Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
The Nexus 5 sports an 8 MP camera with f/2.4 aperture and 1/3.4” sensor, while the Galaxy S4 counters with a 13 MP unit with the same aperture and a larger, 1/3.06” sensor. Google's phone, however, sports optical image stabilization tech, which hangs the sensor on a tiny suspension mechanism, designed to compensate for your hands movements, thus diminishing shaky videos or blur.
Samsung offers an abundance of shooting and scene modes, as well as color effects in its interface, ranging from Panorama through HDR to Macro modes, which can be set through a quick transparent interface. The Android KitKat camera UI is more devoid of shooting options, and hasn't changed much from the previous version. Nexus 5, however, got a nice exclusive HDR+ mode, which not only combines burst shots taken with different exposure, but applies some proprietary sharpening algorithms, too, for a very good overall effect. Good to the point that you'd want to have HDR+ always on, as otherwise photos with the handset can show overexposed bright areas.
The Galaxy S4 sports a rather natural color representation, whereas the Nexus 5 tends to lean on the warm side, leaving a slightly yellowish cast impression. Detail is a tad less in the Nexus 5 photos compared to what the Galaxy S4 is able to capture, with about the difference we'd expect to see between an 8 MP and 13 MP camera.
In darker scenarios, however, the Nexus 5 has the upper hand with better-lit, blur-free frames. The stabilization allows it to soak in more light as its exposure times stay longer than those on the Galaxy S4, without causing blur. The end result is better-lit images with less noise. The LED flashes on the handsets do a decent job illuminating the scene evenly from about 5 feet distance, without casting awkward shadows, or causing strange reflections.
The panoramas that the two phones capture are hugely different. The ones from the S4 are excellent, with huge resolution and top-notch detail and colors. The ones from the Nexus 5 are exactly the opposite – with disappointingly low resolution, detail and lacking colors.
The front-facing camera on the Nexus 5 is 1.3 MP, while the Galaxy S4 has a slightly higher, 2 MP resolution. Nexus 5's front cam exposes your selfies better against strong light, like a window, for instance, but detail is scarce, and things get hairy when the light dims down, giving the Galaxy S4 an advantage for indoor selfies or video chat sessions.
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Video capture is pretty stellar on both handsets, with 1080p resolution, fluid 30 frames per second, and clean audio recording. The footage just looks better from the Nexus 5, though, and not only because it is much steadier thanks to the image stabilization tech in the camera, but also since its refocusing and exposure compensation are thus faster while panning around. Contrast is also set a higher on the Nexus 5 capture by default, which adds to the visual appeal of its video footage.
The galleries on both devices are pretty standard, with gird-like thumbnail previews of your photos, folder categorization, and editing options. Samsung lets you split the screen in two, with the folder structure on the left, and their contents on the right, which speeds up gallery navigation. Android KitKat introduces some richer editing options to the stock interface, but Samsung's overlay has had a similar abundance of editing features and color effects from day one.
Nexus 5 uses the Play Music cloud service front for your tunes, which doesn't differ from what you are used to see on any Android with the Google apps suite on it. You've got song categorization, a few built-in equalizer presets and that's about it. Samsung's music player is no eye-candy, but it does the job fine, categorizing your tunes in albums, artists, playlists and genres, while also introducing an abundance of equalizer modes you can choose from.
The Nexus 5 loudspeaker is on the iffy side, with flat and not particularly strong sound. Not that the Galaxy S4's speaker is much better in the octaves range, but it's at least stronger – 71 dB vs 66 dB for the Nexus in our tests. Moreover, the S4 comes with an excellent set of earbuds that are a step above the usual mediocrity that manufacturers pack with their handsets, while the Nexus 5 has no earbuds in the box.
The Nexus 5 sports exclusive audio tunneling hardware which the low-power audio playback function in Android KitKat takes full advantage of for 60 hours of music playback on a charge. The Galaxy S4, however, is rated for about the same endurance, not to mention the Xperia Z1, which returns a record 110 hours number, so nothing really extraordinary here.
Video playback is superior on the Galaxy S4, not only thanks to the deep blacks and saturated colors of the AMOLED display that make the footage really pop, but also because its player supports most major codecs out of the box, including MKV, DivX and Xvid, and the phone lasts longer during video playback than the Nexus.
Google's phone, on the other hand, doesn't have DivX licenses, so if you want to play videos in that format, you'd have to hit the Play Store. It does add closed captioning and subtitle support, though, thanks to Android KitKat, and you can set systemwide captions in a language and font of your choice with preview.
Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4 - Camera and Multimedia