Samsung's new Galaxy Alpha smartphone is made of metal – but that's not the only way it differs from the company's flagship device, the Galaxy S5. Buyers who pick the Alpha will have to make some concessions, including a smaller screen, slower processor and shorter battery life. But the new device has some advantages over its bigger brother, not least of which is its slicker design and lower price tag. And it retains most of the productivity-boosting software features of the S5.
Exact availability and pricing for the Galaxy Alpha haven't yet been announced, however; those details are likely to vary by carrier. But we do know a lot about the Alpha after it debuted last week, about four months after the release of the Galaxy S5. So which is better for business? Read on to find out.
Galaxy Alpha: The Alpha's 4.7-inch display falls short of the Galaxy S5's screen in terms of size and pixel density. Still, its 1280 x 720-pixel Super AMOLED display should produce sharp and vibrant pictures, if the Galaxy S5 is any indicator. And the Alpha's smaller display has one big advantage: it makes for a more portable device that slides easily into your pocket. Besides, 4.7 inches isn't actually that small; for most users, it strikes a pretty good balance between portability and productivity.
Galaxy S5:The Galaxy S5's big 5.1 display is easily one of the best smartphone screens around. It produces bright, sharp images and offers tons of space for screen-intensive tasks like managing your email inbox or editing documents on the go. On the other hand, the Galaxy S5 is a larger, less portable smartphone that's harder to use with one hand.
Winner: Galaxy S5
It's hard for any smartphone to beat the Galaxy S5's big, sharp screen.
Galaxy Alpha: The Galaxy Alpha's metal design is its standout feature. The device sports brushed metal on the sides, top and bottom, giving it a premium look akin to Apple's iPhone 5s. Its metal construction is a perk for business people who want a phone that's not just attractive, but durable as well. The Alpha isn't made entirely of metal, however. It retains the same dimpled plastic back as the Galaxy S5. It lacks the flap that covers that phone's charger port and makes it water-resistant, however.
Galaxy S5: Compared to the Galaxy Alpha, the all-plastic design of the Galaxy S5 leaves something to be desired. It features faux-metal trim around the edges and a textured plastic back that makes it easier to grip than previous Galaxy S phones. It's also the first phone in the Galaxy S line to be water-resistant; it keeps going even after being dunked underwater, thanks to a protective flap over the miniUSB charging port.
Winner: Galaxy Alpha
The snazzy metal Galaxy Alpha easily wins this category.
Galaxy Alpha: Like other smartphones in the Galaxy line, Samsung's Galaxy Alpha is jam-packed with useful software features that can make you more productive. That includes Multi Window, a multitasking mode that lets you run two apps at once in a split-screen view. It lets you use the calculator app while reading an email, for example. But the Galaxy Alpha's smaller display will make the feature less useful; running two apps at once is likely to feel more cramped than on larger smartphones like the Galaxy S5.
Galaxy S5: Like the Alpha, Samsung's Galaxy S5 runs on TouchWiz, Samsung's custom version of Android. And TouchWiz features like Multi Window will be more useful on the S5's large 5.1-inch display. That's just one of the ways you're likely to be more productive on the bigger phone.
Winner: Galaxy S5
Both phones offer nearly identical software and features, but some of them will work better on the Galaxy S5's big screen.
Galaxy Alpha: The Galaxy S5 is already one of the most secure Android smartphones around, and the Galaxy Alpha looks to retain all of its security features. That includes a fingerprint scanner baked right into the phone's home button, letting you unlock the device quickly and easily, without the need for cumbersome password screens. And alongside the Galaxy S5, it's the only smartphone that lets you use its fingerprint scanner to access a secret folder on your device where you can store your most private documents and files.
Samsung hasn't confirmed that the Alpha will support its Knox security suite, but since the software runs on all other new Galaxy devices, chances are good that it will. Knox includes a variety of features to keep your data safe. For starters, it lets you run secure apps inside of a special profile, so your data can't be intercepted by a rogue application. Knox also adds a variety of IT features, like the ability to choose which apps can be downloaded on company-owned phones, and remote wiping capabilities.
Galaxy S5: Samsung's flagship phone packs all the same security features as the Galaxy Alpha. The S5 was one of the first Android phones with a fingerprint scanner when it debuted last spring, and the Knox security suite made its debut on the device.
As far as Android phones go, Samsung's have been notably secure, and the Galaxy Alpha continues that trend.
Galaxy Alpha: We haven't had a chance to test out the Galaxy Alpha's battery life just yet, but on paper, it's not as well-equipped as the Galaxy S5. Samsung's new smartphone has a 1,830 mAh removable battery, which is smaller than the Galaxy S5's beefy 2,800 mAh battery. On the bright side, the Alpha is sure to be less power-hungry since it packs a smaller display and slower processor. And it will support the S5's Ultra Power Savings Mode, which extends your battery life by automatically disabling background updates when your phone is almost out of juice.
Galaxy S5: The Galaxy S5 delivers very good battery life. Its high-capacity 2,800 mAh battery lasted about 9 hours and 40 minutes in tests that involved continuous Web browsing, making the S5 a smartphone that lasts well through the end of the workday.
It's too soon to tell for sure, but the Galaxy Alpha seems primed to offer longevity that's comparable to the Galaxy S5.
Samsung's Galaxy S5 is one of the best smartphones money can buy. It features an incredible display, great software features and long battery life. The Galaxy Alpha sports a sleeker design and a more portable build, but it lacks the cutting-edge specs of its bigger brother. So which device makes the better business phone? That depends on your priorities.
Originally published on Business News Daily.