. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Starting with the unboxing, we'll discuss more about the phone as we roll -

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    Discreet nondescript packaging. About the size of the iPhone 6 parcel. With a giant A on the front.

    003.jpg

    First view of the device. I appreciate the features and descriptions on the plastic protection, but a screen guard would've been welcome. The Galaxy Alpha comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 4; that could be a reason for exclusion of a screen guard, or maybe not needing one at all.

    004.jpg
    A good looking device, I must say. the pockmarked design on the front, somehow spoils the over all appeal for me. Perhaps it is there to catch the light or ooze design prowess.

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    The back, great looking plastic backing encapsulated on all sides by a metal band. Samsung have really put effort to make this look special. More in detail later. Let's see what all is there in the bundle -

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    Device, Removable Battery, Headset, in-ear plugs, charger, data cable and a small booklet.

    010.jpg
    The travel adapter is rated for 1.55 Amps at 5V. The USB port looks suspiciously similar to the one on the Apple cable.

    011.jpg

    Nothing special to the headset, but worth noting that the cable is the flat type, not the generic round one. Quality stuff.

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    The 1860 mAH battery. Battery life will be discussed later, but let's just say, it is adequate for the performance on offer.

    026.jpg

    The slot for the batter, Nano SIM. Tight packaging I must say. The number of screws around the frame indicate the initial feel of the device. It was surprisingly light, but robust. You might feel that this will bend or break easily, however after using it, you realize than its much sturdier than what the weight portrays.

    028.jpg

    The back shell is ultra thin. Probably the thinnest that I have ever seen on any removable cover. it would maybe be around 1.2 MM or so in the middle, slightly more on the side. Samsung has done well to stick to the 6.7 MM thickness. Very impressive.

    029.jpg

    Microphone, USB port and Speaker at the bottom. The speaker on the Alpha is about adequate. A good bit being that being on the bottom, it produces sufficient sound levels whether kept face up or down. You can also see the bands for the antenna in this shot on either side of the base.

    030.jpg

    The volume rockers on the left side of the device. They are extremely thin and really flush with the sides. Slightly bigger would have been welcome.

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    The solitary 3.5 mm Audio jack at the top. You can see the Camera protusion in this shot, along with the LED flash.

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    The right side houses the power / lock key. Note the embankment/turret like extensions on either end of the device. This is present on both sides.

    034.jpg

    The back cover of the device tapers on all sides to meet the metal frame, going flush right at the end. You can see the notch at the bottom of the image to pry open the cover. As thin as the cover may be, it's not the easiest to pull off. A number of tabs keep it in place.

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    The Band-Aid design carried over from the Galaxy S5. The textured feel does allow for a better grip, but if you have sweaty hands, it will slip easy as well.

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    Probably one of the best looking Samsung devices that I have seen.

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    In the hand -

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    I have pretty average sized hands. So a 4.5-4.7 inch screen is ideal for my usage. I loved using the HTC One Mini, the iPhone 5S, the N8 for these reasons mainly. The iPhone 6 pushes it for me slightly, but the Galaxy Alpha feels much nicer, thanks to the edges, that give a positive feel when holding or gripping the device.

    041.jpg

    I would not hide this device behind a flip cover or anything of that sort. Probably a thin barely there cover.

    More to follow -

     
  2. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    It is but obvious that the Alpha would be compared to the iPhone 6 for dimensions, screen size and performance. Now I do not want to get into the performance comparison between the iPhone and the Alpha, but I can do a compare between the two -

    015.jpg
    As you can clearly make out, there is not much to tell the devices apart dimensionally. The screen size even nearly is the same on both, with the Alpha having a slightly bigger top and bottom bezel. Had this been the grey or black variant, the bezel would not be evident.

    016.jpg
    Perched atop , the only striking difference is that one has a rounded edge while the other follows the iPhone 5 edging detail.

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    The thickness and dimensions make this a pretty even match between the two. Again, the Alpha is easier to hold and grip in the hand, versus the iPhone 6.

    020.jpg

    Now the next few shots were taken with the Alpha over the iPhone 5S. Purely because I wanted to highlight the edge design -

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    Note the bevel angle and edge.

    058.jpg
    Observe the glint off the bevel. It's practically the same width and angle between the two.

    059.jpg
    Towards the end.
     
  3. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    A quick look at the Technical specifications of the Galaxy Alpha -

    Dimensions - 132.4 x 65.5 x 6.7 mm - Comparable to the iPhone 6 at 138x67x6.9mm


    Weight - Super light 115 gms

    Screen - 4.7 inch, 720P (720x1280) Super AMOLED display (312 Pixel per inch)

    Processor - The one I had for review was an Exynos 5430, so it was an 8 core CPU with a Quad core at 1.8 Ghz ( Cortex A-15) and a 1.3 Ghz Quad Core (Cortex A7)

    RAM - 2GB

    ROM - 32GB - Around 24 GB usable space.

    Expandable memory - No - Probably the biggest gripe here

    Battery capacity - 1860 mAH - Tad small, but good enough for a days use.

    Camera - Primary 12 MP offering the following modes - 2K resolution @ 30 fps, 1080@60 fps and 720p @ 120 fps. I did not test the slow motion recording (720p), but I did shoot a Ultra HD and Full HD sample for sharing.

    Secondary - 2.1 MP

    Others - Fingerprint scanner, Dual Band Wi-Fi (ac included).

    Powering up the device -

    050 - Home screen.jpg


    The screen was crisp, did not reveal it's 720P nature as a lot of purists complain about 720p displays these days. I loved the colors. They were radiant, crisp and clean.

