Part 2: Google Nexus 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S4

Click the phones above to compare the Nexus 5 to the LG G2, Galaxy S4, Xperia SP and Nexus 4!

How does the Nexus 5 fare against the most popular Android phone of the year? This is an interesting comparison, because the two phones have very different design philosophies – the Galaxy S4 gives you as much as possible and charges accordingly, while the Nexus 5 is leaner and more affordable.


To cover the hardware differences, briefly – the Nexus 5 has a faster processor (Snapdragon 800) and charges less for 32 GB of storage (an extra £40). The Galaxy S4 has a bigger, replaceable battery and microSD storage expansion, giving it a lot more flexibility than the Nexus 5. It also has a good 13 megapixel camera, an improvement over the rather inconsistent 8 megapixel camera on the Nexus.

The two phones share 2 GB of RAM and a 5″, 1080p screen – although the Nexus uses a more accurate LCD display, while the S4 has a more vibrant Super AMOLED display. Overall then, it’s a mixed bag – the Nexus is faster, but the Galaxy S4 is longer lasting, more flexible and has a better camera.


In terms of software, again different design philosophies triumph. The Nexus 5 uses stock Android KitKat, while the Galaxy S4 has a heavily customised version of Jelly Bean (the previous Android release). Samsung like to make their mark on their handset, with some genuinely useful features (multi-window, IR blaster software, a comprehensive camera app) and a lot of gimmicks and bloatware (terrible games that can’t be uninstalled, eye controls, etc).

In contrast, stock Android has fewer features but runs more quickly and gives you more available storage space. There’s also a differerence in looks – stock Android tends to have a more unified and refined look than the poorly laid out and skeumorphic elements of Samsung’s software.


While the Galaxy S4’s design allows for two of its biggest strengths (a large, replaceable battery and expandable storage), it also is plasticky and feels cheap. The Nexus 5 feels better in hand and looks more attractive, although it feels more like a reference design.


The one place where the Nexus 5 really seems outmatched by the Galaxy S4 is in its ecosystem. Due to the S4’s massive popularity, there’s a huge amount of Galaxy S4 accessories available, while there are far fewer Nexus 5 accessories. In terms of app development, the two phones should be closer – while the Nexus 5 likely won’t sell as many units, Android enthusiasts that buy the phone are more likely to be interested in installing new ROMS, trying new apps and even developing their own software.


The Nexus 5 is faster with cleaner software and a lower price, while the Galaxy S4 gives you more features and flexibility at a higher price. If you need a long-lasting phone or one with a good camera, the S4 gets the nod; otherwise it’s all Nexus given its low price.