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Nexus 4 vs. Galaxy S3


October 30, 2012

How does the Nexus 4 compare to the reigning Android monarch, the Samsung Galaxy S III?

How does the Nexus 4 compare to the reigning Android monarch, the Samsung Galaxy S III?

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Does Android have a new King? This title is usually passed by default to the latest Nexus phone, but the Nexus 4 is a unique bird. Though it's a top-of-the-line handset, Google and LG made a few trade-offs. How does the Nexus 4 compare to the reigning Android monarch, the Samsung Galaxy S III? Let's take a look …


Both phones sport slick designs. The Galaxy S III has a slightly larger surface area, but is also thinner. The Nexus 4 has a glass front and back, sandwiched together with a plastic band.

The Nexus 4's back is even bedazzled, and – under the right light – will emit a subtle glitter. Fear not, though, masculine geeks: we're talking more Nexus One live wallpaper, and less My Little Pony.


The thicker Nexus 4 also tips the scales a bit more than the S3. Though there are lighter phones on the market, neither device has a lot of heft.


Both displays should look great. The Nexus 4 has slightly higher resolution, and – with its smaller screen – a bit higher pixel density as well. Some customers are turned off by the Super AMOLED PenTile screen in the Galaxy S III, but most agree that it's one of the leading smartphone displays on the market.


It's hard to say which phone has the edge here, particularly with the different Galaxy S III models sold in North America and everywhere else. Perhaps the simplest answer is that you'll be hard-pressed to find many apps that tax either phone.


The US version of the Galaxy S III matches the Nexus 4 with 2GB of RAM, while its international counterpart has 1GB.


This is a potential drawback for Nexus 4 customers. To keep its off-contract price down, Google and LG limited the base model to 8GB of internal storage. The Galaxy S3, meanwhile, starts at 16GB, and can be expanded further with a microSD card.


This is the other big tradeoff for the Nexus 4: it lacks LTE. The "3G" label above is a bit deceiving; the Nexus 4 utilizes HSPA+, which can reach theoretical speeds of 42Mbps. This is often marketed as "4G," and - if you live in the right area - you can potentially get LTE-like download speeds.


Both phones have equal wattage, but remember that other factors affect actual battery life. We'll have to wait until the Nexus 4 releases on November 13 for actual uptimes.


On paper, the cameras look similar. The Galaxy S3's front camera has a slightly higher megapixel rating.


Nexus devices are beloved for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that they run stock Android. The Nexus 4 – along with its big brothers, the Nexus 10 and Nexus 7 – heralds the arrival of Android 4.2. The new version of Jellybean brings several new features, like a Swype-like trace keyboard, wireless display mirroring, and a 360 degree panorama photography tool called Photo Sphere.

Perhaps even more importantly, the Nexus 4 should receive future Android updates long before the Galaxy S III. Though the handset will also be sold directly by some carriers (like T-Mobile in the US), it will primarily be sold in Google Play, where there is no update approval process. Even the models sold by carriers will still be running stock Android, so there shouldn't be many concerns.

The Nexus 4 is also one of the first big handsets to ship with wireless charging capabilities. Buy any Qi-compatible wireless charging accessory, and the Nexus 4 will be good to go.

It's worth reiterating the Galaxy S III's advantage with LTE. If you live in an area that supports the blazing-fast network, this could be a deal-breaker. Even in areas where HSPA+ can rival LTE's download speeds, LTE tends to have superior upstream speeds and lower latency.

Summing up

You can easily call the Nexus 4 the new cream of the Android crop, but you could still make the same argument for the Galaxy S III. The devices' specifications have a lot in common. The Nexus 4's pure Android experience could tip some customers its way, while the S3's LTE could tip many more in its direction.

Our advice? Don't worry about titles: just find which phone works best for you, and enjoy.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

My probem is I cant find a good My Little Pony wallpaper for my Nexus 4:)


You missed a big item. Cost!

Rodd Clarkson

Indeed! Price is the reason ill be picking up a pair of the Nexus 4 devices for the wife and myself. The Galaxy S III is just a bit too pricey. LTE or not.


You also missed that the Nexus devices get the bleeding edge updates. While the GS3 will have to wait till Samsung makes there changes to the OS before they push it to the device.

But for me, the absent micro SD option on the Nexus 4 kills it.

Josh Goodwin

My Samsung "Flagship" phones received only one update over the lifetime of the phone here in Canada. And those updates were a year late.

I will never own another non-Nexus android device. Manufacturer's and Carriers have proven themselves too greedy to be bothered to release new OS updates on time.

On the plus side, buying a super cheap Nexus phone outright affords me a HUGE amount of negotiating room with Rogers, who insist that their over the top prices are due to their cheap phone on 3 year plans. You're move now, big red.


from Forbes.com: An unlocked version of Nexus 4 is priced at $299, a remarkably low price for a phone of this quality. An unlocked 16 GB Nexus 4 is priced at $349 compared to a similar iPhone 5 which is priced at $649.99 unlocked without a contract.

Also, Nexus is going to run Vanilla Android versus the Galaxy Touchwizz Android.

Marco Corona

The max of 16GB storage is woefully inadequate for a lot of people. Give us the microSD slot back!!!! And lose those stupid nano and micro SIMs!!! Apple is not always right and those are a couple of things they have got wrong in the iPhone.

Graham R

I have never used stock Android but after using CM10 for a while I think I actually prefer TouchWiz to it.


How does adding a micro sd card slot raise the price. And no, consumers wanting it right are willing to pay more. But indeed, the price is good for a phone of this quality.

Dawar Saify

People saying a lack of a SD card slot is a deal breaker... remember android supports USB host mode meaning you can use any thumb drive hell use a huge 500gb external hard drive if ya need

Marc Longstreet
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