Samsung Galaxy Alpha G850

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Samsung Galaxy Alpha G850

Samsung Galaxy Alpha
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Here's where things get interesting for the tech nerds. The Galaxy Alpha, like many Samsung phones, comes in two flavors. In some territories it uses Samsung's homegrown Exynos 5430 octa-core chip. In others, including the U.S., it uses an off-the-shelf Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chip — a quad-core part at 2.5GHz which is also used in the Galaxy S5.

Our review unit is the Exynos octa version, running four Cortex A15 cores at 1.8GHz and four Cortex A7 cores at 1.3GHz in a "big.LITTLE" setup with heterogeneous multiprocessing (HMP). That's a fancy way of saying that all eight cores can work at once, even though they're not exactly the same type of core. And unlike earlier 4-plus-4 octa-core chips which could only use either their A15s or A7s at any one time, HMP lets you use all eight at concurrently.

The idea is you get the best of both worlds — the speedy A15s are favored for high-powered tasks like gaming and heavy app usage, the A7s are low-power, energy-efficient cores ideal for handling light background tasks.

That's all backed up by an ARM Mali T628 GPU and 2GB of RAM. (And, as we've mentioned, 32GB of storage and an 1,860mAh battery.)

Galaxy Alpha

The Galaxy Alpha performs like a flagship should.

The Galaxy Alpha is a speedy performer across the board, matching or exceeding the Snapdragon-powered Galaxy S5 in most tasks. There's no animation lag in the traditional sense, and most apps load quickly with only a couple of exceptions. Samsung's monstrous Settings app can take a while to get going, and there's a fraction of a second delay in loading the app-switcher. Regardless, we're pleased to report that none of the weird performance issues affecting the Galaxy S5 at launch affect the Alpha. And like the GS5 with the latest firmware updates, it's a speedy, enjoyable device to use.

It's also a pretty good gaming performer, perhaps due to its beefy GPU and relatively low resolution. Even graphically intensive titles like Epic Citadel were handled with ease, though we noticed a heavy drop-off in performance with successive benchmark runs, as thermal throttling kicked in.

For those preferring to work in numbers, here's a quick side-by-side comparison with the Galaxy S5. (Higher scores are better.)

Benchmark Galaxy Alpha Galaxy S5
AnTuTu 48201 40814
GFXBench Manhattan (offscreen 1080p) 570 732
GFXBench Manhattan (onscreen) 1537 731
GFXBench T-Rex (offscreen 1080p) 1763 1569
GFXBench T-Rex (onscreen) 798 1552
Epic Citadel (UHQ) 50 fps 39 fps

Battery life is another issue altogether, though, and as we'll discuss later, this is an area in which corners have been cut.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha
 

2.57 in

65.5 mm

     

0.26 in

6.7 mm

   
   
   

5.21 in

132.4 mm

   

4.1 oz (115 g)

 
 

4.7" HD

1280x720

312ppi

HD SuperAMOLED

 

1,860mAh

Lithium ion

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