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 …
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.
The weight of the Nexus 4 corresponds to its size, as it's significantly heavier than the feather-light iPhone 5.
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.
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.
The Nexus 4 packs 2 GB of RAM, double the 1 GB found in the iPhone 5.
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.
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."
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.
These specs are looking similar: two 8-megapixel rear shooters, with the Nexus 4 having a slightly-higher number for the front-facing camera.
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.
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.