The day Samsung fans worldwide have been expecting is finally here: the South Korean manufacturer has officially unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S4, the Android smartphone that you’ll be hearing about a lot in the next few months.
With the hype swirling around the new Galaxy S4, we all have expectations from a follow-up to the best selling Android device of all time. Moreover, the competition in the Android ecosystem was never tougher.
One of the best Android smartphones currently available is the Google Nexus 4, a “pure Google” smartphone manufactured by LG that has attracted loads of interest thanks to its low price tag, but also its limited availability.
A note that I’d like to make before going further is that Google is now facing a problem that no one would thought of just a few years ago: the Galaxy brand has gained so much notoriety that it threatens to eclipse Android.
With that in mind, join us as we compare the Samsung Galaxy S4, the newest superphone, to the Google Nexus 4, the best smartphone running vanilla Android.
For a sum-up, you can jump to the video comparison below, or you can bear with us as we analyze our contenders in each of the following sections: display, design and build quality, internal hardware, and Android implementation.
|Specifications||Samsung Galaxy S4||Google Nexus 4|
|Dimensions||136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm130g||133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm (5.27 x 2.70 x 0.36 in)139 g (4.90 oz)|
|Display||4.99-inch, Super AMOLED1920 x 1080 Full HD, 441ppi||4.7-inch Super IPS LCD768 x 1280, 318ppi|
|CPU and GPU||International version|
|APQ8064 Snapdragon S4 ProQuad-core 1. 5GHzAdreno 320|
|Storage||16GB/32GB/64GB internalmicroSD, up to 64GB||8/16GBNon-expandable|
|Cameras||13MP rear, LED flash, autofocus, burst mode, Shot with Sound, Dual record, Smart Erase||8MP rear, autofocus, LED flash1.3MP front, 1080p, 30fps|
|Battery||2600mAh, removable||2100 mAh15.30h talk time (3G)|
|Networks||GSM, UMTS, HSPA+/LTE||GSM, UMTS, CDMAHSPA+|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n acWi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA, NFCBluetooth 4.0 A2DPmicroUSB, MHL 2, infraredA-GPS||Wi-Fi 802.11 b, g, nWi-Fi hotspotmicroUSB, DLNANFCA-GPS|
|Operating system||Android 4.2 TouchWiz UIAir View, Smart Scroll, Smart Pause, S Translate, Knox, S Drive||Android 4.2 Jelly Bean|
The Google Nexus 4 uses a 4.7 inch IPS display running at a resolution of 1280 by 768 pixels, with a 326ppi density. This is probably the best non-1080p display around, with great brightness and contrast levels but also very accurate color reproduction.
In the other corner, Samsung has opted to equip the Samsung Galaxy S4 with a 5-inch Super AMOLED display that works at a 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution, with a 441 DPI. Crispness and contrast levels are arguably better, but the over-saturated colors (and hence inaccurate color reproduction) still remain a problem for the SAMOLED technology.
Verdict: The display on the Samsung Galaxy S4 is both crisper and larger, but the display on the Nexus 4 features better color reproduction.
Design and Build Quality
The Google Nexus 4 measures 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm (5.27 x 2.70 x 0.36 in) and weighs in at 139 g (4.90 oz).
Design-wise, the Google Nexus 4 is a very interesting smartphone, as the glass back (with a sort of holographic design on the back), the slightly curved display, and the on-screen navigational buttons make a very appealing combination. Unfortunately, the Google Nexus 4 is not without its problems, as many users reported that the glass back breaks a bit too easily.
In the other corner, the Samsung Galaxy S4 maintains the design language with which Samsung has accustomed us in 2012. Compared to its predecessor, the Galaxy S4 is a bit lighter and narrower, but it retains the same asymmetrically rounded corners.
Verdict: The Google Nexus 4 feels more like a premium smartphone than the Samsung Galaxy S4.
CPU, GPU and RAM
The North American version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 will use a Snapdragon 600 system on a chip (SoC), consisting of a 1.9GHz quad-core Krait CPU, and a juiced up Adreno 320 GPU. The chipset is paired up with 2 GB of RAM.
The international version of the Galaxy S4 will use the new Exynos 5 Octa SoC from Samsung, a chip that pairs a quad-core A15 cluster and a quad-core A7 cluster (in big.LITTLE configuration), alongside an Imagination Technologies PowerVR GPU.
The Google Nexus 4 uses the Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC, consisting out of a quad-core Krait CPU, an Adreno 320 GPU, coupled with 2GB of RAM memory.
Unfortunately for Nexus 4 owners, while the Snapdragon S4 Pro was the hottest SoC back in November 2012, when the Nexus 4 launched, the Exynos 5 Octa is a very capable chipset. Looking at benchmark scores, it’s obvious that the Galaxy S4 is the more powerful device.
One of the weak spots of the Google Nexus 4 is the fact that it comes with only 8GB or 16GB of internal storage, with no microSD expansion option. For users that like to carry all their media on their phones, the lack of better storage options is a big nuisance.
In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of internal storage and can work with microSD cards of up to 64GB.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses a 13MP primary camera and a 2MP front facing camera. The Google Nexus 4 is equipped with an 8MP primary sensor and a 1.3MP secondary sensor for video calls.
One of the highlights of the Nexus 4 is the ability (specific to Android 4.2) to take PhotoSpheres, the 360 degrees panorama that are similar to the those you can see on Google’s Street View service.
Samsung has worked to differentiate its device by adding a number of interesting camera features, including the ability to attach sound snippets to images or the dual recording mode (similar to what the LG Optimus G Pro offers)
The Google Nexus 4 uses a 2100 mAh non removable battery, and it is safe to say that battery life is not one of the strong suits of the Nexus 4, especially if you’re a power user.
The freshest member of the Galaxy S line uses a 2600 mAh removable battery. While the stamina of the device isn’t something that we can evaluate yet, at least you have the option to pop in a backup battery and make sure your device works when you need it.
Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy S4 wins this round in every single sub-category.
Android implementation and software
The Google Nexus 4 runs vanilla Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box, one of the few smartphones that do that at the moment of this writing. Moreover, Nexus smartphones and tablets are usually updated to the latest Android version within a week following the official announcement from Google.
All other high-end Android smartphones are still running Android 4.1, although Jelly Bean was released roughly four months ago. The same thing will happen with the next version of Android, likely to be called Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie.
In the other corner, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will launch with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean out of the box, but layered with Samsung’s TouchWiz custom UI on top. It must be said that, out of all manufacturer overlays, the TouchWiz version on the Galaxy S4 brings the biggest number of new features and tweaks to the table. Looks are really a matter of personal taste, but it’s generally accepted that the design of TouchWiz is not as inspired as the Holo interface featured on Nexus devices.
Verdict: Stock Android and timely OS updates make for an unbeatable combination.
Choosing between the LG Google Nexus 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 is not an easy task, and ultimately boils down to your personal preference. Here’s what I mean by that:
If you want a decently powerful and more compact, more premium looking smartphone that will receive timely OS updates, go for the Google Nexus 4.
If you’re craving for five inches of 1080p SAMOLED goodness, as well as top-end specs, a microSD card, and a removable battery, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is the way to go.
But what do you guys think about this battle? Between the Nexus 4 and the Galaxy S4, which one do you prefer, and why? Vote in our poll.