Metal is an interesting material to build a smartphone out of. Firstly, there are many different types of metal and some are suitable for smartphones whereas others are not. Metal can be thinner, lighter and stronger than plastic but works as a great electromagnetic shield or as an antenna. It can feel cool to the touch because it absorbs heat quickly, but it can also feel hot. It can be brittle or malleable, depending on the exact alloy. And as consumers, as a rule of thumb we like metal handsets and place them on a pedestal compared with plastic or polycarbonate devices. I'm as guilty as the next person: a part of the appeal of the HTC One is that it's a unibody aluminium design, which I then foolishly place inside a Tech21 case to keep it safe!
Many manufacturers have experimented with handsets made of different materials. I remember wondering how the Samsung Galaxy Nexus could possibly be a strong device until I realized that the plastic chassis was reinforced with metal. Roll forward a few years and enter the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which introduced two new features to Samsung devices. The first is a new generation of processor built on an even smaller die process for lower power consumption and higher performance, which I'm not going to cover in this article. And the second is that these devices have aluminum frames with removable plastic backs. And in the last few weeks we've reported that Samsung are working on a new range of aluminum unibody devices, the A-series. This is what today's article is about: leakster @AndroidMX has Tweeted a link to a YouTube clip that shows the as-yet-unannounced Samsung Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 handsets, showing their About screens.
The A3, A5 and A7 are mid-range devices. The A3 is the smaller device of the range based around a 4.5-inch, 540 by 960 pixel screen with a 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor. Next is the Galaxy A5, which comes with a 5.0-inch, 720p and finally, there's the Galaxy A7, which will have a 5.5-inch screen. There's a lot of rumours and speculation surrounding these new A devices: will they use the older generation Snapdragon 400 32-bit processors or the newer 64-bit generation 410 unit? If these devices launch with Android 4.4.4 Kit Kat, as we can see in the video, they'll still have the benefit of lower power consumption from the rumoured newer generation 64-bit processors. We don't appear to have long to wait. And I think it'll be interesting to see how the new premium feel, mid-range Samsung devices fare. It is probably going to come down to cost as much as anything: If Samsung can sell something that feels better than their plastic devices and is not so expensive, they could be onto a range of winners.