Yesterday at Google I/O, instead of announcing a new Nexus 7 2, a new Nexus 4 or Android 4.3, Google announced that it would start stocking at new Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus in June, a device that will not only compete against the original Samsung Galaxy S4 but also Google’s current Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 4.
Last year, Google waited until the end of the year to announce its replacement for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, opting to announce the Nexus 4 in the month of November. The Nexus 4 was the first Nexus smartphone to not be made by HTC or Samsung, instead coming from Korea-based LG. And after a rocky start, the Nexus 4 has settled down into its role as Google’s premier Nexus smartphone.
In November, Google and LG launched the Nexus 4 to widespread demand, thanks to the device’s unique price tag, powerful hardware and outstanding software. Unfortunately, Google did not forecast the demand correctly and wound up dealing with absurd supply issues that plagued the device all the way until February of this year.
Now though, several months after its arrival, the Nexus 4 is widely available and remains one of the best smartphone options available to those looking for a new smartphone. Of course, it’s not without its competition.
The iPhone 5 was out before its time. The HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 both joined it on shelves several weeks ago, becoming two of its main in-house Android threats. However, Google decided to step up the competition even further with an announcement yesterday at Google I/O, its yearly developer conference.
Google took the stage and announced a new Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus Edition that will be joining the Nexus 4 on the Google Play Store in just a few weeks. The Galaxy S4 Nexus will definitely become a phone that Android enthusiasts and average consumers alike will want to take a look at and it will likely be one that they weigh against the Nexus 4.
Here, we want to take a close look at how the Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus stacks up against the Nexus 4 in terms of hardware, software, release date, price and more.
As we’ve said, the Nexus 4 has been out on shelves since the middle of November, tempting consumers on not only the Google Play Store but through T-Mobile and other various third party retailers as well. It’s a phone that is growing in age, but its release date should not be much of a concern for prospective buyers for one big reason.
The Nexus 4 is a Nexus smartphone which means that it has quite a bit of life left in it. Google simply won’t abandon the Nexus 4 when it comes to software updates like some manufacturers do. Instead, this is a device that will be kept fresh for the months and years to come.
This is important because it means that despite having a release date in 2012, it will be as relevant as many if not all of the phones released in 2013, including the Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus.
On stage at Google I/O, Hugo Barra announced the Galaxy S4 Nexus and tagged it with a specific release date, something that often doesn’t occur at Android launch events.
Barra confirmed that the Galaxy S4 Nexus will be heading to the Google Play Store on June 26th, just about two months after the arrival of the original Galaxy S4 model.
It’s unclear if the Galaxy S4 Nexus will be available outside of the Google Play Store or if it will be contained to Google’s online shopping portal but at this point, it appears that Google Play may be the only option.
Like the Nexus 4, it will have a long life after its release date and will stay relevant for the months and years to come.
These are two different phones and that means that they will be sporting two different designs. First, the Nexus 4. Like the Galaxy S4, the Nexus 4 is built using a plastic material that feels great in the hands and is also durable. Unlike the Galaxy S4 though, the Nexus 4 features a glass back which leaves it susceptible to cracks. Nexus 4 owners are essentially required to equip the smartphone with a bumper case so as to protect from drops.
The Nexus 4 is also thicker and heavier than the Galaxy S4, checking in with a frame that measures in at a fairly bulky 9.1mm and weighing in at 139 grams. It’s not a deal breaker but the difference between the two will be noticeable.
That’s because the Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus will more than likely check in with a frame that measures 7.9mm thin and weighs around 130 grams. So, thinner and lighter.
It also should come with the same design elements as the regular Galaxy S4. That means a solid plastic design with a band that runs around the entire device, giving it a sleek look.
And while the front of the Nexus 4 uses Gorilla Glass 2 in the front, the Galaxy S4 Nexus should come with Gorilla Glass 3 which Corning says is three times more resistant to scratches than Gorilla Glass 2.
The Nexus 4 display checks in at 4.7-inches in size and utilizes 720p HD resolution with a high 320 pixel-per-inch count. While the resolution may be from last year, the PPI count keeps the display relevant and ensures that video, photos and text will look fantastic on the Nexus 4. No, it’s not top of the line, but it’s going to get the job done.
It’s not though, going to look as good as content on the Galaxy S4 Nexus display. That’s because the device will almost assuredly be coming with the same display as the Galaxy S4.
That means a 5-inch, full HD Super AMOLED display with 1080p resolution and a 440 pixel-per-inch count. That translates into rich text, beautiful colors and elegant video and photos. It’s a display that is tough to beat.
Those considering the two devices will not only need to consider the resolution but also the size. The .3-inches that the Galaxy S4 Nexus will have on the Nexus 4 not only means that the screen will be bigger but that the device itself will be a tad bigger as well.
For those that want the best looking content though, the Galaxy S4 Nexus is going to be the way to go.
The Nexus 4 employs an 8MP camera sensor, a sensor that is able to shoot some good photos and 1080p video. The Galaxy S4 Nexus on the other hand should be coming with a 13MP camera sensor, just like the regular Galaxy S4. As we have pointed out many times, megapixel count doesn’t mean everything.
