Why is Samsung releasing a device like the Galaxy Alpha?

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Last updated: August 13th, 2014 at 21:11 UTC+01:00

A few hours ago, Samsung officially announced the Galaxy Alpha, a device that has nothing ground-breaking but is something of a refined mix of the Galaxy S4 and the Galaxy S III. Its specs include a 4.7-inch 720p Super AMOLED display, an Exynos 5430 octa-core processor (one of the fastest in the market), 2 GB of RAM, a 12-megapixel rear camera, and a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. Just like the Galaxy S5, the Galaxy Alpha has a heart rate sensor on the back, next to the camera, and a fingerprint scanner built into the home button.

Not so long ago, the Galaxy Alpha was known as the Galaxy F, with the F referring to ‘Fashion.’ Samsung used Galaxy F as an internal codename, and the device was never meant to be an improved version of the Galaxy S5, but rather a ‘Fashion’ version of the Galaxy S4/S III. This will probably make many of you question why Samsung didn’t improve an improved, so-called ‘Fashion’ variant of the Galaxy S5.

Well, the reason for this has to be that Samsung wants to stick with two flagship smartphones for each year in the form of the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note line. In marketing speak, these are strong brand names, which would make it a risky move to place a model between these popular products. As we all know by know, Samsung isn’t known for taking many risks – it instead plays it safe, so much so that the company’s profits have largely stagnated in the last two quarters.

There’s another question that may arise in your mind: if it’s not an improved version of the Galaxy S5, why is there a need to release a ‘Fashion’ version of the Galaxy S4?

Well, the answer to that lies in the form of Samsung’s main competitor: Apple. According to rumors, the iPhone 6 will have a larger screen (most likely 4.7-inch) than previous iPhones. Over the last few years, Samsung has benefited over Apple because of its large-screen devices, with the Galaxy Note line having helped them found the now standard phablet market. For many people switching from an iPhone to a Galaxy device, the main reason was the larger screen.

Now that the “larger screen” motif will become a non-reason for iPhone users to switch, Samsung has naturally had to come up with a better strategy. To compete with the upcoming iPhone, Samsung is throwing the pricing strategy on the tablet, which is similar to the start of the Galaxy S line, wherein Samsung was competing with the iPhone mainly on price (and also on state-of-the-art specifications, though price was the biggest factor.)

Of course, Samsung could also reduce the price of the Galaxy S5 to compete, but in the long term, it would harm the Galaxy S series as a flagship line, especially since the Galaxy S5 is still doing a great job in terms of sales in many markets, compared to Apple’s 4-inch iPhone options.

With the Galaxy Alpha, Samsung is not just competing on price, but the company is also trying to compete through the usage of premium materials. If they want to compete with the next iPhone and have a chance at beating it, Samsung needs to look beyond price. One of the strongest suites of the iPhone is still its premium finish and Apple’s use of quality materials. To counter this, Samsung has put an aluminium frame with chamfered edges on the Galaxy Alpha, something that we’ve seen on previous iPhones.

As I mentioned earlier, the Galaxy Alpha is not a ground-breaking device and offers nothing that we haven’t seen from competitors before. However, it has some refinements compared to other Galaxy smartphones that were released earlier this year (like an improved fingerprint scanner, more premium design, and more.)

The Galaxy Alpha won’t be released worldwide but will instead be exclusive to selected markets (with a launch in late August), and one of the biggest and most important reasons for its existence is to compete with Apple’s next iPhone.

What do you think? Is this the right strategy Samsung needs to take the fight to Apple once again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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