Nexus 5 vs Nexus 4: here's the difference optical image stabilization makes for video capture

Last year's Nexus 4 made an impression on us - it was an amazing design for a killer price, but it lacked sorely in one department and that was the camera. The new Nexus 5 by Google in contrast put the focus straight on that oft neglected component in the Nexus series and includes an 8-megapixel shooter with optical image stabilization.

You have already seen the camera samples (if not check out our detailed Nexus 5 review) and apart from the slow speed of the camera you probably know that we came away impressed with its performance.

Now, it’s time to take a deeper look at one specific improvement the Nexus 5 brings and that’s optical image stabilization.

To stabilize videos and images, the Nexus 5 features an InvenSense IDG-2020 dual axis gyroscope. To better understand what this means we have to turn to the way OIS works and what do these axes mean. Basically, optical image stabilization is a physical mechanism that counters movement either on a single lens or on the whole camera body with the latter of course being more efficient. We have 2-axis and 3-axis OIS systems, and the three axes refer to rotational movement. These axes are roll, pitch and yaw (x, y and z). Roll refers to rotation about the longitudinal axis, pitch - to movement about the lateral axis, and yaw about rotation about the vertical axis. The illustration here explains that.

Now, the InvenSense IDG-2020 optical image stabilization unit on the Nexus 5 only stabilizes on 2 axes - roll and pitch, or x and y. This is similar to OIS on the HTC One that’s also 2-axis. Nokia, the company that first started using OIS in smartphones with the Lumia 920, though, uses a more efficient 3-axis stabilization. Moreover, the physical mechanism engulfs the whole optical stack on Lumia smartphones like the 1020, and unlike the single-lens stabilization on the HTC One.

Now, details aside, what we focus on here is something much simpler: comparing a camera without optical image stabilization (the Nexus 4) and one with (the Nexus 5). This is to show the evolution of the Nexus camera and just how much of a difference OIS makes to video. Take a look.

Related phones

Nexus 5
  • Display 5.0" 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.3 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, Quad-core, 2260 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Battery 2300 mAh(17h talk time)
Nexus 4
  • Display 4.7" 768 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.3 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, Quad-core, 1500 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB
  • Battery 2100 mAh(15.3h talk time)



1. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Excellent! Such an improvement over the Nexus 4, image quality, stabilization and microphone. Wish you guys gave these gadgets away haha.

16. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

For cameras, OIS is pretty much the gold standard for a must-have feature. Expect OIS to be a requirement for flagship smartphones in 2014.

17. gofmarat

Posts: 7; Member since: Nov 05, 2013

And 60fps on 1080p videos or 720p120

2. eisenbricher

Posts: 973; Member since: Aug 09, 2012

N4 Camera was a disaster. Good thing that they have learned from their mistake.

18. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

Ya it is,

3. kilmanik

Posts: 7; Member since: Nov 19, 2013

nexus 5

4. mateusz

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 25, 2013

Poorly tested there should be at least walk or ride a bike to show real advantage!

6. Victor.H

Posts: 1079; Member since: May 27, 2011

We are walking around shooting the video, look closer.

8. mateusz

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 25, 2013

I've notice it so the IOS is awesome!

13. Reality_Check

Posts: 277; Member since: Aug 15, 2013


7. sss_ddk

Posts: 76; Member since: Mar 05, 2013

Still doesn't justify me moving from N4 to N5, especially when i'm thinking of switching back to 4.3 just to get my Apps Permission and Network activity indicators back.

9. Retro-touch unregistered

Better camera, better screen, better processor, back that won't crack/break and you'd give up all that for a apps permission and network activity indicators which will be added back in custom ROMS anyway, that's being dumb, your head isn't just an ornament on your shoulders, use it

10. _Bone_

Posts: 2155; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

First switching is money, especially if like me, he bought the Nexus 4 a $100 off recently, a full price you won't get when you sell it, so there's nothing dumb for not handing out like $200. Also, the Nexus 5 cracks just like the 4, maybe even more so, and has manufacturing issues with the speaker (bad placement, see XDA). Last but not least, you could express your thoughts without acting like you have a giant d!ck on your shoulders and can't stop rubbing it like a 13yo boy who just hit puberty.

14. sss_ddk

Posts: 76; Member since: Mar 05, 2013

...and the universe invents a better idiot

11. NexusPhan

Posts: 632; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

I understood the argument that the N4 wasn't worth the upgrade over the galaxy nexus. But, the N5 is in a different league than the N4. Literally every single detail has been upgraded. Battery life is astonishingly better. I get double what I got with the N4. That alone was enough of an upgrade for me. But, I also get it with a much (much) better screen, faster processor and LTE. For the same price. How is it anything but a justifiable upgrade?

12. sss_ddk

Posts: 76; Member since: Mar 05, 2013

I said it doesn't justify "ME" upggrading, and I definitely didn't say that the N5 was inferior to the N4. For now, the N4 handles all tasks i throw at it without a glitch. It has the same battery life as the reviews say about the N5 (may vary depending on usage patterns), has a great screen (to me 720p is great, and enough), and i don't have LTE. No reason for me to throw my 350 Euros on something that won't make any difference in my day to day life.

15. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

OIS is awesome.

19. vishu9

Posts: 252; Member since: Mar 03, 2011

Great job PA! The half screen comparison was really cool IMO.. Allows for real time comparison. PS: How different is OIS handled in different phones? Like N5/G2/Lumia phones? G2 should have similar results since it is LG, but does it vary at all from device to device is my question.

20. techsurround

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 20, 2013

That is cool, Nexus 5 features very much updated comapritively nexus 4, it is really improved. And now Wireless charger is also launched for Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Tablet 7 which will be available today on google play. Wirews technology magazine just posted Nexus5 wireless charger pic.

21. taojj

Posts: 33; Member since: Aug 01, 2013

Black colour Nexus 5 Sold Out in India within a few hours.

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