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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs Samsung Galaxy Alpha - which is best?

Katharine Byrne
4 Nov 2014
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We pit Samsung's Galaxy S5 against the Samsung Galaxy Alpha to see which phone comes out on top

Samsung's Galaxy Alpha is based heavily on the Samsung Galaxy S5 but these are two very different handsets. The Alpha is Samsung's first smartphone with a metallic frame, making it look and feel quite like the rival Apple iPhone range. But how does it stack up against its all-plastic predecessor? We've been comparing each phone's specs to see which one will be right for you.

For everything you need to know about the Samsung Galaxy Alpha read our full review. This comparison is based purely on specifications and doesn't taken into account detailed benchmark results, camera tests and battery performance. What this comparison does do is compare the relevant specs of each phone to help you decide which one is best for you.

SIZE AND WEIGHT

Materials: The Alpha is the first Galaxy phone to use a metal frame. Samsung has also said the Alpha will have curved corners and a soft back cover, which is a huge improvement on the all-plastic body of the S5. This should mean the Alpha has better build quality than the S5, but the S5 shouldn't be dismissed outright just because it doesn't feel quite as well-made. The S5's build quality has come on leaps and bounds since the S4 and the phone's dimpled rear texture makes it much easier to hold. 

The S5 is available in four colours: black, white, blue and copper. The Alpha, meanwhile adds gold and silver models to that list, giving customers a wider choice of colours. 

Dimensions: The Galaxy Alpha is considerably lighter than the Galaxy S5, weighing in at 114g compared to the S5's 145g. This isn't surprising given the Alpha's smaller screen size, but we were expecting the metal frame to add a bit more weight. It's particularly impressive given that the 4in iPhone 5s weighs 112g, so the Alpha is going to feel incredibly light for its size.

At 132x65x6.7mm, the Alpha is also much shorter and thinner than the S5, which measures 142x72x8.1mm. This once again makes the Alpha even thinner than the iPhone 5s, so the Alpha is going to be a seriously slim handset compared to its larger cousin, making it even more pocket-friendly than the S5.

SCREEN

Screen size: The Galaxy Alpha has a 4.7in display, which is a common size for most mid-range smartphones. We don't know the exact size of the bezels yet, but they look as though they'll be pretty slim from the leaked photos and press shots we've seen. A 4.7in display is also a good size for using with one hand, as we can easily reach most parts of the screen on our 4.7in Motorola Moto X

The Galaxy S5, on the other hand, has a large 5.1in display. This makes it a little difficult for people with smaller hands to reach the very top of the screen with one hand, but the screen takes up a large percentage of the front of the phone, leaving less room for bezels, microphones, speakers and physical buttons. 

Resolution: The Alpha has a screen resolution of 1,280x720, which is a big step down from the Full HD 1,920x1,080 resolution of the S5. This means the Alpha won't be able to play Full HD video at its native resolution, but its pixel density of 312ppi should still provide plenty of clarity onscreen from an average viewing distance.

The S5, meanwhile, can play Full HD video at its native resolution and its massive pixel density of 432ppi means the pixels are packed that much closer together, providing a sharper, crisper-looking image. The S5's larger screen also makes it more practical for reading desktop-based websites as you can fit a larger proportion of the page on the screen while still being able to read smaller text.  

Screen technology: Both phones use AMOLED screen technology, which has several advantages over more traditional LCD panels. As each pixel has its own backlight that can be switched off when displaying darker images, blacks are much deeper. AMOLED screen also use less power to display them, too. Contrast ratios are also much higher on AMOLED panels, so we expect that the Alpha's overall screen quality will be very much on par with the S5's. 

PERFORMANCE

Processor: The Alpha will come with one of Samsung's own octa-core Exynos chips (made up of two quad-core processors with clock speeds of 1.8GHz and 1.3GHz). Samsung hasn't specified which model number it has yet, though, so it's difficult to say just how it will compare with the S5's quad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor.

However, we can make an educated guess as Samsung's Galaxy K Zoom handset uses a hexa-core Exynos 5260 chip (made up of one quad-core 1.3GHz processor and one dual-core 1.7GHz processor) which scored a very quick 486ms in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark. The S5, meanwhile, scored 391ms, so we'd expect an octa-core chip with a similar combined clock speed to the K Zoom would score somewhere in the same vicinity.

Memory: Both the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy S5 come with 2GB of RAM, which is plenty of speed for a flagship smartphone. Combined with each phone's high-end processor, both phones should be able to handle multi-tasking very efficiently. 

Storage: The S5 has a smaller amount of internal storage, clocking in at 16GB, whereas the Alpha has a massive 32GB, giving you plenty of space for your music and video files. The only downside is that the Alpha doesn't have a microSD card slot like the S5, so you won't be able to expand its storage. The S5, on the other hand, can take microSD cards up to 128GB, but you'll need to use Samsung's MyFiles app to organise your music, photos and video on the SD card as new file permissions in Android 4.4 KitKat mean that third-party file managers won't work. 

VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is very worthy successor to the Galaxy S5. It  has an amazing screen and similar specs to the superb Samsung Galaxy S5 while taking some design cues from Apple's recent iPhone models. In some ways it is more of a direct competitor to the iPhone 5s, with both the S5 and iPhone 6 outsizing it by some margin. That said it is quite exensive. You can buy the Alpha direct from Samsung SIM-free for £549, which for many people will put it out of reach.

SPECS

ManufacturerSamsungSamsung
ModelGalaxy S5Galaxy Alpha
HARDWARE
ProcessorQuad-core 2.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801Octa-core Samsung Exynos (1.8GHz quad-core and 1.3GHz quad-core) or Quad-core 2.5GHz
RAM2GB2GB
Screen size5.1in4.7in
Screen resolution1,920x1,0801,280x720
Screen typeAMOLEDAMOLED
Front camera2-megapixel2.1-megapixel
Rear camera16-megapixel12-megapixel
FlashLEDLED
GPSYesYes
CompassYesYes
Storage16GB32GB
Memory card slot (supplied)MicroSDNone
Wi-Fi802.11ac802.11ac
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0Bluetooth 4.0
NFCYesYes
Wireless data4G4G
Size142x72.5x8.1 mm132x65x6.7mm
Weight145g114g
FEATURES
Operating systemAndroid 4.4 (KitKat)Android 4.4.4 (KitKat)
Battery size2,800mAh1,8600mAh
BUYING INFORMATION
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£440£499
Detailswww.samsung.co.ukwww.samsung.co.uk
Part codeSM-G900FN/A

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