Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

Vs Paul Briden 16:54, 6 Nov 2013

We check out the differences between Samsung's Galaxy S4 and the Google Nexus 5

Can the venerable Samsung Galaxy S4 stand up to Google’s latest challenger, the Nexus 5?

DEVICE Nexus 5 Samsung Galaxy S4
Dimensions 137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59mm, 130g 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, 130g
Display 5-inch (actual 4.95-inch) full HD IPS 1920 x 1080 pixels, 455ppi 5-inch full HD  Super AMOLED 1920x1080 pixels, 440ppi
Camera Rear 8.0MP with OIS / Front 1.3MP HD, 1080p video Rear 13MP/Front 2MP, 1080p video
Storage 32GB / 16GB 16GB/32GB/64GB, microSD up to 64GB
Processor, RAM, Graphics Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with 2.26GHz Quad-Core Krait 400 CPU, 2GB of RAM, Adreno 330 GPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 with 2.3GHz Quad-Core Krait 400 CPU, 2GB of RAM, Adreno 330 GPU or Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 with 1.9GHz Krait 300 CPU, 2GB of RAM, Adreno 320 GPU
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 2,600mAh removable

Design and build

Both phones have a lot in common with their immediate predecessors, essentially being larger, thinner versions with a spec boost. There are some differences on the outside though, the Nexus 5 has ditched the Nexus 4’s glitzy glass back panel and now that signature soft-touch rubbery material we’ve seen on other Nexus devices covers the entire rear half.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is a bit less rounded than the Galaxy S3 and the bezel around the display has shrunk significantly, but it’s still made from the same glossy plastic, which is durable enough, but not exactly rewarding to the touch.

Both devices are very well made with no creaking or flex and feel solid in the hand. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 has nice balance visually with evenly proportioned space around the display, but I think the Nexus 5 has the edge in aesthetics with a sharper design and the soft-touch matte finish is nicer to handle too.

Display

Once again, display technology, at least in the high grade flagship sphere, appears to have reached equilibrium and these days you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to top-tier picture quality.

Samsung’s Galaxy S4 features a 5-inch Pentile Super AMOLED screen with a full HD 1920x1080 pixel resolution at 440 pixels-per-inch (ppi). Picture quality is superb with rich, vibrant colours, deep blacks and great contrast, while brightness is also robust and the phone is capable of use in bright sunshine.

The Nexus 5’s display is ever-so-slightly smaller at 4.95-inches but it still has a full HD 1920x1080 pixel resolution and clocks up an impressive pixel density of 445ppi. This is the same True HD IPS+ LCD technology LG used on its LG G2 flagship which garnered plenty of positive feedback for its ultra-sharp, bright and colourful image.

Processor and performance

There are now actually two variants of the Galaxy S4 available in the UK: the original model with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chip, dubbed the I9505 and the more recently released Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 powered reboot, the I9506.

The I9505’s Snapdragon 600 uses Qualcomm’s Krait 300 architecture, which is a quad-core clocked at 1.9GHz with 2GB of RAM and an Adreno 320 graphics processing unit (GPU). The Snapdragon 800 inside the I9506 uses the more recent and more efficient Krait 400 cores at 2.3GHz and with an Adreno 330 GPU.

Google’s Nexus 5 has more in common with the I9506 Galaxy S4 model as it uses the same quad-core Snapdragon 800 setup clocked near enough to the 2.3GHz mark.

The Qualcomm 600 powered Galaxy S4 remains a decent enough performer and it’s plenty powerful for the majority of your smartphone needs. However, there’s a noticeable boost when running Snapdragon 800 devices – they feel much smoother and more responsive with no drop in performance whatsoever.

Both the Nexus 5 and I9506 model Galaxy S4 can deliver on this front.

Storage

Originally you could just get the 16GB Galaxy S4 in the UK but some retailers now list the 32GB model too, but so far there’s no sign of a 64GB variant. You can currently pre-order the 16GB version of the I9506 Galaxy S4 with some retailers but there’s no word on a 32GB model at present. All Galaxy S4 models have a microSD slot which supports cards up to 64GB.

Connectivity

The Nexus 5 and both Galaxy S4 variants all have 4G and 3G data connectivity as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC. The Galaxy S4 also benefits from MHL TV-Out.

Software

Google’s Android platform reigns supreme on these devices. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 now runs Android 4.3 and Samsung's custom TouchWiz UI on top adds in a number of extra features, including the ability to share the screen between two apps at once. More generally, the whole interface has a distinctive Samsung visual overhaul, including things like a modified drop-down notifications menu with quick toggles.

Being the latest Nexus device, the Nexus 5 is the debut handset for Google’s latest Android software version dubbed Android 4.4 KitKat – and in stock configuration too. The new build does add some extra functionality, such as built-in support for printers, but primarily it’s about further optimisation tweaks and an updated UI which looks much fresher.

Check out all of Android 4.4's best new features!

Sponsored Links