Google Nexus 5 full review

The highly anticipated Google Nexus 5 is now available in the UK. The latest Android high-end smartphone touts impressive specs with both its hardware and brand new KitKat, but how does it stack up against the heavyweight Samsung Galaxy S4? Find out in our Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 comparison review.

Please note, that we have not yet had any hands on time with the Nexus 5 smartphone yet, so this will just be a comparison of specs and reported features. We will update this article in the coming days when we expect to receive a Nexus 5 sample. See also: Nexus 5: Where to buy.

Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 comparison: Appearance

The Nexus 5 goes for a clean, simple design with a nice, small bezel that touts the impressive size and quality of the screen. The device measures 69.17x137.84x8.59 mm, making it slightly narrower and taller than the Galaxy S4, though the Galaxy is thinner. Because we haven't had the chance to take the Nexus 5 out for a spin, it's not clear whether the phone will be easier to handle with one hand with these different dimensions compared to the S4 (or any other devices, for that matter). See also: The 14 best smartphones of 2013.

The Nexus 5's bezel looks a lot like the Galaxy S4, giving the devices fewer physical differences, at least at first glance. The Samsung Galaxy S4 features rounded corners and edges with smooth flowing lines, measuring out at 69.8x136.6x7.9mm. The Samsung Galaxy S4 also has a thin metal rim that nicely gives the device a more solid feel despite its flimsy plastic rear cover.

The Nexus 5 and Galaxy S4 are also equal weights at 130g.

Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4: Specs

Google's Nexus 5 runs on the brand spankin' new Android OS 4.4 KitKat. One of KitKat's big features is a updated voice command function called Google Now. It stands to be seen how well Google Now works in practice, but in theory, it's just like Siri, allowing you to launch voice search, send a text, get directions or play a song by saying “Okay, Google”, followed by the command.

We're also secretly ecstatic that KitKat has integrated Emoji, the Japanese character keyboard once only available to iPhone users, into this latest OS.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Android OS 4.2 Jelly Bean, familiar to the Galaxy S3 so existing Samsung users will feel right at home. Plus, other Android users should be able to get adjusted quite easily since everything's located where you'd expect it to be.

Both devices have front and rear-facing cameras, though the Galaxy S4's got the Nexus 5 beat with a 13Mp rear-facing camera featuring auto focus, flash and zero shutter lag. The 2Mp front-facing camera has full HD recording at 30fps, also with zero shutter lag, Samsung says. Both cameras on the S4 also have back-illuminated sensors, helping you take photos easier in low light.

The Nexus 5's sensors include GPS and a Gyroscope, and the Nexus 5 has two cameras: a 1.3Mp front-facing webcam and an 8Mp rear-facing main camera blessed with Optical Image Stabilization.

Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4: Screen

As its name suggests, the Nexus 5 touts a 5in display—though technically it's really 4.95-inches with a 1080x1920 resolution. This gives the screen a solid pixel density of 445ppi on a full HD IPS display. Don't forget that Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which keeps that screen largely scratch-free.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 stands its ground against the Nexus 5 with a 5in screen and same 1920x1080 resolution, though the Nexus 5 tops the S4's 441ppi pixel density (as it's 0.05-inches smaller). Samsung's got its Super AMOLED technology working for it, which keeps colours bright and punchy while keeping maintaining true blacks.

However, the S4 display can be used with regular gloves.

Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4: Storage and processors

The Nexus 5 runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.26GHz processor and is available with 16 or 32GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM. Unfortunately, there's no opportunities to expand your storage like in the Galaxy S4.

The Galaxy S4 has a 1.9GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 quad-core processor available on its devices in the UK (processors depend on the market in which the device is sold—elsewhere, you can get the phone with the super powerful 1.6GHz octa-core processor, but alas, not in the UK).

The phone comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage options, all which can be expanded with a microSD. The S4 also runs 2GB of RAM like its competitor.

It's worth noting the S4 comes with a large chunk of storage space already used up—in previous tests, we found our 16GB model had just over 8GB of free storage, which is much less than we're used to finding. The microSD's expandable memory helps, but you can't install apps here so it makes things a bit tricky.

The S4 does, however, come loaded with a number of software features on top of the usual Android features. Read our review of the Samsung Galaxy S4 to learn more about Samsung's Air View, Smart Scroll, Multi Window and WatchON features.

Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4: Battery and charging

Google says the Nexus 5's 2300 mAh battery offers up to 17 hours of talk time, up to 8.5 hours of Internet use on W-Fi and 7 hours on LTE, and up to 300 hours of standby time. The Nexus 5 also has Google's wireless charging, previously seen in this year's Nexus 7. We report on the real-world battery performance when we get our review sample.

The Galaxy S4, on the other hand, features a larger 2,600 mAh battery. In our tests, the Galaxy S4 battery life fared okay even under heavy use—we got through 24 hours and lost just over half the battery. Expect the screen to suck up most of the juice.

Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 Price:

It's priced at £299 for the 16GB model on the Google Play Store and £339 for the 32GB edition. By comparison, you can get the Galaxy S4 SIM free for £519.95. We haven't yet tested it but at this price, like the Nexus 4, it looks like an amazing bargain.


Google Nexus 5: Specs

  • Android 4.4 KitKat OS
  • 5in IPS display (1080x1920), 445 ppi
  • 2.26GHz Quad-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16/32GB internal storage
  • 8Mp rear camera, AF with LED Flash
  • 1.6Mp front camera
  • Video recording at up to 1080p
  • dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • NFC
  • A-GPS
  • Micro-USB (SlimPort)
  • HSDPA, 42 Mbps
  • HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
  • 4G LTE (Cat3)
  • Micro-SIM
  • 8.5Wh (2300mAh) battery
  • 69x139x8.6mm
  • 130g

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