Nexus 5 vs. Nexus 4: What to Expect

The Nexus smartphone program isn’t dead, despite the presence of Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play Editions. Rumors suggest that Google may have an LG Nexus 5 cooked up for later this year, with rumors also suggesting that a Motorola Nexus 5 could be in the works as well. With a Nexus smartphone launch likely in the next few weeks, it’s time to take an early look at how we expect it to compare with the current Nexus, the LG Nexus 4.

Every year, Google releases a new Nexus branded smartphone to appease those that want a pure Google software experience. First, it was the Nexus One from HTC, the original Nexus smartphone. Since, we’ve seen the Samsung Nexus S, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and last year’s Nexus 4 which was made by LG.

Over the years, Nexus devices have offered Android enthusiasts and average buyers a number of perks including cheap pricing, vanilla Android and high-end hardware. Nexus smartphones typically are among the best available Android options during their year life span and we many are expecting the same from 2013′s Nexus smartphone.

Read: Nexus 5 Launch Date Pegged for October 14th.

The Nexus 4 is part of Google's new focus on design and build quality.

LG or Motorola or both could be making the Nexus 5 with Android 5.0.

Back at Google I/O, Google introduced a Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition. At the time, some saw this as a sign of the Nexus smartphone program’s impending doom. After all, the Galaxy Nexus was hampered by carriers and the Nexus 4 struggled to get out of the gates due to supply issues. Perhaps Google was looking to do something different.

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Soon after, it announced an HTC One Google Edition but by then, we knew that Google wasn’t killing off the Nexus line. Why? It refused to tag these with the name Nexus and it refused to give them a Nexus price tag. The HTC One retails for $599 on the Google Play Store, the Galaxy S4 for $650.

Our suspicions have slowly been confirmed over the past few weeks thanks to a number of rumors and leaks that have sprouted up, suggesting a new Nexus is on the way.

For months, Nexus 5 rumors have been swirling, teasing buyers with the possibility of a brand new Nexus smartphone to replace Google’s Nexus 4. Google itself added fuel to the fire by dropping the Nexus 4 price tag and discontinuing the 8GB Nexus 4 model, a model that reportedly will never make another appearance on the Google Play Store.

Rumors suggest that the Nexus 5 could launch as soon as October 14th. And with the launch date now closer than ever, it’s the perfect time take a look at how we expect the Nexus 5 to stack up against the Nexus 4.

Nexus 5 to Kill Off Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 is on sale right now in 16GB form on the Google Play Store. It’s also available through T-Mobile’s website. However, once the Nexus 5 rolls around, expect the Nexus 4 to vanish from shelves. There are a few reasons why we think this will happen.

  1. Google already discontinued the Nexus 4 8GB.
  2. Google killed off the original Nexus 7 with the new Nexus 7.
  3. Google killed off the Galaxy Nexus when the Nexus 4 arrived.

It’s possible that we could see T-Mobile continue selling the Nexus 4 like it sells older iPhone models, we can’t be sure. But we do not expect the Nexus 4 to remain on the Google Play Store once the new Nexus smartphone arrives.

So, those looking to buy through Google should consider buying in the near future. Otherwise, the only place to buy may be through T-Mobile or a third party website.

No Supply Issues

Last year, the Nexus 4′s success was severely hampered by supply issues. Google grossly underestimated the demand for the Nexus 4, blamed it on LG, who then fired right back at Google. It appears that everything is cool now though. We saw supply issues afflict the original Nexus 7 when it arrived as well.

The Nexus 4 was hampered by supply issues.

The Nexus 4 was hampered by supply issues.

Not the case this year. The Nexus 7 remains in stock on the Google Play Store and it remains available through a great number of retail outlets across the United States. Google did its homework. with the Nexus 7 and we expect it to so with the Nexus 5.

So instead of a broken website, a sell out, a quick return, another sell out and a return in February, we expect the new Nexus or Nexi to be readily available to consumers throughout the holiday season.

LTE

One of the biggest complaints about the Nexus 4 was its lack of 4G LTE data. LTE is now commonplace, appearing on big name phones and mid-range phones alike. So, it was a little surprising to see the Nexus 4 launch without LTE. Well, that is until one takes the Galaxy Nexus disaster with Verizon into account. Then, it kind of makes sense.

Last year’s Nexus 7 did not have LTE either though this time around, Google came through with a Nexus 7 LTE that recently launched in the United States for AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. And while nothing is confirmed, it’s pretty clear that the new Nexus smartphone is going to have LTE on board in some capacity.

