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Specs comparison: Galaxy Alpha vs Galaxy S5

Join us as we take an on-paper look at the differences between the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy S5.
By
August 13, 2014
samsung galaxy alpha (2)

The newly announced Galaxy Alpha is a bit of curious animal, combining high-end specs with a mid-range-spec’d smaller display and offering up a metal frame that departs from Samsung’s traditional plastic-heavy design language.

It’s still unclear whether the Alpha will continue on as a third flagship line in the future, alongside the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series, or if the Galaxy Alpha will be a one-off product that never sees a formal successor. Either way, (most of) its specs certainly put the device in the same league as Samsung’s other flagships, particularly the Galaxy S5.

For those that are trying to decide between Samsung’s new metal-framed handset and Samsung’s bleeding-edge Galaxy S5, you’ll certainly find a lot of overlap when it comes to specs. Of course, there are some very real differences as well.

With that in mind, let’s jump in and take a look at the specs.

Samsung Galaxy AlphaSamsung Galaxy S5
CPU
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
Octa Core - Quad 1.8GHz + Quad 1.3GHz
Samsung Galaxy S5
2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core (Select markets: octa-core Exynos,1.9GHz + 1.3GHz)
GPU
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
Mali-T628
Samsung Galaxy S5
Snapdragon: Adreno 330/ Exynos: Mali-T628
RAM
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
2GB
Samsung Galaxy S5
2GB
Display
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
4.7-inch Super AMOLED with 1280x720 resolution
Samsung Galaxy S5
5.1-inch Super AMOLED with 1920 x 1080
Camera
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
12MP rear, 2.1MP front
Samsung Galaxy S5
16MP ISOCELL rear, 2MP front
Video
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
UHD@30fps, HDR, video stabilization
Samsung Galaxy S5
UHD 4K @30fps
MicroSD
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
No
Samsung Galaxy S5
Yes
Storage
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
32GB
Samsung Galaxy S5
16, 32GB
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac HT80, Bluetooth 4.0 BLE / ANT+, MIMO, NFC
Samsung Galaxy S5
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac HT80, Bluetooth 4.0 BLE / ANT+, MIMO, NFC, IR Remote
Network
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
LTE Cat 6
Samsung Galaxy S5
LTE Cat 4
Sensors
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
Accelerometer, fingerprint sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, gesture sensor, gyro sensor, hall senor, HR sensor, light sensor
Samsung Galaxy S5
Accelerometer, fingerprint sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, gesture sensor, gyro sensor, hall senor, HR sensor, light sensor
Water and dust proof?
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
No
Samsung Galaxy S5
Yes, rated IP67
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
132.4 x 65.5 x 6.7mm, 115 grams
Samsung Galaxy S5
142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1mm, 145 grams
Battery
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
1,860 mAh battery
Samsung Galaxy S5
2,800 mAh battery

What’s changed, what’s the same?

As you can see by looking at the above chart, there are quite a few similarities between the two devices, including similar processor speeds, RAM and storage. On the other hand, the big differences have to do with battery, screen, size and overall looks.

While there are some subtle changes like slight differences in the Exynos processors used, most of these changes won’t matter much in day-to-day use. So let’s focus on some of the biggest standouts that consumers should be aware of.

Spigen Screen Protector 9H Strong Surface Samsung Galaxy S5-1

Galaxy Alpha trades in the GS5’s big-screen and 1080p

Probably one of the biggest differences between the devices, aside from aesthetics and overall size, would be the display. The Galaxy Alpha has a much smaller 4.7-inch display that is aimed at folks looking for a device with near-flagship level specs but in a smaller package than the 5+ inch flagships that have become commonplace in the world of Android.

It’s not just the size that sets the 4.7-inch Galaxy Alpha display apart from the bigger 5.1-incher on the GS5. While both displays are Super AMOLED, the S5 has a 1080p resolution with a pixel density of 431ppi, compared to the 720p resolution and 312ppi of the Galaxy Alpha.