That said, we do expect the Galaxy S4 Nexus camera to shoot photos that top the Nexus 4’s camera. How do we know this? The Galaxy S4 camera shoots better photos than the Nexus 4 camera, particularly when it comes to low-light shots.
As for the front-facing cameras, both will be good and both will get the job done whether it’s video chatting with a co-worker, a friend, or a colleague.
We should also point out that both devices will come equipped with the stock camera application. That means that the Samsung camera app, which is arguably better than the stock Android camera app, will not be on board the Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus.
Beyond those three features, there are several other features that power both the Nexus 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus. Here, we take a look at the rest of their specs. Keep in mind, Google hasn’t confirmed all of the internals of the Galaxy S4 Nexus, but these are what to expect.
The Galaxy S4 Nexus.
- 5-inch Full-HD 1080p Super AMOLED HD Display
- Snapdragon 600 Quad-Core Processor
- 16GB of Storage
- 13MP Camera
- 2,600 mAh (Removable)
- 2 GB RAM
- Wireless Charging Kit
And 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 first thing to note is that the Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus is more than likely going to retain the same specifications as the original Galaxy S4. Google failed to confirm many of the device’s internals but we don’t think the device is going to stray too much from the Galaxy S4 that we’ve already seen arrive on shelves.
Second, this means that the Galaxy S4 Nexus will likely come with some non-Nexus features including a microSD card slot for expanded storage beyond its 16GB and a removable back for an extended battery. These two things are not confirmed but again, we don’t expect Google to stray from Samsung’s original hardware.
The Nexus 4 only has 8GB or 16GB options with no microSD card slot and no removable back. That means that users are stuck with both.
Third, the removable back should mean that the Galaxy S4 Nexus is compatible with Samsung’s wireless charging kit, a kit that unsurprisingly will allow users to charge the device with the need for wires. The Nexus 4 also has wireless charging but its feature is built-in which means it does not require a new back plate.
Fourth, both will run quad-core processors though it looks like the Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus will come with a Qualcomm 600 quad-core processor, Qualcomm’s latest-generation chip. The Nexus 4’s processor, while good, will be a previous generation chip.
Finally fifth, it’s worth noting that the Nexus 4 has a smaller battery than the Galaxy S4 and likely the Galaxy S4 Nexus. Consumers should not read into this too much. The Nexus 4 uses a less powerful display and it also has a smaller display. Displays are often the big battery life eater which means that the Galaxy S4’s battery size was more of a necessity than a perk.
A big draw to the Nexus-branded devices on the market is their software. Instead of Android software that is loaded up with a user interface from the manufacturer, Nexus devices come without their fingerprints and instead offer a vanilla version of Android, a pure Google Experience.
The Nexus 4 is running a pure version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the latest version of Android. There are no hints of LG software. Instead, it’s all Google. This means that the device’s UI is fast and less cluttered than other smartphones.
This is why the Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus is such an exciting device. The original Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean as well but it comes with Samsung’s fingerprints all over it. The regular Galaxy S4 runs TouchWiz UI over the top of Android which not only delivers a different look but offers a host of features as well, some useful, others that simply are annoying or get in the way.
On the other hand, the Galaxy S4 Nexus Edition comes with a vanilla version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, meaning, none of Samsung’s software features are on board. We imagine that developers will come up with a way to get some of the regular Galaxy S4’s features ported for the Galaxy S4 Nexus though only time will tell.
One of the drawbacks of the Nexus 4 has always been the lack of 4G LTE support. Instead of offering fast, 4G LTE data speeds, LG and Google opted to skip them in favor of a device running on HSPA networks. Yes, the Nexus 4 can be hacked to work with 4G LTE but it’s going to take quite a bit of effort and knowledge to get it to work properly.
What this means is that the unlocked Nexus 4 runs on the HSPA+ 42 network on T-Mobile and the HSPA+ 21 or “4G” network of AT&T in the United States. T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network in particular is fast but it’s simply not as fast as LTE.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus will arrive in similar fashion, at least when it comes to support for T-Mobile and AT&T. However, unlike the Nexus 4, the Galaxy S4 Nexus comes with support for LTE data speeds.
This is one of its biggest advantages over the Nexus 4 and means that users will be able to grab the fastest available data speeds, speeds that are comparable to home Wi-Fi networks.
While the Samsung Galaxy S4 Nexus has many of the characteristics of Google’s other Nexus devices, there is one thing that it does not share in common with the other devices: Price.
One of the Nexus 4’s strongest qualities is the fact that its price on the Google Play Store is extremely cheap for an unlocked smartphone. While phones like the iPhone 5 come with $650 starting price tags attached, the Nexus 4 is available for $299 for the 8GB model and $350 for the 16GB model, huge discounts over the competition.
At T-Mobile, the price is cheap as well with the device commanding a $49.99 down payment and a $427 full price tag. That’s again, much cheaper than other phones, including the Galaxy S4 Nexus.
Google announced that the Galaxy S4 Nexus will be sold through Google Play for a whopping $649. That’s the same price as the unlocked iPhone 5 through Apple.
There was a reason why the price announcement was met with silence from the I/O crowd. It’s a steep cost, particularly when the Nexus 4 price is as cheap as it is.