    Though the Samsung backgrounds were nothing to write about :p

    051 - About device.jpg

    About device - Software version Android 4.4.4

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    A useful feature that I find amiss in Apple. A notification light. Tells you when you are fully charged, whether you have an email, or a missed call, or a message or anything. I think Apple should learn something here and incorporate one, it's high time!

    Home screen screenshot (not a typo :p ) -

    053 - Home screen 2.jpg

    054 - App gallery.jpg

    The App menu, as usual cluttered with unwanted Samsung stuff like Galaxy apps and Studio and what not. But wait, it gets even more annoying -

    055 - Galaxy Apps.jpg

    You open the app store (Galaxy App store), and you find that the moment you connected to Wi-Fi, it started updating apps, without your permission.

    Point to be made here, is that these are apps that are already taking up space on your device. These are apps that you might not be using ever, during your ownership of the Alpha. The updates are adding to the consumed space and the background resource requirements of the device. Arrgh.

    056 - annoying.jpg

    And you cannot cancel auto Update. Only give it a choice of whether to do it on Wi-Fi or Data.

    What the actual F!

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    A bunch of unwanted apps.

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    The settings menu was nice and clean, and easy to sort. Good work.

    059 - quick tool box.jpg

    A quick tool box similar to what's been seen on the Xperia or the Note.

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    Some screen shots that detail air view and how it works and what all can you use it for -

    061- air view 2.jpg 062 air view 3.jpg

    The finger print scanner option. I did not really try this out, since swiping your finger is harder than simply pressing it against the sensor on the iPhone. I'm not sure if many will use this, but this is one feature that I have come to absolutely love about the iPhone. I don't bother with entering codes any more!

    063 Finger print scanner.jpg

    Some other settings -

    064 other settings.jpg


    About the device -

    065 - about device.jpg

    The following screen shots indicate the motion gestures available to a user -

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    Old Samsung gesture if I remember correctly. This came in the S3.

    067 gestures 02.jpg

    Interesting. So you don't even need to look at the notification light.
    Your device will vibrate when you pick it up to notify you about missed calls and messages.


    068 gestures 03.jpg

    Options to mute/pause the screen - Cover the screen with hand, turn device over.

    069 gestures 04.jpg

    Screen shot gesture by swiping your hand across the screen, again from previous models, but good to see it.

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    These are all the settings available.

    072 Notification drop down.jpg

    The Notification drop down was useful, and quite easy to customize. If only Samsung would do away with their added, unwanted apps and store, the Alpha would be a delight. I fail to understand the profitability behind installing such apps on a device.

    073 - Software update.jpg

    The recent software update that was carried out.


     
  4. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Benching and Camera -

    074 Antutu bench mark.jpg

    The Samsung Galaxy Alpha scored a non-verified 51085 in Antutu benchmark version 5.6. I tried a verified score several times, but for some reason it would not verify it. However this score can only be indicative of the capability of this device.


    I observed no lag, or delay in opening menus or switching between apps. With a dozen apps open in the background, the menu switching was as smooth as it would be with none. Very very impressive. The device did get a tad warm to the touch, but nothing out of the ordinary. The Lenovo devices i was benching recently got warmer in comparison.

    075 antutu 02.jpg

    Some break down of the scores.

    076 Antutu 03.jpg

    I ran a second test, and it was also a 50,000 + score at 50,494.

    078 Camera options.jpg

    The options available when capturing still image.

    079 video options.jpg

    And for when shooting videos.

    077 shooting ultra HD.jpg

    For Ultra HD mode, certain features are turned off by the device, like Dual Camera mode, HDR, Video effects, Remote viewfinder and taking picture while recording video.

    The device records Ultra HD at about 6 Megabytes per second. So a 2 minute clip can easily be 700 Mb or more.

    Full HD is at a mangeable 2.1 Megabyte per second. I would recommend this mode if you are traveling and need to shoot several videos.

    080 view finder.jpg

    The on screen options of the view finder.

    Video samples -

    First up - Ultra HD -

    I recommend you watch this with the setting turned to 2160, else the crispness of the video would be lost.



    Second - Full HD Sample -




    Battery life of the Alpha is not too bad, with standby (Wi-Fi on) going upto 5 days without a hitch. Obviously with regular usage you will see this drop dramatically. However it was no different than using an iPhone, in fact probably better. The Alpha would need a charge every night, if you are the kind who likes to keep his/her phone topped up.

    081 battery life 01.jpg

    78% after 2 days.

    082 battery life 02.jpg

    42% after 5 days.

    Over all to sum up this device, here are the Pros and Cons according to me -


    Pros -


    - Styling
    - Form Factor
    - Speed and performance
    - Camera + UHD shooting
    - Metal finish


    Cons -

    - No expandable memory
    - Compromise on battery due to design
    - Bloatware and unwanted applications
    - Edge design mimics iPhone.


     
  5. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Found Camera imaging samples that I had taken. :p

    First up without flash -

    Samsung Galaxy Alpha -

    Alpha flash off.jpg

    And the iPhone -

    iPhone flash off.jpg

    You can see the crispness in the image quality of the Galaxy Alpha. Really good.

    With Flash on -

    Samsung Galaxy Alpha -


    Alpha flash on.jpg

    And the iPhone 6 with Flash on -

    iPhone flash on.jpg


    I can't wrap my head around how Apple manages to make the light look so natural. The dual tone LED flash really does win it for the iPhone 6. However the Galaxy Alpha is a very good indication of where Samsung is headed and how much they have improved on Camera image quality.

    Cheers!
     

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