Samsung Galaxy Alpha review

Enticingly sleek Samsung handset with its eye on the iPhone 6

Samsung Galaxy Alpha
The Alpha is one lovely looking handset

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Samsung devices are always highly capable media players, and the Galaxy Alpha isn't going to be the first phone to let the side down.

While it still only has a single speaker (on the bottom of the handset), making for mono playback across all media, that's about the only thing that's lacking here. And besides, you should be using a decent set of headphones anyway.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha review

Like all handsets in the Galaxy range, the Alpha is a capable media player

Samsung bundles its own music player in here, as always, and it's fine for those who simply want to drag and drop their existing MP3 collection the old fashioned way.

However, Google's Play Music - also bundled - is a much better choice for anything further. Not only does Google offer its own well-stocked MP3 store, but you can also sign up to a Spotify-like music subscription service and upload your existing tracks to the cloud.

Sound quality is just fine regardless of the service you choose. You also get a nice piece of full-screen album artwork for the lock screen music widget, alongside the expected control shortcuts.

You also get a smaller music widget in the notification menu. Speaking of which, whenever you plug in your headphones, you'll be presented with a row of commonly associated app shortcuts within the drag-down menu. It's a nice touch.

Video playback is similarly accomplished. OK, so the Samsung Galaxy Alpha's 720p display won't show off 1080p Full HD video in its full glory, but all of the HD footage we tested - through Google Play Movies & TV, YouTube, and the Netflix app - looked plenty sharp enough. Held next to a larger 1080p handset you'll notice the difference in sharpness, but in isolation it looks great.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha review

Video playback is so clear, you'll barely notice that 1080p is not supported

Thanks to that Super AMOLED technology, colours and blacks look particularly striking - there's a real sense of depth to movie content in particular.

Perhaps the strongest media-related area for the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is gaming. Almost everything we tried here positively flew, from complex 3D fare like Dead Trigger 2 to vibrant 2D games like Badland (which feels like it was made to show off Super AMOLED technology).

Samsung Galaxy Alpha review

Gaming is the Alpha's strongest suite

This strong performance is doubtless thanks to that nippy Exynos 5 CPU and a 720p display that doesn't siphon too much of its power off for pushing extra pixels around. Anything that didn't fly during my time with the Alpha seemed to be down to a lack of optimisation on the game developer's part - still not an uncommon state of affairs on Android, sadly.