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Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4


Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4


Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4
Android seems to be no longer synonymous with Samsung handsets, and the tough choices we face when choosing a phone this holiday season got complicated even further by Google's own 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.

Google Nexus 5
5.43 x 2.72 x 0.34 inches
137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59 mm
4.59 oz (130 g)

Google Nexus 5

Samsung Galaxy S4
5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches
136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm
4.59 oz (130 g)

Samsung Galaxy S4

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page.


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.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Google Nexus 5 485
Samsung Galaxy S4 289
View all

Google Nexus 5 360-Degrees View

Samsung Galaxy S4 360-Degrees View

  • Options

posted on 12 Nov 2013, 07:33 4

1. fistigons (Posts: 354; 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: 1144; 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: 382; 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: 1580; 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: 1580; 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: 713; 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: 24; 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: 1310; 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: 148; 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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