Samsung Galaxy S4 vs. Nexus 4: Final Round
In 24 hours, Samsung will take the stage at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City and announce the brand new Samsung Galaxy S4, its successor to the the wildly popular Samsung Galaxy S3 which arrived in May of last year. Like all new Android, the Galaxy S4 is going to have to face some stiff opposition and one of the phones that will be standing in its way is Google’s latest Nexus smartphone, LG’s Nexus 4.
In November, Google and LG released the latest Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 4, a device that replaced the Samsung Galaxy Nexus as the most current-generation Nexus smartphone. Despite some of the issues that users encountered with the Galaxy Nexus, particularly on Verizon, consumers seemed excited about the arrival of the Nexus 4, more excited than LG and Google had predicted.
In the middle of the month, the Nexus 4 went up for sale at both the Google Play Store and through T-Mobile’s online portal, only to sell out almost immediately. Google promised a resupply and two weeks later, the device was back. Only to sell out again, this time, with increasingly long shipping times instead of a sell out.
That lasted for several weeks, with the Nexus 4 seeing shipping times of more than a month. Google finally pulled the plug and listed the Nexus 4 as completely sold out, something that lasted until the early part of this year when the Nexus 4 arrived back on shelves and stayed there, finally making it a viable option to consumers.
With the Nexus 4 back in the fold, it means that consumers interested in a new smartphone are going to be weighing it as an option. And it’s likely that they will be weighing it against Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S4, a device that has seen its fair share of rumors.
The Galaxy S4 has been rumored since late last year and it has become one of the most, if not the most anticipated Android smartphones of all time. Backed by a strong pre-launch marketing campaign and the successes of the Samsung Galaxy S3, the Galaxy S4 is firmly in the public eye.
That means that power users and average users alike are likely wanting to compare the Galaxy S4 to phones like the Nexus 4. Well, we’ve already taken two initial looks at how the rumored Samsung Galaxy S4 matches up against the Nexus 4 and now, it’s time to enter the final round as we pit the rumored Galaxy S4 versus the Nexus 4 in terms of hardware, software, release date and more.
While the Nexus 4 was once a rare commodity, that isn’t the case anymore. In fact, since the beginning of the year, Google’s unlocked Nexus 4 and T-Mobile’s Nexus 4 have been fairly easy to find.
Currently, T-Mobile has its version of the device readily available both online and in stores and the device can also be bought through a number of different retailers including Walmart and Best Buy.
Google has even gone as far as offering a nifty tool to consumers, a tool that allows them to quickly and easily find a T-Mobile Nexus 4 at T-Mobile retail location nearby.
The unlocked variant of the Nexus 4, available on the Google Play Store, is also in stock with Google listing shipping dates that aren’t longer than two weeks. The company typically ships out the device much faster than that which means that consumers can order this moment and not have to worry much about timing.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 of course is still unreleased and likely will stay that way until several weeks after its launch date. At the Radio City Music Hall, Samsung will showcase the Galaxy S4 and all it has to offer. Part of the announcement will likely deal with its release date though it’s unknown if the company will offer specifics.
In the past, Samsung has offered an exact date for the launch country, we saw it with the UK and the Galaxy S3, but given how late U.S. carriers are to devices, it’s possible that we’ll only see a release window emerge on stage.
Thus far, rumors suggest that Samsung will be releasing the Samsung Galaxy S4 in Europe during the month of April. No specific date has been mentioned and European carriers and retailers that have confirmed the device remain mum on the subject.
The United States is currently rumored to be getting the device in either May or June, which if true, would mean that it will arrive sooner than the Galaxy S3 did back in 2012. Samsung’s Galaxy S3 didn’t emerge on all five of its main carriers until June and July.
The Nexus 4 is made by LG and features a design that is reminiscent of the previous Nexus, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, in that it is constructed out of plastic. However, there is a noticeable different between the two.
While the Galaxy Nexus had a plastic back, the Nexus 4 employs a glass back, much in the same fashion as the iPhone 4S. The Nexus 4′s glass back plate gives off a shimmering effect when put into a light source and it also prominently displays a Nexus logo, something that we didn’t see with the back of the Galaxy Nexus either.
Due to the size of the Nexus 4′s display, it has a large design footprint. It sports a width of 9.1mm, which thicker than some of the high-end smartphones in shelves, with a weight of 139 grams. To put that into perspective, the iPhone 5 is 7.6mm thin and weighs 112 grams.
And to get a better idea of what that size means, take a look at it next to the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy Note 2, one of the biggest smartphones on the market, in the photo below.
