Samsung Galaxy Alpha vs. HTC One (M8)
By Chris Wood
August 16, 2014
The HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy Alpha are notably different handsets. The former offers an expansive display, aluminium build and top-tier internals, while the latter opts for a style-first mentality. The two different approaches can make it difficult to discern which device packs the features that you want in a new smartphone. Read on, as Gizmag compares the features and specs of the two handsets.
The HTC handset is the bigger of the two by a longshot, coming in at 11 percent longer, 8 percent wider and a full 40 percent thicker than the Galaxy Alpha.
It’s a similar story when it comes to device weight, with the One weighing in 39 percent heavier than the Samsung handset.
The One opts for a premium feeling all-metal construction, while the Samsung device features a metal band around the edge of the handset, similar to an iPhone 5s. Unlike the iPhone 5s however, the back of the handset is made of plastic.
Both devices are available in a range of colors.
As you would expect given its size, the Alpha’s screen is a bit smaller than the One’s. The HTC device provides 13 percent more screen real estate than its rival.
In addition to having a larger display, the HTC handset features a much sharper screen, with 41 percent more pixels per inch (PPI). The 313 PPI on the Galaxy Alpha is in the same ballpark as the iPhone 5s’ 326 PPI.
The Samsung smartphone has a fingerprint scanner built in to the physical home button, allowing the user to simply swipe his finger on the button to unlock the (otherwise passcode-protected) display.
Heart rate sensor
Only the Samsung handset features a heart rate sensor.
While holding the One in your hand with its screen off, Motion Launch lets you double-tap the screen to wake it up, or swipe the screen in different directions to perform other actions – like jumping straight to the home screen or checking out HTC's news feed widget. You can also jump straight into the camera app by holding the phone in landscape mode and pressing one of the volume buttons.
The HTC handset features front-facing speakers that produce excellent audio (at least by smartphone standards).
Unlike the Galaxy S5, neither the HTC One (M8) or Samsung Galaxy Alpha offer water resistance certification.
Both handsets feature capable processors, but the One's Snapdragon 801 has a higher clock speed per core.
The Samsung handset comes with 32 GB storage as standard, while the HTC devices offers a choice of 16 and 32 GB. The One is fitted with a microSD card slot for expandability, while the Galaxy Alpha is not.
Both devices pack a healthy 2 GB RAM.
The battery on the HTC One (M8) is quite a bit larger than the Samsung Galaxy Alpha’s, but given its smaller display and differing internals, battery life may not suffer as much as you’d think. In our review of the HTC handset, we found its battery life to be solid.
Power Saving Mode
Both devices include a power saving mode that turns of all but the most essential apps and processes, allowing you to get an extra few hours of precious charge when the battery is getting low.
You’ll only find a 4 MP camera on the rear of HTC’s smartphone, but it uses what HTC calls “Ultrapixels”, which are bigger and take in more light. When we reviewed the One, we found a lot to like in its rear camera, and found that it performed particularly well in low light. The HTC handset’s 5 MP front-facing camera has a higher resolution than most smartphones' front shooters, and is great for selfies.
The Samsung handset opts for a more traditional 12 MP rear shooter paired with a solid 2.1 MP front-facing camera.
There are actually two camera lenses on the back of the HTC handset, something that gives the user access to a range of post-shot depth effects, most notably, refocusing. It’s a nice touch, and adds value to the device’s camera.
Both handsets run on Android 4.4 KitKat paired with the company’s own custom UIs. Samsung’s TouchWiz skin does a little more to alter the experience than HTC Sense, and is more colorful.
The One has been on the market for around five months, while the Alpha is set to launch next month.
Starting price (off-contract)
The HTC One (M8) will set you back US$650 off-contract, a fairly standard price for high-end smartphones. Samsung hasn’t released pricing information for the Galaxy Alpha yet. Despite its having a smaller and lower-resolution display, the company is pitching it as a premium handset with a focus on style, making it difficult to estimate its price point.
Without the pricing info, it’s difficult to say whether the Galaxy Alpha will offer good value. But it is one of the more visually appealing devices we've seen from Samsung, and that alone will put it on a lot of shoppers' radars.
For more on the HTC One (M8), check out our full review.