Samsung’s latest smartphone, the Galaxy Alpha, marks Samsung's first major foray into the world of metal (well, sort of). The Samsung Galaxy S5 mini, meanwhile, is more in line with previous (plastic) Samsung releases. Join Gizmag, as we compare the features and specs of the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy S5 mini.
The two devices are practically identical when it comes to length and width, but the Galaxy S5 mini is 36 percent thicker than the Galaxy Alpha.
The S5 mini is also 4 percent heavier than the Alpha.
Samsung hasn’t quite gone full metal with the Alpha, but it has taken a step in that direction. There's a metal band wrapping around the device, similar to an iPhone 5s. Unlike the iPhone, though, its back is made of plastic. Like most of Samsung's previous hardware, the Galaxy S5 mini features an all-plastic exterior.
Both devices are available in a range of colors.
Despite having similar dimensions, the Alpha’s screen is a little bigger than the S5 mini’s, providing 9 percent more screen real estate.
The Galaxy Alpha’s display is a little sharper than the S5 mini's. But with only 4 percent more pixels per inch (PPI) in the Alpha, you’re unlikely to notice a huge difference in display sharpness.
Both smartphones have a fingerprint scanner built into their physical home buttons. These allow you to swipe a finger across the button to unlock the device. Anyone else will need a passcode to get in.
Heart rate sensor
Both handsets have a heart rate sensor, living on their backs (below their cameras).
This is one area where the S5 mini clearly wins out, offering IP67 dust and water resistance.
The Galaxy S5 mini packs a quad core processor running at 1.4 GHz, while the Alpha opts for an eight core chip, with four cores running at a higher speed of 1.8 GHz, and four running at 1.3 GHz.
If you’re looking for more internal storage, then the 32 GB Alpha is the better bet. While the S5 mini only packs 16 GB of internal storage, it offers a microSD card slot.
The Alpha packs 2 GB RAM to the S5 mini’s 1.5 GB.
The S5 mini's battery holds 13 percent more juice than the Alpha's does. Without testing, though, it’s impossible to say for certain which handset will have the better battery life.
Ultra Power Saving Mode
Both devices include what Samsung calls Ultra Power Saving Mode. The setting cuts off access to all but the most essential apps, significantly extending battery life in the process.
While both smartphones feature 2.1 MP front-facing shooters, things are a little different on the back, with the Alpha’s main camera packing in more megapixels than the S5 mini’s. Of course, megapixels aren’t everything when it comes to picture quality, and it’s worth checking out some sample shots before making a judgement.
Both handsets run Android 4.4, augmented with Samsung’s own TouchWiz UI. With bright visuals and a wide range of extra features, the company’s treatment of Android tends to be quite polarizing.
Thanks to the customizable nature of the platform, this doesn’t have to be such as issue. If you’d rather have Android look more as Google intended, then you can simply install the Google Now Launcher, or opt for one of a range of other great looking launchers.
Both devices are fairly hot off the press, with the S5 mini beating the Alpha to market by a couple of months
Starting price (off contract)
Off-contract pricing can vary, but US$530 keeps popping up for the Galaxy S5 mini. We have yet to hear word on pricing for the Galaxy Alpha.
These smartphones represent two different strategies for Samsung. The Galaxy S5 mini is closer to what we've come to expect from Samsung's mid-ranged strategy through the years, with a plastic build and less than top-of-the-line specs. The Alpha is wrapped in more of a premium package, with a thinner, partially metal construction and slightly higher-end internals – but it too falls short of being a high-end flagship.
For more on the Samsung Galaxy Alpha, check out our comparisons of it to the iPhone 5s, HTC One (M8) and Samsung Galaxy S5. And if you want to size up Samsung's flagship, you can hit up our full review of the Galaxy S5.