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Nexus 4 vs. iPhone 5

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October 29, 2012

How does Google's latest flagship Nexus phone compare to the iPhone 5?

How does Google's latest flagship Nexus phone compare to the iPhone 5?

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Google is going straight for Apple's throat. In addition to announcing its first direct iPad competitor, the Nexus 10, it's also set to release a new high-end smartphone, the Nexus 4. How does Google's (and LG's) latest flagship compare to the iPhone 5? Let's take a look …

Dimensions

The Nexus 4 is the larger phone

In every dimension, the Nexus 4 is larger than the iPhone 5. Thinness – long one of Apple's hallmarks – is a big advantage for its handset.

Weight

The iPhone 5 is significantly lighter

The weight of the Nexus 4 corresponds to its size, as it's significantly heavier than the feather-light iPhone 5.

Display

Both displays have great pixel density

Both handsets have high-end resolutions, but the Nexus 4's 4.7-inch display offers more real estate. Whether that's an advantage or overkill may depend on your taste.

Processor

On paper, the Snapdragon looks superior, but the A6 is hard to beat

On paper, the Nexus 4 looks like the favorite. But performance can go beyond cores and gigahertz, and Apple's A6 is a benchmark record-breaking beast. The bottom line: both chips are top-notch, and neither is likely to be pushed to the limit by many currently-available apps.

RAM

The Nexus 4 doubles the iPhone 5's RAM

The Nexus 4 packs 2 GB of RAM, double the 1 GB found in the iPhone 5.

Storage

The Nexus 4 sports less storage to keep its price down

Google and LG pinched pennies here to keep the Nexus 4's off-contract price low. US$299 gets you 8 GB of storage, and $349 boosts that to 16 GB. Considering that the iPhone 5 only costs $100 less on-contract, you may find the freedom that the Nexus 4 offers to be appealing.

Wireless

No LTE for the Nexus 4

Here's the other area where Google and LG skimped: the Nexus 4 lacks LTE. Though Google is promoting the phone's use of HSPA+ (often marketed as "4G"), you don't get the blazing-fast speeds of "true 4G."

Battery

On paper, this looks like an advantage for the Nexus 4

On paper, this looks like a clear advantage for the Nexus 4. Like everything else here, though, take it with a few grains of salt. Many factors influence battery life, and the iPhone 5 should easily last a full day for most users.

Cameras

Camera specs are looking close

These specs are looking similar: two 8-megapixel rear shooters, with the Nexus 4 having a slightly-higher number for the front-facing camera.

Intangibles

Both smartphones have bold, memorable designs

Both smartphones have distinctive designs, with particularly attractive backsides. The iPhone 5's anodized aluminum has a striking look, while the Nexus 4 sports a unique bedazzled appearance.

The Nexus 4 is one of the first mainstream smartphones to ship with wireless charging capabilities. Though you'll need to purchase a separate mat or dock, the device is compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard.

Google is taking another stab at bypassing wireless carrier subsidies, selling the Nexus 4 online and off-contract. That didn't work out too well for the Nexus One, but that was almost three years ago. With Google Play established as a premiere marketplace for apps, music, and other media, the time may be ripe for Google to prove that, when it comes to selling high-end smartphones, the carriers can be circumvented.

Summing up

Is the Nexus 4 an iPhone 5 killer? Of course not. No rival smartphone is going to "kill" the iPhone; it will sell in bunches regardless. The Nexus 4 can, however, serve as the new cream of the Android crop. Despite its lack of LTE, its specs are top-of-the-line, and it's priced competitively. Its off-contract pricing could also grant you a freedom not typically associated with owning a smartphone.