Read: Nexus 5: 3 Key Details Emerge.

We need only look at the Nexus 7 to figure that out but for those that need more evidence, a recent FCC filing for an LG D820, a device suspected to be the Nexus 5, revealed LTE bands. Anandtech’s Brian Klug was able to conclude that the device sports the appropriate bands for LTE, CDMA, and HSPA+ on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Yes Sprint.

There aren’t, however, bands for Verizon’s LTE network. So perhaps Verizon is getting left behind, perhaps support just hasn’t been revealed yet, but what’s clear is that LTE is likely going to be on board any Nexus smartphone that launches later in the year. A huge step up from the HSPA+ found on LG’s Nexus 4.

Big Camera Differences

Many people forget that Google’s Vic Gundotra made a promise. He promised that Nexus smartphones of the future would have much better cameras than the Nexus phones of the past. Now, he didn’t come right out and confirm an awesome camera for this year’s Nexus but there is reason to believe that the Nexus 5 will have a fantastic camera.

The leaks has shown that LG’s Nexus 5 may have a oversized camera sensor. We saw one in the video that leaked, we saw one in the FCC filing for the LG D820. Now, that doesn’t confirm a vastly upgraded camera but with Gundotra’s comments in mind, one has to wonder.

The FCC filing points to a camera that could be similar to the 13MP camera inside the LG G2. That camera comes with Optical Image Stabilization which could mean that the lens will move inside the Nexus 5 when the phone senses movement so it can react to a shake and hopefully negate the shake of the phone while in hand.

The upgraded sensor itself could mean better photos in low light environments.

Upgraded Hardware

We’ve singled the camera out but we also expect the Nexus 5 to offer improved all-around hardware. The Nexus 4 came with solid specs including a 4.7-inch display with 720p resolution, and a quad-core processor. However, Nexus devices typically boast the big time features of the year they are launched and in the case of the Nexus 5, we expect it to come with a 1080p display and next-gen chip.

This could be the new Nexus 5 from LG and Google.

This could be the new Nexus 5 from LG and Google.

The FCC filing didn’t confirm the resolution or screen size for the rumored Nexus 5 but we would imagine that it will be no smaller than the Nexus 4′s. Perhaps, somewhere in the range of 5-inches so that Google can market it with a different name. The filing did apparently confirm a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, Qualcomm’s latest, and one that could provide a number of enhancements for Nexus 5 owners.

Both would be a step up from the Nexus 4 and both would not be surprising to see.

Similar but Different Price

One of the perks of the Nexus smartphone program is the price that Google attaches to its devices. For instance, the unlocked Nexus 4 started at $299.99 for the 8GB model and the 16GB Nexus 4 started at $350. By comparison, the iPhone 5 unlocked was and is $650 for a 16GB. Google’s prices are ridiculous and they are a big reason why the Nexus 4 sold as well as it did without LTE.

However, Google also showed that it’s not afraid to up the price of its Nexus products, particularly its successful ones. This year, the company bumped the Nexus 7 up in price, not by a lot, but a bump nonetheless.

With the a better display, better processor, better camera and LTE expected, we could see Google charge a bit more for the Nexus 5. How much more, we can’t say for sure, but we wouldn’t be shocked if it started around $350-$400 instead of at $200. Parts cost money, particularly high resolution displays, and with the iPhone 5C priced at $549 unlocked, it still would have a lot of breathing room and something to sell.

Same Software

Unlike Apple, Google typically doesn’t release unique software features for its yearly smartphone. For instance, the Nexus 4 and the Galaxy Nexus share software features while the iPhone 5 will be getting more features than the iPhone 4 when iOS 7 arrives.

What this means is that we expect the Nexus 5′s vanilla Android 4.4 KitKat update to be the same as the Nexus 4′s Android 4.4 KitKat update, something that should keep the Nexus 4 relevant, even if it does get replaced on shelves.

Same Limitations

Finally, we expect the Nexus 5 to have the same limitations as the Nexus 4, something that the FCC filing seems to have confirmed.

It’s no secret that Google hates microSD card slots and thus far, the company has refused to put them on its Nexus devices. Expect the Nexus 5 to have two storage options, perhaps 16GB and 32GB this time around, but no expanded storage. For many, this will be enough, for others it will present a bit of a struggle.