Like the Nexus 4, the most recent rumors and leaks suggest that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will also employ a design made of plastic. This should come as no surprise as Samsung typically outfits its high-end devices with polycarbonate designs.
Recently, a Samsung executive hinted at the Galaxy S4′s plastic design, saying that the company preferred it due to its durability, the fact that it could include a removable pack plate – something that many consumers love, and because it could pump out devices much faster when using plastic.
Leaks point to the Galaxy S4 having a home button like the Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2 and from a leaked teaser photo from Samsung, it appears that it will keep a curved design as well.
Rumors have suggested that the Galaxy S4 will feature a form factor that is 7.9mm thin, slightly thicker than the iPhone 5, but much thinner than the LG Nexus 4.
LG outfitted the Nexus 4 with a large display, 4.7-inches to exact. That size is a bit smaller than some of the other Android devices that we’ve seen, namely, the Sony Xperia Z and Droid DNA which both sport 5-inch displays. Despite the small size, it’s still good for watching movies or television shows or simply just browsing the web.
The display is also helped by a nice 320 ppi (pixels-per-inch) count, better than many phones from 2012, and which translates into good looking text and images on screen.
The most recent Galaxy S4 rumors suggest that Samsung will be tacking on a display that is not only bigger than the Nexus 4′s, but also more powerful.
Rumor has it, the Samsung Galaxy S4 will be coming with a 5-inch display, much like the Sony Xperia Z and the Droid DNA. If true, it would mean that it’s .2 inches bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S3 display which stands at 4.8-inches in size.
The display is also said to feature full HD 1080p resolution which isn’t surprising considering both the Xperia Z, Droid DNA and the new HTC One all sport 1080p resolution. The higher resolution will mean better looking video, images and web surfing than the old 720p displays from last year.
Samsung doesn’t appear to be settling with just a 1080p display though. In addition, recent rumors suggest that it could feature sensors inside that will allow users to interact with the screen without physically touching it. These touch less gestures have come on phones like the Pantech Vega 4G LTE and the Sony Xperia Sola, but never on a phone as big as the Galaxy S4.
The company is also rumored to be using a new PHOLED material which could help to bump performance over previous previous displays and help to offer superb battery life.
The Nexus 4 sports a 8MP camera that can shoot 1080p video and decent quality photos. As we’ve said before, the camera is solid, but the sensor, plain and simple, isn’t likely going to match up with the technology that companies are putting into smartphones in 2013.
Still, those who don’t need the very best will be happy with the Nexus 4′s rear camera. For those looking for more in-depth analysis, take a look at our hands-on with the Nexus 4 camera. A sample taken with the Nexus 4′s camera can be seen below.
Samsung is heavily rumored to be including a 13MP sensor in its Samsung Galaxy S4 which, on paper, means it will likely be better than the camera on the Nexus 4.
A sample image that leaked out recently, allegedly taken with the Galaxy S4 camera, shows a great amount of detail as tiny specks of dust can even be seen residing on the keyboard in the photograph.
Recent rumors have suggested that the sensor could be Sony’s 13MP Exmor ES sensor which if true, would likely allow Galaxy S4 access to a number of features including the ability to shoot HDR video.
Currently, the Sony Xperia Z is the only smartphone on the market capable of shooting it though the iPhone 5S is rumored to be getting Sony’s 13MP sensor which means it will likely be capable as well.
The Sony sensor is not confirmed but at this point, given the MP count, the Galaxy S4 could very well be one of the best smartphone cameras to date.
Both the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Nexus 4 will feature specifications beyond the display, design and camera. And while we know the Nexus 4 specs, the Galaxy S4 specifications exist only as rumor. That said, here is how they match up at the moment.
The Nexus 4.
- 4.7-inch IPS Display 1280 x 768 pixel resolution (320 ppi)
- 1.5GHz Quad-Core Snapdragon S4 Pro Processor
- 8GB/16GB Storage (No microSD card slot)
- 8MP Camera/1.9MP Camera
- 2100 mAh battery (Non-Removable)
- 2GB of RAM
- Wireless Charging
The Samsung Galaxy S4.
- 5-inch Full-HD 1080p PHOLED Display
- 1.9GHz Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core Processor/Exynos 5 Octa Processor
- 16/32/64GB of Storage
- 13MP Camera
- 2,600 mAh (Removable)
- 2 GB RAM
There are both similarities and differences to note here. First, both devices will be running quad-core processors but from leaks and rumors, the Galaxy S4 looks like it will feature next-generation chips including the new Snapdragon 600 and the Exynos 5 Octa. The Snapdragon 600 is said to be coming inside the U.S. Galaxy S4. This means that the Galaxy S4 will deliver higher performance than the Nexus 4 which runs an older Snapdragon S4 Pro chip.
