Samsung Galaxy Alpha Specs Revealed

In the crowded world of Android smartphones, one way vendors try to differentiate their products is through the inclusion of ever-better features and specifications. Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF  ) , which ships more smartphones than any other handset maker, is well known for the practice.

A specification sheet for the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Alpha -- the South Korean giant's next-generation premium smartphone -- recently hit the Web. Though its contents might seem like technobabble to many, the document tells us a lot about what Samsung hopes to achieve with this device. 

Peeking inside the Galaxy Alpha

The alleged Galaxy Alpha specification sheet, which first hit Brazilian website TechMundo, is reproduced below:

Source: TecMundo via SamMobile.

The following is a side-by-side comparison of the specifications of the Galaxy Alpha and the Galaxy S5, which is already on the market:

 

Galaxy Alpha

Galaxy S5

Display

1280-by-720 AMOLED 4.7-inch

1920-by-1080 AMOLED 5.1-inch

Processor

Exynos 5422 (1.8 GHz quad Cortex A15, 1.3 GHz quad Cortex A7 in big.LITTLE)

Snapdragon 801 or Exynos Octa 5422 (1.9 GHz quad Cortex A15, 1.3 GHz quad Cortex A7 in big.LITTLE)

RAM

2GB

2GB

Storage

32GB, no microSD

16GB or 32GB, support for 128GB microSD

Battery

1860 mAh

2800 mAh

Operating system

Android 4.4

Android 4.4

Camera

2.1 megapixel front, 12 megapixel rear

2.1 megapixel front, 16 megapixel rear

Cellular

4G LTE cat. 4

4G LTE cat. 4

Source: TecMundo; Wikipedia. 

It's not hard to see here that the Galaxy S5 looks far more premium on paper -- it touts much better specifications and a larger screen. However, the Galaxy Alpha appears to be much thinner and includes metal as part of its design, suggesting that for this device Samsung is putting form over function.

Is Samsung trying its hand at an iPhone?

While Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) will claim that Samsung "copied" the iPhone with the Alpha, Samsung has typically done a number of things different than its Cupertino-based competitor.

For example, Samsung has largely favored allowing for removable storage via a microSD slot, and it has generally tried to advertise progressively higher pixels per inch and screen resolutions.

Not so with the Galaxy Alpha.

Samsung appears to have instituted a set of design trade-offs that favor making the device thinner (for example, the smaller battery, lower resolution and likely lower power screen, and no microSD slot) and more aesthetically pleasing with the inclusion of metal as part of the design.

In true-Apple style, the "differentiate on aesthetics" playbook is also good for margins. While Samsung may need to "splurge" on some metal around the edges, the company is likely to realize significant cost savings by using the less aggressive display, smaller battery, fairly mature Exynos processor, and lower resolution image sensors. 

It's an interesting experiment

Samsung has the financial resources to develop multiple product families at once. Given the weakness the company is seeing in operating profits from its mobile division, it makes sense to deploy that financial firepower now to see if another strategy works better.

Given information gleaned from some of the recent Galaxy Note leaks, it seems Samsung may be going for a two-pronged approach going forward.

The Galaxy Alpha line will represent a fast and sleek premium device aimed at mainstream users who don't necessarily want a gigantic screen. Power users who want all of the bleeding-edge technologies that a flagship phone can offer -- and are willing to pay for them -- can buy the latest Galaxy Note.

The open question, then, is what becomes of the Galaxy S line? Has it run its course, or will it continue alongside the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note lines?

Foolish takeaway

Samsung is making an interesting move with the Galaxy Alpha, particularly in a set of design choices and trade-offs that seems to be markedly different from those made for the Galaxy S5. Form over function and keeping the cost structure in check seem to be the theme here.

Furthermore, given that the Galaxy Alpha is rumored to be released so soon after the Galaxy S5, it seems fairly likely the S5 didn't sell anywhere close to what Samsung had expected; if it did, then Samsung would continue to milk that product before replacing it.

It won't be too long now before we see what impact -- if any -- the Galaxy Alpha can have on Samsung's mobile business.

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