There is no apparent Micro SD card slot on the Nexus 5 as shown in photos taken by the FCC.

There is no apparent Micro SD card slot on the Nexus 5 as shown in photos taken by the FCC.

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While the Galaxy Nexus featured a removable back and battery, the Nexus 4 did not and we don’t expect Google to reverse course with the Nexus 5. In fact, the FCC filing points to a non-removable back which means a non-removable battery.

Comments

  1. Kevin Furlong says

    “if it started around $350-$400 instead of at $200″

    The Nexus 4 didn’t start at $200, it was reduced to that price 10 months later. It started at $300-$350. Just thought that sentence was a little confusing.

  2. Dustin says

    I have a nexus 4 and won’t be planing to get the nexus 5 for these reasons.
    1. I’ve already preordered the note 3
    2. The lack of micro SD (and only 16gb) and removable battery has been something I’m not ready to have to cope with.
    3. As awesome as the immediate updates and Dev community has been for this phone, it wasn’t much different than when I had my S2, and I feel it will be the same or better with the note 3
    4. Contracts have never bothered me. My nexus was only to hold me off until the note 3 came out anyways, but my nexus experience has been sub par.

  3. chazzmatt says

    Stop it with the Motorola Nexus nonsense. It’s not happening. Google releases ONE Nexus smartphone per year. PERIOD. it’s a designer showcase phone for Android. Yes, Google loses money on it or at the most breaks even. It’s for prestige and to influence design.

    Which is why if you understand the Nexus philosophy, Google will NOT, does NOT want 2 phones. They want only that one. They don’t want some half-baked phone from Motorola that will ruin the rep of the Nexus phones. Not when that beautiful LG Nexus 5 is coming down the
    highway. They make it based on a flagship device, like the Galaxy S, the SII, or last year’s LG Optimus G. This year it’s the LG G2. Motorola can’t do a flaghsip device right now. when Motorola can design and execute from scratch a phone (not a copycat) like the G2, then they will be ready for the big leagues again.

    The sooner you stop the two Nexus phones nonsense is when you will start getting some credibility.

  4. Joseph Kennedy (jskennedy19) says

    I will most likely be getting the new Nexus smartphone. The rumored screen is a bit over the top for me. I would find a 4.5 inch, 720p perfect. I don’t watch too much from my phone, especially now that I have a Chromecast. In my an incredible screen is a gimmick, on a device that small 720p would still be a high number of pixels per inch, having an overdone screen just drives up the price, but I can deal with that. As for no expandable storage… seriously? It’s 2013. Between 15GB in Drive, 50GB in Box and 30GB in Copy, all free, I have enough storage in the cloud. Unless you’re storing physical music or movies on your device, then I don’t see the need for an SD card at all anymore. All my music has been uploaded to Play Music, so I can listen to that right from the Cloud too. If I am going to watch a movie while I am out and it’s one I personally have in my collection on Computer, I’ll throw it into Drive before I leave, I can fit several movies at a time in there. The removable battery is a small drawback to me, but not so bad. I just hope that even if the back isn’t removable, it isn’t glass. Either way, never had a Nexus before, but planning on getting the N5 from Google.

    • Dustin says

      The SD card is my “cloud” I suppose you can say. They are interchangeable, its easy to copy to and from and there is no login, waiting and not to mention the battery savings from having a movie locally rather than in the cloud (if I have decent service) I would imagine you would need to charge after watching a movie, but a spare battery is so much more convenient. But from the sound of it, the nexus would be your ideal handset. You don’t want a large screen, you seem to have an abundance of data on whatever network your on and you don’t mind a non removable battery. There is a phone for everyone, and the nexus is probably one of the best for you.

      • Joseph Kennedy (jskennedy19) says

        It is a huge battery drain, but as I said I barely watch video on my phone. Chromecast, tablet, PC handles that for me, I watch the occasional YouTube video but I honestly don’t see the need to watch a movie on a phone. However I do see a great benefit to having music stored locally, because even playing that from the cloud uses more battery than playing from locally saved music, but that was something I was willing to accept.

        • Dustin says

          Not to mention Google play music is honestly an awesome service. It has stopped me from pirating music. And no, I don’t watch movies, just listen to music, read tech news, and general browsing. On average I get 4 hours of screen on time (at best) causing me to have to charge in the middle of my 12 hour work shift (leaving me bored for about an hour and a half). I don’t even bother with any type of gaming because it would irritate me, however I’m looking forward to using the s-pen in several games I miss playing.