Second, the Nexus 4 comes in only two storage variants. An 8GB model and a 16GB model. The phone features no microSD card slot which means users are stuck with those amounts of storage and the cloud. The Galaxy S4 on the other hand, not only should feature a microSD card slot, but will also come in bigger storage options. Current rumors suggest 16GB, 32GB and 64GB options like the Galaxy S3.
Third, the Nexus 4 features built-in wireless charging, but it doesn’t feature a removable back. That means that owners won’t be able to install an extended battery inside or easily replace a malfunctioning battery. The Galaxy S4 will almost certainly have a removable back and it should also have access to a Samsung-made wireless charging kit that might debut alongside it.
And fourth, the Galaxy S4 should have access to NFC like the Nexus 4 and it presumably will also be coming with 2GB of RAM to help deliver high performance to users.
One of the unique features of the Nexus 4 is its software. The Nexus 4 debuted alongside Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the most current version of Google’s software, and it will be, for the next several years, one of the first devices to any new Android software.
That’s because the Nexus name means that it’s a developer device, something that has many perks. One, is that it features a vanilla version of Android, void of any manufacturer fingerprints. Two, it gets faster updates, straight from Google. That means major bug fixes and major Android updates as well. It will continue to get updates for many years down the road.
The Nexus name also means that it is easily customizable as it’s easily rootable and comes with an unlocked bootloader. Users wanting to install custom ROMs should have no issue doing so and the development community for the Nexus 4 is big, thanks to the lack of chains.
Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is not a Nexus and that means that it will not be afforded several of these perks, for better or for worse.
Rumors stated that the Samsung Galaxy S4 will indeed have Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on board, just like the Nexus 4. However, unlike LG’s Nexus, it’s said to have extensive software customization, courtesy of Samsung.
In addition to the many features that have already been baked into Samsung’s TouchWiz skin, there are rumors that the Galaxy S4 will feature even more Samsung-made software.
The most current rumors point to the Samsung Galaxy S4 coming with new ‘smart’ features including Smart Pause which will allow owners to pause content on screen when they look away. Another feature Smart Scroll, which would allow owners to scroll up and down a page by using their eyes is currently in limbo, despite rumors and leaks pointing to it being on board.
The Galaxy S4 is also rumored to have a feature called Samsung Orb which has been pegged to be Samsung’s version of Google’s Photo Sphere, a feature that allows owners to take 360 panoramic photos.
Another unique quality of the Nexus 4 is the fact that it’s not available on any 4G LTE networks. Instead, Google and LG opted to keep it on HSPA+ networks in the United States, despite the fact that it has a 4G LTE radio on board.
The unlocked Nexus 4 works with an assortment of pre-paid carriers and is capable of running on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network and AT&T’s HSPA+ 21 network. Both are generally slower than 4G LTE. The T-Mobile Nexus 4 of course is not unlocked and requires owners to sign up for a contract with T-Mobile for use with T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network and below.
A comparison between HSPA+ 42 data speeds and 4G LTE data speeds can be seen in the video below.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 will almost certainly be coming with 4G LTE data speeds. We’ve seen a carrier in the UK, EE, confirm as much ahead of the device’s launch and that should mean that U.S. consumers see a Galaxy S4 LTE as well.
Rumored carriers included AT&T and Verizon at the moment though they will likely be joined by T-Mobile and Sprint at the very least. All four carriers utilized the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note and it would be weird to see them pass on such a popular phone.
Regional carrier U.S. Cellular should also be on board as well.
One of the reasons that the Nexus 4 has been so popular is because of its unlocked price tag on the Google Play Store.
On the Google Play Store, the 8GB Nexus 4 costs a mere $299 while the 16GB Nexus 4 costs $349. Both are significantly lower than typical off-contract pricing which can be upwards of $500. An unlocked iPhone 5 costs $649 by comparison.
The on-contract model for T-Mobile is more expensive though it still has favorable pricing. The device generally costs $199.99 on-contract through T-Mobile but it often sees its price discounted. Other retailers also offer specials for the Nexus 4 meaning owners can snag it for much cheaper than its suggested price.
The Galaxy S4 should arrive for a similar price. While no rumors have emerged, $199.99 is a standard price tag for high-end smartphones and it’s the same price that the Galaxy S3 launched for.
That price should apply to the 16GB model while larger storage options should cost more. T-Mobile will likely off the device with off-contract pricing due to the carrier moving to its Value Plans so its price, if it indeed offers the phone, is a little less certain.