Mobile Technology

Samsung Galaxy Alpha vs. Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy Alpha vs. Galax...
While the Samsung Galaxy S5 (right) focuses on high-end specs, the Galaxy Alpha places an emphasis on compact style
While the Samsung Galaxy S5 (right) focuses on high-end specs, the Galaxy Alpha places an emphasis on compact style
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The Galaxy S5 is fitted with the larger battery of the two
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The Galaxy S5 is fitted with the larger battery of the two
Both handsets are available in a variety of colors
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Both handsets are available in a variety of colors
The S5 has the higher pixel density display
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The S5 has the higher pixel density display
Both handsets feature a battery sipping power saver mode
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Both handsets feature a battery sipping power saver mode
Both devices pack heart rate monitors
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Both devices pack heart rate monitors
Samsung is yet to announce pricing for the Galaxy Alpha
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Samsung is yet to announce pricing for the Galaxy Alpha
Both devices pack 2 GB RAM
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Both devices pack 2 GB RAM
The Galaxy Alpha is yet to hit shelves
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The Galaxy Alpha is yet to hit shelves
The Galaxy Alpha is smaller and thinner than the S5
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The Galaxy Alpha is smaller and thinner than the S5
The Galaxy Alpha doesn't feature a microSD card slot
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The Galaxy Alpha doesn't feature a microSD card slot
Both handsets incorporate a fingerprint sensor into their home buttons
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Both handsets incorporate a fingerprint sensor into their home buttons
The Galaxy S5 features IP67 water resistance
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The Galaxy S5 features IP67 water resistance
Being the smaller device, the Galaxy Alpha is a little lighter than the S5
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Being the smaller device, the Galaxy Alpha is a little lighter than the S5
Both handsets run on Android 4.4 Kit Kat
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Both handsets run on Android 4.4 Kit Kat
Both handsets feature a predominantly plastic build
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Both handsets feature a predominantly plastic build
While the Samsung Galaxy S5 (right) focuses on high-end specs, the Galaxy Alpha places an emphasis on compact style
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While the Samsung Galaxy S5 (right) focuses on high-end specs, the Galaxy Alpha places an emphasis on compact style
The Galaxy S5 provides more screen real estate than its little brother
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The Galaxy S5 provides more screen real estate than its little brother
The Galaxy Alpha's processor has more cores, but the S5's chip is the stronger option
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The Galaxy Alpha's processor has more cores, but the S5's chip is the stronger option
The rear camera on the S5 packs in more megapixels
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The rear camera on the S5 packs in more megapixels
View gallery - 19 images

They might both be made by Samsung, but the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy S5 are notably different devices. While the S5 places an emphasis on high-end internals and an expansive 1080p display, the Alpha is more interested in being a stylish and (comparatively) compact handset with solid internals. Read on, as Gizmag compares the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Alpha.

Size

The Galaxy Alpha is smaller and thinner than the S5
The Galaxy Alpha is smaller and thinner than the S5

The Galaxy S5 is Samsung’s flagship handset, and embodies the company’s long-standing bigger-is-better smartphone mentality. The device is both 8 percent taller and wider than the Galaxy Alpha. The smaller handset is also 18 percent thinner than the S5.

Weight

Being the smaller device, the Galaxy Alpha is a little lighter than the S5
Being the smaller device, the Galaxy Alpha is a little lighter than the S5

It’s a similar story when it comes to device weight, with the Galaxy Alpha coming in at 21 percent lighter than its bigger brother.

Build

Both handsets feature a predominantly plastic build
Both handsets feature a predominantly plastic build

Both handsets feature predominantly plastic builds. Samsung has made a point of emphasising the Galaxy Alpha’s more refined looks, complete with an iPhone 5s-like metal band around the edges of the device. The Alpha's backing, though, is made of a soft-ish plastic, similar to the dimpled material we see on its big brother.

Colors

Both handsets are available in a variety of colors
Both handsets are available in a variety of colors

Both handsets will sell in a range of colors, though there’s a little more choice with the Alpha.

Display (size)

The Galaxy S5 provides more screen real estate than its little brother
The Galaxy S5 provides more screen real estate than its little brother

Screen size is one of the key differences between the two smartphones. If you’re a fan of big screens, then the Galaxy S5 may well prove to be your favorite handset – its display is 18 percent larger than the Galaxy Alpha.

Display (resolution)

The S5 has the higher pixel density display
The S5 has the higher pixel density display

The Galaxy S5 also has a much sharper display than the Galaxy Alpha, with 38 percent more pixels per inch (PPI). For a frame of reference, the Galaxy Alpha’s 312 PPI is just off the pace of the iPhone 5s’ 326 PPI.

Fingerprint sensor

Both handsets incorporate a fingerprint sensor into their home buttons
Both handsets incorporate a fingerprint sensor into their home buttons

Both handsets integrate fingerprint sensors into their physical home buttons on the front of the device, allowing you to unlock the handset by pressing your finger on the button.