    • Aleks says

      I’m glad you have such consistent internet access everywhere you go that the cloud is always within reach. Wish I did.

    • Scrone says

      Well said. If 16 GB isn’t enough memory on your phone you’re doing it wrong.

      Nexus 4 is an outstanding phone…. I would look forward to the Nexus 5 if the Nexus 4 wasn’t so outstanding that I don’t need anything more.

      • SASr says

        Too True on the Nexus 4 being an outstanding phone, (I have 1), but it kinda makes me want the N5 even more, and 32 would be nice even tho im used to 8 hahaha, i play heaps of games, Emails and use YouTube and Drive, aww and plunging it in to ur tv via HDMI is awesome

  5. Aaron says

    “It’s possible that we could see T-Mobile continue selling the Nexus 4 like it sells older iPhone models, we can’t be sure.”

    Wait, what? I think your confused here, T-Mobile ONLY sells the most current model iPhone, the 5. T-mobile has NEVER carried the iPhone until the 5 was released so it doesn’t have the previous models. In fact the model iPhone 5 T-Mobile carries is a bee updated version from the original to include T-Mobile’s AWS band.

    Please check your facts before you speak. This entire article has become null and void.

    • Frankenstu says

      Dude, if you go to the T-Mobile website right now you can buy and IPhone 4, 4S, 5, and 5C (preorder). Not sure what you are talking about.

  6. Mark Beckford says

    Why does everyone that owns a nexus cries about the lack of a sdcard.
    If people did there homework about the nexus line they would know Google stopped
    Using Sdcard ‘s After the Nexus one…

    • Dustin says

      I did my homework. I have had a nexus s before this nexus 4 and fully understood what I was getting and not getting, however, having a s2 previously spoiled me but it was time for something new. I got the 16gb thinking it would be plenty, and it is besides having to transfer files back and forth from my computer to keep from filing it up. You’d be surprised how much space a nandroid backup and titanium app backup takes.

    • Dustin says

      For the speaker and battery, franco kernel plus and his app, for the camera, cm 10.2. Focal is awesome.

  7. Mary says

    I have a Nexus 4. As a smartphone it has many great features. I do have several complaints;

    1. NO LTE,
    (T-mobile told me it would get activated soon after I purchased it in Nov. 2012)

    2. No wi-fi calling

    3. poor data connectivity, signal issues

    I am frequently cursing at the phone, because it shows I have signal, but will not connect for data & calls. It takes me having to re-start the phone to get even some data/signal functionality at times. And when I do it magically gets a slew of notifications, updates, etc that weren’t being sent previously. I can tell this to be accurate because many have a date of the day before.

    Don’t get me wrong I do love the screen size, software platform & all the Android apps. The lack of SD card is not an issue for me, as others have said, there are cloud options that make it unnecessary. It was just disappointing when they promised me LTE & did not deliver.

    I may consider the new Nexus 5, but will probably wait until it’s been out a bit to see what the stats are on real world usability first. I am also considering the new LG G2, but want to see the reviews also once released. either way I’m hopeful that one of these 2 phones will give me an improved experience.

    • SASr says

      Hi Mary
      when other has these problems we send it back, ive never had a problem with mine,
      dont be worried to send ur phone back if it has faults like that

  8. #t0x1cm0j0 says

    I will for sure be getting the nexus 5 either as soon as its released or when it gets it’s price drop. I am a huge fan of the nexus 4 and have owned all but the first nexus. I think lg did a great job on the nexus 4 which is why they are getting a round 2. My nexus 4 has never had a problem whether it be battery life day to day performance or anything else. The only thing I’d like in this new version is a higher base memory. 8 gigs is manageable but I’d like to think we have moved up to at least 16 gig standard on android devices regardless of make or model. People that bash the nexus 4 either went into with a predetermined dislike for it or just plain didn’t give it an honest chance. I love my nexus and still keep it even after the nexus 5 is safely in my grasp. Apple Samsung Motorola and HTC cant compare to vanilla android with a nice screen and a decent processor. That quad core s4 pro is no slack and down right destroys most competition. Add the 2 gigs of ram and you have the best android experience in the market every time. Keep up the good work Google. As long as they make the nexus they will have a fan with me. I’ve used every os. All the top name devices to date. And still I prefer the nexus because it doesn’t bore me after two weeks of use.

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