Galaxy Alpha vs HTC One E8 – overpriced vs must have

The Galaxy Alpha is Samsung’s attempt at a smartphone with a premium build, something fans have been asking for for ages now. While the company did manage to revamp the Galaxy Alpha and make it look like a premium phone with a metal design, the phone can’t boast with powerhouse specs or innovative features. The HTC One E8 is the cheaper version of the HTC One M8 flagship which has become one of the best selling and most appreciated handsets of 2014. The One E8 is designed for those who don’t want to pay the extra buck for a metal chassis, but rather settle for a polycarbonate construction.

Samsung has responded to users complaining about the Galaxy S5 and its rather cheap design and band-aid back plate with the Galaxy Alpha, which admittedly looks a lot better than the Galaxy S5. While the Galaxy Alpha still doesn’t have a full metal unibody or aluminium construction, it still has a metal frame and an improved design. The premium handset, as some may call it, has stirred up quite the interest and based on that, Samsung has announced a brand new Alpha line of smartphones, including the Galaxy A5, Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A7, out of which the first two will have metal unibodies.

The HTC One M8 is one of the most popular smartphones out there, appreciated for the sturdy metal design and water resistance, as well as for a good battery life and smooth Sense UI. ┬áPossibly the most well received features on the One M8 were the front facing BoomSound speakers, which are among the few best ones you can find on smartphones out there. With the success of the One M8, HTC though that it would be a nice touch if they released the same found with a lower price tag and came up with the polycarbonate HTC One E8. What’s more, the One E8 is almost the exact copy of the One M8, including the BoomSound speakers and great UI. The camera has been changed, though, so we have a standard 13 MP sensor on the rear replacing the One M8’s 4 UltraPixel camera with a depth sensor.

Since we got a bit of historical information out of the way, we should start analyzing the Galaxy Alpha and the One E8. The most important things we should compare when it comes to the two smartphones are price, specs and design. While there are many other important features you should compare between phones that are more expensive than $300, these are the main differences between our two exhibits. The purpose of this comparison is to show you which phone offers more bang for buck and which can perform better for power users and casual users alike. Many have already said that the Galaxy Alpha isn’t cheap and Samsung went a bit overboard with the pricing of phone bordering mid-range specs and features. That’s what we are going to look at this time, comparing the features and specs to those of the One E8, a revered phone which dealt magnificently with user preference.

While there are thousands of smartphones out there, a handful of companies tend to be up front and ahead of others, mostly due to marketing strategies. Samsung is one of those companies that have invested a lot of money in development and marketing. It is one of the oldest electronics producer and has a reputation that precedes it. While HTC isn’t exactly new, it has been struggling with revenue in the past year. Other companies like LG, Asus, Apple, Microsoft, Xiaomi, Meizu, Huawei and Sony are among the top smartphone makers in China and the U.S. Their flagships include the LG G3, Sony Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact, Xiaomi Mi4, Meizu MX4 and MX4 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Asus Zenfone 5, Nokia Lumia 830 and Huawei Ascend Mate 7. While these handsets are all flagships and over the $500 mark, many of them are easily comparable to the Galaxy Alpha and HTC One E8.

The Galaxy Alpha does fit into the mid-range category better than in the high-end list of smartphones, as does the One E8. That’s why these two phones are easily comparable and a choice between them should leave any casual or even power user satisfied. Further on, let’s see what are the difference and the similarities between the two smartphones. While they are not much alike, there are wins and losses for each of these handsets, so we need to weigh them against each other and see which phone offers better bang for buck and which offers the better performance and more features.

