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Nexus 5 vs. iPhone 5s

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December 11, 2013

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the LG/Google Nexus 5 and Apple iPhone 5s

Gizmag compares the features and specs of the LG/Google Nexus 5 and Apple iPhone 5s

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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.

Size

The Nexus 5 is 11 percent taller and 17 percent wider

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.

Weight

The iPhone 5s is 14 percent lighter

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.

Build

It's matte plastic vs. anodized aluminum

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.

Colors

Color options for each phone

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.

Display

The iPhone's screen only gives you 65 percent as much area

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.

Fingerprint sensor

The iPhone 5s' Touch ID fingerprint sensor is its killer feature

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.

Storage

Storage options for each handset

The only difference in internal storage is the iPhone's 64 GB option. Neither device has a microSD card slot.

LTE

This time around, both phones support speedy 4G LTE

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.

Processor

On paper, this looks like a route for the Nexus 5, but the iPhone's A7 chip is a beast

Both phones have some of the fastest processors on the market today. You shouldn't have any performance issues at all here.

RAM

The Nexus doubles the iPhone's 1 GB of RAM

The Nexus 5 does, however, double the 1 GB of RAM in Apple's latest flagship.

Camera

The iPhone 5s has the superior camera at launch, but some just-released software updates c...

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.

Slow-motion video

The iPhone 5s' camera lets you record slow-motion video

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

Only the Nexus 5 has an NFC chip

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

The Nexus 5's battery holds more juice, but battery life may be an advantage for they 5s

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.

Wireless charging

The Nexus 5 is compatible with Qi wireless charging stations, but you'll have to buy one s...

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.

NFC

The Nexus 5's camera has optical image stabilization (OIS)

Apple has yet to embrace near-field communication, but the Nexus 5 has an NFC chip in tow.

Software

Both phones give you pure, up-to-date versions of their respective operating systems

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.

Release cycle

Both phones released within the last few months

No worries here, as there won't likely be another iPhone or Nexus phone release until late 2014.

Starting prices (off-contract)

The Nexus 5's off-contract pricing makes it the best value around ... that is, if you can ...

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 more

We'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:

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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
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8 Comments

You don't have to "snag one from Google Play", BestBuy has unlocked 16 & 32GB versions, often for cheaper than what Google offers (especially if you have RewardsZome credit).

Two Replies
11th December, 2013 @ 11:10 pm PST

The iPhone doesn't need NFC because of iBeacon technology, which is being rolled out all over the place, is much more powerful, and you will be able to use it in your home, if you choose.

Michael Dlugos
12th December, 2013 @ 05:41 am PST

Michael, that's half the problem. Anything Apple does is going to use a proprietary approach, whereas NFC is a standard in technology.

Todd Christopher Wolf
12th December, 2013 @ 09:04 am PST

Every time I read the latest in phone tech or tablet tech we are always comparing to Apple.. I think I will just buy Apple.. seems everyone compares everything to them so my reasoning is.. stick with what everyone is trying to be or beat. Got the iPhone and the iPad now thanks everyone.. never been happier. Now you can all compare your devices against mine. I don't care, they do exactly what I want and not full of features that I will never use.

Michaelangelo
13th December, 2013 @ 02:23 am PST

Michaelangelo, one has giant screen, it has better battery life and cost half the other one and you think iPhone is still the best option for you?

techiedude
13th December, 2013 @ 05:09 am PST

The problem with comparing a single iPhone to a single Android phone is that you're missing the point of Android. For the very latest iPhones, there are two to choose from but Android there is a solution to meet almost anyone's needs. Need stylus, there's a Note for you. Need a phablet, those are out there. Want the ability to run multiple windows, host TeamViewer, etc, get a Samsung. Want Beats built in, HTC has a phone for you.

Fragmentation for sure but if you need that function, it can more than likely be found. Heck, on a iPhone, you can't even change the icon sets or launcher UI. If you like or can settle for what Apple dictates, iOS might be the better solution for you.

Rann Xeroxx
13th December, 2013 @ 07:09 am PST

Techiedude..the Nexus's battery life is absolutely terrible..battery life and the camera has always been Nexus's short comings.

Owning both devices and a nexus 4..I'll take the iPhone if I expect to make it past half the day..none of these can compare to the huge Note 3's battery life though.

Chris Kommavong
29th December, 2013 @ 02:33 pm PST

the nexus 5 is better than iphone 5s because it has more battery power

Explicitly faster processor

Several higher pixel density

Remarkably higher resolution

more RAM

Larger screen

Has a durable glass screen

more megapixels

Can be loaded (e) via a standard USB cable

Featuring an integrated optical image stabilization

Featuring a NFC device

With a system of USB mass storage

With a DLNA network

jade44
11th January, 2014 @ 09:45 am PST
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