Samsung Galaxy Alpha smartphone due for release ahead of iPhone 6

The first Samsung smartphone to ditch plastic for a more ‘expensive’ feel will hit shops just before the new iPhone. But is the Samsung Galaxy Alpha going to be special enough to steal Apple’s thunder?

Samsung's unveiled a new Galaxy smartphone that replaces the flimsy polycarbonate its handsets are usually covered in with a premium metal finish, finally doing away with what critics have called a cheap aesthetic.

The Galaxy Alpha is smaller than the Galaxy S5 and is also scaled down in terms of specifications. It has a 4.7in display, 1.8GHz quad-core processor and a 12 megapixel (MP) rear-facing camera, while the Galaxy S5 has a 5.1in screen, 2.5GHz chip and a 16MP camera.

What stands out about the Samsung Galaxy Alpha stands is its tactile metallic bodywork, which lends a more 'expensive' feel than that of previous Samsung Galaxy smartphones. It's a move to echo rivals Apple and HTC, which have both been making metal-bodied phones for ages.

And it's due for release next month, at around the same time as Apple's iPhone 6.

Samsung Mobile's chief executive, JK Shin, said: "The Galaxy Alpha was built and designed based on the specific desires of the consumer market.

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

The Galaxy Alpha will be available in black, white, gold, silver or blue, and it's expected to hit shelves within the first couple of weeks of September.

It's thought that Apple will unveil its eagerly-awaited follow-up to the iPhone 5 - surely to be named the iPhone 6 - at a press event on 9 September. If Apple sticks to its usual launch template, the new iPhone will arrive in shops about a fortnight after the announcement.

So, does the Samsung Galaxy Alpha pose much of a threat to the iPhone 6? Probably not, because, aside from the higher quality materials it's built from, there's nothing about the Galaxy Alphas that's technically better than the Galaxy S5, Samsung's current flagship phone.

And let's not forget the iPhone's been metal-bodied since day one, which makes this an odd point for Samsung to be pushing so hard if it wants to steal Apple's thunder.

However, you only have to look at how sales of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c stayed ahead of the Galaxy S5 when it was released - despite the two iPhones arriving months earlier - to realise that Apple probably isn't even the slightest bit worried.

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