After months of Nexus 5 rumors Google has finally introduced it officially and now that all its technical specifications are crystal clear, we should put it head-to-head against the best smartphones currently on the market.
Because the Samsung Galaxy S4 is definitely the most popular Android smartphone yet, I though that it fighting against the highly-anticipated Nexus 5 would be very interesting to watch. I would also mention that we didn’t get our hands on the Nexus 5 yet, thus this comparison is focused entirely on the technical specifications provided by Google.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 was introduced more than half a year ago and, along with the Galaxy Note 3 is the company’s flagship for 2013. Not long ago the Samsung representatives announced that over 40 million Galaxy S4 units were sold so far, thus there’s no point questioning the terminal’s popularity.
On the other hand the Nexus 5 only saw the light of day a day ago and its main strength is the price point, as for only $349 you will get an unlocked high-end Android smartphone, which sounds like a great deal to me. But is it powerful enough to beat the Galaxy S4?
If you followed our previous Versus articles, you would probably know that the Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 battle will be split in ten rounds where the smartphones’ performance in terms of Dimensions, Display, Memory, Connectivity, Processor, Camera, Battery Life, Price, Operating System, and Design will be compared.
Each round is worth one point and, obviously, the smartphone that manages to score the most points will be declared the winner of the battle.
The 4.7 – 5.2 inch screens have pretty much became the standard on the high-end Android smartphone market, but the phone dimensions grow proportionally with the display size.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 is sized 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm and has a weight of 130 grams.
The Nexus 5 is about the same size as its predecessor, measuring 137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6 mm. The freshly-launched handset has a weight of only 130 grams.
Even though the two smartphones involved in the battle have the same weight, the Nexus 5 is 1.3 mm taller and 0.7 mm thicker than the Galaxy S4, so this round goes to the Korean flagship.
As of late 2012 and early 2013 the Android OMEs have started to equip their high-end smartphones with full HD displays and the Nexus 5 and Samsung Galaxy S4 make no exception.
Samsung Galaxy S4 boasts about a 5-inch full HD Super AMOLED display with 1080 x 1920 resolution (441 ppi) and Gorilla Glass 3 protection. On the other hand the Nexus 5 brings a 4.95-inch full HD True HD IPS Plus screen with 1080 x 1920 resolution, 445 ppi, and Gorilla Glass 3 protection.
Both panels bring unrivalled brightness and contrast, but even though the Super AMOLED unit is a bit more battery friendly than the Nexus 5′s IPS screen, the panel used for the GS4 has poor performance under direct sun light, while the color reproduction is not what you’d call accurate.
Nexus 5 wins this round because it has a higher quality screen.
As of July 2013 there are over 1 million apps available for download in Google Play Store, so you might want to have enough storage on your smartphone to get the most out of it. Not to mention about your music, videos, photos, or books.
Before talking about storage, I should mention that both devices come with 2 GB RAM, so the multitasking experience will be pretty similar, so they are equally matched here.
But, the Nexus 5 is only available with either 16 or 32 GB of storage, with no option to increase the storage by using microSD cards. Besides having microSD cards support (up to 64 GB), the Samsung Galaxy S4 also comes with 16/32/64 GB storage, being cable to max 128 GB of storage.
I guess it’s clear for everybody that the Galaxy S4 has to win the Memory round.
While last year’s Nexus 4 didn’t come with LTE support, its successor is now capable of connecting to the fastest mobile networks of the world. Let’s have a look at Samsung Galaxy S4′s and Nexus 5′s connectivity features.
The Korean handset comes with HSDPA, 42.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps; LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy, NFC, IR blaster, and microUSB 2.0. On the other hand the Nexus 5 packs HSDPA, 42.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps; LTE, Cat3, 50 Mbps UL, 100 Mbps DL, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and microUSB 2.0.
Did you spot the difference? If not I will tell you that the only connectivity difference between the two smartphone is the infra red port installed on the Galaxy S4, which is not enough to bring another point for the Korean device. This round ends as tie.
We’ve seen the smartphone processors making impressive advancements over the past couple of years and less then a year from now the Android smartphones will make the jump to 64-bit architecture.
As you probably know, there are two Galaxy S4 variants currently on the market, each powered by a different processing unit: the I9500 comes with Samsung’s proprietary octo-core Exynos 5410 SoC with quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex A15 CPU + low-power quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex A7 CPU and a PowerVR SGX 544MP3 GPU, while the I9505 comes with a Qualcom Snapdragon 600 chipset packing quad-core 1.9 GHz Krait 300 CPU and Adreno 320 GPU.
The Nexus 5 packs one of the fastest processors ever fitted on an Android smartphone, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with four Krait 400 cores clocked at 2.26 GHz and Adreno 330 GPU.
Because Nexus 5′s processor is more powerful than any of the two chipsets powering the Galaxy S4, the smartphone co-developed by Google and LG scores another point.
We all like to take photos with our smartphones and with Google’s recent improvements brought to Google Plus Photos it would be really nice to have a good camera on the back of your smartphone.
