Samsung Galaxy Alpha vs Samsung Galaxy S5: first look

Samsung is known for having an impressively rich portfolio of Android smartphones, but a truly premium-made handset was missing until recently. The void was filled by the Samsung Galaxy Alpha – one of the best-looking Samsung phones that we had seen in a while. How does it stack up against Samsung's flagship, however? Well, to give an answer to this question, we put the two side by side for a preliminary comparison. 


The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is a phone built to impress, and the first thing you'll probably notice once you pick it up is just how slim it is. Its thickness of just 0.26" (6.7 mm) makes it the thinnest Galaxy smartphone yet. Add its metal-made frame to the equation and you end up with a truly premium-feeling phone. Moreover, the soft, grippy back side sports a delicate dotted pattern that seems neither too boring, nor too flashy. And thanks to its size, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is easier to wield single-handedly than the Galaxy S5. The latter, in comparison, is not a bad-looking phone by any means, but it feels a tad more plasticky. It just isn't as exquisite of a phone as the Galaxy Alpha. Nevertheless, the Galaxy S5 has the advantage of being a water-resistant phone, while the Alpha is not. 

One of the features that both phones have to offer is a fingerprint reader – the Galaxy S5 and the Galaxy Alpha have one embedded in their physical home buttons. Its main purpose is to replace your lock screen PIN, but other apps can take advantage of it as well. Another trait common for the two handsets is the heart-rate monitor present on their back sides. With its help, fitness junkies can measure their pulse while exercising.


This time around, it seems that the Samsung Galaxy S5 has the upper hand. At least from a technical standpoint. It is equipped with a 5.1-inch, 1080 by 1920-pixel screen, while the Alpha comes with a 4.7-inch, 720 by 1280-pixel panel. Both are made using Super AMOLED technology and appear to have very similar color reproduction, at least to the naked eye. Nevertheless, users who go with the Galaxy Alpha instead of the Galaxy S5 should not be disappointed by the former's screen as it is sufficiently detailed for its size.


No surprises here, folks! Powered by Android 4.4 KitKat with a layer of TouchWiz on top, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and the Samsung Galaxy S5 deliver an identical user experience when it comes to software. The two have pretty much the same set of apps and features in their arsenals, including Multi Window, S Health, My Magazine, Kid Mode, and Ultra Power Saving Mode. And while TouchWiz is not exactly perfect in all respects, it still ranks among the most feature-rich custom Android UIs out there.

Processor and memory

So, it turns out that the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is both good-looking and powerful. Inside it ticks the Exynos 5430, which is an octa-core solution – four high-performance cores run at up to 1.8GHz, while the four 1.3GHz cores activate when less power is required. Still, with its 2.5GHz, quad-core Snapdragon 801 SoC (or Exynos 5 Octa 5422 in some markets), the Galaxy S5 could be slightly faster, at least in theory. But in reality, we did not see any differences in performance between the two. In fact, the Alpha could be better at certain tasks, including playing games and running graphics-intensive apps, thanks to its lower resolution. In terms of RAM, both handsets have 2 gigs inside of them, which is still sufficient even though Android handsets with 3GB of RAM have been around for a year.

While the Samsung Galaxy Alpha has 32GB of built-in storage, it lacks a microSD card slot. In other words, you can't expand its storage beyond the 32GB point. In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S5 can work with microSD card slots of up to 128 gigabytes, all the while offering 16 or 32 gigs of on-board storage space. 


In general, Samsung's top phones come with very capable cameras. And they're good not only on a technical level, with support for phase-detection auto-focus and real-time HDR, but also when it comes to the software used to capture the image – Samsung's camera apps are rich in options, scenes, and modes. In the case of the Galaxy Alpha, we're given a 12MP camera sensor with a single LED flash and support for 4K video recording. But while the Alpha's camera is probably going to be a good one, the Galaxy S5's 16MP camera is likely to be even better thanks to its higher pixel count. Of course, only a proper camera shoot-out will show whether that's the case.

Battery life

Having a slim phone has its drawbacks, and one of them is that its maker can't fit a large battery inside of it. That's why the Samsung Galaxy Alpha has a cell rated at just 1860mAh, and even a typical mid-range phone can hold more juice than this. So unless Samsung has done some magic by tweaking the software of its phone, chances are you'll get much better battery life out of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and its 2800mAh cell.


So overall, we did not run into any surprises during our first comparison between the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and the Galaxy S5. Both phones are looking great, it is just that different traits make them stand out. Folks whose top priorities are compactness and design are likely to find more value in the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, while the Galaxy S5 will satisfy those demanding superior hardware capabilities. Of course, we'll be able to draw a bigger picture once we get to spend more time with the two handsets.

Related phones

Galaxy Alpha
  • Display 4.7" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 2.1 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 5 Octa, Octa-core, 1800 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Battery 1860 mAh(11h 3G talk time)
Galaxy S5
  • Display 5.1" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 16 MP / 2.1 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, Quad-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDXC
  • Battery 2800 mAh(21h 3G talk time)



1. promise7

Posts: 894; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

In the pictures above they look nearly identical in size, but using the Size Compare tool the S5 is clearly larger. I hope the S6 follows the new design of the Alpha, and Note 4.

7. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

I noticed that too. Weird...

2. mistercarter

Posts: 360; Member since: Sep 01, 2011

what i dont like about the Alpha is the lame battery and the Exynos processor... they drink the battery and performance is almost identical to Snapdragon

3. D.Lamore

Posts: 198; Member since: Aug 15, 2014

The Alpha is promising

4. John.v2

Posts: 45; Member since: Sep 08, 2014

liar .

5. Eonnaydra

Posts: 217; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

S5 looks better.

6. sgogeta4

Posts: 394; Member since: Feb 02, 2011

Never been a fan of metal, though everyone is different. I'd still rather have water resistance for function over looks.

8. kurtdean99

Posts: 79; Member since: Jun 02, 2013

You can still have a waterproof phone with a metal frame. Eg: Xperia Z3

9. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

Or Z1 or Z Ultra or Z1 Compact or Z2 or Z2 Tablet.

10. affandi

Posts: 85; Member since: Jan 25, 2013

The most hideous phones comes from Samsung, yuck.

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