First off, let’s discuss money. Since many people in search of a new smartphone set a budget for themselves, let’s say that we are set on a $700 limit for the sake of the comparison. The Galaxy Alpha price is currently at $620 on Amazon for the unlocked version. Keep in mind that you can get the Sony Xperia Z2, LG G3. Galaxy S5 for much less at the moment. Then we can safely ask the question: Is the Galaxy Alpha worth that much? The hefty price tag for the handset denotes a prime device, but other than the metal frame surrounding the Alpha, the other specs are nothing to write home about to be honest. Many have already stressed the fact that the Galaxy Alpha is overpriced, which is sort of true, in my mind. That being said, a great example would be that you can get the Huawei Ascend Mate 7, with a metal frame, excellent high-end specs and great camera, for $500. At the same time, you can find deals for the LG G3 as cheap as $550, which would be awesome since the LG G3 is still considered one of the best smartphones on the market, with a wonderful QHD display to boast with. So is the Galaxy Alpha overpriced? Yes, it is.

The HTC One E8 price is $440 on Amazon, and it’s a great deal for the handset. Already, we can declare a winner in the price department, since the One E8 is way cheaper than the Galaxy Alpha, and as you will find out in the following few paragraphs, it actually offers a few more benefits compared to Samsung’s premium iteration of a Galaxy smartphone. While the Galaxy Alpha barely gets past the average mid-ranger, it boasts that hefty price because of the build quality, which we have to say, is superior to the One E8 build quality. The Galaxy Alpha has a metal frame and a sturdy construction, which feels great in the hand. The One E8, on the other hand, is way lighter than the One M8 and the Galaxy Alpha, too and the plastic construction of the phone doesn’t give it a premium feel at all. The shiny back plate on the One E8 might actually seem repulsive to some people, but it’s actually not that bad, especially if you are fond of using cases. When it comes to build quality, the Galaxy Alpha trumps the One E8, that’s for sure. But is that metal frame really worth it?

If you come to think about it, the HTC One M8 price has dropped to around $600 with the Black Friday discounts coming up, which means that you can get an equally premium phone, with better specs, for the same price. Actually, the whole idea of the One E8 was to build the same phone, with cheaper materials than on the One M8 and voila. HTC made a great and affordable flagship that might even be a better investment than the original model. Nonetheless, the Galaxy Alpha does have a slightly more stylish design, with smaller bezels and it does sport a fingerprint sensor and a heart rate sensor, which are missing from the One E8 and the One M8, as well. While these are more features than elements of design, they add to the quality and premium feel of the phone, which might be sufficient motivation for the high price tag.

When it comes to display quality, neither of these phones will disappoint you, that’s for sure. The Galaxy Alpha display is a 4.7 inch Super AMOLED display with a 720*1280 resolution, adding up to 312 ppi pixel density, which is a pretty good number and makes for a bright, crisp display with accurate color reproduction, good outdoor visibility and great viewing angles. For that price, Samsung could have opted for a higher resolution, though. Nonetheless, ppi counts above 300 are usually undetectable and you sure won’t see any pixels on the Galaxy Alpha display. The HTC One E8 on the other hand, has a slightly larger display measuring 5 inches. The resolution is higher, too measuring 1080*1920 pixels which amount to a 441 ppi pixel density. While on paper, the HTC One E8’s Super LCD3 display is superior to the Galaxy Alpha display, we can safely say that unless you put the two phones next to each other, you probably won’t notice the difference.

Moving on to features, we’ve already said that the HTC One E8 has the famous BoomSound speakers which will never disappoint and are superior to the Galaxy Alpha speakers. We’ve also mentioned the heart rate sensor and fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy Alpha, which are nice additions to the phone, but their usefulness is debatable. Another feature on the One E8 is the microSD card slot, which is missing from the Galaxy Alpha. The Galaxy Alpha does have 32 GB internal memory, which should suffice for the average smartphone user, but a microSD card would have been a more welcome feature than the fingerprint sensor, in my opinion. Both phones have NFC, which is great, but neither have IR blasters, so no remote controlling your TV with the phone. Even though the HTC One M8 has an IR blaster, the company decided not to include the sensor on the cheaper variant of the phone. It would have been difficult,too since the E8 has a plastic chassis that doesn’t leave much room for it.

