It had quickly become a tired cliche in technology review circles. Samsung phones were great on the inside and had excellent screens and cameras, but their design looked and felt cheap compared to more attractive alternatives from HTC, Sony and Apple.

Samsung couldn't have left it any later to make a change; it's recent quarterly earnings report showed a massive slump in smartphone sales, with the poorly received Galaxy S5 the main culprit. As the beautiful HTC One (M8) picks up industry awards left, right and centre, the Samsung cavalry have arrived in the form of the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4.

Both handsets have metal frames with polished, chamfered edges and square sides, and both have soft-touch plastic backs which (especially on the Note 4) offer a level of grip that the super-slippery iPhone 6 and 6 Plus can't compete with.

Some will prefer an all-aluminium affair, but for me Samsung has made a sensible compromise between looks and ergonomics - and the latter is further increased by the Alpha's 4.7in screen being slightly smaller than the Galaxy S5's, making it easy to use in one hand.

Meanwhile, the Note 4 is the company's best phablet to date and according to Samsung was the most pre-ordered handset it has ever made.

Samsung was being squeezed by Chinese manufacturers offering the same specs and performance at much lower prices. We hope the Alpha and Note 4 will be the start of a major design change going forward - and Samsung must be equally hopeful that a smart new suit will be enough to will back increasingly image-conscious consumers.