Samsung's new smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, packs most of the handy features of Samsung's Galaxy S5 into a smaller, snazzier package. What makes the Galaxy S5 Alpha stand out are its sleek metal sides, which lend it a more premium look and feel than the standard Galaxy S5, which sports an all-plastic body with faux-metal trim. That makes the Samsung Galaxy Alpha a smartphone that business users will be proud to show off.
But how does it stand up to Samsung's flagship smartphone in other respects? Its 4.7-inch display is smaller than the Galaxy S5's 5.1-inch screen, its processor is a bit slower and it lacks the S5's expandable microSD card slot. But the device still promises good performance and tons of productivity-boosting software features in a sexier, more affordable device.
Samsung hasn't yet released details about the phone's exact pricing or availability. While we wait, here are five features that should make the Galaxy Alpha a great business phone.
Apple's iPhone has always felt like a premium electronic device, thanks in no small part to its metal construction. Samsung smartphones, in comparison, have lagged behind, with plastic bodies that lacked the refinement of some other flagship handsets — until now.
The Alpha comes with a polished metal band around the sides, top and bottom of the device — a big step up from the Galaxy S5's shiny plastic sides. In fact, the device looks a lot like the iPhone 5s — and that's a perk for serious business users. The metal construction of the Galaxy Alpha isn't just more attractive, but it also makes it a more durable — and more dependable — business phone.
The Alpha isn't entirely metal; it will retain the same dimpled plastic back as the standard Galaxy S5. That's not all bad, though: The textured surface looks good and makes it easier to grip in one hand. One design element was lost in translation, though: The Alpha lacks the flaps that cover the S5's charging port and make that phone water-resistant. On the bright side, you won't have to remove the flaps every time you want to charge the device.
The Alpha's 4.7-inch screen can't match the size or pixel density of the standard Galaxy S5 , which packs a pocket-stretching 5.1-inch display — and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Large smartphones aren't for everyone. A smaller display makes for a more portable device, and the Galaxy Alpha's size will strike a pretty good balance between portability and productivity for most users. However, it might not be as well suited for screen-intensive work like editing documents on the go.
The Alpha is sure to be compatible with Knox, a smartphone security suite that runs on all new Galaxy smartphones. Knox is a set of applications and features that can help keep sensitive data secure.
For starters, Knox Workspace lets you run business apps under a secure profile that's separate from the rest of your smartphone, ensuring that your data isn't accessed by other applications. The Knox marketplace includes a secure Web browser, email client, address book, notebook, task manager and more.
Knox EMM is a set of tools that lets business owners or IT departments control Galaxy devices remotely. For example, it lets you restrict which apps can be downloaded on company-owned phones or remotely wipe company data off any device.
Like other Galaxy smartphones, the Alpha will use Samsung's TouchWiz skin, which runs on top of the Android 4.4.2 operating system. It's similar to stock Android, with a tweaked interface and some extra features, such as Multi Window, which lets you run two apps at once in a split-screen view. The multitasking feature, which is supported by all current Samsung Galaxy devices, is sure to return on the Alpha.
To use Multi Window, swipe in from the left side of the screen to open a special app drawer containing compatible applications, and then drag any two onto the screen. You can choose to display the apps vertically or side by side, resize the apps by dragging the border between them, and even copy and paste text between them. The feature might not be as useful on the S5 Alpha's smaller 4.7-inch screen; it's better suited for larger screens on phones like the Galaxy Note 3, which sports a 5.7-inch display. Still, the feature could come in handy for certain situations, such as using the calculator app while viewing a document.
The Galaxy S5's best security feature is set to return for the Alpha. The phone will include the same fingerprint scanner embedded in the home button, letting you lock and unlock the device with your fingertip. That functionality is useful because it lets you secure your smartphone without fussing with cumbersome password screens. And it's especially good for business users who access private business or client data on their phone.
The Galaxy S5's scanner doesn't just let you unlock your phone in a hurry. It also allows you to enter Private Mode, a special folder where you can store your most sensitive documents and emails. That feature isn't available on other scanner-equipped phones such as the iPhone 5s.