The Samsung Galaxy S5 made quite a splash when it was released back in April of 2014, while also managing to stay relevant and even extremely popular throughout the entire year. Although times are quickly changing and everybody is now looking forward to the S6, the Korean tech giant’s current flagship is still a pretty awesome phone to have. But maybe you’re one of those people who doesn’t care about what’s trending and just wants a smartphone that’s a little bit different and tries to do something new. Samsung has been known to offer a few of those as well, including a little metallic handset that goes by the name of Samsung Galaxy Alpha.
Now, many have bashed the Samsung Galaxy Alpha for its steep price, but it turns out that this device was meant to be more of a limited edition deal and test the waters for the new Galaxy A series. That said, there are still a few valid reasons to purchase this smartphone if you’re in the market for something a bit different. Some may even enjoy it more than the Samsung Galaxy S5 flagship, although that will be for you alone to decide. With that in mind, I figured that it would be an interesting idea to take a look at two of Samsung’s smartphones and see what they brought new to the table in terms of specs, design, and features. I’ll also draw some comparisons between the two as we move along just so you can get an idea of how one stacks up against the other. Without further ado, let’s get this show on the road.
Display and Design
We’re looking at two very different design choices in this classic battle of plastic vs metal. The design is definitely not a selling point for the Samsung Galaxy S5, with more than a few people calling it “uninspired” or “cheap.” But while Samsung wanted to play it safe with this one by opting for a plastic body yet again, the build quality of the phone is certainly up to par. The perforated back panel in particular is a very nice and not only because it looks good, but also because it provides some much needed extra grip. The 5.1 display with 1080 x 1920 resolution and Super AMOLED technology was pretty impressive at launch and still looks good to this day. Some other features that need to be mentioned here are the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection, fingerprint senor and IP67 certification, which makes the Samsung Galaxy S5 water resistant for up to 30 minutes in bodies of water that are at most 1 meter deep.
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is smaller and lighter than its counterpart but you’ll instantly know that you’re looking at a Samsung smartphone as soon as you see it. However, there is a key difference that makes it stand out from the plastic crowd, if only just partially. The Samsung Galaxy Alpha comes equipped with a metallic chassis which looks really good when couple with the slim form factor. The back cover is still made out of plastic and features a perforated pattern that’s not unlike that found on the Samsung Galaxy S5. This time around, the display comes in at only 4.7 inches with the same Super AMOLED technology, but only 720 x 1280 resolution. On the bright side, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha features the new Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protection which makes it more resistant to shock than most other smartphones out there. In fact, the Alpha was the very first smartphone to feature the new protective glass. You’ll find a fingerprint sensor here as well, but no IP67 certification.
Hardware and Software
The Samsung Galaxy S5 is no longer among the most powerful smartphones on the market but don’t dismiss it just because of that. Upon a quick inspection you’ll see that this phone can still run pretty much whatever you throw at it. Specifically, the Samsung Galaxy S5 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core processor clocked at 2.5 GHz complete with Adreno 330 GPU, and 2 GB of RAM. Elsewhere under the hood, you can find a 16 MP primary camera along with a 2.1 secondary shooter, a 2,800 mAh battery, and either 16 GB or 32 GB worth of internal storage memory, depending on the chosen variant. There is also a microSD card slot that’s good for up to 128 GB of additional storage. Although the Samsung Galaxy S5 only comes with Android 4.4.2 KitKat from the get-go, you can upgrade it to the Android 5.0 Lollipop operating system.
Moving on to the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, some of the specs are a bit sub-par, but they’re definitely not as bad as some people made them out to be. This handset sports Samsung’s in-house Exynos 5 Octa 5430 processor, with four Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 1.8 GHz and four Cortex-A7 cores running at 1.3 GHz. Aside from that, you also have the Mali-T628 MP6 GPU, 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage memory, a 12 MP camera on the back, and a 1.2 MP selfie snapper on the front. Unfortunately, there is no microSD support here so 32 GB is all you’ll get in terms of storage, which was one of the main points of critique when it comes to the specs. The other one was that the Samsung Galaxy Alpha comes equipped with a rather small 1860 mAh battery. Battery life is not that bad actually, but it may last just a few hours less than one would hope for. The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is powered by the Android 4.4.4 KitKat operating system, however, it can also be upgraded to Android 5.0 Lollipop.
Price and Availability
By now, you can get the Samsung Galaxy S5 for anywhere between $500 and $600 unlocked, although you may have to search a bit for the best deals. Availability is certainly not a problem here and you can find it on pretty much every major retailer’s website in a plethora of different countries around the world. The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is now is the very same price range, but a few months back you were likely to find it at a higher price than the Galaxy S5. The price for the Alpha may go up again soon because as it turns out, Samsung will probably stop manufacturing it now that the Galaxy A series is out and about. There is no specific info on when this will happen, but word on the street is that the company will axe the smartphone starting next month.
And there you have it, two very different smartphones that have plenty to offer, although like many other phones out there, these two also have their strengths and weaknesses. The Samsung Galaxy S5’s main selling point still seems to be the powerful hardware that hasn’t aged too badly all things considered. On the side of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, interested customers will likely want it for the solid design choice and elegance. The hardware is not exactly jaw-dropping but it will still do, however, the main problem here is the steep price point. Between the two, I would recommend getting the Samsung Galaxy S5 just because it offer more at a very similar price. That said, there are plenty of other fish in the sea and these are just two of them. The final decision, as always, is for you alone to make.