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Nexus 5 vs. Galaxy S4

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October 31, 2013

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the new LG/Google Nexus 5 and the Samsung Galaxy...

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the new LG/Google Nexus 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4

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Last year's Nexus 4 was a high-end phone that sold for a budget price. This year's Nexus 5 kicks it up another notch, offering the best specs a US$350 phone has ever offered. How does it compare to 2013's most popular Android flagship, the Galaxy S4? Read on.

Size

Sizes are very similar, apart from the GS4's eight percent thinner build

Look familiar? Sizes are very similar, with the biggest difference being the GS4's eight percent thinner frame.

Weight

Both are very light for large phones

Another encouraging sign for the Nexus 5, as it's the same light weight as the Galaxy S4.

Build

Both phones' shells are made of plastic

Both phones are plastic, but the Nexus 5 has a matte build (similar to the 2013 Nexus 7), which should feel different from the glossy plastic GS4.

Display

Screens are almost identical too, though the GS4's AMOLED display is a hair larger than th...

Resolutions are identical, and screen sizes are roughly the same. The Nexus 5 has an IPS display, which should have more toned-down, realistic colors than the hyper-saturated AMOLED screen in the Galaxy S4.

Processor

The Nexus 5's processor beats the LTE version of the Galaxy S4, though both are very fast

Both phones are very fast, but the Nexus 5 has the advantage with its Snapdragon 800 processor.

Note that the CPU listed above is for the LTE version of the Galaxy S4. The HSPA model, available in some countries, has an octa core Samsung Exynos processor, clocked at 1.9 GHz.

RAM

Both handsets have 2 GB of RAM

Both phones also have 2 GB of RAM.

Storage

The Nexus 5 only comes in two storage options, and lacks microSD support

The Galaxy S4 gives you more storage options, as well as microSD card support.

LTE

This year's Nexus phone officially supports LTE

This might be the most notable upgrade from last year's Nexus 4. It technically had LTE capabilities, but its software disabled it. The Nexus 5 gives you LTE by default, making it a much better buy in markets that offer the speedy cellular data network.

Battery

The GS4 holds a bit more juice, but that doesn't always translate to longer battery life

The GS4 holds a bit more juice, but we'll have to wait a while for some Nexus 5 battery tests.

Camera

The Nexus 5's 8-megapixel camera has some optical image stabilization thrown in

The GS4 wins on megapixels, but as you may know, that doesn't necessarily translate to better pictures. That's another front we'll have to stay tuned on. One bonus that the Nexus 5's camera gives you is optical image stabilization, which should help to cut down on the effects of camera shake.

Infrared

Only the GS4 gives you an infrared blaster

No IR blaster in the Nexus 5, so only the GS4 will let you change channels on your TV.

NFC

Both phones also have NFC chips

Pretty much a standard on modern high-end Android phones, both phones have NFC chips.

Software

The Nexus 5 launches with the new version of Android, 4.4 KitKat

Carriers are just beginning to roll out their Android 4.3 updates for the Galaxy S4, so the Nexus 5 will launch two full versions ahead of many GS4s. It runs the brand new Android 4.4 KitKat, with its redesigned launcher (home screen), voice activated ("OK Google") search from that home screen, improved phone app, and much more.

We could write a book on the GS4's software, thanks to Samsung's kitchen sink feature strategy. Feel free to hit up our comparison of the GS4 to the HTC One for more on the Galaxy S4's TouchWiz features.

Release date

We might be about halfway on our way to the Galaxy S5

We aren't quite in the "bad time to buy" zone for the Galaxy S4, but if next year's release cycle is the same, then we're probably about halfway towards the Galaxy S5. The Nexus 5, of course, just hit Google Play today.

Starting prices

If you can snag the Nexus 5 from Google Play, you get a great deal on a high-end phone

Speaking of Google Play, that's the best place to buy the Nexus 5 ... or at least it is if you can get your hands on one. Minutes after going on sale, shipments were delayed to a week. As of the time of this writing, the 16 GB version is completely sold out, and the 32 GB model ships in three to four weeks.

