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August 13, 2014

Samsung just quietly released the metal-framed Galaxy Alpha

Metal-chasses iPhone-a-like an experiment or a swipe at emerging market share?

By Ben Sullivan

Samsung has announced a brand new smartphone today – the Galaxy Alpha.

The phone, which has been unveiled alongside the Galaxy Note 4, brought with it no launch event, or any high profile executive speeches. There wasn’t even any information about which carriers would be picking up the device.

The phone aesthetics, however, beg of something different. Encased in metal frame, the Galaxy Alpha more closely resembles a flagship product rather than an unannounced cheaper alternative.

But it’s under the hood where the differences lie. The phone is equipped with a 4.7-inch display but with a 12MP camera and only 2GB of RAM, it pales in comparison with the Galaxy S5 for example. There’s not even expandable storage, with buyers stuck with the stock 32GB. There’s no sign of any water repellency, either.

Samsung’s recent Q2 results were mildly disappointing. Weaker than usual smartphone sales in emerging markets stung the Korean firm as it loses out market share to makers doing cheaper, better.

In India, Samsung was toppled by a homegrown hanset manufacturer called Micromax. Micromax, with a company motto of ‘nothing like anything’, was the leading budget phone manufacturer in India in the April-June quarter, a recent research report has revealed.

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Samsung left the quarter with a slightly lower 14.4% market share, a drop of 1.9% from the first quarter of the year.

But this could not even be an attempt to gain market share anyway. The Galaxy Alpha could be the guinea pig for testing new materials on Samsung’s phones, experimenting with the mass-production of a metal chassis handset – something which Samsung has historically stayed away from due to production costs. "The evolution of Galaxy Design," is what Samsung is calling the metal chassis.

"The Galaxy Alpha was built and designed based on the specific desires of the consumer market," said JK Shin, Samsung CEO, understatedly.

"With an entirely new appearance, the Galaxy Alpha focuses on both beauty and functionality combining a stunning metal frame and slim, light weight design with the same powerful hardware and features users expect from a flagship Galaxy mobile device."

The Galaxy Alpha will be available at the beginning of September. At launch, it will be available in Charcoal Black, Dazzling White, Frosted Gold, Sleek Silver, and Scuba Blue, with available colours to be determined by market.

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