Samsung Galaxy Alpha preview: First look

GSMArena team, 13 August 2014.
Pages: 12345

Tags: Samsung, Android

Samsung Galaxy Alpha performance

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is the first device with Exynos 5 Octa 5430 that we've tested. The chipset features a big.LITTLE processor with four Cortex-A15 cores and four Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.8GHz and 1.3GHz respectively. All eight can run simultaneously so we can expect great multi-core performance.

The chipset also packs a hexa-core Mali-T628 MP6 GPU, the latest currently available Mali design. Processor and RAM share 2GB of RAM.

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha comes with Android 4.4.4 KitKat out of the box. Note that Samsung disables the ART runtime in its TouchWiz software, that's the faster optional runtime that debuted with KitKat and will be made default in Android L. An increasing number of apps is becoming compatible with ART.

Samsung Galaxy Alpha

With technical specifications out of the way, let's pit the Galaxy Alpha against flagships and high-profile minis. Of the minis only the Xperia Z1 Compact has a chance of competing here, the others are powered by mid-range Snapdragon 400 chipsets.

We start off with the Basemark suite of cheat detection software. We're pleased to report that Samsung hasn't gone back to benchmark shenanigans. The Basemark tests are good for comparing performance, too.

Basemark OS II leans on the CPU and puts the Galaxy Alpha within spitting distance of the LG G3. The breakdown shows great single-core performance and unmatched multi-core performance (all 8 cores working at once does make a difference).

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find 7
    1212
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    1082
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1080
  • LG G3
    945
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    915
  • HTC One mini 2
    517
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    419

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find 7
    2606
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    2579
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    2415
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    2253
  • LG G3
    1787
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    1353
  • HTC One mini 2
    1304

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    15096
  • Oppo Find 7
    10391
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    10063
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    10044
  • LG G3
    8337
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    5283
  • HTC One mini 2
    5182

The multi-core score from Geekbench 3 confirms the finding that the Alpha tops Snapdragon 801-based phones in multi-core performance.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3214
  • Oppo Find 7
    3178
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    3011
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    2968
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    2856
  • LG G3
    2687
  • HTC One mini 2
    1526
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    1123
  • LG G2 mini
    1123

The total Basemark OS score is a bit low, considering the CPU scores. AnTuTu 4 shows a lot more love for the Galaxy Alpha and places it second behind the Oppo Find 7 but ahead of the Galaxy S5 and other flagships.

AnTuTu 4

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find 7
    38484
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    38119
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    36018
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    34527
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    33182
  • LG G3
    30482
  • HTC One mini 2
    17883
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    17753
  • LG G2 mini
    17362

We've seen the hexa-core Mali-T628 perform in the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Tab S but when it comes to phones it easily tops the Adreno 320 and Adreno 330 devices in GFX Benchmark, both on-screen and off-screen.

For the on-screen tests do keep in mind that the Galaxy Alpha is rendering at only 720p - the LG G3 is working with four times the number of pixels and even the 1080p phones have to push more than twice the pixels the Alpha does.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    48.4
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    34
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    28.7
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    28.1
  • LG G3
    20.6
  • Oppo Find 7
    19.9
  • LG G2 mini
    14.9
  • HTC One mini 2
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    9.3

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    25.3
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    17
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    12.2
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    11.7
  • LG G3
    7.4
  • Oppo Find 7
    6.7
  • HTC One mini 2
    3.8

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    31.3
  • Oppo Find 7
    28
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    27.8
  • LG G3
    27.6
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    27.2
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    22
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    6.7
  • LG G2 mini
    5.8
  • HTC One mini 2
    5.8

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    13.4
  • LG G3
    11.9
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    11.8
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    11.7
  • Oppo Find 7
    11.1
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    9
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.7

Moving on to web browsing, Samsung has once again created a highly-tuned JavaScript engine and the Galaxy Alpha tops the Snapdragon phones in Kraken 1.1.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    4911
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    6043
  • Oppo Find 7
    6363
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    7041
  • LG G3
    7610
  • HTC One mini 2
    15684
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    15885

The complete browsing experience as measured by BrowserMark 2.1 is a few notches below the top, which is surprising considering the resolution difference plays a role here, too. Note that we used the Samsung-modified stock browser for these tests and not Chrome.

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find 7
    1452
  • Galaxy S5 (Snapdragon 801)
    1398
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    1364
  • LG G3
    1254
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1224
  • HTC One mini 2
    945
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    861

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha shows proper flagship performance, even chart-topping performance in certain tasks. The Exynos 5 Octa 5430 chipset finally brings Samsung's homebrewed solutions back to champion shape after falling behind Snapdragon 600/800 last year.

One thing we should note is that the chipset can run hot while doing tests (they all do) and the heat is easily transferred to the external metal frame. Metal is a lot more conductive than plastic, which means you feel the heat from the chipset a lot more while holding the device than you do with plastic bodies.

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