To kick off our series on the Google Nexus 5, we're going to have a look at the phone compares to a number of other options on the market that match it in price or performance.
We'll be taking a look at two slightly cheaper phones - the Nexus 4 and the Sony Xperia SP - as well as two phones with similar performance, the LG G2 that the Nexus 5 is based on, and the popular Samsung Galaxy S4.
Hardware, software and price all factor into the comparison - let's get started.
Quad 2.3 GHz
Quad 2.3 GHz
Quad 1.9 GHz
Quad 1.5 GHz
Dual 1.7 GHz
8 MP OIS
13 MP OIS
4.2 Jelly Bean
4.3 Jelly Bean
4.3 Jelly Bean
4.1 Jelly Bean
Upon drawing up the chart, it becomes pretty clear that the Nexus 5 shares almost all of the performance characteristics of the most powerful phones on the market, while making a few small sacrifices to hit that low price point. The Snapdragon 800 chipset (with quad-core 2.3 GHz processor), 2 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage and 5" 1080p display all are top of the line.
Indeed, the Snapdragon 800 processor offers more horsepower than the Galaxy S4 (and other phones considered to be flagship devices, including the HTC One, One Max, Xperia Z, Lumia 1520). The upgrade to 32 GB of storage space is also quite inexpensive (costing £339, which is £40 more over the 16 GB model Nexus 5), again besting the Galaxy S4 and other top-end devices.
Of course, there are some downgrades as well - most noticeably the camera and the battery. The camera is an optically stabilised unit, but has only an 8 megapixel sensor. That's not a terrible thing in and of itself, but early reviews have suggested that the camera performance isn't up to par with the HTC One, Galaxy S4 and others - although better than the Nexus 4.
The battery is also considerably smaller than that of the G2 or the Galaxy S4, and isn't removable either. Battery life on the Nexus 5 isn't terrible by any means, but again you're likely to get improved longevity with these more expensive phones in this regard.
Overall though, the hardware is noticeably improved over the Nexus 4 - with a much faster processor, more storage space, LTE, optical image stabilisation for the camera and a slightly bigger battery. It's good value compared to other flagships as well, with the Nexus 5 costing around £100 to £200 less than the Galaxy S4, Xperia Z1/Z, LG G2 and others despite having nearly eqivalent or better performance.
While Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony all have their own software improvements, I personally prefer the stock Android experience on the Nexus line. There are probably only a couple of features from the Samsung Galaxy S4 that I've missed on the Nexus 5 (multi-window and the camera app), but I definitely notice the increase in speed and available storage space on the Nexus 5. That makes it hard to really see the customised Samsung software as an advantage.
Samsung recently announced that they were spending fully half of their R&D budget on making software improvements, as they felt they hadn't done well enough here, and I've got to agree with that assessment. HTC and Sony don't fare much better in their own efforts, and LG seems noticeably worse than the others. Again, for me personally everything points to the Google experience being the superior one.
For that reason, the Nexus 5 wins handily on the software front. It's the first phone to include KitKat (with its awesome Googley launcher, clever search and beautiful design), and it'll be updated to the next versions of Android much more quickly than any other phone we've considered so far (with the possible exception of the Nexus 4).
While you could make a good case for the Nexus 5 on the basis of its hardware or software alone, price is the Nexus 5's killer feature. The phone costs £299 for 16 GB and £339 for 32 GB, making it about half the price of other flagship Android phones.
It's hard to break out of a contract and get a £500 or £600 phone sim-free, but at £300 it's a whole lot easier. If you're on giffgaff and want a top of the line phone, the Nexus 5 really makes a lot of sense.
While the Galaxy S4 is a more flexible phone (thanks to its more comprehensive software features, removable battery and expandable storage) and the G2 wins on the hardware front (with an improved battery and camera), ultimately neither phone justifies their dramatically higher cost. The Nexus 5 offers leading-edge performance (with a few exceptions) at a mid-range price, and you can't say fairer than that.