Both phones prioritize compact size over screen size and their parent companies settled on a 4.5-4.7" diagonal, 720p resolution giving them virtually equal pixel density.
The Samsung Galaxy Alpha has the raw screen size advantage and it doesn't have to reserve an area for on-screen buttons like the HTC. That said, we've seen some excellent screens from HTC and the One mini 2 is another success.
While pixel density is about the same, sharpness is slightly more complicated. The Super LCD2 has a standard RGB matrix while the Samsung Super AMOLED screen has a diamond pattern PenTile arrangement. Differences are slight but people with good eyesight can notice a crosshatch pattern up close. Nothing to worry about for normal day-to-day usage though.
More important are things like brightness and contrast and as far as the first of those is concerned are virtually matched - 450nits for the Galaxy Alpha and 500nits for the One mini 2. The HTC even has a solid answer to Super AMOLED's theoretically infinite contrast and even black levels stay relatively low.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
Sunlight legibility goes in favor of the Samsung in large part thanks to the low reflectivity of the Super AMOLED assembly. The HTC One mini 2 screen is fairly average in this respect.
Viewing angles for both screens are excellent, on the HTC thanks to its IPS tech, on the Samsung thanks to AMOLED's inherent properties.
Now we get to the can of worms that is color rendering. Some people just don't like the oversaturated colors typical of AMOLED screens and for them Samsung has included a choice of four screen modes that make sure you get a choice between punchiness and perfectly accurate colors - as well as steps in-between.
The HTC One mini does not have color options but the default is good with beautiful (and not oversaturated) colors.
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Alpha. The screen offers more real estate and handles sunlight much better, plus it gives you the choice between oversaturated punchiness and accurate colors.
The HTC One mini 2 has an excellent screen but it's slightly cramped for the size of the device and has no definitive advantages over the Alpha.
Both the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and the HTC One (M8) are LTE-enabled phones but the Galaxy can be up to twice as fast at downloading data. LTE Cat. 6 promises up to 300Mbps downlink speeds, up from 150Mbps for Cat. 4.
That's for the Snapdragon 801-based Galaxy Alpha, the one with Exynos is at Cat. 4 150Mbps just like the One mini 2. That matters only if your carrier supports such speeds, of course, most are still at 100Mbps. Both categories of LTE upload at 50Mbps.
LTE aside, both phones use nano-SIM cards and have quad-band 2G. The Samsung also has quad-band 3G, while the One mini 2 offers tri- or quad-band 3G depending on region. Outside of LTE coverage both phones will do up to 42Mbps on an HSPA+ network.
Locally, the Galaxy Alpha wins out with 802.11ac, while the HTC only handles the previous standards - a/b/g/n. Both support dual-band Wi-Fi, DLNA and Wi-Fi hotspots. Bluetooth connectivity is on par with v4.0 support and both have NFC built-in.
Surprisingly Samsung didn't include MHL support for its Alpha flagship, while the HTC One mini 2 has it. MHL allows the phone to mirror its screen on a TV via an HDMI adapter, so Galaxy Alpha owners will have just wireless screen mirroring to rely on.
The Galaxy Alpha wins one back with ANT+ connectivity - sport sensors (an important part of Samsung's strategy) work either via Bluetooth 4.0 or ANT+, both low-power wireless standards.
Positioning is handled by the industry standard combo of A-GPS and GLONASS, but Samsung also supports the Chinese Beidou system. That one is yet to achieve worldwide coverage.
Neither phone has an IR blaster even though their bigger counterparts do.
Winner: Tie. Lack of MHL is certainly a negative for the Alpha but it is future-proof when it comes to LTE, Wi-Fi and positioning, plus it adds ANT+.
The HTC One mini 2 will perform slightly better in the short run but if you upgrade your Wi-Fi router before you upgrade your phone, you'll miss out on the new tech.