Samsung Galaxy Alpha review: Galaxy reboot
Telephony and phonebook
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha held onto signal well and we liked its sound quality and volume during calls. There's no noise reduction during calls, though, and background noise was audible but not too bad. The dialer is the familiar TouchWiz app and features all the basics - smart dial, quick dial and even a video call button.
The list of contacts is displayed alphabetically and there's an alphabet scroll and a search field. Your contacts automatically get synced with your Google account and your social networks.
The dialer is part of a tabbed app that also houses the Logs. Those are very detailed and show not only calls, but messages too and you can filter by various types of events (missed call, received message, etc.). There's even a search feature if you need to look up calls from just one number or contact.
The Galaxy Alpha features auto call rejection - it can reject all calls, or only calls from specific numbers, or all unknown numbers and so on.
Blocking mode is even more restrictive - it blocks incoming calls and silences notifications and alarms. Only contacts on the priority list will be able to get a call or a message through. Blocking mode can be set to turn on and off automatically during a certain time period (e.g. at night).
We performed our loudspeaker test on the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and found it to be very good.
|Speakerphone test||Voice, dB||Ringing ||Overall score|
You can find out more about our loudspeaker test here.
Messaging, email and text input
The Messages app has a row of shortcuts for the contacts you message most often and below that is the list of all conversation threads. Threads feels like a standard IM app and you can customize font size, the shape of the bubbles and the background. This app handles both SMS and MMS and features a wide variety of smilies.
The Messages app has some cool features too - you can delay dispatch by 3 seconds (or up to 30), so you can cancel a message before it goes out. You can also schedule messages to be sent automatically (say, congratulations for a birthday).
ChatON doesn't come preinstalled on the Samsung Galaxy Alpha.
The app also features spam protection - messages from specific numbers or containing specific phrases can be blocked. Safe mode will disable the feature that automatically makes links clickable and will scan them for potential threats.
The Galaxy Alpha comes with two familiar email applications out of the box - one for your Gmail and a generic app to use with any POP3/IMAP account.
The generic app handles multiple accounts from any email server and features a combined inbox. It has a spam filter and Delayed send options similar to those in the text message app. It has a Primary Senders inbox just like Gmail too.
Gmail is smart about categorizing messages and grouping them - e.g. all promotions go in a folder, all social network messages in another and so on, keeping the Primary folder clean and containing only the important stuff. The Gmail app can handle multiple Gmail accounts, but doesn't offer a combined inbox.
The Samsung keyboard offers a dedicated row of numbers, which is very handy. You can enter text by swipe-typing (like Swype and others), move the cursor or view all alternative symbols for a key (depending on whether you use non-dictionary words or special symbols a lot).
Floating keyboard isn't available here but we don't blame Samsung as the smaller screen really doesn't warrant its presence.