As we mentioned in the opening, Samsung has again thrown the kitchen sink at the Note 3 when it comes to software features. Check out our Galaxy Note 3 review for the full round-up of what the device has to offer, but suffice it to say there are plenty of features that start with an S. Some of them, like Smart Scroll, Smart Stay and Multi Window genuinely improve the user experience and take advantage of the phone’s hardware strengths. Most of them, however, are little more than party tricks which ultimately clutter up the device. To an expert user, navigating Samsung’s labyrinth of features can be a bit intimidating, so novices be warned. Despite the plethora of included apps on the Note 3 (Sprint’s version has a total of 149 apps loaded out of the box,) Samsung has given it enough umph to run smoothly in spite of the bloated UI.

In the other corner the Nexus program serves to combat what Samsung and others are doing by offering a pure build of Android, free of any manufacturer or carrier influence. Android 4.4 KitKat debuts on the Nexus 5, which brings many more upgrades than the single point iteration would indicate. Meant to slim down the OS to optimize performance on low-end devices, KitKat absolutely flies on the powerful Nexus 5. In sharp contrast to Samsung’s cartoonish icons and disjointed design styles, Google continues to polish the user experience in KitKat with tight, modern visuals and a clear design direction throughout not only the interface, but also the company’s apps.

It is hard to argue against the Nexus 5’s pure implementation of Android here. There are still many features we’d like to see added to Android, and some of Samsung’s additions are indeed useful, but when it comes down to it the Nexus 5 user experience is just much more satisfying and accessible than TouchWiz.

Processor and Memory

Both the Galaxy Note 3 and LG Nexus 5 use Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3GHz, meaning they also run on the Adreno 330 GPU. Samsung gets a slight edge for including 3GB of RAM on the Note 3, whereas LG uses 2GB in the Nexus 5..

The Note 3 outperforms the Nexus 5 in all benchmark tests, but that should be taken with a grain of salt because in real world testing the Nexus 5 feels at least as fast, if not faster. There’s also a question of trust with Samsung when it comes to benchmarks. The two devices were very similar in our GFX Bench testing, the one benchmark test that Samsung wasn’t found to be ramping up performance for. Cheating or not, the Note 3 is still an incredibly fast device and unless you’re looking for performance hangups you won’t find any in day-to-day use.

The Nexus 5 offers either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage with no expandable memory. The Galaxy Note 3 ships with 32GB of storage, which is expandable via microSD. While most users can get by on 16GB and almost all on 32GB, those who rely heavily on internal storage for media rather than using the various cloud services will appreciate the increased memory capability of the Note 3.

Quadrant Higher is better
Google Nexus 5 8455
Samsung Galaxy Note3 22270
AnTuTu Higher is better
Google Nexus 5 26340
Samsung Galaxy Note3 31543
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen (fps) Higher is better
Google Nexus 5 52
Samsung Galaxy Note3 54
Vellamo Metal Higher is better
Google Nexus 5 1166
Samsung Galaxy Note3 1214
Vellamo HTML 5 Higher is better
Google Nexus 5 1524
Samsung Galaxy Note3 2766

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