Samsung unveils Galaxy Alpha ahead of iPhone 6 launch

Samsung has launched its latest smartphone, the Galaxy Alpha, in a warning shot to Apple just weeks before the U.S. firm is expected to unveil the iPhone 6.

The Galaxy Alpha, set to go on sale in September, is Samsung's latest attempt to stop a sliding market share as it grapples with stiff competition in the low-end smartphone market.

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Rising competition from low-cost Chinese vendors is taking its toll on Samsung. on the same period last year. Ratings agency Fitch said on Tuesday that Samsung's market share will drop from 31 percent last year, to 25 percent by 2015.


Apple is widely tipped to release its iPhone 6 in September or October, but analysts don't expect the Galaxy Alpha to significantly dent the Cupertino, CA-based company's success.

"It is a response to the threat from Apple but I don't think that it will really convince people to switch as it's not a big departure from the previous phone," Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, told CNBC in a phone interview.

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"It is a matter of brand from the existing user base, there is less brand loyalty to Samsung brand. Samsung is not an ecosystem owner like Apple is. Within the Samsung user base there will be people who did not upgrade to the latest Samsung device and might go elsewhere, perhaps to Apple."

'Metal frame'

The Galaxy Alpha will come in 5 colours and has a 4.7 inch high definition display. It is 7 millimeters thick and is compatible with Samsung's wearable technology range including the Gear Fit, Gear Live and Gear 2. The phone also has a 12 megapixel camera on the back.

Tale of 2 smartphone markets

After criticism of its plastic designs in the past, Samsung said it had taken a "fresh approach" and used a metal frame, though the back of the phone is still a soft material. Analysts said the decision could help remove the "cheap feel" of previous Galaxy models and firmly position the phone at the high-end.

"The physical design has been a big flaw of its S range having plastics and having a cheap feel. The Galaxy Alpha is an attempt to neuter that negative view of the Galaxy S5's design ahead of the iPhone 6 launch to make that a lot more competitive," Daniel Gleeson, mobile analyst at IHS, said in a phone interview.

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Gleeson added that the fresh design was important as the iPhone 6 was likely to have a bigger screen to match Samsung's model, taking away a "key differentiator".

The price for the Galaxy Alpha has not been set.

Next big release

Samsung is gearing up for another big product announcement in September. The South Korean technology giant released an invited to its "Unpacked 2014 Episode 2" event which will take place on September 3 at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany.

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It is expected to unveil the Galaxy Note 4, a "phablet" device.