For those that love the idea of high-res media consumption, the Galaxy GS5 will certainly provide the optimal experience here. That said, the 4.7-inch 720p display should still provide excellent colors and viewing angles, even if the experience won’t be quite as nice as you’ll find with typical 2014 flagships.

Galaxy Alpha is much lighter and smaller

You may have to sacrifice your display size and resolution to get it, but the Galaxy Alpha does have the benefit of coming in a slimmer, lighter package. The Galaxy Alpha measures in at 132.4 x 65.5 x 6.7mm and weighs just 115 grams. That’s 30 grams lighter than the GS5. The GS5 is also quite a bit bigger at 142 x 72.5 x 8.1mm.

samsung galaxy s5 aa camera app 2

Galaxy Alpha’s camera takes a step down

For camera aficionados, the Galaxy S5 is certainly the more powerful option with its 16MP ISOCELL rear camera. Until we get some hands-on time with the Galaxy Alpha we really can’t say how the 12MP rear cam on the Alpha will compare, but we wouldn’t expect nearly as good of results.

The good news is that the GS5’s camera features are all still in-tact here, such as Dual Camera, HDR, Beauty Face and Selective focus. On the front side of things, the Galaxy Alpha has a slightly better 2.1MP camera versus the 2MP on the GS5, though we doubt this will make much of a noticeable difference.

Battery life compared

While the Galaxy S5 has a 2800 mAh battery and has been praised for having rather solid battery life for a smartphone, the Galaxy Alpha’s smaller design means they’ve shrunk down the battery to 1860 mAh. Both devices still have some of the same power saving features, though.

Since the Galaxy Alpha has a less demanding display, it probably doesn’t need as good of a battery, but 1860 mAh is still a pretty big drop down. Until we are able to some time with the device we can’t tell you much about the device’s battery performance, but an early review of the handset has already hit the web and it claims that the Alpha managed about 11 hours of HD video playback, putting it in line with the GS5 Mini.

In other words, the battery isn’t awful, but it seems pretty likely it won’t be able to get your through a full day of moderate use like the GS5 can.

samsung galaxy alpha press shots (10)

Design changes with the Galaxy Alpha

Okay, the design differences are pretty obvious and may not need to be pointed out, but we’ll do it anyway. While the Galaxy S5 has the same old Samsung style with a dimpled back, the Galaxy Alpha makes some noticeable changes to the Samsung design formula. The end result is a more squared design that is reminiscent of the Galaxy S2 of old, with some modern changes to button layout thrown in. Additionally, the Alpha has a real metal frame and its back is dimpled but they are more shallow bumps and therefore less noticeable.

There are some folks that genuinely liked Samsung’s previous design style (GS3 – GS5, Note 2 – Note 3), and others that have felt a more premium design was needed. Depending on what camp you fall into, you’ll likely either love or hate the design changes found with the Alpha. There’s also those that will feel that the Alpha didn’t do enough to distinguish itself from Samsung’s design language patterns.

A few other changes…

We’ve covered the biggest hitters, but there are a few other smaller changes worth pointing out. For one thing, the Galaxy Alpha offers similar storage, but it lacks microSD. This is a pretty big change for Samsung, and one that might turn off quite a few people.

The Galaxy Alpha also ditches the waterproof design of the Galaxy S5. Of course, if the Alpha does well enough, it’s possible that Samsung could end up making some sort of spin-off that introduces waterproofing down the road (Galaxy Alpha Active anyone?).

samsung galaxy alpha press shots (9)

Wrap up

Both handsets are actually very nice in their own right, and seem to be aimed at two different audiences. The Galaxy S5 remains the handset of choice for Samsung fans looking for the best specs with a large, vibrant display. The Alpha, on the other hand, appeals to those looking for a more premium design and a smaller device footprint.

What do you think, if you were given the choice between the Galaxy Alpha and the Galaxy S5, which one would you choose?

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