But if you can snag one from Google Play, you can get quite a deal on the new Nexus. Good luck finding another phone with specs anywhere near this good for US$350 off-contract. The GS4's off-contract price varies, but $630 seems to be the default. That's an 85 percent premium over the Nexus 5, which is arguably the higher-end phone.

Wrap-up

The unfortunate thing is that right now, the easiest way to get the Nexus 5 is to buy it on-contract from your carrier. You might still get it for cheaper than the GS4, but something is diminished when you're signing your life away for two years in order to get it.

If this plays out anything like the Nexus 4 did last year, then it might be at least a couple of months before Nexus 5 inventory catches up in Google Play. We'll have to wait for our review to offer our assessment of the Nexus 5, but from where we stand now, we wouldn't be surprised if the $350 version from Google Play is, dollar for dollar, the best smartphone out there.

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
5 Comments

When comparing/reviewing phones, please always mention whether the battery is removable. Sealed in battery is is a showstopper for me and I'm sure I'm not alone.

felix
1st November, 2013 @ 02:23 am PDT

My biggest grouse with the current crop of Android phones is the storage.

I have Samsung Galaxy Grand GT-I9082. Technically it supports micro SD card up to 32 GB. Is it usable ? Yes but with great difficulty.

Samsung supplied the phone with additional back cover that incorporated flip cover for the display screen. Only way to physically access the card is to first remove this back cover - a very major pain in the b***. Next remove the battery to get to it, effectively switching off the phone. So in practical use it is fit and forget kind of deal. The convenience of removable flash memory card is completely lost. Someone must have switched the morning vitamin pills for the phone designers with stupid pills !

Same goes for batteries. They have life of no more than a couple of years if used carefully and properly cycled for charging and discharging. Having to discard a good working phone for due bad battery is simply not acceptable. There are 3 relatives of mine who are always on the move and extremely heavy users. They carry fully charged extra batteries with them to replace when they run out of juice. Fixed battery is a deal breaker for them.

pmshah
1st November, 2013 @ 07:30 am PDT

Well, I hoped that Google would have learned that a phone with a removable battery and an SD card slot would sell phones for them since they were selling the S4 but I guess not. I CAN'T buy a phone that doesn't have the ability to have over 64GB of space now that I have owned one. Sorry Google, that magical place where there is phone service everywhere I step so I can use your online services for everything just doesn't exist yet, we need lots of storage. I travel for work and when I'm in a large city it seems ok but when I leave those cities I have nothing.

The battery not user replaceable is just silly when you think of how the Nexus 5 will just go in the trash in a few years. Especially with a Nexus phone, they CAN last for years and years with regular updates to the OS. I'm loosing faith that Google can even design or contract out the design of a phone effectively.

I'd recommend that when you want a Android phone just go to the CyanogenMod website and pick a phone from there that has an SD card slot and a replaceable battery. A phone supported by them will have all the updates that a Nexus has, well, only better, and you can use it for years and years where when the nexus 5 battery gives out you're screwed.

exodous
1st November, 2013 @ 08:47 am PDT

Also can you add for phones like the GS4 that you can buy it with stock Android?

I think this makes a HUGE difference especially when comparing to a Nexus device.

@exodous I agree SD card slot is so important, plus IR blaster and Removable Battery all place the ball in GS4s court. Especially as you can buy with stock!!!

PIg9
3rd November, 2013 @ 08:01 pm PST

I previously owned a Nexus S I had purchased through AT&T, AT&T was incompetent when it came to sending out system updates. I only mention this because you recomend people purchace the phone through their carrier, I would advise against that if the buyer cares about system updates.

I could be wrong and AT&T has solved this slow update problem with newer phones, but I have no reason to think that they have since my Nexus S has not updated since the day I purchased it.

Reece Ram
4th November, 2013 @ 02:15 pm PST
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