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.

Display

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.

Storage

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.

Software

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.

Price

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.

Disqus - noscript

The specs are wrong - iPhone 5S has only 1 GB of RAM

not forgetting to add that 1GB RAM outperforms android's claimed 2-3GB of RAM :)

Evidence?
Have a look at the Benchmark tests for the Nexus 5.

Cheers for the heads-up on that one. It's been amended!

I'd rather wait for the real life tests as android phones strangely seem to perform better on benchmark tests then real life, no clue why!

Benchmarks are stupid and you can't compare them between different platforms.
Apple can easily cheat on benchmarks because iOS is closed source.

i think you'll find android are the ones who do this lol

I have...have YOU?! Apple A7 molests Nexus 5 processor (Qualcomm S800). ONLY close in a few GPU benchmarks...otherwise, it is a total molestation!

Apple A7 is in another league compared to any Android processor to date. Not even close.

Just how powerful is Apple A7 processor?

Anandtech's review of iPad Air: AnandTech | The iPad Air Review

Quotes:

With Cyclone Apple is in a completely different league. As far as I can tell, peak issue width of Cyclone is 6 instructions. That’s at least 2x the width of Swift and Krait, and at best more than 3x the widthdepending on instruction mix.

Cyclone appears to be the widest ARM architecture we’ve ever seen at this point. I’m talking wider than Qualcomm’s Krait 400 (S800) and even ARM’s Cortex A15.

As Brian found out in his investigation after the iPad event last week all three devices use the exact same silicon with the exact same internal model number: S5L8960X. There are no extra cores, no change in GPU configuration and the biggest one: no increase in memory bandwidth.

This is the first Apple SoC that’s able to deliver good amounts of memory bandwidth to all consumers. A single CPU core can use up 8GB/s of bandwidth. I’m still vetting other SoCs, but so far I haven’t come across anyone in the ARM camp that can compete with what Apple has built here. Only Intel is competitive.

You can see the 5s throttles back its CPU frequency to about 1GHz after the 2 minute mark. The crazy thing is that until that point the 5s manages to run at full frequency without so much as a hiccup for two full minutes, running an incredibly power hungry task. Given that most iOS apps aren’t this power intensive for such a sustained period of time, iPhone 5s users should almost always see the A7 running at a full 1.3GHz. Pretty crazy.

There's definitely a ton of headroom left in the design.

$400 vs $650 edit - excuse me $750

You didn't compare the price lol

I have a nexus 5 and all my music is on apple iTunes and I stream it just fine to Google play. So having your music on iTunes shouldn't sway your decision. I had iPhone 5 before nexus, I couldn't stand its simplicity. I like the nexus 5 way better...without a doubt.

I certainly hope the 5 is a better PHONE than the Nexus 4- which I own. The Nexus 4 is not a very good phone at basic stuff like holding a signal for data or GPS compared to the iPhone 5- which I have also owned.

All the features in the world are pretty useless when the product has inferior hardware and the Android software is definitely inferior in almost every aspect as well. The Nexus 4 performs poorly compared to the iPhone 5 running the same apps on the same network in the same locations. Just yesterday- on a clear sunny day in a car with a sunroof the Nexus 4 repeatedly lost the GPS signal. The Nexus 4 is the only cell phone I have ever seen that could drop a data connection to a tower so close you could hit it with a thrown baseball.

Since the 5 is also a rebranded LG phone, I doubt I will be in the market. It is just a really crappy set of hardware with a second rate software package.

I might be wrong but isn't there wireless charging with the Nexus 5? If so, I think this should be noted. It's a nice feature and might help with the buying decision.

Nexus 5 is a great phone, if not the best for your buck. Forget apple, why bother with 64 bit processing on iOS when you'll find little opportunity to run high performance tasks! Apple have lost their way. I'd rather have an old android phone than a 'new' IPhone. Nothing 'new' about it. "thinner, lighter, faster".

@Shaun Wells That pretty much sums it up. That's why it wasn't mentioned in this comparison. Because after price, there is no comparison! Nexus 5 easily wins.

It would be great if a site called "know your mobile" was designed to be viewed on a mobile device.

Not many talk about it but iPhone 5S is a UE Category 3 phone, while Nexus 5 is Category 4 with a faster network processing speed. N5 wins.

I have to say... after finally going from a 'button' Nokia (with only a flashlight as extra)... My new Nexus 5 is fantastic. To be honest, I was lucky that I could consider an iPhone5 on price grounds... But... compared to the Nexus (similar specs),... it just looked really fussy, and a bit tacky. Very happy with my Nexus 5 :)

JUST LOOK AT THE SPECS YOU IDIOTS 2-3 GB OF RAM IS BETTER THEN 1 GB, 2.3 GHZ IS FASTER THEN 1.3 GHZ, AND 445 PPI IS BETTER THEN 361 PPI GET THAT THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULLS YOU APPLE FANBOYS.