When it comes to specs, the Galaxy Alpha runs on a quad core Exynos 5 Octa 5430 CPU, backed by a Mali-T628 MP6 GPU and 2 GB RAM, which is not bad. Exynos CPUs are known to lag a bit behind Snapdragon processors, but the difference in processing speed is negligible if looking at similar clock speeds and configurations. Nonetheless, the HTC One E8 runs on a Snapdragon 801 CPU backed by an Adreno 330 GPU and 2 GB RAM. The Galaxy Alpha CPU is clocked at 1.8 GHz, while the One E8 CPU is clocked at 2.5 GHz. While both these phones will run graphics intensive games and apps smoothly and the overall speed of the OS will not be laggy or buggy, the Snapdragon touting HTC One E8 might be a bit more reliable. Although some actually believe Exynos CPUs are inferior to Snapdragon ones, the opinion is not unanimous, so it’s up for debate. What do you think when it comes to Exynos and Snapdragon CPUs? In any case, the performance award goes to the HTC One E8.

Many people out for smartphone shopping are very interested in the cameras on various handsets, because the world has begun switching out compact cameras for smartphones. It is easier to hog around one multifunctional device instead of two, so we do appreciate the trend. Nonetheless, smartphone cameras cannot be compared to high-end photography gear. That’s why I don’t usually pick my phone or tablet based on the camera. I would rather have a mediocre camera and high-end specs at a lower price. If you want the best there is when it comes to smartphone cameras, maybe you should check out devices like the Galaxy Note 4, Lumia 1020 or even the Huawei Ascend Mate 7 or Sony Xperia Z3. Nonetheless, the Galaxy Alpha camera isn’t bad either, measuring a 12 MP sensor with LED flash on the rear and a 2.1 MP sensor on the front, for your selfie needs. The HTC One M8 has been criticized by some and acclaimed by other for the 4 Ultra pixel camera on the rear of the device, so the company ditched that in favor of a 13 MP sensor on the One E8. The adjoining selfie camera measures 5 MP, which is a great configuration. While camera performance and picture quality are debatable on both these phones, the camera setup is better and gives you more for your cash on the HTC One E8.

Software on the two phones is based on Android, and both the Galaxy Alpha and HTC One E8 are set to receive the latest Android 5.0 Lollipop update in the next few months or so. HTC is preparing Sense 7 for the occasion, but until then, the One E8 runs on KitKat and Sense 6, which is a pretty smooth and easy to use UI. The Galaxy Alpha runs on the usual Android KitKat and TouchWiz, which has been criticized by many. TouchWiz doesn’t have any major flaws per se, but many don’t appreciate the cartoonish nature of the UI. Nonetheless, Samsung is also working on a new version of TouchWiz to go with Android 5.0 Lollipop, so we’re looking forward to that.

As for batteries, the HTC One E8 and the Galaxy Alpha are pretty different. The HTC One E8 has a 2800 mAH battery, good for almost 2 days of mixed use, while the Galaxy Alpha battery measures only 1860 mAH, which is a bit small for a 4.7 inch phone with an HD display. That doesn’t mean that the Galaxy Alpha won’t have a nice battery life. Users have reported that the Alpha goes well into the second day of mixed use, alas, not at full brightness. Battery life varies based on usage and you need to keep in mind that Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G tend to drain the battery, no matter how big it is.

While this comparison is a long one, you should keep in mind that we only covered the basics about the two phones, so that you can get an idea about which would suit you best. I think you can clearly tell which phone I would choose, and that’s because I can’t help myself from condemning Samsung for putting such a high price on a such an uncompetitive phone. Nonetheless, if there wasn’t that hefty price tag, the Galaxy Alpha would be a real nice smartphone to own, with great design, pretty good specs and a few extra features to show off. At the same time, the One E8 clearly offers more for less money, so it should be the clear choice when it comes to this comparison. I do think that HTC could have done more with the design without raising the price tag on the handset, though. Which would you choose?