Google Nexus 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3, The Best Android Smartphones Around

LG Nexus 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3

The Google Nexus 4 is now officially available for purchase being definitely one of the best Android-powered smartphones ever made. The competition is also tough, with Samsung Galaxy S3 leading the sales on the segment, as the South Korea-based announced that more than 30 million units have been shipped since the market debut in May 2012.

Samsung Galaxy S3 was officially announced in May 2012, at the Samsung Unpacked event in London, and it became the official smartphone of the London 2012 Olympics. The South Korea-based company promised to create a terminal that introduces a lot of innovations for the smartphone segment and they delivered. With a new design that is “inspired by nature” the Samsung Galaxy S3 quickly became the favorite smartphone of the Android enthusiasts, mostly because of its impressive display and amazing technical specifications.

On the other hand the LG Nexus 4 wasn’t announced during a press conference. The Google had an event scheduled for October 29th, where the new flagship smartphone was expected to debut, but Hurricane Sandy ruined their plans. So, after a month full of rumors, leaks, a hands-on review from a Belorussian website ahead of the launch event, the search engine giant decided it’s time to unveil the new Google Nexus 4 without holding a press event like it used to.

Nexus 4 is the first member of the Nexus family manufactured by LG. The first device, Nexus One was co-developed by Google and HTC and released in January 2010. Then, for the next two Nexus smartphones Google teamed-up with Samsung and Nexus S (December 2010) and Galaxy Nexus (November 2011) saw the light of day.

Since the two aforementioned smartphones are two of the most popular among the Android enthusiasts, we decided it’s time to put them head to head in a Google Nexus 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 showdown.

We will have a look at the LG Nexus 4 and Samsung Galaxy S3 technical specifications, price, features and design, then see which of the two wins the LG Nexus 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 fight. There will be 9 rounds: Dimensions, Display, Memory, Connectivity, Camera, Processor, Design, Operating System and Price with 1 point allocated for each round. The winner will be decided by summing up the points it won on each round. Let’s begin!

Dimensions

Both the Google Nexus 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S3 have similar sizes since they both have to accommodate 4.7+ inch displays.

The LG Nexus 4 is just a bit wider and taller than its predecessor, Galaxy Nexus, but it’s thicker, which might not be appreciated by certain customers, as the trend on the smartphone segment is to launch terminals that are as thin as possible. Nexus 4 measures 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm and weighs in 139 grams.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is definitely taller and wider than is successor, the popular Galaxy S2, because the South Koreans had to make room for a huge 4.8-inch display. The flagship smartphone weighs in 133 grams, while being 136.6 mm tall, 70.6 mm wide and only 8.6 mm thin.

Some say that terminals as big as the Google Nexus 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S3 are not easy to operate with just one hand, but I am sure that many of you who got your hands on devices with similar dimensions can dismiss this urban myth.

Returning to the Google Nexus 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 dimensions battle, we will have to give the point to the Samsung, because it’s thinner and lighter than its competitor, the weight and the profile being two of the most important aspects that matter when the customers choose to purchase a device.

Display

As you probably noticed, most of the Android-powered high-end smartphones come with screens with a diagonal bigger than the 4.5 inch threshold and the Google Nexus 4 and Samsung Galaxy S3 make no exception.

Samsung Galaxy S3 boasts a 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720 x 1,280 pixels, protected against scratches by Gorilla Glass 2. The pixel density of SGS3’s display is of 306 ppi.

On the other hand we have the Google Nexus 4 packing a 4.7-inch True HD IPS Plus and the same resolution of 720 x 1,280 pixels. Because the Nexus 4’s display is a bit smaller the pixel density is slightly bigger, reaching 318 ppi. The screen of the smartphone co-developed by Google and LG also has a Gorilla Glass 2 coating.

The HD Super AMOLED display of the Galaxy S3 is manufactured using Samsung’s Pen Tile technology, therefore its performance under direct sunlight is not as good as the one of its rival. LG Nexus 4 has the same Ture HD IPS display that debuted on the LG Optimus G, touted to have the best contrast currently on the market and great contrast ration under the sunlight. The Nexus 4’s screen also comes with better viewing angle than Galaxy S3’s.

Because both terminals come have close-sized displays the web browsing, video playback and gaming experience will be similar, so the difference is made by the contrast ratio and the viewing angle. +1 Google Nexus 4.

Memory

If you owned an Android-powered smartphone before, you definitely are aware that are games in the Play Store with sizes that exceed 1 GB, so many of the users seek want their terminals to have as much storage space as possible.

Samsung Galaxy S3 comes with 16, 32 or 64 GB of internal storage, plus the option to expand it using a microSD card that supports up to 64 GB of extra storage. The South Korean flagship smartphone also comes with a free two years subscription to Dropox with 25 GB of storage in the cloud included. If you are a music or movie enthusiast then you can store your songs, movies or TV shows on your microSD card then play them anytime while in the bus, train, or subway.

