Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. Google Nexus 5

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With the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S5, the Galaxy S4 has been pushed down in price and now matches the Google Nexus 5. Both smartphones are now in the running for consumers who are looking for a high-end device at a relatively affordable price. Both devices offer a wide range of high-end features but offer a completely different user experience. Here’s our comparison between the Nexus 5 and the Galaxy S4.

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The Galaxy S4 was the latest Samsung device to have the “standard” plastic backing on it, which has since been replaced by the faux leather backing of much newer devices (Note 3, Galaxy Note 10.1, and the Galaxy S5). The Nexus 5, manufactured for Google by LG, is another fairly simple design  with matte plastic surrounding it and coming in three different model colors: red, white, and black. Unlike the Galaxy S4, there is no physical button on the front but rather three capacitive buttons that appear on the button of the screen.

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The design of the Galaxy S4 follows the same design practices that Samsung knows and loves. / © NextPit

The Galaxy S4 has the traditional Samsung home button at the bottom of the device and a capacitive menu and return button. Regarding the quality of manufacturing itself, both smartphones are built solidly but both in a different style: the S4 has an chrome border around the bezel while the Nexus 5 keeps the matte plastic surrounding the device. One of the added bonuses, at least personally, is the fact that the Nexus 5 is a little bit grippier when holding onto it and doesn’t tend to slip out of wet or sweaty hands.


Both screens have almost identical features: both have Full HD with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, a display size of 4.95 inches for the Nexus 5 and 5 inches for the Galaxy S4, and a respective pixel density of 445 and 441. The technology behind the display, however, is not the same. The S4 comes with a super AMOLED display which offers a very bright and saturated experience and contrasts very heavily with the IPS display of the Nexus 5. Due to this, the Nexus 5 viewing angle is much smaller than the Galaxy S4, however, still provides enough that reading text on the screen is still quite possible from different angles. The display of the Nexus 5 offers a bit more subdued natural colors while the S4s is bright and impressive.

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Both devices have screens that offer high quality displays. / © NextPit


The Nexus 5 runs Android 4.4. KitKat and the Galaxy S4 is running Samsung’s UI, Touchwiz. Without going into the details of the specific features of each system, which we have covered in our overviews on each individual device (Nexus 5 and Galaxy S4), we can consider that both devices have a unique software experience based on these systems. Samsung has rolled in a ton of software features with their Touchwiz interface, including gestures that will allow users to change pages on the device without touching the screen.

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The glossy plastic back of the Galaxy S4 (left) and matte plastic of the Nexus 5 (right). / © NextPit

The aesthetics of Touchwiz is another beast all together: while the advantages of the software side of Touchwiz might be apparent, the design of the user interface isn’t what you’d expect to be bundled along with such a device. It seems clunky and could use a good overhaul to try and compete with much nicer looking UIs, such as what the Nexus 5 is sporting with pure Android. With the Nexus 5, you have a complete control over the customization of the software, widgets, home screen, launchers, etc.


We won’t dwell on the performance of these two high-end devices: both can run almost anything that exists for Android right now. They are compatible with USB OTB and both have 2 GB of RAM. A major difference, however, lies in the expandable storage for both devices: the Galaxy S4 is equipped with a microSD slot while the Nexus 5 doesn’t.


In regards to the camera side of things, the Galaxy S4 has done much better. The Nexus 5 does provide a respectable results in the photography department, but it is far behind the Galaxy S4 and the plethora of options that have been packed into the software side of things. For more information on just how good the Samsung Galaxy S4 is for shooting photos, check out our detailed test of it.


Again, the Galaxy S4 beats out the Nexus 5 quite easily: the Nexus 5 comes with a 2300 mAh battery compared to Samsung’s 2600 mAh in the Galaxy S4. AS well, in practice and tests, the Galaxy S4 manages resources better which extends the battery life even more.

Technical Specs

  Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Nexus 5
System Android 4.4.2 + TouchWiz Android 4.4.2
Screen 5 inch LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 441 dpi 4.95 inch LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 445 dpi
Processor Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core 1.9 GHz Snapdragon 800 Quad-Core 2.3 GHz
Internal memory 16/32/64 GB + microSD 16/32 GB
Battery 2600 mAh 2300 mAh
Camera 13 MP (rear), 2 MP (front) 8 MP (rear), 1.3MP (front)
Connectivity HSPA, 4G/LTE (i9505 model), NFC, Bluetooth 4.0 HSPA, 4G LTE, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Qi
Dimensions 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm 137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59 mm
Weight 130 g 130 g
Price $425 (16GB, 04/14/2014) $383 (16 GB) / $455  (32 GB)

On paper, the processor for the Galaxy S4 should less efficient than the Nexus 5, but it is not that apparent in practice and both devices are plenty powerful. In regards to updates, both smartphones are expected to be on the shortlist to receive the jump to the next Android version, Android 5.0, whenever it is expected to be released.


With both devices now in the same price range, it is reasonable to hesitate between deciding between the two. They are both efficient, powerful devices and it comes down to the details to really pick out the flaws of either devices. The Galaxy S4 definitely has some features might sway some users away from the pure Android experience of the Nexus 5 and if you’re looking for better battery life and camera functions, head the way of the Galaxy S4. If you’re looking for a great value for your money and want to be among the bandwagon of devices to get the latest Android updates, check out the Nexus 5.

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  • Christopher Brodie May 23, 2014 Link to comment

    They're both pretty mint phones, I went with the nexus 5 because I love the design, and it's a little less common then the galaxy, every man and his mother has a galaxy these days, pure android doesn't seem to conserve power all that well so a custom ROM and kernel will help that tremendously, when I compared my n5 camera to my cousins s4 I got much clearer photos with less glare on mine but that could be because mine was fresh out of the box where as his had been covered in all sorts of crap lol