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Google Nexus 5 compared to Galaxy S4, LG G2, Sony Xperia SP and Google Nexus 4

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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.

 

Comparison Table

 

 

Google

Nexus 5

LG

G2

Samsung

Galaxy S4

Google

Nexus 4

Sony

Xperia SP

Price £339 £439 £519 £279 £329
Display 5" 1080p 5.2" 1080p 5" 1080p 4.7" 720p 4.6" 720p
Chipset Snapdragon 800 Snapdragon 800 Snapdragon 600 S4 Pro S4
CPU Quad 2.3 GHz Quad 2.3 GHz Quad 1.9 GHz Quad 1.5 GHz Dual 1.7 GHz
Storage 32 GB 16 GB 16 GB 16 GB 8 GB
MicroSD No No Yes No Yes
Camera 8 MP OIS 13 MP OIS 13 MP 8 MP 8 MP
Network LTE LTE LTE HSDPA+ LTE
Release November September April November '12 April
Battery 2300 mAh 3000 mAh 2600 mAh 2100 mAh 2370 mAh
Android 4.4 KitKat 4.2 Jelly Bean 4.3 Jelly Bean 4.3 Jelly Bean 4.1 Jelly Bean

 

Hardware Discussion

 

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.

 

Software Discussion

 

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).

 

Price

 

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.

 

Conclusion

 

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.

28 Comments
enigma
This is a great review. All of these phones were in the running to be my next phone, you've made my life a little easier with this blog. So Nexus 5, although have to say the S4 is still in the running. :-)
nice! nexus 5 sounds good

Think you hit the main drawbacks: camera and battery life. Only thing I personally think is missing from a hardware design perspective, is the lack of  a physical 'home' button. I find Android is tempermental and has software bugs from time to time, and there's nothing better than pressing your physical 'home' button to get you back to the home screen!

pupil

Nice comparison review. Looks like a decent handset for the money.

expert

Good blog as usual, a nice comparison. 

pathfinder

I've got a nexus 5 and while you could get better, the camera is good enough and battery life isn't really a problem if, like me, your often near a plug socket.

beginner

tempted by google even though until reading this review i hadnt thought of it so nice one community! moving from a Nokia after 15 faithful yrs but unfortunately Lumia just doesnt cut it for me anymore and they wont go android Smiley Sad 

novice

I've been waiting to see what Google would do this year and I am impressed (speaking as a consumer, not as someone who thinks he knows anything). I'm a bit let down by the camera since I'm always always taking pictures, but I've got to the point where how you take a photo is more important than expensive equipment. Also I heard from Android Central that there was a (hopefully) software issue with the speaker - some apps give a very tinny, far away sound.

 

I'll wait for a bit longer to see the fallout, but I'd love a Nexus 5. I've had pure iOS, why not have a stock Android experience?

sensei

I'm surprised by the comment "beautiful design" in kitkat. While I'll concede neither iOS 6 or iOS 7 are anywhere near the most beautiful designs either, I feel android still have a fair way to go in terms of aesthetics. 

 

And please don't say you can customise the android operating system, with themes and custom "bits 'n' bobs" as I still feel the underlying structure of the OS is fundamentally flawed. It also take ages and I'm still never really satisfied by the results. 

What do they say about polishing a t...

 

I wonder when a truly well made, and visually stunning, OS will be produced? And I wonder who'll make it as I cant see anyone stepping up?

 

Great blog as always. Smiley Happy

enigma
Great comparison. About the only way the Nexus range could guarantee more switching would be dual sim. That and the kind of support you'd get would make it hard to recommend other phones.