No matter which phone you prefer, this holiday season is shaping up to be a great time to shop for a new gadget. Specs can be illuminating, but they're only part of the equation. Getting your hands on the devices in a store is still the best way to know which works best for you.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. 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
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12 Comments

At this price, the Nexus won't be the iphone killer but it will be the iCook killer. lol

Facebook User
29th October, 2012 @ 10:48 pm PDT

Should have done a three way comparison with the Nokia 920 included. Wonderful feature set

Rocky Stefano
30th October, 2012 @ 07:03 am PDT

so a year ago Apple gets made fun of for releasing the iPhone 4s without LTE… and now Google releases their "flagship" android device (Nexus 4) without LTE? weak google… weak.

kashmir772
30th October, 2012 @ 07:17 am PDT

sorry mr kashmir but the price tag of 299 for the nexus 4 is more then two times cheaper then the iphone's.

Arthur Dent
30th October, 2012 @ 08:35 am PDT

First of all, iphone dont need the real estate since their simple icons only have one size fits all, secondly because their CPU/GPU/RAM can handle a larger screen resolution with their slow ios and thirdly because if their price goes any higher then you might as well buy mac air.

Koos Tonteldoos
30th October, 2012 @ 01:09 pm PDT

Anyone else notice how the author mitigated all of the ways the Nexus beat out the iPhone in terms of specs in his "explanations"? He somehow managed to make some the iPhone deficiencies seem like perks. I agree there aren't many apps out there that will truly test the HW, just seems a bit inconsistent. Google did screw up by skimping on LTE though.

skytalker
30th October, 2012 @ 03:01 pm PDT

iPhone killer? No. Other Android phones killer? Maybe!

$299 unlocked is insane. In Australia I use a cell carrier that charges $10 or $17 a month no contract. The catch is you have to bring you own phone. Now I will :)

Sasha Shepherd
30th October, 2012 @ 03:54 pm PDT

I compared my HTC one S (bought in May) with the new iphone 5. the HTC is the great winner. Mr. Shanklin may I ask you to compare iphone 5 to HTC one S? May I also ask you if you could also write an article on the comparison between IOS 6 and Android Sense interface.

fman
30th October, 2012 @ 05:26 pm PDT

Seriously, I am already accustomed to 3G speed on my current phone. And when I need bandwidth I make sure I am using WiFi to ensure both lack of data usage with my cell phone carrier and ensured high speed bandwidth via some form of local delivery (cable or DSL).

After using the Nexus 4 for a couple of days, I just have to say this is the very best phone I could have ever imagined. However I have never used any apple products ever (my grain of salt). The Nexus 4 is VERY fast (no lag on anything yet) and the apps just scream (disclaimer - I am using my office and home wifi for data rather than my T-mobile connection). I have even taken the extreme measure of downgrading my cpu speed to preserve battery speed (12 hours of occasional videos, checking email and browsing on many websites - 48% charge remaining) and the phone still feels fast and snappy. I am certain this is because of the dedicated GPU/APU (whatever it is).

I can do without LTE to save ~ $70 per month on service. Pre paid vs contract is a no brainer, and the service level is not compromised. Be a slave to the service providers or declare your independence. It's up to you.

One last note. Rooting the Nexus 4 is easy. Took about an hour to figure out how to do it. And I kept the stock ROM and bootloader.

Android 4.2 is the bomb. No kidding, its that good.

Steve Graham
22nd November, 2012 @ 12:33 am PST

Just an FYI to anyone who still thinks you can't get LTE on Nexus 4... It's an unlocked phone, and the chipset supports LTE, just not out of the box.

http://www.redmondpie.com/enable-4g-lte-on-nexus-4-for-select-carriers-how-to-tutorial/

The antenna isn't amped up for amazing LTE reception, but it can and does work. You just have to unlock it first.

James X Nelson
28th November, 2012 @ 04:56 pm PST

WTF!!! I got really happy when i saw the price of the nexus 4 but when it came to sweden it was 600$!!!

HugoFTW
22nd December, 2012 @ 05:17 pm PST

Palm Pre + was the first smartphone to ship with wireless charging capabilities built it. And the Palm Pre was the first smartphone to support wireless charging at all, although you had to purchase a separate back cover.

This was many many years ago.

Ioan-Radu Tanasescu
5th June, 2013 @ 06:56 am PDT
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