For years, speculation has raged whether Samsung would release a smartphone with a metal body, like handsets from competitors Apple(s appl) and HTC, instead of Samsung’s plastic polycarbonate shells that some reviewers and consumers have called cheap-feeling and disappointing.
On Wednesday, Samsung officially announced its metal-ringed smartphone, the Galaxy Alpha, complete with a metal frame and device size that’s sure to draw comparisons to the iPhone.
The Galaxy Alpha isn’t packed with the absolute latest components like the Galaxy S5: It comes with a 4.7-inch AMOLED screen has a 720p resolution, its processor is a Samsung octa-core Exynos with an LTE modem, and it comes with 2GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of built-in, non-expandable storage and the camera on the back is a 12-megapixel sensor.
But specs aside, this is an exciting smartphone, and it’s not just because the Galaxy Alpha metal edge makes it look like a tad like an iPhone: It’s one of Samsung’s first premium devices that has decided bigger isn’t necessarily better. It’s a very thin handset, measuring at 6.7mm, and it weighs in at 115g, which is nearly 20 percent lighter than the 145 gram Galaxy S5. Big screened phones might be popular, especially in Asia, but there’s still a contingent that wants a premium device that easily fits in a pocket.
The Galaxy Alpha has the full gamut of Samsung’s differentiating features, despite its smaller body. The device boasts compatibility with Gear smartwatches, a fingerprint scanner, and TouchWiz UI on top of Android(s goog) 4.4. Unlike the Galaxy S5, it is not waterproof, however. Despite the metal construction, according to an early review on a Russian site, the Galaxy Alpha’s back cover will be removable, and the battery will be replaceable.
The Galaxy Alpha will come in five colors and will be available at the “beginning of September.” No word yet on a U.S. release date or price, but according to its FCC filing, it will likely launch on AT&T(s t) and T-Mobile(s tmus).