There are two storage options for the Google Nexus 4: 8 GB and 16 GB. Unfortunately, there is now way to expand the storage capacity of the Google flagship smartphone. Your only option is to use the storage in the cloud services, and this can cause real headaches if not on an unlimited data plan. While 8 GB are simply not enough for a high-end smartphone, 16 GB are decent but way below what the competition offers.

LG Nexus 4 outmatches the Galaxy S3 when it comes to RAM, packing 1 GB more than its Samsung rival (1 GB of RAM for Nexus 4 vs 1 GB of RAM for Galaxy S3). Still, there are certain markets like Japan, South Korea, or US where the Samsung Galaxy S3 features 2 GB of RAM.

This round goes to the Samsung Galaxy S3, because the internal storage options of the Google Nexus 4 are limited, while the microSD card slot is missing.

Connectivity

Google Nexus 4 comes with most of the connectivity features worthy of a high-end smartphone. The terminal brings Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, microUSB 2.0 and a NFC chip. The mobile data speeds are limited to DC-HSDPA which can climb up to 42 Mbps of download.

Samsung has figured out that the LTE connectivity is a major selling point on the North American market, therefore the South Korea-based company has made their smartphone compatible with the 4G networks on the US territory, but this move had its price. The Exynos 4412 SoC isn’t compatible with the LTE networks in The States, therefore the US variant of the Galaxy S3 features a LTE-friendly chipset, Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon S4.

As for other countries with 4G networks, there’s the Galaxy S3 I9305 that comes with the same mighty quad-core Exynos 4412 processor completed by a 4G LTE chip. The Samsung Galaxy S3 connectivity features list includes, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, NFC and microUSB 2.0.

Since the Samsung Galaxy S3 comes with 4G LTE support that allows download speeds of up to 100 Mbps, the Google Nexus 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 battle is won by the Samsung device.

Camera

The LG Nexus 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 camera battle will be a close one, since both terminals come with 8 megapixel sensors.

The Nexus 4 is underpinned by Optimus G’s hardware platform, the latter one coming with a 13 megapixel sensor on certain markets. Google and LG decided to implement the 8 megapixel camera on the Nexus 4, most likely because the two companies wanted to keep the production costs as low as possible. Nexus 4’s 8 megapixel camera comes with autofocus, LED flash, touch focus, face detection, and 1080p video recording at 30 fps, but, by far, the most interesting feature is the Photo Sphere, which debuted on the new Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Photo Sphere allows the user to take 360 degree panoramic photos, then the software “glues” them all together using the technology borrowed from Google’s street view.

On the other hand we have the Samsung Galaxy S3 with an 8 megapixel camera that has 1080p video recording support, autofocus, LED flash, face and smile detection, image stabilization, and simultaneous HD video and image shooting mode.

The Nexus 4 comes with a 1.3 megapxiel front-facing camera, while the Galaxy S3 has a 1.9 megapixel sensor mounted on the front panel, both with 720p @ 30fps video recording capabilities.

Because it’s a matter of time until Samsung Galaxy S3 receives the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update that packs the Photo Sphere feature (when Nexus 4’s advantage will have vanished) and because the two terminals have similar cameras, this round ends as a tie.

Design

Samsung had a lot of troubles with the design of its Galaxy S2 and tablets, as Apple dragged them into an endless string of suites accusing the South Korean company of copying their rectangular with round edges smartphones and tablets. The Asians wanted to put an end to the lawsuit battle and designed the Samsung Galaxy S3, a terminal that has nothing in common with the competition’s devices.

Samsung uses polycarbonate for the back of its Galaxy S3, but now it looks better than ever. With a shiny look and finishing and colors “inspired by nature:” Pebble Blue, Marble White, Titanium Grey and Sapphire Black the Galaxy S3 has ditched the plastic back lid of its successors, that looked cheap.

Google quickly figured out that many of the customers prefer premium materials, therefore the LG Nexus 4 comes with a Gorilla Glass back. The Mountain-View based company kept the design lines introduced in late 2011 by the Galaxy Nexus, so except for the redesigned front speaker, the front panels of the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4, look pretty much the same, including the notification LED subtly placed on the bottom end of the terminal.

Because glass will always look classy and elegant and because you will get millions of scratches on the back of the Galaxy S3 after only a couple of weeks of usage (unless you will use a case that will completely ruin its design), the Design award goes to the Google Nexus 4.

Processor

Samsung Galaxy S3 is powered by the company’s proprietary Exynos 4 Quad CPU, codenamed Exynos 4412. The processor has a quad-core configuration and is based on ARM Cortex A9 architecture. The Exynos 4412 inside the Samsung Galaxy S3 is clocked at 1.4 GHz. Samsung’s flaghsip packs a quad-core Mali 400MP GPU

Google Nexus 4 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU, underpinned by four Krait cores clocked at 1.5 GHz, helped by an Adreno 320 GPU. The processor that also powers the Optimus G and ASUS Padfone 2 is considered to be the most powerful CPU currently available on the market.

