Samsung’s Galaxy S5 comes with a new, 16-megapixel camera, while the Nexus 5 features not so-good 8-megapixel main shooter.

The Galaxy S5 features a brand new, 16-megapixel ISOCELL camera by Samsung with double the resolution of the 8-megapixel camera in the Nexus 5. Technically, the S5 comes with a 1/2.6” sensor that is nearly 28% bigger than the 1/3.2” one in the Nexus 5. After years of reliance on Sony image sensors in its flagships (the Nexus 5 actually uses a Sony sensor as well, the IMX179), this year, Samsung ships the S5 with its own, in-house-made ISOCELL sensor. ISOCELL is a name derived from ‘isolated cells’, the method used to isolate pixels in the camera sensor, so that light captured by each does not leak out in adjoining pixel cells. Moreover, Samsung is also using phase-detection auto-focus with special phase detection pixels located on the image sensor. Phase detection is a technology that arrives to smartphones from the DSLR world, and makes possible the fast, 0.3-second auto-focus on the S5.

Turning to the optics, we have an f/2.4 lens aperture on the Nexus 5, while the Galaxy S5 uses a wider, f/2.2 aperture. The Galaxy S5 also sports a 6-element lens, while Google’s smartphone has a 5-element construction. Both cameras feature a single LED flash.

The camera app on the S5 retains the myriad of manual settings and shooting modes that Samsung is known for, but it’s also been refashioned with a more user-friendly interface. The new camera UI in the S5 comes with separate image still and video buttons, and a dedicated ‘Mode’ button to switch between shooting modes, and what’s new is the change from long lists of text-based menus to a panel with quick-to-access toggles. The manual settings you can control include ISO, white balance, exposure, metering and effects. The Nexus 5 camera app, in contrast, is much more limited in finer adjustment settings, and it’s dial interface is a bit less intuitive.

The actual images from the 16-megapixel Galaxy S5 camera turn out rich in detail, with vivid colors and great dynamics. We're happy with how well the S5 exposes photographs as well. Striving for the ideal, we'd say that colors are just slightly oversaturated on the S5, but not as much as to make images look unreal. The Nexus 5's 8-megapixel shooter also shoots good images, but loses to the superior detail in images from the S5. The color representation is also not perfect and often photos have that yellowish tone to them.

In terms of video, the Galaxy S5 has added support for 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160-pixel) recording at 30 frames per second, while the Nexus 5 can only record up to 1920 x 1080-pixel at 30fps. This huge boost in resolution means that you get nearly 4 times as much pixel information, as the GS5 captures 8 million pixels in 4K, while the 1080p Nexus 5 - only around 2 million pixels. This higher pixel count shows finer detail and textures that you cannot see in 1080p videos (given that you have a display with 4K resolution).

Video recording quality in an equal comparison of 1080p 30fps footage, shows that both devices record smooth footage, but colors on the Nexus 5 are yellowish, whereas Galaxy S5 recordings appear closer to reality. There is a slight oversaturation in the S5 videos, just as on the images stills, but again, it's not to the point that would make recordings look unreal.
It’s important to note that the Nexus 5 features optical image stabilization (OIS), which gets rid of a lot of the jittery movements and hand shake when you record video on the go. Samsung only uses electronic video stabilization, which cannot achieve such high level of stability.

The Galaxy S5 sports a 2-megapixel front-facing camera that does a very decent job with capturing selfies, or in video chats. The same cannot be said about the Nexus 5 - it only sports a 1.3-megapixel front shooter that shoots images and videos with a rather disappointing quality.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S5 2.5
Google Nexus 5 3.5


The two smartphones are multimedia powerhouses, but the Galaxy S5 looks a bit better with its wider video codec support and slightly louder speaker.

Current-day smartphones with large 5”+ displays are well suited for media consumption, and the Galaxy S5 and Nexus 5 both fit that category. The S5 comes better prepared to handle various video codecs with ease, while the Nexus 5 doesn’t have the same diverse video codec support out of the box. Luckily, you can easily fix this with a simple visit to the Google Play store where apps like MX Player are capable of chewing through all sorts of video.

For music, the Samsung Galaxy S5 comes with both Samsung’s own music app and Google Play Music, while the Nexus 5 only has Play Music. Samsung’s music player has gotten the slight visual refresh to match the new and flatter TouchWiz style, while essentially remaining the same. It neatly categorizes your music by Artists, Albums, Songs, Genres, Recent and Playlists, plus it shows album art. It also has advanced options like an equalizer with presets on board. The Play music app, however, does not lag behind, as it also supports all those features.

Neither the Galaxy S5, nor the Nexus 5 have stereo speakers. The loudspeaker on the S5 is positioned on its back and it sounds loud and clear for our taste, while on the Nexus 5 the speaker is on the bottom and it is a bit too quiet.

Headphones output power (Volts) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S5 0.43
Google Nexus 5 0.36
Loudspeaker loudness (dB) Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S5 81
Google Nexus 5 71

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