Samsung has announced a new metal-edged flagship smartphone that takes its design language a step closer to the iPhone — and gives it something to fend off competition from surefooted Android startup Xiaomi.
The latter has been gobbling Samsung’s lunch in China and just last month announced its own iPhone-a-like flagship, the metal-edged Mi 4. Bottom line: what Xiaomi can copy, Samsung can copy too. Question is whether Apple will fire up its lawyers for another design infringement court battle, given that the last one resulted in a near $1 billion bill for Samsung. (The pair recently agreed to drop litigation outside the U.S. but are continuing to pursue action in the U.S.)
The new 4G Samsung handset is called the Galaxy Alpha, and on the specs front packs a generous but not crazy big 4.7 inch HD Super AMOLED display; an octa core processor (Quad 1.8GHz + Quad 1.3GHz); 2GB of RAM; a 12 megapixel rear camera and 2.1MP front lens; and it runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat. Samsung’s fingerprint sensor is also on board.
There’s 32GB of internal memory and no Micro SD expansion slot — presumably that’s had to be sacrificed to make way for the seamless metal-band design.
The most notable tweak here is Samsung’s shift away from plastic — with a metal-edged silhouette that closely resembles the iPhone, although the back of the device has a soft texture — rather than the iPhone’s glass/metal — and the same dot pattern Samsung used on its Galaxy S5 flagship earlier this year.
Samsung describes the new design as refined, sophisticated and compact in terms of construction. It does not say ‘iPhone-esque’ but if Steve Jobs were around to see it he’d hardly be mincing a verdict.
The Korean mobile maker may seem to be waving a red rag to a bull by sailing so close to Apple’s designs here, but its problem is it needs to up its game to reverse falling sales and revenue, especially given that rivals like Xiaomi aren’t holding back when it comes to Apple inspired designs. Ergo Samsung is caught between a rock and a hard place.
The company’s teaser video for the new flagship (below) focuses entirely on the design and its fashionable metal bling and slender profile (6.7mm at its thinnest), rather than flagging up particular software features.
The device will be available at the beginning of September — in time to coincide with an expected Apple iPhone 6 launch. It’s not clear exactly which markets will get the Galaxy Alpha — although UK carrier EE confirmed it will be ranging it.
The Alpha will be offered in black, white, gold, silver and blue — with colour choices determined by market.