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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

Disqus - noscript

s4 got a pentile display dude... only the arrangement's different...

Currently have the Nexus 5... think based on performance especially with a carrier like T-Mobile, the features on the S4 outweigh the Nexus 5. I will be returning the Nexus 5

What about a sim free version? Remember the Nexus 5 is a lot cheaper.

Feature wise any Samsung, HTC or LG will beat the vanilla stock treatment of nexus devices. However, Nexus devices are always cheaper and offer great value for money.
Ya, ill go for S4 too any day. Better camera, better battery, more compact,expandable storage, multi -view... could go on forever.
Nexus 5's KitKat cant make up for feature differences with its low price though.

Please go for vanilla Android. The layer of TouchWiz that Samsung thrusts upon Android really sucks. Especially if you are a developer.

For the 0.00001% population of Andrid deveopers- go for Nexus
For the rest, its a different matter of discussion. If TouchWiz and its features bug you, then thats your personal problem. I cant believe Google hasn't implemented Samsung's "clear all task" or "kill all task" button in their recent app drawer. This is why stock Google UI will always be inferior, you dont even get basic features available on Rs10,000 Samsung phones

Nexus 5 + Root is far superior. With stock Android you are able to physically remove all add on (which isn't all that much). Samsung on the other hand decides to rape their users of any reasonable amount of available space allotted to them. Not only that, but you can't even REMOVE 95% of the crap they put on there.

So say you want to remove all of this, what do you have to do? You have to ROOT. If you root the Galaxy S4 you will flag your knox as 0x1 (read about knox). If your knox is 0x1 (in the USA at least) your warranty will be voided. The knox counter is NOT resettable... you can't just reflash and send it back.

Samsungs cameras, while they have a higher pixel count, tend to over-expose... by a LOT.

I don't know, Samsung has sweet specs... but going with Samsung is like going with Apple in the customization department. I'll take freedom and lower price instead thanks.

Totally agree, most (the 0.00001%) people complain about TouchWiz without a proper reason, if its a personal reason it cant be applied to everyone, i myself have the S4 and its really a great phone and i actually love Touchwiz, it offers tons of smart and useful features, and if i get tired there are tons of launchers to get. The reasons you mentioned like SD, better camera is enough for me to invest the extra money any day.

LOL you didnt just say that! Having nexus is more like apple then any, do you get SD card? do you get removable battery? Physical button? i didnt think so, Samsung is all about options, i cant believe people are so naive, google is trying to tie you down more and more one step at a time, long ago you could install apps on SD but its removed and they are forcing you into their eco system more and more like removing sms app and integrating into hangouts etc etc
Not a bad thing perhaps but they are doing exactly as Apple making you use their stuff and if Samsung does that then suddenly its a bad thing?

The reason samsung does the know thing is if people want to play around with their phone they can but dont expect Samsung to fix it for you if something goes bad, its your choice, i dont want the hassle to root even if its really simple (i dont that before but dont care much for it as the TW is great as is). Only thing i agree with you is some of the crapware but i can disable most of them and its no biggy.

I like to pay more and get more of the good things like camera, SD, button, more software tweaks that help me so we have different priorities and view.

The fact that it doesn't have an SD card does not indicate that Google is "limiting" their users. The phone is built by LG and has little to do with Android's software.

Removable battery? No... but that's what external battery packs are for.

Samsung on the other hand does not allow for users to have full control of their phones. You are not allowed to remove their software and a lot of it you are unable to even disable. Want to ditch TouchWiz? Well, you can't! That wouldn't be what Samsung wants for you.

Their are many SMS alternatives in the Playstore that you can download, that's part of the freedom.

Please tell me you don't think Samsung's "tweaks" do anything other than lag your phone... seriously do some research on the matter. The stock Android UI is faster and more efficient than TouchWiz has ever been.

I can root my phone and change anything I want with it... and Google will still warranty my phone should anything go wrong, so NO Samsung does NOT provide you with freedom.

Ok lets seem how many of the latest “Google” phones don’t have SD card?
And crosscheck with how many Pure LG phone have SD card?
See a pattern? I thought so!

Battery packs? no thanks when it takes me like 20 second to open the back and replace it
with a charged battery without the hassle of cable or the big size battery packs. Again bad advice.

I can’t remove the TW software but i can use other Launchers, and i can flash my phone if thats what you mean, but as matter a fact TW is much nicer then pure android, it has tons of good features, what exactly is your problem with it or is it just something you complain about just cause you need to pick on something? I rarely see people with any intelligent comment when they comment on TW so please share some of your issues with it?

Regarding SMS, same is valid for Launchers. But why remove something as vital as SMS app? It just don’t make sense unless they want more people to only use their stuff. Some older people will for sure not understand or even get confused when they don’t find a pure sms app. Its such a vital part of a phone that i think its stupid to get rid of it.

TW is for sure more heavy then “Pure” android UI but it does bring many useful things into pictures like multi window , a better task manager and lots of tweaks here and there and i prefer to have features rather then a silly UI that don’t do anything. With S800 chip i don’t have any lags (ok it is some really really rare millisecond lag i notice once or twice but its not killing me)

Lets see if you brick your phone and go to “Google” or shall i say LG and see what happens. I don’t think they will be very happy or help you more then Samsung would. Also Samsung sells like 5 times (or more) then LG so no wonder they don’t want many people come to them crying for bricking their phones so i do understand why they do this and face it, its like 1% of users (i think much less even) who do flash ROMS and root their phones so its not like you the majority here.

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