Heart rate monitor

Both devices pack heart rate monitors
Both devices pack heart rate monitors

Similarly, both handsets feature heart rate sensor tech.

Water resistance

The Galaxy S5 features IP67 water resistance
The Galaxy S5 features IP67 water resistance

One of the biggest draws of the Galaxy S5 is its IP67 water resistance, something that significantly beefs up its durability credentials.

Processor

The Galaxy Alpha's processor has more cores, but the S5's chip is the stronger option
The Galaxy Alpha's processor has more cores, but the S5's chip is the stronger option

While the octa core processor in the Galaxy Alpha may look like the stronger option at first glance, the quad core chip in the Galaxy S5 has a higher clock speed per core. The eight cores in the Alpha’s CPU are split into two speeds, with four running at 1.8 GHz and four at 1.3 GHz, while all of the Galaxy S5’s cores run at 2.5 GHz. The Alpha’s processor has a higher number of cores, but the S5’s are more powerful.

Storage

The Galaxy Alpha doesn't feature a microSD card slot
The Galaxy Alpha doesn't feature a microSD card slot

The Galaxy S5 is available in 16 and 32 GB configurations, while just a single 32 GB version of the Galaxy Alpha will ship. The Galaxy S5 is fitted with a microSD card slot, allowing you to buy a memory card and easily expand storage space. This is something that we’ve become used to with Samsung phones, but the Galaxy Alpha doesn’t follow suit, offering no microSD expandability.

RAM

Both devices pack 2 GB RAM
Both devices pack 2 GB RAM

Both handsets pack 2 GB RAM.

Battery

The Galaxy S5 is fitted with the larger battery of the two
The Galaxy S5 is fitted with the larger battery of the two

The Galaxy S5 is fitted with a much larger battery than its little brother. Without testing, though, it’s impossible to say how that will translate into actual uptimes.

Ultra Power Saving Mode

Both handsets feature a battery sipping power saver mode
Both handsets feature a battery sipping power saver mode

Both smartphones feature a setting that Samsung calls Ultra Power Saving Mode. When activated, the mode turns off all but the most essential apps and processes, leaving key tools like messaging and phone apps accessible, while significantly improving battery life.

This is a great tool if you’re someone who is routinely away from a charger for long periods of time.

Camera

The rear camera on the S5 packs in more megapixels
The rear camera on the S5 packs in more megapixels

The Galaxy S5 packs more megapixels into its rear camera, while the Galaxy Alpha just barely wins out when it comes to front-facing shooters. Of course you should always take megapixel counts with a few grains of salt, and should look for hands-on impressions and sample shots before jumping to conclusions.

Both devices' rear cameras are capable of shooting 4K video.

Software

Both handsets run on Android 4.4 Kit Kat
Both handsets run on Android 4.4 Kit Kat

Both phones run on Android 4.4 KitKat, augmented with Samsung’s custom TouchWiz UI. The custom skin tends to make Google’s mobile platform a more colorful affair.

Release

The Galaxy Alpha is yet to hit shelves
The Galaxy Alpha is yet to hit shelves

The Galaxy S5 beat the Galaxy Alpha to market by five months, with the smaller device set to launch next month.

Starting price

Samsung is yet to announce pricing for the Galaxy Alpha
Samsung is yet to announce pricing for the Galaxy Alpha

The Galaxy S5 retails for US$650, while Samsung has yet to announce a price point for the Galaxy Alpha. Given the smaller device’s lower specs, and despite its marketing as a stylish, premium handset, we at least hope it will hit a lower price point than the GS5.

Overall, both handsets have a lot going for them. The Galaxy S5 is the more powerful device, with a larger and higher resolution display, and has the benefit of a microSD card slot for expandability. The Galaxy Alpha features solid specs, and holds onto key features like the fingerprint sensor and power saving mode. Without pricing info, though, it’s impossible to say whether the Alpha represents good value for money – but its smaller, slimmer profile and more stylish design are sure to win over at least some fans.

For more on the Samsung Galaxy S5, you can check out our full review.

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5 comments
Stephen N Russell
Go for S5, need bigger screen alone to use.
Cody Heiser
It looks like this would have to be much cheaper than the s5, at least $100 (maybe $50) otherwise you would be better off to go with the s5.
TeZ
Although the Alpha looks nice, for me, the point is largely mute. I don't care much for the metal and social Ooo! Ahhh!. I always put my phones in a protective case any way. What I care mostly about is what it does and what I can make it do "without restriction"
Mark Keller
A mid level phone, with a metal frame ... the Alpha might have been a great vehicle to test Tizen in the US.
Maybe it still will be with a simple update
Christopher Wortman
@TeZ
"moot" not "mute"