The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is the toughest Galaxy yet. Drop tests of the new metal-framed phone -- Samsung's first ferrous foray for the popular line of smartphones -- reveal the curved corners mean it can take a licking and keep on ticking.
Revealed last week, the 4.7-inch Galaxy Alpha is a mid-range Android smartphone with a quad-core or eight-core processor, depending where you live. It supports 4G LTE for faster Internet surfing. The price and release date haven't been confirmed, but various UK networks have confirmed they will sell the Alpha from September.
Giving us a sneak peek at the production process on the Samsung Tomorrow blog, the Korean company proudly trumpets the 7mm thick Alpha as "one of the slimmest Galaxy devices ever." The frame is carved and trimmed from metal, then colour anodised to tint the metal the correct colour. It's cut with a diamond and the whole process is automated, the tools controlled by computerised numerical control (CNC) processes.
It's long been a criticism in some quarters that the plastic casings of the Galaxy range take away from their aesthetics -- at the premium end of the range anyway. Some feel the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5 lack the luxury feel of rivals like the metal and glass iPhone or the beautifully designed Nokia Lumia line. Samsung even responded to that flak with the design of the Galaxy Note 3, which swapped the glossy sheen of previous models for a faux leather case complete with fake stitching around the edge.
On the other hand, plastic is more durable than glass and scratches less than metal, so the S4 and S5 keep their lustre longer. But the Alpha's metal frame could give it the best of both worlds: Samsung reckons the Alpha is the most durable Galaxy yet when it comes to being dropped, thanks to the shock-beating curved corners.
With the Alpha, Samsung promises a "new design approach", which suggests there's more metal-encased Galaxy phones to come. New Samsung devices are expected in the next couple of weeks as the tech industry decamps to Berlin for annual trade show IFA, where manufacturers show off their wares for the coming year. IFA is the traditional launchpad for each year's new Note, so who knows -- maybe a metal Galaxy Note 4 is on the cards.
Whatever Samsung and the rest launch, we'll be there to bring you all the photos, videos and hands-on first impressions you need to know -- so keep it CNET in the first week of September.