Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Samsung Galaxy Alpha vs. iPhone 5s

By

August 14, 2014

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and Apple iPhone 5s

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and Apple iPhone 5s

Image Gallery (19 images)

Every time Samsung announces yet another plastic smartphone, throngs of fans scratch their heads and wonder why the company can't make something a bit more premium-feeling. With the new Galaxy Alpha, Samsung finally delivered ... sort of. Let's pit the partially metal Galaxy Alpha against the aluminum iPhone 5s, to see how their features and specs compare.

Size

Dimensions

The Galaxy Alpha is noticeably smaller than the Galaxy S5, but it's still quite a bit larger than the iPhone. Samsung's phone is 7 percent longer and 12 percent wider than Apple's flagship.

The Galaxy Alpha is one incredibly thin phone. The iPhone is already a flag-bearer for svelte design, but the Alpha measures 12 percent thinner.

Weight

Weight

The Alpha is also extremely light. Despite having a (roughly) 15 percent greater surface area, the Alpha is only 3 percent heavier than the already feathery iPhone.

Build

Build materials

Samsung has finally delivered a metallic phone, but it's only slightly metallic. The band that wraps around the Galaxy Alpha's edge is indeed made of metal, but its back is made of a soft-touch (dimpled) plastic, similar to what you'd find on the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Tab S.

I suppose we can't simultaneously praise the Alpha's light weight, while criticizing its use of plastic: that plastic is likely the biggest reason that it's so feathery. Still, it would be nice to see Samsung go all in on a premium build. I guess the company needs to save something for the Galaxy S6.

Colors

Color options

We have five color options for the Galaxy Alpha and three for the iPhone.

Display (size)

Display size

The Galaxy Alpha's screen is fairly small compared to Android flagships, but it's still 38 percent bigger than the iPhone's 4-in display. 4.7 inches also happens to be the rumored screen size of the iPhone 6 (well, at least one of them).

Display (resolution)

Display resolution

Neither of these phones' display resolutions is in the same echelon as recent 1080p or Quad HD flagships, like the Galaxy S5, HTC One (M8) or LG G3. Both, however, should still look pretty sharp for most eyes.

Fingerprint sensor

Fingerprint sensors

On paper, this looks like a wash, but Apple's Touch ID sensor is in a league of its own. You can simply rest your finger on it for a moment to register. With Samsung's sensors, you have to swipe your finger – and only from one direction. It doesn't sound like much of a difference (and Samsung's is still nice to have), but Apple's is faster and more convenient.

Heart rate sensor

Heart rate monitor

Like the GS5, the Galaxy Alpha also has a heart rate monitor on its backside. It's a nice bonus if you're a workout junkie, but we also wouldn't base your decision on this. There are solid heart rate apps for iOS (and other Android phones) that can measure your pulse using a combination of the camera and flash.

Water resistance

Water resistance

The Galaxy Alpha borrows several features from the Galaxy S5, but this isn't one of them. Neither of these phones includes water resistance.

Storage

Storage tiers

Only one storage option for the Alpha. Another interesting item to note is that, unlike just about every other Samsung device from the last few years, it doesn't have a microSD card slot.

Processor

Processors

You can only glean so much from looking at cores and clock speeds on paper – especially with a chip like the iPhone's A7, which outperforms its specs. In other words, consider performance an unknown until we put the Galaxy Alpha through the paces.

RAM

RAM

The Alpha does have a fairly standard 2 GB of RAM. This is an area where iOS devices could use an upgrade, as current iPhones and iPads are all stuck in a dated 1 GB of RAM.

Camera

Camera megapixels

Megapixels are as good a metric to include here as any, but they don't necessarily tell us much about actual camera quality. This is another area where the Galaxy Alpha is still a question mark.

Battery

Battery capacities

The Alpha holds 19 percent more juice, but we'll also have to wait to see how that plays out with actual uptimes.

Ultra Power Saving Mode

Ultra Power Saving Mode

No matter what the Alpha's battery life looks like, Samsung threw in a cool feature that can keep you on the grid in a pinch. If your battery is almost dead, Ultra Power Saving Mode desaturates the Alpha's screen, while limiting available apps and running processes, to make a little bit of juice go a long way (approximately 24 hours on just 10 percent battery).

Software

Software platforms

The Galaxy Alpha ships with Android 4.4.4 KitKat, with Samsung's TouchWiz UI (and all the wacky features that accompany it) pasted on top. The iPhone runs iOS 7, and will be upgraded next month to iOS 8.

Release

Release dates (unless you get a great deal, this isn't a good time to buy the iPhone 5s)

Unless you're getting a great deal, right now is a terrible time to buy the iPhone 5s. In a little over a month, you'll be able to buy at least one new iPhone – possibly two. Unless the rumor mill is horrifically off-target, we'll be seeing a 4.7-in iPhone and a 5.5-in Apple phablet hitting store shelves before long.

Starting price (off-contract)

Starting price (off-contract)

Samsung has yet to announce pricing for the Galaxy Alpha, but, considering that its components are a notch or two below the Galaxy S5's, we'd hope it would ring up for cheaper. Time will tell.

For more on the iPhone, you can hit up our full review from last September. And if you're considering the Galaxy Alpha, you can also see how it sizes up next to Samsung's Galaxy S5.

Buy this on Amazon
About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
5 Comments

Android phones are great if you want to make it a lot easier for anyone and everyone to track you. Their lack of security and the ability to turn off location settings make them an NSA wet dream or at very least a great way to have mad marketers hound you to death.

The beauty of the iPhone is not just the premium build. What attracted me to Apple products after many years of "anything but Apple" is the premium feel of the product. Not only that, Apple's products do what they're meant to with the minimum of fuss. Using Windows laptops and PCs drives me round the bend now. I spend so much time waiting and cursing at the poor implementations, the constant crashes and the bloatware.

Lastly, the nice thing about the iPhone is that it fits easily in your palm. If I want a big screen, I'll use my iPad or notebook. I just need something as portable as possible that looks like I paid for it rather than getting it out of a lucky bag (a children's surprise bag which contains sweets, and a crappy plastic toy which you could buy in the UK for £1 (or 10p in my day)).

The Master
15th August, 2014 @ 05:33 am PDT

In Samsungs "product for everyone" ways I'm surprised they don't build an actual metal flagship phone for people who seem to have a vendetta against plastic in phones. Some people hate plastic for seeming cheap so they respond with a half metal budget phone..

I guess sometimes even the biggest most successful companies make missteps.

Daishi
15th August, 2014 @ 12:04 pm PDT

This should have been their way to introduce Tizen on a phone to the States. Maybe with an optional upgrade it could happen.

Mark Keller
15th August, 2014 @ 05:47 pm PDT

Galaxy Alpha better on every stage!

DaveBG
16th August, 2014 @ 03:23 am PDT

I am a user of multiple phone technologies (Galaxy S3, S3 Mini, iPhone 4, iPhone5, and occasionally a Windows phone.) All have unique strengths except for the iPhone 4 which pretty much just lays there.

Anyway, because I view smartphones as "tools" not "status symbols" I don't give a rat's *ss about "premium look". I want it to be functional, durable, and maintain its performance for as long as I choose to use it.

So far, the S3 mini has impressed me the most in this regard. I would like to see a phone that is water resistant, drop resistant and metal is a negative in my opinion. Metal and glass are pretty, but a super durable composite is better. It's a tool...not jewelry.

Vin Weathermon
16th August, 2014 @ 11:38 am PDT
Post a Comment

Login with your gizmag account:

Or Login with Facebook:


Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our 29,542 articles