Up to now, commercially available alumina ceramics were claimed to have strength between 400 and 550 MPa. However, our study shows strength ~ 2 times higher for commercially available alumina than commonly believed. The average and characteristic strength, measured on 31 pure alumina ceramic discs by ball on three balls (B3B) test, were 1205 ± 93 MPa and 1257 MPa, respectively, with a Weibull modulus of m = 11.8. Tested specimens were in form of discs with a diameter of 5 mm and thickness 0.5 mm. The grain size distribution of the alumina is bimodal with an average grain size of ~ 850 nm measured at the surface. The fracture reveals a mixed transgranular / intergranular failure mode. To avoid incorporation of additional flaws, the discs were tested as sintered. The characteristic flexural strength measured in B3B was recalculated according to Weibull theory for standard 4-point bending bars of size 3 × 4 × 45 mm as bend 856 MPa. The measured strength of nearly 900 MPa shows the potential of strength for high purity alumina ceramics.