The Snapdragon S4 Pro chipset has helped the LG Nexus 4 win this round, tying the score at 3 – 3.

Operating System

Both the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the LG Nexus 4 are underpinned by the mobile operating system developed by Google. Galaxy S3 comes pre-loaded with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich while the Nexus 4 runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box. The Android 4.1 Jelly Bean firmware update for Galaxy S3 has already started to roll out, and it’s a matter of time until Samsung’s flagship will receive the latest software version of Google’s mobile platform.

Since Android is an open-source operating system, the software engineers working for Samsung took their time to customize the user interface, giving birth to TouchWiz, an UI loved by some and hated by others. Still, the Samsung Galaxy S3 comes with some interesting features like Smart Stay, Smart Alert, Tap-to-top, Popup Play, Direct Call and many other such goodies, which made many of the power users stick to the stock Android instead of flashing custom ROMs like CyanogenMod or AOKP.

Since the LG flagship is part of Google’s Nexus line-up, the terminal comes with the latest version of the Android firmware, of course, running Vanilla out of the box, which brings an unaltered experience for the user. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean now brings a an improved camera app with Photo Sphere, a Quick Settings menu in the notifications area which brings the WiFi, Bluetooth, Mobile Data, Airplane Mode and other toggles you’ve met so far on custom ROMs and TouchWiz UI and many other features like Daydream and video sharing over WiFi.

Summing up, if you want the genuine Android experience and be the first to receive the software updates you will have to choose the Google Nexus 4. But if you want the new and interesting features and motion controls of the TouchWiz UI, the Samsung Galaxy S3 is the smartphone you need. The main drawback of Samsung’s software is that the updates are rolled out a bit slower.

Since they are both running on the same software platform (the arrival of the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update for Samsung Galaxy S3 is imminent) and since you will be able to root any of them then flash almost any custom ROM, the Google Nexus 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 OS battle ends up as a tie.

Price

LG Nexus 4 is available for purchase on Google’s Play Store, the price of the 8 GB model being of $299, while the 16 GB version has a price tag of $349. The prices are for the unlocked terminals, so you won’t have to sing a commitment to any carrier.

Because the internal storage of the Nexus 4 is limited to 16 GB we will compare it to the equivalent model of Samsung Galaxy S3. Therefore you will find the 16 GB Samsung Galaxy S3 available for $199 on a two year contract at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon. But because we were talking earlier about unlocked terminals, you should also know that the unlocked Samsung Galaxy S3 16 GB has a starting price of $549 at Amazon.

It’s easy to decided here. You either pay $350 for a 16 GB Nexus 4, contract-free, or $549 for an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S3. Therefore, the Price round is won by miles by the Google Nexus 4.

Conclusions

There was a pretty close battle between Google Nexus 4 and Samsung Galaxy S3, two of the most powerful Android smartphones currently available on the market. The two terminals ended as tie when it came to Camera and Operating System.

Samsung Galaxy S3 is thinner, LTE-friendly, has a microSD card slot and more internal storage options, that’s why it ended up as a winner of the Dimensions, Connectivity and Memory rounds, snapping up 3 points.

The LG Nexus 4 has won when it came to Display, Processor, Design, and Price, because it has a brighter display, a mighty quad-core CPU, premium materials and built quality, and because it has a price that starts at $299. That’s 4 points which makes the LG Nexus 4 the winner of our comparison. Do you feel the same? Please let us know in the comments section below.

  • Dalbir_Singh

    Not a review. Just a specs comparison.

  • Max

    I have the galaxy S3 and I disagree about the ‘samsung has ditched the cheap plastic back cover’.
    My back cover is already cracking, from light drops, nothing serious, and it looks very cheap. The build is very fragile, and every time i take it off i’m afraid it will break. It is not a good feature. definitely -1 for the look of the galaxy s3 (white version).

  • Supriya

    Very nice comparison

  • Supriya

    Hi, I found the comparison to be very useful to make my decision. I wanted to know when does LG Nexus 4 release in India and its price???

  • randomperson

    nice specs review! but not having memory options higher than 16gb is sad. plus the no microsd slot makes it feel like an iPhone and we don’t want that do we?

  • http://www.facebook.com/filipe.vianaferreira Filipe Viana Ferreira

    This comparision was excellent for me to decide wich one to buy! Nexus 4, I choose you.

  • MdOS

    The LG Nexus 4 has 2Gb of RAM, vs SII that has 1Gb of RAM… I think that the Nexus 4 is better and it comes with Android 4.2…