In our latest spec shootout, we’re pitting Apple’s latest and greatest iPhone 6 against Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha. The Alpha is the first attempt of Samsung’s to create something metal that places the company with the likes of other manufacturers who’ve crafted sleek, metal devices (HTC, Apple among them).
Without dragging out the suspense, let’s get right to it.
The Galaxy Alpha features a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1280 x 720p (312ppi) screen resolution, while the iPhone 6 features a 4.7-inch Retina HD, liquid crystal display (LCD) with 1334 x 750p (326ppi) screen resolution.
Both the Galaxy Alpha and the iPhone 6 have same-size displays, but the 750p resolution of the iPhone 6 slightly surpasses that of the Galaxy Alpha, and the Galaxy Alpha’s pixel density is slightly smaller than that of the iPhone 6. There are many who would disagree with that statement, particular because of Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays that make colors “pop” on-screen. Display testing company DxO Mark has said that Samsung’s displays are not only the best AMOLED displays, but the best on the market.
As for the 750p vs. 720p, it’s too close to notice – although, you can certainly tell the difference between Super AMOLED and LCD colors.
We’re giving the win here to the Galaxy Alpha because its displays have been tested and found to be the best in the world. The iPhone 6 has the best LCD screen ever tested so far, but LCDs suffer in terms of backlighting and battery drain when it comes to the battery-conserving powers of AMOLED displays.
The Galaxy Alpha features a 1,860mAh battery, while the iPhone 6 features a 1,810mAh battery. Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha slides past Apple’s iPhone 6 in the battery contest. Samsung has said that the Galaxy Alpha will get you 11 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, 10 hours of 4G browsing, 9 hours of 3G browsing, 13 hours of talk time, 59 hours of audio playback, and 12 hours of video playback.
The iPhone 6’s 1,810mAh battery will, according to Apple, get you 11 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, 10 hours of 4G browsing, 10 hours of 3G browsing, 14 hours of 3G talk time, 50 hours of audio playback, and 11 hours of video playback.
These numbers show a mixed bag: while you’ll get the same amount of Wi-Fi browsing and 4G web browsing, you will get one more hour of talk time with the iPhone 6, 1 additional hour of 3G web browsing with the iPhone 6, 1 more hour of video playback with the Galaxy Alpha, and 9 more hours of audio playback with the Galaxy Alpha.
Overall, however, we give to the win to the Galaxy Alpha because, aside from the web browsing tie-breaker experience (sans the 3G web browsing), you’ll get more video playback and audio playback with the Galaxy Alpha. In addition, Samsung’s Power Saving Mode and Ultra Power Saving Mode can offer you additional days on a single charge – allowing you to use your battery heavily at times while conserving your battery when you’re not using it. The iPhone 6 doesn’t have anything comparable to Samsung’s Power Saving or Ultra Power Saving Modes.
Processor and Memory
The Galaxy Alpha features a 2.5Ghz, quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal memory storage, while the iPhone 6 features a 1.39Ghz, dual-core A8 processor with 64-bit architecture plus an M8 motion coprocessor, as well as 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory storage.
The Galaxy Alpha wins here because of its faster clocked processor speed, its RAM, that is twice that of the iPhone 6, as well as its double memory storage when compared against the iPhone 6 (32GB minimum vs. 16GB minimum).
The Galaxy Alpha has a 12MP back camera and a 2.1MP front-facing camera, while the iPhone 6 has an 8MP back camera and a 1.2MP front-facing camera.
The win here goes to the Galaxy Alpha, whose back camera will allow for larger pictures (and thus, more detail) than the small 8MP back camera.
One thing that Apple must understand about cameras is that those with more megapixels will also provide more detailed photos than those that do not. Each year, Apple continues to use 8MP back cameras while trying to improve its camera software and increase the size of its pixels – meanwhile, the size of details within photos continues to suffer. This can be clearly seen when one takes a photo of a sailboat on the ocean (off in the distance). Apple’s 8MP camera photos do not suffer up-close, but from afar.
There are tradeoffs with both devices: early Galaxy Alpha reviews state that the Galaxy Alpha’s 12MP back camera suffers in low-light shots, but the iPhone 6 suffers with daytime photos because its 8MP camera cannot capture distance objects as close-up as cameras with larger megapixels (such as the Galaxy Alpha). Even if the iPhone 6 captures excellent photos, squinting to see objects within a photo prevents me from appreciating the attention to accurate color reproduction and detail that Apple’s iPhone 6 is said to provide.
