The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is more of a legend: the device with which Samsung decided that premium means something for customers. The Galaxy Alpha is one of those over-priced Samsung mid-rangers that is not worth the money, but constitutes an important stepping stone in Samsung Galaxy history. Thanks to the positive opinions about the Galaxy Alpha design, we got to have the Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge even. But the Galaxy Alpha also stands as an example of what not to do if you want people to buy your smartphones. I will demonstrate these mistakes through a specs and features comparison between the 2014 Moto G second generation and the Galaxy Alpha and by the end of this block of gibberish, you will probably agree with me on this: overpriced and premium do not result in a good phone. At least not in the case of the Galaxy Alpha.
Now first off, we should praise Samsung and its Galaxy Alpha for one thing: design. As I’ve said before, the Alpha is the moment when people decided that this South Korean smartphone manufacturer can actually make sexy phones. The Galaxy Alpha got a full metal frame and inspired the creation of the Galaxy A3. A5 and A7 and even the Galaxy E3 and E5. All those smartphones are relatively low-key mid-rangers and the Galaxy Alpha is the only memorable mid-range smartphone the company has launched last year. But they did it extremely well. Regardless of the fact that TouchWiz sucks, the price is too high and there aren’t many features to make use of, this mid-ranger looks amazing.
The Galaxy Alpha is the first metal phone from Samsung and the company did rather well with the design. It made the edges smooth, with little curves to help it settle into your hand, a cool feeling on the back panel makes you think of a premium smartphone, the neat Super AMOLED panel makes you squint in less than ideally lighted environments and you feel sexy just by holding this phone in your hand. But then you remember that you paid $300 for a glorified Moto G.
Since we’re on the topic of the Moto G second generation, let’s see why this phone is so much more popular and so much better actually than the Galaxy Alpha. Its design is rubbish, compared to the Alpha, but it’s sleek, slim and friendly. It’s the standard Motorola design, with a plastic body and a generic feeling to it. There’s nothing special about the Moto G 2014 design, aside from the front-facing speakers. It almost looks like a mid-range LG smartphone from a distance, so you get my drift.
The Moto G 2014 isn’t a shiny phone and it isn’t a powerhouse, but it’s in the same mid-range category as the Galaxy Alpha. Before you scream that the Alpha has much better specs, consider this: TouchWiz. TouchWiz makes the Alpha slow down a lot, compared to the near-stock Motorola Moto G 2nd generation. Now that doesn’t mean that the Samsung mid-ranger is a slow phone or that it’s less powerful, but it does mean that you’re going to occasionally encounter lag and sluggishness, especially when it comes to animations within the UI. The Moto G isn’t better on paper, but it does feel like it works smoother and in a more light-weight way. With the Galaxy Alpha, sometimes I got the impression that I was working with an outdated phone and using apps that were not suited for it. It all depends on usage as well, because for some people, the Galaxy Alpha might work flawlessly, while for others, it might be awkwardly slow.
But let’s see about those specs and how big of a difference there truly is between the Moto G 2nd generation and Galaxy Alpha. The Moto G comes with a 5 inch IPS display with a 720*1280 resolution that adds up to 294 ppi pixel density. The Galaxy Alpha display is a Super AMOLED panel with the same 720*1280 resolution, but it has a higher ppi of 312 because we’re looking at a smaller, 4.7 inch display. The display quality is a bit better on the Galaxy Alpha and the Super AMOLED does behave better in outdoor environments, but the difference is negligible in my opinion.
Moving on to hardware, as we’ve discussed software already, in the Moto G 20144 we get a Snapdragon 400 CPU clocked at 1.2 GHz backed by 1 GB RAM and 8 GB internal storage. The galaxy Alpha gets an octa core Exynos 5 Octa 5430 CPU backed by 2 GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage. As you can see, the Galaxy Alpha does have better specs, more RAM and more storage, but the Moto G has a microSD card if you need more storage and it actually performs just as well in real life situations. The Galaxy Alpha will be able to run graphics-intensive games like Asphalt 8, but the Moto G will stutter with those.
Where the real difference is between these two mid-rangers is the camera. The Moto G gets a sensible 8 MP shooter with an LED flash on the rear and a 2 MP shooter on the front, while the Galaxy Alpha camera is a superior 12 MP sensor with LED flash and a 2.1 MP selfie camera. The pictures you take with the Galaxy Alpha are neat, clean and clear, with the usual overexposure issues that seem to happen with every smartphone (almost), but the Moto G 2nd generation’s 8 MP camera also performs rather well comparatively. It handles low-light decently and it’s very fast to respond. The Galaxy Alpha camera tends to be slow to start and takes a longer time to process the photos, but it does give you better images.
The Moto G 2nd shines when it comes to speakers, though. They’re not Moto X or Nexus 6 good, and in no way BoomSound good, but they’re better than the bottom speaker on the Galaxy Alpha. You still only get one speaker on the front, on te bottom, but it’s still better than the bottom speaker on the Galaxy Alpha. Recently, I’ve come to understand that people value speakers more than I would have thought. I’m a headset person and I almost never use the speakers on my phones, but there are many smartphone users out there who need good speakers and they’ll get them for a good price with the Moto G. With the Galaxy Alpha, speakers are clear and useful, but they’re not as good in my opinion.
The last thing that we need to discuss are features and battery life. The Galaxy Alpha gets a fingerprint sensor, which is a big plus, but it has a pretty small battery that measures 1850 mAh. The Moto G 2014 doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor, but it does have a beefy 2070 mAh battery which can go a long way, surprisingly. The battery life on Samsung phones has always been a bit of a hit or miss, as light users will get great battery life out of them, but power users will end up charging on a daily basis with the Galaxy Alpha. The Moto G 2014 handles heavy use better and that’s a plus in my book.
In conclusion, we can agree that ultimately, the Galaxy Alpha is a better phone than the Moto G 2nd generation: better camera, more storage, fingerprint sensor and metal body. But does it warrant double the price of the Moto G 2014 which can be had for as little as $170 unlocked? When deciding such things, we do need to take into account personal preference. The Galaxy Alpha design is great and it looks far more premium that the Moto G does. But the Moto G does performance and shelf-life surprisingly well for the price, so my conclusion would be that if we’re talking bang for buck, the Moto G 2nd generation is the winner. If we’re talking sass and features, we need to pay the premium.