Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Nexus 5

Vs Paul Briden 22:18, 6 Nov 2013

How does the Nexus 5 compare to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3?

Google’s Nexus 5 flagship is finally out, but how does it stack up to Samsung’s impressive Galaxy Note 3 phablet?

DEVICE Nexus 5 Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Dimensions 137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59mm, 130g 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm, 168g
Display 5-inch (actual 4.95-inch) full HD IPS 1920 x 1080 pixels, 455ppi 5.7-inch full HD  Super AMOLED 1920x1080 pixels, 386ppi
Camera Rear 8.0MP with OIS / Front 1.3MP HD, 1080p video Rear 13MP/Front 2MP, 1080p video
Storage 32GB/16GB 32GB/64GB, microSD up to 64GB
Processor, RAM, Graphics Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with 2.26GHz Quad-Core Krait CPU, 2GB of RAM Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with 2.3GHz Quad-Core Krait CPU, 3GB of RAM
Operating System Android 4.4 KitKat Android 4.3 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz UI
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/ac, dual-band, DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, MHL
Battery 2,300mAh non-removable 3,200mAh removable

Design and build

Soft-touch plastics are the order of the day here. Samsung has ditched the glossy back panel style in favour of a faux leather textured alternative while the Nexus 5 uses a familiar rubber-feel material we’ve seen on the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10.

Both devices are nicely proportioned with a solid fit and finish. Samsung has made the larger phablet concept work very well thanks to a thinner, lighter and better balanced chassis. The screen is larger than its predecessor but has been crammed into a bodyshell that is not much bigger thanks to its narrower bezel. Meanwhile the faux leather and serrated texture on the silver surround ensure good grip.

Ultimately, the Nexus 5, being a smaller device, is a good deal lighter and should be a bit easier to handle. Additionally, while Samsung’s use of faux leather is an improvement there’s something odd about the skeumorphic design which may not sit well with everyone. Google’s Nexus 5 is a bit smoother and more understated in its appearance.


The gap has well and truly closed on display quality amongst high-end Android devices these days and there’s very little difference from one to the other – most are typically a pleasure to look at and use. So it is with the Nexus 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3.

The Galaxy Note 3 uses Pentile Super AMOLED technology on a larger 5.7-inch display but still enjoys the luxury of a full HD 1080p resolution, resulting in a high pixel density at 386 pixels-per-inch (ppi). As well as being sharp and clear, the Super AMOLED screen ensures rich colours, good contrast, black depth and brightness, and better-than-average performance in bright outdoor lighting conditions.

The Nexus 5’s 5-inch IPS LCD can boast a similarly high-grade picture quality. It uses LG’s “True HD” tech, as seen on the LG G2, for a sharper picture. Pixel density comes in at 445ppi and it is also a full HD 1080p panel. Colour is vivid and brightness levels are strong. Basically it's very impressive. But so is the Note 3's, so go figure...


The Nexus 5 has the essential bases covered with both 16GB and 32GB variants, but as with all previous Nexus devices it doesn’t have microSD card capability.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 comes in 32GB and 64GB variants in the UK, both with microSD support up to 64GB.

In this respect, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is looking a bit more flexible, but both handsets are in a good position in terms of overall capacity.

Processor and performance

Both phones are running the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core chip and every device this processor has appeared in to date has performed remarkably well. It offers very smooth operation of the Android operating system, is easily capable of multitasking plenty of apps and carries enough grunt to take on more intensive multimedia such as 3D gaming or streaming HD video.


Again, connectivity is pretty standard as far as top-end and flagship devices go. You’ve got your 4G and 3G mobile data capabilities, as well as a range of Wi-Fi options, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0.


Google’s trick card is the fact that its Nexus devices run the latest version of its own Android operating system, and with the Nexus 5 we’re treated to the brand new Android 4.4 KitKat build.

That means you get the stock Android interface, as Google intended it. It’s had a bit of an overhaul and is generally cleaner, with new icons and translucent menus and bars replacing the older black-coloured design.

Google has also added native support for printing documents from your phone and you can specify third-party apps to be your default messaging client. Other tweaks and optimisations continue to ensure things run as smoothly as possible.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 runs the only recently usurped Android 4.3 Jelly Bean build, which still has plenty of life in it in terms of features and functionality – it’s hardly outdated. More significantly, however, there are added features with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI overlay, which supports some interesting multitasking features.

Multiscreen lets you share the display between two applications, while Pen Windows allows you to draw an area on the screen in which to run one or more moveable windowed apps.

Then of course there’s a whole suite of apps and features designed to take advantage of the Galaxy Note 3’s S Pen stylus, letting you take notes, draw sketches or scrapbook web and multimedia content with ease.

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