Samsung has always believed in the numbers game. The Korean giant offers smartphones at almost every price point and every segment of the market. Many times, two of its own products struggle to get the attention of the buyers. Such is also the case with the two smartphones we will comparing today – Galaxy S5 Mini and the Galaxy Alpha. Both are upper mid-range devices, with the Galaxy S5 Mini being cheaper of the two. The S5 mini was launched by Samsung in July, and the Alpha was launched this month.
So which Samsung Galaxy should you be spending your money on? We will try to help you out with that question below as we compare both smartphones across various categories and weigh in each device’s pros and cons in detail at the end of the comparison. So let’s begin.
Samsung has been a pioneer in the field OLED displays and has been using Super AMOLED displays on its high end Galaxy smartphone range since a long time. Both the Galaxy S5 Mini and the Galaxy Alpha come with Super AMOLED displays of the same HD (1280×720) resolution. The Galaxy S5 Mini’s screen measures 4.5 inches diagonally whereas the Galaxy Alpha has a 4.7 inch diagonal screen. So if you prefer a bigger screen the Alpha scores over the S5 Mini. But due to the smaller size and same resolution, S5 mini has the higher pixel density of the two at 326 pixels per inch. The Galaxy Alpha has 312 pixels per inch. Both are about the same as far peak brightness is concerned so sunlight legibility should be pretty similar on both
The Alpha’s screen though is said to come with better calibration for more natural color rendering compared to the S5 Mini. So the bigger screen and better color accuracy mean that the Alpha wins this round.
This year the concept of high screen-to-body ratio has really caught on with most manufacturers. We’re seeing new smartphones with bigger displays but the overall dimensions are kept in check. Instead of large bezels, focus is on trimming the bezels as much as possible to make the device more comfortable for single handed use. Let’s see how the two Samsung siblings fare in this regard.
The Galaxy S5 Mini with a 4.5 inch display measures 131.1 x 64.8 x 9.1mm. In comparison, the Galaxy Alpha measures 132.4 x 65.5 x 6.7 mm with a 0.2” larger display. So even with the larger display, the Galaxy Alpha is almost as compact as the S5 Mini and much thinner at just 6.7mm.
As far as body weight goes, both are pretty similar actually with just a 5 gram difference between the two. The S5 mini weighs 120 grams whereas the Galaxy Alpha weighs 115 grams. Overall we have to give this round to the Galaxy Alpha for its higher screen-to-body ratio and slightly lower body weight in spite of a metal build.
While a lot of Samsung’s low and mid-range smartphones feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, the Galaxy S5 Mini and the Galaxy Alpha come equipped with Samsung’s in house Exynos processors.
The Galaxy S5 Mini comes with a quad-core 1.4 GHz Cortex-A7 Exynos 3470 processor with Mali-400 MP4 GPU. The Galaxy Alpha comes with a much more powerful chipset solution – Exynos 5430 that consists of an Octa-Core processor (1.3 GHz Cortex-A7 + 1.8 GHz Cortex-A15) and the Mali-T628MP6 hexa-core GPU.
This round is a very easy and decisive win for the Galaxy Alpha. The Exynos 5430 is a 64-bit chip manufactured on a 20nm process and the basic architecture is a huge jump from that of the Exynos 3470 in the S5 Mini. So in short, there is simply no comparison here and the Galaxy Alpha can manage benchmark scores twice or thrice higher than the S5 Mini.
With Android bringing in newer features with every new version and more new apps getting released on the Google Play Store that can utilize your smartphone’s processing abilities to the maximum, the amount of RAM available is very crucial. One of the most common problems most heavy users face on Android smartphones is running out of memory or apps freezing due to low RAM available. So the greater the RAM on your smartphone the better.
Once again, we see the Galaxy Alpha taking the lead from the S5 Mini. It comes with 2GB RAM on board, 0.5GB higher than the S5 Mini. While 1.5GB RAM is still fine and marginally better than the 1GB RAM you find in a lot of mid-range smartphones, the extra RAM will make the Galaxy Alpha more future-proof. So for those of you who multi-task on your smartphones and consider yourselves to be “heavy users” the Galaxy Alpha ought to be your choice.
When we talk about the onboard storage, things start to change a bit. The S5 Mini comes with 16GB internal memory but it supports microSD cards up to 64GB. The Galaxy Alpha offers users a choice between 16 and 32GB of onboard memory but does not come with a microSD slot. So no memory expansion would be possible. So this round is a tie between the two Samsung siblings.
Smartphones have really almost taken over the compact camera market. Compact camera sales continue to hit new lows as most people now prefer using their smartphones as their main cameras for most occasions. The fact that you don’t need to carry any extra hardware with you is a big plus and the easy to use nature of smartphone cameras also adds to the allure.
Samsung has traditionally been known for being one of the best Android OEMs as far as camera performance of their devices is concerned. Both the Galaxy S5 mini and the Galaxy Alpha sport very capable snappers at the back.