The Nexus 5 brings an 8 MP camera with autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash, geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, and, photo sphere, also supporting 1080p@30fps video recording. Even tough the Nexus 5 has an 8 MP sensor just like its predecessor, the new camera should be an improvement from N4. Or at least that’s what the first photo samples show.
Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 13 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash, Dual Shot, Simultaneous HD video and image recording, geo-tagging, touch focus, face and smile detection, image stabilization, HDR, and full HD video recording.
Even though we didn’t tested the two camera ourselves, it’s known that Galaxy S4 has one of the best cameras in the business while the Nexus devices have a history of bringing poor camera performance. I’m pretty sure that N5′s camera can’t match the shutter mounted on GS4′s back, this this point goes straight to the Korean phone.
The battery life has become a real issue for the modern smartphones, as you can barely find out to go past one day of autonomy (phablets not included).
Samsung Galaxy S4 has a removable Li-Ion 2,600 mAh battery. When we tested the smartphone the said battery was able to get it through about 24 hours of moderate usage.
Nexus 5 comes with a Non-removable Li-Po 2300 mAh battery that should be enough to last for a full day. We didn’t get our hands on the Nexus 5 yet, but Google said that it has an autonomy of 300 h (3G) in stand by or 17 hours (3G) talk time, which is pretty similar to Galaxy S4′s (350 h (3G) stand by and 17 hours (3G) talk time).
This rounds ends as tie.
The Nexus 4 showed us that an affordable smartphone with high-end specs sells like hot cakes and Google has a similar approach for the Nexus 5.
The freshly announced handset is priced $349 and $399 in Google Play Store, for the 16 and 32 GB models, respectively. Of course, I am talking about unlocked prices.
After a quick look on Amazon and other US retailers we’ve noticed that the unlocked Samsung Galaxy S4 (16 GB model) cots between $579.99 and $619.99.
The cheapest Galaxy S4 is $230 more expensive than the Nexus 5 so the Google flagship wins another round.
Even though we are comparing two smartphones running Android you will see that there are a lot of differences between them.
Galaxy S4 runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean out of the box (it will be updated to Android 4.3 in the coming weeks) with Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX interface on top of it.
The TouchWiz integrates a lot of impressive features like Air Controls/Gestures, Smart Stay, Smart Pause, Smart Scroll, Air View, Group Play, S Translator, or S Health. Even though all of them are pretty cool and work pretty fine as well, you will barely used them. The real innovation of Galaxy S4′s TouchWiz stays in the Camera app which brings Eraser, Cinema Photo, Drama Shot, Sound and Shot, Dual Shot, and Dual Video.
The Nexus 5 runs the latest Android version out of the box, Android 4.4 KitKat, which is the most important upgrade Google did to its mobile operating system since Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. In Android 4.4 KitKat the “Ok Google” command works when on homes screen (always-on mic), the album/movie art is stretches on the entire lockscreen when music or videos are played, the Immersive mode will allow you to read, watch videos, or play games in full screen (then bring the status and notification bars with a swipe), while the multitasking just got even better.
The Android 4.4 KitKat brings a lot more goodies, with a new Phone app, Hangouts SMS, Cloud Print, or Emoji for Google Keyboard among them.
Even though the TouchWiz is one of the most popular and innovative interfaces on the market, nothing can beat the stock Android experience. Not to mention that the Nexus 5 will always be first in line to receive the latest Android updates. Another point for the Nexus flagship.
Ask the Samsung fans what’s the biggest flaw of the company’s smartphones and most of them will respond that it’s the design. In fact I don’t even blame them, because the Galaxy S4 is one of the least attractive smartphones on the market.
The GS4 borrows some of the design elements used last year for the Galaxy S3, but it adds a couple of premium-wannabe touches here end there, like the aluminium finish for the bezel around the smartphone’s body. There isn’t much to say about Galaxy S4, except that there are other better looking smartphones out there.
In my opinion, the Nexus 5 is one of them. Even though it has almost the same design lines as its last two predecessors, the new handset is what you’d want to call an elegant smartphone. Even though it ditches the back glass for plastics, the soft-touch material is the same used for the Nexus 7, which feels great and offers great grip.
Some of you may say that the Galaxy S4 looks better than the Nexus 5, but “de gustibus non disputandum est.” Because this is my call, and in my opinion the Nexus 5 is better looking that the Galaxy S4, this round goes to the Android KitKat-powered handset.
If it reads conclusions above this paragraph it means that we’ve reached the end of the Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 battle. Well, this also means that we must start counting points and see which smartphone has won the battle.
I will begin by saying that there were two tied rounds as the two smartphones were equally matched when it came to Connectivity and Battery life.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has scored three points. It has won the Dimensions, Memory, and Camera rounds because it’s thinner than the Nexus 5, and because it has more storage and a better primary camera.
The Nexus 5 has five points after it managed to win the Display, Processor, Price, Operating System, and Design rounds. The Nexus 5 outmatched the Galaxy S4 in the five aforementioned rounds because it has a higher-quality display, faster CPU, it’s cheaper, runs stock Android 4.4, and uses better materials for the case.
Summing up, the Nexus 5 wins the battle against the Samsung Galaxy S4. Of course, that’s just an opinion, that’s why we are inviting you to share yours in the comments section if you think otherwise.