Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Nexus 5
March 4, 2014
Samsung's Galaxy S5 looks like it's going to be a pretty minor update over the Galaxy S4. But is it an upgrade over the latest Nexus? Let's take the features and specs of the GS5 and Nexus 5, put them in our magical comparison machine, and see what happens.
Not a huge difference here. The Galaxy S5 is about three percent longer and six percent wider than the Nexus 5. The GS5 is also six percent thinner.
The GS5 is actually heavier than its predecessor, the Galaxy S4. So it shouldn't be too big of a surprise that it also has 12 percent more heft than the Nexus 5.
Both phones are made of plastic, but they're coming from very different angles. The Nexus 5 has a simple matte finish, while Samsung opted for a dimpled faux leather exterior. Not what we would have expected, but we'll reserve judgment until we've spent some extended time with the latest Galaxy.
Samsung gives you four Galaxy S5 colors to choose from, while you can order the Nexus 5 in one of three different hues.
No huge difference here either, as both phones have 1080p screens in the 5-in range. The GS5's display is six percent bigger, though that also means the Nexus 5 has a slightly higher pixel density. Both phones, though, give you a lot of real estate and beautiful, razor-sharp resolutions.
You didn't think Samsung would pass up the opportunity to match the latest iPhone's killer feature, did you? Much like Apple's 5s, the GS5 lets you password-protect your phone with your unique fingerprint. You can also sync it up with your PayPal account to authorize transactions. Just know that, unlike Apple's Touch ID, Samsung's Finger Scanner makes you swipe your finger before it can work its magic.
Heart rate monitor
With smartphone innovation in danger of hitting a brick wall, manufacturers are looking to advanced sensors to take them to the next level. Like the GS5's heart rate sensor, which lives just below the phone's rear-facing camera.
Speaking of cameras, Samsung upped its resolution to 16 MP. If nothing else, the higher resolution should make blown-up or zoomed-in shots look a bit clearer.
4K video recording
Unless you own a 4K TV, this one might be a moot point. But if you own your next phone long enough, it's possible this will be a feature you'll want a year or two down the road.
The GS5's camera also shoots slow-motion video, at 120 fps.
Yet another box ticked for Samsung, as it threw in a cool feature that lets you change a shot's point of focus after you've already snapped it.
The Nexus 5 is a speed demon, and the Galaxy S5 should be too. Its Snapdragon 801 is a hair faster than the 800 living inside the Nexus, but this difference probably isn't nearly enough to sway you one way or the other.
Both phones also have an ample 2 GB of RAM.
The same 16 GB and 32 GB storage options for both handsets, though Samsung's also supports microSD cards.
Way too early to comment on the GS5's battery life, though it does hold a bit more juice than the Nexus 5. The GS5 has a removable battery, while the Nexus' is sealed shut.
Ultra Power Saving Mode
One of the GS5 features we're the most intrigued by is the new Ultra Power Saving Mode. If your battery dips below a certain level, you can set the phone to switch its display to black & white and eliminate a bunch of unnecessary background processes. Samsung claims that this can take a mere 10 percent of juice and stretch it out to 24 hours of uptime. If that holds up, this might be the GS5's killer feature.
Kudos to Samsung for launching the GS5 with the latest version of Android. Just don't expect to see a lot of stock Android, with the customary thick layer of TouchWiz slabbed on top. The Nexus 5, meanwhile, is the current best example of a pure Android phone. No custom UIs or bundled crapware to be found.
But you could argue that some of Samsung's bundled apps transcend crapware. You get a boatload of free services with your purchase, including a free six-month subscription the Wall Street Journal, 1 TB of Bitcasa storage for three months, 50 GB of Box storage for six months, and three months of Evernote Premium. These and other offers combine for a grand total of US$576 worth of goodies.
The Nexus 5 has been around for just over four months now. We still have to wait for April for the GS5's launch (the 11th is Samsung's big day for many regions).
Pricing is still the big question about Samsung's phone. No matter what price tag Sammy slaps onto it, though, don't expect it to dip anywhere near the Nexus 5's off-contract price. Its $350 starting price is an insane deal for a terrific high-end phone.