If you want to pit the most popular iOS and Android phones against each other, then you'd snag an iPhone 5s and plop it down next to a Galaxy S4. But what if you'd rather look at the phones that best showcase iOS and Android? Then you'd be better off swapping that GS4 for the latest "pure Google" Nexus phone. Read on, as Gizmag compares the features and specs of the LG/Google Nexus 5 and Apple iPhone 5s.
As is often the case when comparing an iPhone to an Android flagship, we're looking at a pretty big size difference. The Nexus 5 is much smaller than phablets like the Galaxy Note 3 and HTC One Max, but it's still 11 percent longer, 17 percent wider, and 13 percent thicker than the iPhone 5s.
The Nexus 5 is also 16 percent heavier than the 5s, but when you take that size difference into account, both handsets are going to feel very light in hand. No worries in this department.
As far as construction and finish, we're looking at plastic vs. aluminum. But the Nexus 5's smooth matte finish feels much higher-end than the glossy and flimsy plastic you'll find on most Samsung flagships.
The Nexus 5 is sold in standard black and white options, while the 5s ships in three different hues. The space gray iPhone has a black front, while the silver and gold models sport white faces.
The iPhone 5s only gives you 65 percent as much screen real estate as the Nexus 5 does. That discrepancy won't be quite that wide in regular use, owing to the Nexus 5's persistent onscreen navigation bar.
Both screens are sharp, and your eyes may not need anything sharper than the iPhone's 326 PPI Retina Display. With that said, the Nexus 5's 1080p IPS screen does pack in 185 percent more pixels.
Apple's Touch ID sensor is the iPhone 5s' killer feature. Set up a passcode, teach the phone up to five fingerprints, then simply rest your finger on the home button to unlock your phone. Anyone else will be locked out, giving you a nice balance of security and convenience.
The only difference in internal storage is the iPhone's 64 GB option. Neither device has a microSD card slot.
Last year's Nexus 4 lacked officially-supported LTE, but the Nexus 5 brings the speedy network back to the Nexus lineup. It's compatible with 1/2/4/5/17/19/25/26/41 LTE bands in the US, and the 1/3/5/7/8/20 bands everywhere else.
The big wireless caveat is the Nexus 5's incompatibility with the biggest carrier in the US, Verizon. It's supported on the other three major US carriers, while the iPhone 5s is available on all four.
Both phones have some of the fastest processors on the market today. You shouldn't have any performance issues at all here.
The Nexus 5 does, however, double the 1 GB of RAM in Apple's latest flagship.
The iPhone has the better camera, as the Nexus 5's shooter is one of its weaker points. But we're still waiting to test the results of Google's updated Android 4.4.1, which gives a shot of adrenaline to the Nexus 5's autofocus, white balance and shutter lag.
The iPhone 5s' camera isn't a huge improvement over the iPhone 5, but its dual LED flash does give you more colorful and evenly-lit flash photography shots.
The other big improvement in the iPhone 5s' camera is its slow-motion video feature. It records clips in 120 fps, then slows them down to 25 percent speed. If you have a pet or go to lots of sporting events, this can be a ton of fun.
Optical image stabilization
One area where the Nexus 5's camera wins is with optical image stabilization. Its OIS will help reduce camera shake when you're shooting video.
If you're talking about still shots, though, the 5s does have a nice feature where you can snap a burst of shots, and the phone's algorithms will automatically pick the sharpest one for you (you can also sort through them manually and keep as many as you want).
Battery life isn't terrific in the Nexus 5, but it should get you through a full day. The iPhone's battery holds less juice, but still delivers very solid uptimes.
The Nexus 5 is compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard, so most commercial charging docks should work well with it. Google sells its own charger for a pretty hefty US$50, but you can find third-party versions for around $20-30.
Apple has yet to embrace near-field communication, but the Nexus 5 has an NFC chip in tow.
The Nexus 5 was just updated to Android 4.4.2, with those camera fixes onboard. Apart from price (more on that in a minute) and stock Android, always up-to-date software is the biggest reason to choose a Nexus phone over other Android handsets.
No worries here, as there won't likely be another iPhone or Nexus phone release until late 2014.
Starting prices (off-contract)
Off-contract pricing is the Nexus 5's killer feature ... well, that is, if you can snag one from Google Play. At the time of this writing, the 32 GB model ships from Google within a couple days, while the 16 GB model is backordered by two to three weeks. You can also get the new Nexus from various carriers and retailers, but it won't have quite the same drool-worthy pricing.
Apple's pricing is aimed more at the carrier-subsidized model, and usually rings up for US$200 on-contract.
Much moreWe're just scratching the surface here, but if you want some deeper dives, you can check out our extended hands-on coverage of these two phones:
- Nexus 5 review
- iPhone 5s review
- Nexus 5 vs. Moto X: hands-on
- Nexus 5 vs. Galaxy S4: hands-on
- iPhone 5s vs. Galaxy S4: hands-on
- iPhone 5s vs. iPhone 5c: hands-on