Molests? What are you on about? The A7 is only slightly ahead. And certainly not sufficient ahead to be worth twice the price.

Put it this way. At the prices Google is selling the Nexus line for, you can afford to get a Nexus phone every year or an iPhone every 2 years for the same money. What's the better outcome? Today the Nexus 5 is only slightly behind the iPhone 5S (and ahead in many ways like screen size). Next year's Nexus will surely best the A7 and probably beat the iPhone 5S on several more dimensions. So again, it's a value proposition. And the Nexus wins by a country mile.

Even though iOS is a closed source it is not possible to cheat on some bechmarks, some bypass the main programming and directly interact with chip software, they do test based on pre defined sets of problem tables while checking the actual clock speed, fluidness of interfaces. JAVA benchmarks are virtually fool proof, they completely ignore the OS. A7 is a great chip in specs, it is better than every smartphone in processing power and is much better in GPU, with a much better power consumption.
Have you ever compared size of iPhone and these Android phones. Apple puts so much stuff in smaller size than these, if it were to create a phone the size of S4, it can fit 2 A7 processors, bigger battery etc. then iPhone will blast away all these junk boxes.

I never said the A7 sucks, I do know it is a beast.

If you check all top Android Phones they have same processor, same RAM, same GPU. Have you checked benchmarks scores, specs aren't any good in chips, you can put 10 GB of RAM and use bad interfaces, demanding architecture and you will end up with high power consumption and actual RAM will be lesser. Apple's 1 GB RAM is miles ahead in power efficiency,while a lot of cores in Android phones have bifurcated RAM, the chip architecture is very inefficient. And the cyclone core is a league ahead, its peak width is 6 int, while Krait gives 3 this coupled with software designed around it makes it around 3.2X that of Krait. Also it can run at its peak much longer than Krait core. Cyclone core is in league with intel's Xeon processors on a much more power efficient platform. iOS effectively manges the instruction mix to fluidly run apps. You can do real life test, get a 5s, S4, N5, switch them off, let them cool completely, switch them on and launch Galaxy on Fire 2, 5s beats them by a good margin. As for screen retina display is best combination for typical smartphone viewing distance, although screens on Droid phones is no way behind itt but neither is it better than it.
As for specs, check iPhones size in comparison to these, if they make a phone of this size they can easily fit 2 A7 processors and a bigger battery.
2 cyclone core processors VS Krait core, no way, Krait will be embarrassed.

Their both great phones and it comes DOWN TO PREFERENCE !! My favourite is the Nexus 5 because it has a better display, faster and I prefer KitKat to iOS7. I can see why the iPhone is popular but in my opinion, Apple needs to catch up with Android in the smartphone market, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. Though their iPad's are still the best :)

Yes there is, a very good feature :)

Wow. You have clearly never owned a Nexus 4. Either that or you have a really bad network provider. I have a Nexus 4 on O2. The signal is perfect and never drops out. The GPS works perfectly every time and it the best GPS experience I have had with a mobile device and the fact that it is stock Android with nothing heaped on top of it makes it blazingly fast and definitely better than the iPhone 5 for day to day usage. I will miss my Nexus 4 when I give it to my girlfriend and upgrade to the Nexus 5 next month but I'm still excited as I know with the new Nexus I'll be getting the best performing smartphone available on the market.

Have it on AT&T which has the best coverage in the US market. A month ago I was rear ended at the intersection of 2 US highways and got like 1 bar on the AT&T network. I had to use TruPhone (VoIP) on my iPad with an AT&T hotspot to make the emergency call.

The cell radio in my Nexus 4 is not very good. The battery life is in no way as good as the iPhone 5 it replaced and the apps are inferior- even the same apps from the iPhone.

That's a matter of opinion with regards to Apps and that's actually the fault of the developers and not the phone. My missus loves the Nexus 4 now I've gave it to her and I'm loving my Nexus 5. Amazing phone.

Not in a flame war, but I repurchased every app I used on my iPhone for the Nexus through the Google Play store. Not one of them functions as well on the Android platform as it does on iOS- the same is true of the Samsung Galaxy Tab I own.

I hate the look of iOS7 and switched to the Nexus hoping it would be a good choice. The phone is not as good on the same carrier and the Android OS and apps are inferior- app for app on tablet and phone. Battery life is pitiful compared to the iPhone.

Wish it was not so. Hopefully the Nexus 5 is a better phone.

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