Samsung Galaxy Alpha – Software
The Alpha runs on Android 4.4.4 KitKat – at least until the Android 5.0 Lollipop update – overlaid with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI, which has evolved into a much cleaner and not-so-bloatware-filled place in recent years.
Swiping left reveals the new My Magazine UX, which is essentially a Flipboard rip-off, and the new-look, jam-packed Settings menu is also in place. It’s always good to have full control over as many aspects of the phone as possible, but some will find it an overwhelming place to hunt around initially.
Samsung still manages to squeeze in some of its own apps to accompany the selection of Google and Google Play apps already pre-installed. S Planner, the My Galaxy app store, Siri-rival S Voice and S Health are all present. Some are invariably more useful than others, but the key is that they’re not thrust upon you. In the 32GB model, 6GB of that storage is taken up by software required to run the phone, so without a microSD slot to expand it, there’s really around 26GB to play with.
Similarly, as is the case with the S5 Mini, not all of the software features make it onto the Alpha. Most are gesture-based, which you can live without, and modes that take full advantage of a bigger screen. This is largely the same experience as found on other Galaxy phones. Things run slickly and you’d be hard pressed to feel like you were greatly missing out on anything.
SEE ALSO: Android 5.0 Lollipop tips and tricks
Samsung Galaxy Alpha – Performance
One thing the Galaxy Alpha isn’t short of is power. It’s the first Samsung phone to include a Exynos 5430 octa-core processor made up of a quad-core 1.8GHz Cortex A15 core configuration and a 1.3GHz Cortex A7 core. Essentially, four of those cores are there to handle more demanding tasks such as gaming, while the other four are there to help use the power more efficiently. It’s equipped to handle higher-resolution 2K displays – not relevant for the Alpha – and to handle 4K video shooting, which is something the Alpha can do.
There’s a Mali T628MP6 GPU to accompany it and 2GB RAM, so it’s well equipped for most tasks and a bit more. General navigation and getting around has a nice zip to it, and games run without any hitches.
The benchmark scores back up just how much power is on board here. In the Geekbench 3 benchmark test, the Alpha delivers a blistering 3124 multi-core score, putting it way ahead of the S5 Mini (1134) and the Galaxy S5 (2830). When you match that with how it works in real terms, there’s probably more power than the Alpha actually needs, and it doesn’t really tap into its full potential.