After just over three months on the market, Samsung's (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF) Galaxy S5 has become stale. While the S5 was well-reviewed and widely regarded as one of the top Android smartphones on the market, it just didn't have the staying power that Samsung had likely hoped that it would.
In contrast, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5s -- which Samsung has routinely mocked in its commercials for having a small display and low battery life -- remains extremely popular even as anticipation builds for Apple's next generation iPhone, set to launch on Sept. 9.
Though there's little doubt that Apple's next iPhone will sell like proverbial hotcakes, this isn't going to stop Samsung from trying to crash Apple's party. This year it looks as though Samsung will be launching not one but two new smartphones in September -- the next generation Galaxy Note as well as an entirely new line of smartphones under the Galaxy Alpha branding.
What is the Samsung Galaxy Alpha?
From the leaked pictures of the upcoming Galaxy Alpha, it looks as though Samsung is fundamentally changing up its approach to smartphone design. While prior Galaxy S products were generally made of plastic, sported ever-larger displays, and were relatively thick compared to their contemporary iPhone products, the Galaxy Alpha changes that up.
The Galaxy Alpha introduces some metal into the design. Now, the full body doesn't go metal -- that remains plastic -- but Samsung has introduced a metal edge around the device, presumably to give it a more premium feel while keeping production costs in check. Additionally, Samsung appears to be including a 4.7-inch 1280 x 720 display -- bucking the trend toward higher resolutions and larger size displays.
This, too, seems to be an attempt to keep costs down as Samsung's profits last quarter were affected by the high cost structure of the Galaxy S5.
But the real purpose of this phone appears to be to try to crash Apple's proverbial iPhone 6 party.
Will the Galaxy Alpha crush the iPhone 6?
Apple's upcoming iPhone is widely expected to feature a 4.7-inch display, likely with a resolution of 1704 x 960. The Galaxy Alpha, too, is set to have a 4.7-inch display, although with a 1280 x 720 resolution. It also looks as though the Galaxy Alpha does away with MicroSD expandable storage, which is a departure from prior Samsung phones and in-line with what Apple does.
Quite possibly the most compelling feature of this phone vis-a-vis the iPhone 5s is that leaked images suggest that the Galaxy Alpha is a fair bit thinner. But leaks of the iPhone 6 suggest that it will be much thinner than the iPhone 5s as well (and perhaps even thinner than the Galaxy Alpha, although without a final sample it's hard to judge).
Realistically, it's hard to imagine any Android device crashing Apple's party at this point. If the iPhone 5s -- in the face of very robust competition from Samsung, HTC, LG, and others -- was able to drive nice growth for Apple, then the iPhone 6 -- which brings significant improvements and a larger screen -- should fare even better competitively.
Foolish bottom line
While Samsung is going to keep fighting the good fight against Apple by trying to beat it to market with new devices this fall, it's just hard to see this phone doing any better than the other recent Galaxy products did against the iPhone.