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Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

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Interface and functionality


Blessed with the newest Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box, the Nexus 5 will have bragging rights before the Android 4.3-laden Galaxy S4 for a few months, but after that it's fair game. Samsung puts its TouchWiz Nature UX interface overlay on top of the Android looks, though, so if you want stock experience, the Nexus 5 should still be your bet.

UI of the Google Nexus 5 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
UI of the Google Nexus 5 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
UI of the Google Nexus 5 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
UI of the Google Nexus 5 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

UI of the Google Nexus 5


Samsung's interface sports some additional functions you might find useful such as eye-tracking via the front camera which keeps the screen on as long as you are looking at it, as well as video playback pause when you glance away. In addition, it offers things like Air View, which lets you preview emails, messages or even Flipboard news tiles by hovering your finger over them, and Group Play, which can daisy chain a few Galaxy S4 speakers for improvised surround sound listening, or collaborative gameplay.

Interface of the Samsung Galaxy S4 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Interface of the Samsung Galaxy S4 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Interface of the Samsung Galaxy S4 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

Interface of the Samsung Galaxy S4


Thanks to the built-in thermometer and hygrometer, Samsung's phone can also record the ambient temperature and humidity, utilized best in the exclusive S Health fitness and wellbeing app that warns when the environment is getting unbearable around you – like, when your in-laws arrive for Christmas. In addition, it can count your steps and movements throughout the day and do some tricks with calorie and fitness regimen advice based on your lifestyle.

The Nexus 5 strikes back with a step counter, too, but this one has a pedometer sensor directly built into the phone, not relying solely on the run-of-the-mill gyro and accelerometer that every smartphone has. Android KitKat also introduces new interface features like calling the Google Now butler with a left swipe, or the new Immersive mode, which if supported by the app, allows to hide the on-screen buttons and status bar, which can then be called back with a simple gesture.

Furthermore, there are some functions that are unique for KitKat on the Nexus 5, such as wall-to-wall papers, the ability to start voice search directly from the home screen by saying “OK, Google”, and low-power audio playback that lasts for up to 60 hours on the phone, thanks to the embedded audio tunneling in the chipset. The S4 music playback can last about the same, though, so not really an advantage.

Overall, if you prefer stock Android rather than manufacturer customizations, no matter how good they are, the Nexus 5 is currently your best bet. When the Galaxy S4 receives its KitKat update, things would be on a more even keel, yet some features that are unique to the Nexus 5 hardware won't be making it to Samsung's handset.

Processor and memory


Graced with a quad-core Snapdragon 800, clocked at 2.3 GHz, and stock Android build, the Google Nexus 5 should run faster than the Galaxy S4 with its quad-core Snapdragon 600. This is, however, not the case neither during handling, nor if you are a benchmark geek, as the Quadrant results, for instance, are higher from the S4. In reality, the interface and app performance of Samsung's handset is perfectly fine, without any noticeable lag or stutter compared to the Nexus.

Both phones offer 2 GB of RAM, so feel free to multitask at your heart's desire, but when it comes to expandable memory, the S4 has the upper hand. Granted, the phone comes in the same 16 GB or 32 GB versions as the Nexus 5, but offers a microSD card slot under that removable back cover for further storage expansion.

Performance benchmarks

Quadrant
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 12078
Google Nexus 5 8455
AnTuTu
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 24701
Google Nexus 5 26340
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen (fps)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 39
Google Nexus 5 52
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 704
Google Nexus 5 1166
Vellamo HTML 5
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4 1702
Google Nexus 5 1524
View all

Internet and connectivity


No bad word can be said about browsing on these speedy handsets. Nexus 5 uses Chrome as the default browser, so you can kiss any Adobe Flash need that arises goodbye with the stock app, while Samsung's browser lets you sideload it. Chrome is getting faster and better with each new edition, but the speed king is still Samsung's default browser. Its interface seems a bit clunky, though, compared to the minimalistic one of Chrome, and its easy tab switching.

Browser of the Google Nexus 5 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Browser of the Google Nexus 5 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Browser of the Google Nexus 5 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Browser of the Google Nexus 5 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

Browser of the Google Nexus 5


Browsing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S4 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Browsing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S4 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Browsing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S4 - Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

Browsing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S4


The phones are loaded with connectivity options, such as LTE/HSPA+ radios, depending on the region and carrier, Wi-Fi/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS, DLNA and NFC. Android 4.4 KitKat introduces native support for IR blasters, but the Nexus 5 doesn't have one, while the Galaxy S4 can be used as an IR remote with its dedicated app that lets you control TVs, home stereos, air conditioners and the like from your phone.

As for wired connectivity, the microUSB port on both phones has HDMI out, however on the Galaxy S4 you must use MHL adapter/cable, while on the Nexus 5 you must use SlimPort one.

