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Smartphone comparison: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. Google Nexus 5

Ross Catanzariti | Nov. 20, 2013
Samsung's Galaxy S4 and the Google's Nexus 5 are two of the best Android phones on the market right now. Which one is right for you?

The Google Nexus 5.

Samsung's Galaxy S4 and the Google's Nexus 5 are two of the best Android phones on the market right now. Which one is right for you?


The Galaxy S4 has kept a very similar design to the Galaxy S III. Samsung was criticised for sticking with a glossy, plastic finish but plastic is more durable than glass and this type of design means the battery is removable. There's also room for a microSD card slot, a feature you won't find on the Nexus 5.

The Nexus 5 is also constructed from plastic but it does away with glossy plastic and instead uses a soft, almost rubber-like finish on the back. It's a large, black slab with minimal highlights and it actually does its best not to stand out. It appears as if Google simply wanted the Nexus 5's hardware to blend into the background.

Whichever design you prefer is ultimately a personal preference, so our advice would be to try and see these two devices in the flesh before making your decision.


Both of these smatphones have fantastic screens. The biggest hardware upgrade on the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the display. It's a 4.99in, Super AMOLED screen with a full HD 1080p resolution of 1920x1080, an increase on the Galaxy S III's 4.8in screen with 720p resolution. The pixel density of 441 ppi is among the highest on the market right now, and the screen will even work when used with gloves.

The Nexus 5 on the other hand has an ever so slightly smaller 4.95in, full HD screen, with the same 1920x1080 full HD resolution. The colour tones it produces are slightly more neutral when compared directly with the Galaxy S4, but the display remains one of the best on the market. It's bright, clear, displays super crisp text, and is particularly excellent for reading books or watching video content.


The main aspect you'll need to factor into your purchasing decision when deciding between the Galaxy S4 and the Nexus 5 is the software overlay that sits on top of Google's Android platform. The Galaxy S4 uses Samsung's TouchWIZ UI, while the Nexus 5 doesn't have one at all: it runs a stock version of Android, often referred to as "vanilla".

Samsung has skinned almost every part of the standard Android layout on the Galaxy S4. The software adds a lot of small and possibly useful features, like 'Smart Scroll', which allows users to scroll up and down with eye movement, 'Smart Pause', which will pause video when the user looks away from the screen, and 'Air Gesture' which allows you to swipe through photos or scroll without touching the phone. These are all big selling points for Samsung, so if you think they might be gimmicks and you won't use them often, keep that in mind.


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