Samsung Galaxy Alpha review

Enticingly sleek Samsung handset with its eye on the iPhone 6

Samsung Galaxy Alpha
The Alpha is one lovely looking handset

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Another reason the Samsung Galaxy Alpha is so pleasant to use, and probably why I'm finding the TouchWiz UI so easy to live with, is that everything simply flies on it.

This is one speedy, responsive smartphone. Navigating through the Android menus is super smooth, with nary a glimmer of a stutter.

Besides Samsung's software optimisation, that's partly thanks to the speedy Exynos 5 Octa SoC that's running most versions of the phone. Samsung's own chip, which switches between four low-power processor cores for light tasks and four supercharged ones for heavier tasks, is quite the performer.

What's more, with fewer pixels to push around than, say, the Samsung Galaxy S5, there are even more processor resources free at any one time. That's borne out with our usual GeekBench 3 benchmark test.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha review

In benchmark tests, the Alpha just outperformed the S5

An average multi-core score of 3,132 pitches the Alpha's performance level slightly ahead of the Galaxy S5, which managed 2,909 in our test.

There still aren't enough top-performing compact phones like the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact for my liking. Here's another to add to that tiny pile.


For a phone that favours a slim, compact design above all else, battery life was always going to be a concern. Indeed, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha's 1,860mAh battery seems a little slight by modern standards. Compare it to the Galaxy S5 and its 2,800mAh battery, and it looks alarmingly small - regardless of its less demanding display.

Sure enough, the Alpha only just lasted through a full day of moderate usage, and required a nightly charge. Introduce a little gaming and HD video watching, and the percentage plummeted.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha review

Power saving mode is so severe, it won't even allow you to take a screengrab

Of course, that in itself is not unusual for a modern high-end smartphone. Our regular battery test, which involves running a 90 minute 720p video with the display cranked up to full brightness, left 84 percent left in the tank, which isn't bad by any means.

That's the same level of performance as the Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S, and is well ahead of the HTC One M8. Hopefully the battery performance will improve too with the optimisations of Android 5.0 Lollipop when that lands on the phone.

This being a Samsung phone, you also get the benefits of Ultra power saving mode. This is way more extreme than your average power saving mode, switching the display to greyscale, providing a simplified homescreen, restricting app usage to the bare essentials, cutting mobile data when the screen turns off, and limiting connectivity.

It's so bare bones that it wouldn't even let me take a screen grab for this section.

The result, though, is that your usage time will increase dramatically. I sat and watched as the stated battery percentage ticked up by 10 percent, such is the mode's miraculous restorative power. It's perfect for those emergency situations when you're low on juice and far away from a charger, though at this point it's worth remembering that your £350 - £500 smartphone is essentially less useful than a 10-year-old feature phone.