15 Comments
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posted on 12 Nov 2013, 07:33 4

1. fistigons (Posts: 260; Member since: 11 Feb 2012)


I decided to not upgrade my S3 to the S4 because of touchwiz. I'm hoping my Nexus 5 doesn't get boring.

posted on 12 Nov 2013, 07:57 1

4. in_core (Posts: 80; Member since: 14 Sep 2012)


same here. upgrading from S2 to Nexus 5. Sammy boring physical and UI design

posted on 12 Nov 2013, 17:24 1

9. musokestrain (unregistered)


I replaced Touchwiz with Apex Launcher. It made a huge improvement to my S3. Having said that, I bought a Nexus 5 primarily because I wanted Android updates in a timely manner plus it "declutters" the UI compared to Samsung. I do miss Paper Artist though.

posted on 12 Nov 2013, 07:51 3

2. emadshiny (Posts: 1085; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)


I think Sammy couldn't do the right job with S4.
But their Note3 is a masterpiece.

posted on 12 Nov 2013, 07:53 6

3. AliNSiddiqui (Posts: 306; Member since: 19 Sep 2012)


Touchwiz kills all Samsung phones for me. Samsung really needs to work on their design (hardware and software) and optimization

posted on 12 Nov 2013, 07:57 2

5. in_core (Posts: 80; Member since: 14 Sep 2012)


exactly. thats why didn get the s4, instead going with the nexus 5

posted on 12 Nov 2013, 17:14 1

8. AnTuTu (Posts: 599; Member since: 14 Oct 2012)


Touchwiz kills all Samsung phones for you?

Well at the same time you are also missing all of the S features what Sammy brings with its Touchwiz. I have been using S4 from last 6 months and TBH I haven't experienced any lag or issue what so ever. I had the same perception for Touchwiz until I used it for months.

posted on 13 Nov 2013, 05:54 2

12. in_core (Posts: 80; Member since: 14 Sep 2012)


Most of the "S" features are useless.. sure its fun to show your friends for first few days that is also if it works when you trying to do so. But in real life most of them dont give benefit.
Though S4 awesome hardware and 2GB of ram its lags. It does not feel buttery smooth as it should with these hardware. The moto x with much lesser hardware resource slide like butter. I dont hate Samsung but dont like their software implementation and the phones design. Hope they change it with the upcoming S5 or else in future they will face difficulty. HTC is gonna kill samsung

posted on 13 Nov 2013, 13:30 1

13. AnTuTu (Posts: 599; Member since: 14 Oct 2012)


hahahahahahahaha so you proved that you don't know a bit of technology dude.

posted on 13 Nov 2013, 19:29 1

14. in_core (Posts: 80; Member since: 14 Sep 2012)


good to know at least you do.. cheers!!

posted on 12 Nov 2013, 08:08

6. sergiobr (Posts: 309; Member since: 25 Feb 2013)


Going from S3 to Nexus 5, cheaper and better low light photos. Still keeping my Nokia 808 too.

posted on 12 Nov 2013, 10:01

7. rishabh_2795 (Posts: 18; Member since: 22 Feb 2013)


Going from galaxy S to nexus5 because its cheaper and and much better than s4. Even the scrolling in the app drawer doesnt seem smooth enough and sometimes there is an animation stutter something which really pisses me off inspite having an excellent hardware. Takes an eternity to open the gallery from camera app too. And ofcourse touchwiz s**ks.

posted on 12 Nov 2013, 21:36 1

10. Jason2k13 (Posts: 549; Member since: 28 Mar 2013)


i'm really not sure where all these people got the 'touchwiz' is laggy part... how much is too laggy? do they just say its "laggy" when they see a 0.5 second stutter?

I just remove all the samsung widgets to keep it clean and maybe add other widgets, and barely see lag's, but the rare 0.5 lagg and stutters.

People need to realize that this is android, you can change the home screen to other better alternatives like Nova or Apex Launcher etc.

posted on 13 Nov 2013, 01:32

11. blaford (Posts: 2; Member since: 31 May 2012)


I don't understand this writer at all... the more angular design of the nexus 5 looks much sleeker. I'm so tired of these effeminate rounded edged smartphones. Round makes me think of something for a little girl. Like fisher price... windows xp... macs... vw beetles, etc. Samsung is horrible at making a sleek looking phone and while the specs may beat any other manufacturer I have never been pleased with the build quality of Samsung. At least the note 3 is a bit more mature looking.

Despite the fact that both carry a plastic chassis, the rubberized texture on the nexus is much nicer than the cheap glossy stuff on the galaxy.

In my opinion only sony and nokia are making really nice looking phones right now. Now if we can just get a carbon fiber xperia... that would be a nice device.

posted on 18 Nov 2013, 21:22

15. Killertech2099 (Posts: 122; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


I love the nexus 5 for its style and kikat. But lets be honest the camera on the nexus 5 has to be one of the worst camera's I've seen in awhile. I have a google editon s4 and it blows nexus 5 out the water for now. When you take a picture on a nexus 5 everything is kinda yellowish but other than that is fast, cheap and a phone you can count on except the camera. Video quality is pretty good. If you don't like sammy features or bloatware for heavens sake you can always put cynagenmod on it or use a launcher. That's the beauty of Android customization and free your phone

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