Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Nexus 5 handset – arguably the best value you can snatch in Roboland.
Google's phone puts the makings of a flagship, such as a 5” 1080p display, quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor and optically stabilized camera, in a $350 chassis, and tops it off with some exclusive features from the latest Android 4.4 KitKat. The Galaxy S4 counters with unorthodox 1080p OLED display, expandable memory and user-replaceable battery.
Are the relatively unknown for the typical user Nexus 5 and its unique KitKat features able to win holiday shoppers against the most popular Android flagship - Galaxy S4 – and its instant Samsung brand recognition? Read on to find out...
Glossy or soft-touch plastic? Rounded or roughneck corners? These will be the main choices you will be facing when choosing between the Galaxy S4 or Nexus 5 chassis, respectively, as the phones weigh exactly the same 4.59 oz (130 g), and have very similar dimensions in length and width. The Galaxy S4 is a tad slimmer, though, at 0.31” (7.9 mm) against the 0.34” (8.59 mm) Nexus 5, but it's not the thickness that makes Google's phone appear cruder, rather the whole angular industrial design of it. Still, both handsets sit very well in the hand, and the svelter looks of the Galaxy S4 don't translate into better ergonomics compared to the Nexus 5 as far as handling is concerned.
This soft-touch, almost rubbery chassis of the LG-made Nexus feels a bit more premium to the touch than the glossy polycarbonate of the S4, though the subjective impression here boils down to your personal preferences. Moreover, the soft-touch coating of the black Nexus 5 quickly gets spattered with rather visible fingerprints and smudges.
Samsung's flagship line has offered removable back covers, expandable storage and user-replaceable batteries from day one, and the S4 doesn't stray from that tradition, whereas the unibody Nexus 5 is rather limited in that respect – its battery is not user replaceable and it lacks microSD memory card slot.
The mobiles utilize micro SIM card slots, with the Nexus 5 providing a right side tray for it, and a very tiny pin instrument in the box. Make sure you don't lose it, as the opening for pushing the tray with the SIM card out is miniscule, and even if you use a small needle, you are bound to enlarge it in an ugly way, let alone with a paper clip or a wire.
The side keys on both handsets are very easy to feel and press without looking, with good tactile feedback to them. Samsung offers its signature physical home key, too, whereas the Nexus 5 relies on navigational buttons that are on-screen, and can be hidden away when the whole display is needed with the new Immersive mode. Since both phones have identical screen diagonals and close dimensions, the presence of on-screen buttons on the Nexus 5 doesn't seem to offer any particular advantage, so that department is again a matter of personal preferences.
Both screens are 5” 1080x1920 pixels Full HD panels, so they should be pretty similar, right? Well, not really, as the display technologies used are rather different. Samsung differentiates its flagship handsets with the homebrew Super AMOLED tech that brings about very deep black levels, yet somewhat cold and oversaturated colors. You can choose different screen modes in the display settings, but these basic premises are still visible, and there are sometimes weird glitches like scrolling blur and purple hued status bar, facing the early adopters of the world's first Super AMOLED Full HD mobile display.
The Nexus 5 uses an IPS-LCD screen made by LG, which sports more washed-out blacks compared to the Galaxy S4, but truer color representation. Still, its colors are slightly yellowish and under saturated (dull) compared to reference screen. Its viewing angles seem a tad worse than those of the OLED display, especially when observing the phone at an angle from its corners.
Outdoors both devices have pretty similar visibility, despite that the Nexus 5's LCD screen is brighter than Samsung's panel. Google's phone seems to sport higher reflection ratio, especially true with the annoying mirror reflections when you have direct light shining on the screen - like the sun, for instance. The Galaxy S4 has pretty good anti-reflective coating, and its much higher contrast levels contribute to visibility on par with the Nexus 5 outdoors, despite the lower peak brightness.