With that said, Apple’s new iPhones show that the company can pay attention to specs – when it wants to. We expect no different from future iPhones in terms of the back camera megapixel count. At the same time, with little use for nighttime shots and with the majority of consumers using their cameras for daytime photos, we give the win here to Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha.
There are many who’ve been excited about Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha because of its metal build, but the company’s website states that the Galaxy Alpha has a “metal bezel,” not to be confused with the aluminum metal design of the iPhone 6. Some say that Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha feels cold in the hand because of the implementation of the metal bezel, but that’s it – you’re still getting a plastic design with the back cover of the device.
In the other corner stands the iPhone 6, with its aluminum metal build that many a tech reviewer has praised as the epitome of what smartphone builds should be.
This has been shown to be false, however, in the recent Consumer Reports durability test where the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (along with the HTC One M8) were placed against the faux metal design of the LG G3 as well as the plastic build of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The results found that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are both less durable than that of the Galaxy Note 3, Samsung’s plastic phablet from 2013. The iPhone 6 can withstand 70 pounds of pressure (tying with the HTC One M8), while LG’s G3 was found to withstand 130 pounds of pressure and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was found to withstand 150 pounds of pressure.
Another test conducted recently studied high-end smartphones currently on the market to see which devices have the worst radiation exposure (cancer risk) and which ones do not. The study found that LG significantly improved its radiation risk from the LG G2 (1.44W/kg) to the G3 (0.99W/kg), while the iPhone 6 has a 1.59W/kg radiation exposure risk. In contrast, the Note 3 has 1.07W/kg with regard to radiation exposure. The iPhone 6 ranked the worst out of the devices surveyed, with 2014 Android devices (LG G3, Samsung GS5, HTC One M8, Sony Xperia Z3 Compact) getting better radiation ratings than Apple’s latest.
This goes to show that metal, no matter how beautiful, does have its risks – namely, durability and radiation. We believe that these are factors that should also influence a consumer’s decision when it comes to devices.
Metal doesn’t always make a beautiful smartphone, but we’ll let you be the judge as to whether you want a metal bezel or an aluminum metal build.
Size and Weight
The Galaxy Alpha has dimensions of 5.21 x 2.58 x 0.26 inches and weighs 4.06 ounces. In contrast, the iPhone 6 has dimensions of 5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 inches and weighs 4.55 ounces.
Apple’s iPhone has always won for its thinness and lightness, but Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha takes the crown this year, being nearly half an ounce lighter than Apple’s iPhone 6 and slightly thinner than the iPhone 6.
Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha gets the win here for being thinner and lighter than the iPhone 6, what should serve as a wake-up call for many iPhone enthusiasts.
The above spec shootout has been done to compare two smartphones that are considered to be mid-range smartphones with mid-range specs. While the iPhone 6 does have its enthusiasts and advocates, we recommend the Galaxy Alpha because it offers the same things that the iPhone does plus more.
Think about the battery-conserving Power Saving and Ultra Power Saving Modes; where can you get these features on the iPhone? What in the iPhone experience allows you to be your own administrator and manage your own battery consumption? There is no comparable software experience in this regard, and this is just but one of the many criticisms that, rightly so, have been said about the iPhone.
Samsung’s Galaxy Alpha provides better battery life with its battery modes, a better camera experience that provides more details of objects at a distance within photos because of its larger megapixel count, a more gorgeous display with eye-popping colors, the all-out functionality of Android that defeats iOS, not to mention the additional memory storage over the entry-level iPhone 6 and the Alpha’s thinness and lightness that bests former categories of Apple domination.
||A8 chip with 64-bit architecture, M8 motion coprocessor
||Quad-core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A15; quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A7
||1GB of RAM
||2 GB RAM
||4.7-inch Retina with IPS technology (1334 x 750 pixels at 326 ppi)
||4.7-inches (1280 x 720 (HD) at 312 ppi)
||16GB, 64GB and 128 GB
||8MP iSight camera with Focus Pixels and True Tone flash, and 1.2MP front-facing sensor
||CMOS 12.0 MP, CMOS 2.1 MP
||Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, 3G, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC
||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4G+5GHz, VHT80 MIMO, Bluetooth v4.0
||138.1 mm x 67.0 mm x 6.9 mm
||132.4 x 65.5 x 6.7 mm
||Silver, Gold, and Space Gray
||Gold, Black and White