The Galaxy S5 Mini has an 8 megapixel rear camera with Full HD 1080p video recording. You get a better camera with the Galaxy Alpha, a 12 megapixel unit with 4K Ultra HD Video recording. The camera sensor on the Galaxy Alpha is manufactured by Samsung and makes use of the company’s ISOCELL technology that boosts low light performance in varied situations.
As far as real-world performance is concerned, both Galaxy smartphones offer very good image quality with the Alpha taking the edge. It also has the added advantage of 4K video recording so that makes it the more future-proof camera of the two.
This round goes to the Alpha as well
Up until last year, 4G LTE connectivity was limited to flagship and high end smartphones alone. But now we see even lower mid-range smartphones with LTE connectivity. Both Samsung smartphones here come with 4G LTE connectivity but they are still different from each other.
The S5 Mini supports LTE Cat.4 speeds of up to 150Mbps, the Galaxy Alpha comes with LTE Cat.6 support for up to 300Mbps downloads. In terms of Wi-Fi connectivity as well we see the Alpha leap forward with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac HT80 (up to 433Mb/s data rate) compatibility. The S5 Mini doesn’t support the latest Wi-Fi ac HT80 standards. Both come with Bluetooth 4.0 support.
The S5 mini does come with a built-in IR blaster that lets you use it as a universal control, something you can’t do on the Galaxy Alpha. But we have to give this round to the Alpha.
Battery life is one of the most important criteria for people looking to get a new smartphone. With much faster data speeds and connectivity options available all around, people are using their smartphones a lot more than earlier. And if your smartphone has poor battery life, you are bound to be frustrated by the end of the day.
On paper, the Galaxy S5 mini has a clear advantage over the Galaxy Alpha in this area. It comes with a 2100mAh battery as opposed to the 1860mAh battery in the Alpha. That obviously means the Galaxy S5 mini will last longer through the day, right? Yes it does!
Even though the Galaxy Alpha uses a chipset that at least on paper, should help save power, the results don’t seem that convincing. Early battery tests indicate the S5 Mini is the clear winner as far as battery stamina is concerned. It should see you through a normal work day with ease, whereas the Alpha would probably run out of charge before your work day comes to an end. A clear win for the S5 mini it is!
Samsung has been playing it safe over the past 2 to 3 years when it comes to the design of their Galaxy smartphones. But with the Alpha, they decided to bring in some much awaited change to the Galaxy line-up. The Galaxy Alpha makes use of premium materials for its body with a metal frame and a tactile soft back cover. It is also the slimmest Galaxy smartphone that we have seen yet. We haven’t been big fans of Samsung’s Galaxy designs but the Alpha certainly is a good looking device and without a doubt the finest looking Galaxy.
The Galaxy S5 mini on the other hand has the familiar Samsung Galaxy design with most of the design elements being exactly the same as its bigger brother, the Galaxy S5. It’s definitely not an ugly smartphone, but we are just not fans of the design language used by Samsung for it.
But it does score with its IP57 certification, meaning it is dust and water resistant. So no matter what the weather conditions outside, you can be worry free when using your Galaxy S5 mini. We have to give it to the Galaxy Alpha because of the much better design
Both smartphones run on the Android KitKat platform but with different versions. The Galaxy S5 mini is running on Android KitKat version 4.4.2 while the Galaxy Alpha comes with the latest Android version – 4.4.4 out of the box.
To be frank though, there isn’t much of a difference between the two from a usability standpoint but it does bring in important security fixes. And it’s always nice to have the latest Android version being available right out of the box on your new phone. The Galaxy Alpha is the winner here.
As we mentioned earlier, the Galaxy S5 mini is the cheaper of the two with a significantly lower price tag. The S5 mini is available for about €350, and the Galaxy Alpha is expected to retail at about €500. That’s a pretty steep premium in our opinion and actually Samsung has positioned the Galaxy Alpha in same price bracket as most flagships out there.
As you have seen, Galaxy Alpha did win most of the rounds in our comparison but we still do not believe it €150 better than the Galaxy S5 Mini. So this round goes to the more sensibly priced Galaxy S5 Mini.
As we come to the conclusion, you might be thinking that we are going to declare the Galaxy S5 as the clear winner of our comparison. But that’s not really what we have to say finally. While the Galaxy Alpha scores with a slightly better display, much more powerful processor, more RAM, better design, better connectivity options, and the latest Android version; the Galaxy S5 mini is no slouch either with a significantly lower price tag. It offers expandable memory, better battery life, offers IP57 certified dust and water resistance, and packs in an IR blaster. It also comes with a fingerprint scanner and a heart rate sensor just like its bigger brother, the S5.
Ultimately we believe it boils down to your preference and needs. If you need flagship level specs in a compact and stylish premium smartphone, the Galaxy Alpha should be your choice. But if you just need a smartphone that will perform admirably and be able to take on some rough weather while lasting you a full work day at a much lower price tag, the Galaxy S5 Mini makes more sense.