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Samsung adds 5.5-inch Galaxy A7 to line of skinny metal smartphones

The Alpha series now has a direct competitor for the iPhone 6 Plus

Samsung went out of its comfort zone last summer with the introduction of the Galaxy Alpha: a streamlined 4.7-inch smartphone with a metal frame and one of the thinnest profiles around. Now the company is returning to more familiar ground with the launch of the latest in its line of Alpha successors — a series of humbler, but also cheaper devices that hew to a similar aesthetic — with the Galaxy A7. It's the bigger sibling to the A5 and A3, adding a 5.5-inch model to the range that already covered the 4.5- and 5-inch marks.

Sharing the same screen size and resolution as Apple's iPhone 6 Plus, the Galaxy A7 will inevitably be compared to Apple's alternative, though it isn't quite intended for that battle. Samsung's flagship line of Galaxy S devices is due for a refresh in the early months of this year, which is when we'll see the latest and greatest from the Korean company's mobile division. The A7 targets a more budget-conscious demographic and makes a few cutbacks along the way, most significant of which might be the relatively small 2,600mAh battery. Samsung is also shipping this new smartphone out with Android 4.4 KitKat at a time when everyone is looking for a taste of the newer Lollipop software. Another nod to the A7's target market is the dual-SIM option, which is most popular in developing markets and its launch regions of China and Russia.

Measuring 6.3mm in thickness and likely to be priced at mid-range levels, the Galaxy A7 presents an intriguing new option. The pursuit of thinness among smartphone manufacturers has been a recurring theme not because of the real-world benefits it offers, but simply because we as consumers value it as a desirable feature. Samsung now has a trifecta of extremely slim phones covering the most popular screen sizes, which should help its ongoing effort to reorganize its smartphone range. Most encouraging of all, though, is the thought that Samsung's next flagship phone will have to do more than merely be thin and metallic to justify its premium position.

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