iPhone 5S vs Nexus 5

Vs Richard Goodwin 15:30, 21 Nov 2013

Google's Nexus 5 and Apple's iPhone 5S are both finally out - how do they compare?

Two of the most highly-anticipated flagship handsets of the year are now out in the wild at long last. We take a look at how the Nexus 5, Google's LG-made Android 4.4 KitKat phone, compares to Apple's iPhone 5S.

Direct spec comparison

DEVICE Nexus 5 iPhone 5s
Dimensions 137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59mm, 130g 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm, 112g
Display 5-inch (actual 4.95-inch) full HD IPS LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 445ppi 4-inch IPS LCD Retina display, 640 x 1136 pixels, 361ppi
Camera Rear 8.0MP with OIS /Front 1.3MP HD 8.0MP rear/Front 1.2MP 
Storage 16GB/32GB 16GB /32GB/64GB
Processor, RAM, Graphics Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with 2.26GHz Quad-Core Krait 400 CPU with 2GB of RAM, Adreno 330 GPU Dual-core 64-bit 1.3GHz A7 chipset, with 1GB of RAM
Operating System Android 4.4 iOS 7
Connectivity 4G/3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi hotspot, Wireless charging, NFC, Miracast, Bluetooth 4.0 4G/3G, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth 
Battery 2,300mAh 1,560mAh

Design and build

Apple’s iPhone 5S hasn’t changed a great deal on the outside from the iPhone 5 – the size, weight and proportions are all the same, but then so is the premium feel and solid build quality. It now comes in a range of new colours – gold, silver and grey, and has a metallic bezel around the Home key, but aside from these slight visual tweaks it is still a familiar sight.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing of course, there is something quite compelling about the iPhone 5S’s design, build and feel in the hand.

The Nexus 5 is more or less the same shape as its predecessor, the Nexus 4, meaning it cuts a pretty sharp silhouette, but is a good deal larger to accommodate a bigger display. The back is no longer glass and instead Google’s familiar soft-touch matte finish material covers the whole rear panel. While the fit and finish is top notch and the texture certainly beneficial for grip it’s also not as glamorous as the iPhone’s metallic chassis, so if you’re after the best looks you may be disappointed.

That's not to say that it's ugly, far from it, in fact it's probably the nicest Nexus device so far. It just doesn't look like some kind of spaceship. This could be a good or bad thing depending on your preferences.


Apple continues to stick to its guns on the idea that a smaller 4-inch display is more manageable while the 361 pixel-per-inch (ppi) Retina panel is perfectly optimised for the maximum sharpness your eye can perceive at typical smartphone viewing distances.

Whether you agree with that or not, it’s definitely an impressively sharp, colourful and bright IPS+ LCD display.

But then, so is the Nexus 5’s larger 4.95-inch IPS+ LCD display with a full HD 1920x1080 pixel resolution at 445ppi.

There’s not much between these two on picture quality but the Nexus 5 has almost a full inch on the iPhone 5S and for some that may understandably just seal the deal - more real estate for viewing games, webpages and films is a definite plus and the larger proportions hardly make it an unweildy device, despite what Apple may think about thumb-reach.

Processor and performance

Apple’s big selling point for the iPhone 5S is the use of a new A7 dual-core chip based on 64-bit architecture. While some have claimed Apple’s use of 1GB of RAM doesn’t allow the full benefit of 64-bit architecture, the chip is nonetheless storming benchmark tests and is largely generating positive review feedback with reports of silky smooth performance.

Currently the selection of available 64-bit optimised apps is fairly limited to Apple’s own suite of iWorks productivity apps and Garage Band, but there is a noticeable boost in performance and load times are shorter. Developers are expected to jump on the 64-bit bandwagon in the coming months, so we should see this kind of snappier and more responsive interaction coming in across the board.

Needless to say, the iPhone 5S is far and away the fastest iPhone Apple has produced to date and easily keeps up with (if not exceeds) its Android counterparts.

Google has opted for the big daddy of the current processor crop – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 quad-core chip, based on its most efficient Krait 400 architecture and clocked at near to 2.3GHz with 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 330 graphics processing unit (GPU).

Naturally this chip performs as well as it does in any other Android flagship it’s appeared in so far offering unparalleled speeds for all kinds of smartphone tasks from high-end multimedia to intensive multitasking and gaming, you're pretty much covered here for any content from Google Play and the setup is also plenty future proof as far as device longevity is concerned.


Apple’s iPhone 5S has the usual array of storage options – 16GB, 32GB and 64GB with no microSD capability while the Nexus 5 comes in 16GB and 32GB variants. Again, there is no microSD expandability on the Nexus 5. The iPhone 5S fares a little better here with the higher 64GB option but there's really little room to complain considering you've still got stacks of space on the Nexus 5.

Connectivity and Battery

Both handsets have a pretty standard set of connectivity options, including wide-ranging 4G and 3G mobile data, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Apple’s iPhone 5S uses the company’s Lightning connector and doesn’t use NFC in favour of iBeacons, while the Nexus 5 has NFC and microUSB.

The iPhone 5S features a 1,560mAh battery pack compared to the Nexus 5’s 2,300mAh unit. Neither setup is removable.


This is your typical immovable object versus unstoppable force scenario. There isn’t a “best” option here as both Android 4.4 KitKat and iOS 7 offer a similar set of functionality from drop-down notifications menus to a quick settings interface and multitasking carousel. Of course both look very different and Google’s system is a little more open. Each also has access to a massive range of apps, games and content, as well as music and video streaming services.

It becomes a question of content investment. Already own lots of music on iTunes? Probably best to go with the iPhone 5S. Are you an avid Gmail/Google Drive/Chrome user? The Nexus 5 is an obvious choice.


The elephant in the room on any comparison between an Apple device and most Android phones, an Nexus devices in particular, is the price tag.

Google's Nexus 5 may have jumped from the Nexus 4's sub-£200 point to £299 for the 16GB model and £339 for the 32GB, but even then it's considerably cheaper than the iPhone 5S at all levels.

The iPhone 5S starts at £549 for the 16GB version and just goes up from there to a staggering £709 for the 64GB option, granted the Nexus 5 doesn't have a 64GB version but the 32GB iPhone is way more expensive than Google's counterpart at £629.

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