Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Nexus 5: Early Look at What to Expect

While many shoppers likely have their eyes on the devices of the present, that is to say devices that are on shelves, others may be looking toward the future with their comparisons. Rumors about 2014 flagships are already flying around and one device that has seen many whispers already is the Samsung Galaxy S5. While there are still plenty of holes in the Galaxy S5′s story, we want to take a look at what to expect from the inevitable battle between Samsung’s next Galaxy S and one of the best Android smartphones on the market, the Nexus 5.

Back in March, Samsung took the stage in New York City and announced one of the most anticipated smartphones in history. The Samsung Galaxy S4 had the world’s attention when it made its debut at the Radio City Music Hall earlier this year and for good reason.

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The Galaxy S4 remains one of the top Android smartphones on the market and arguably one of the top overall smartphones on the market as well. That won’t change for at least a few months or more and the Galaxy S4 will certainly be tempting to many shoppers looking to score a new smartphone this holiday shopping season.

That said, we’ve already heard quite a bit about its clear successor, a device that is being dubbed Samsung Galaxy S5, and a device that could make an appearance sooner than expected. While Galaxy S5 hysteria has yet to begin, there are likely plenty of smartphone buyers looking at rumors and weighing them against the current crop of devices.

One of those devices is likely going to be the Nexus 5, Google’s brand new Nexus smartphone that made its debut, after weeks and weeks of rumors, back in October. Like the Galaxy S4, the Nexus 5 figures to be a staple on the Android smartphone market for many months to come and should be around to challenge the Galaxy S5 when it arrives next year.

With that in mind, we want to take an early look at what to expect from the Samsung Galaxy S5 and how we think it will stack up with the Nexus 5 when it arrives on shelves.

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Release Date

The Nexus 5 is out on shelves and its gradually making its way to carriers with T-Mobile set to release the device on November 14th. The device is also sold through the Google Play Store and Sprint has had it available since November 8th. The device figures to stay a fixture at these carriers, and at the Google Play Store, for the next year.

Google typically does not release multiple Nexus smartphone and while there is a possibility that we could see Google change things up, we wouldn’t expect a new Nexus to outright replace the Nexus 5. This is a device that we expect to remain on shelves for a year, or maybe a little less. Even when it does vanish, it will still be an option through third party avenues.

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Those with an eye to the future are likely wondering when the Galaxy S5 will be out, a piece of information that remains unavailable, and likely will be for quite some time. We have heard that the Galaxy S5 could launch as soon as January with a release in February but those rumors have yet to pick up any more steam. If true, it would mean a much quicker launch than the Galaxy S4.

Right now, we the very soonest, we’re looking at a wait until January. At the latest, we’re probably looking at early May. The Galaxy S4 arrived in March, the Galaxy S3 arrived in May. So for those weighing the two, it’s going to be at least a two month wait and it could be even longer than that if Galaxy S5 release date rumors don’t pan out.

Design

The Nexus 5 comes with a sleek, black matte design that is arguably an improvement over the plastic and glass used with the Nexus 4. It’s not a premium style design like the HTC One or the iPhone 5s but it’s at the top when it comes to plastic.

The device isn’t the slimmest smartphone on the market, nor is it the lightest, checking in with an 8.6mm frame and a form factor that weighs 130 grams. As for the other particulars, the Nexus 5 comes without a removable back for use with an extended battery or a microSD card slot for expanded storage. Both of those have, historically, been part of Samsung smartphone designs but there is reason to believe that the Galaxy S5 could change things up.

Early Galaxy S5 rumors suggested that the device could come with a premium metal design, something that Samsung fans have clamored for for years. In fact, Samsung found itself having to defend its plastic Galaxy S4 design right around the time of its launch. Current Galaxy S5 rumors paint a more clouded picture of the Galaxy S5 design.

Samsung, like any company, plays around with prototypes before settling on a final design. The current rumor mill has suggested that the Galaxy S5 could have a metal design but that it also could come with a faux leather plastic design like the Galaxy S5 with a new Galaxy F series utilizing the metal design. The conflicting rumors likely have to do with the company tossing around several designs and plans.

So there are several different outcomes here, in our minds:

  • A Galaxy S5 with a metal design that eschews the removable back and microSD card slot.
  • A Galaxy S5 with a plastic design that keeps the microSD card slot and removable back.
  • A Galaxy S5 with a metal design that keeps the microSD card slot and removable back. We saw something similar with the Samsung Wave 3 and perhaps, Samsung could combine both worlds with the Galaxy S5.

Given how hard Samsung has worked to get the Galaxy S series on par with the likes of the iPhone, we have a hard time believing it’s going to ditch the Galaxy S series in favor of a brand new premium brand. This could confuse consumers who are just starting to make the Galaxy a household name. So we wouldn’t read into that too much just yet.

Metal Galaxy S5 concept.

Metal Galaxy S5 concept.

As far as how it might compare to the Nexus 5 design? Well, we expect the Galaxy S5 to be thin and lightweight, no matter the design, and for the overall material, plastic or metal, to be on par with the Nexus 5′s design.

Display

Google’s Nexus 5 comes with a 5-inch 1080p display with 445 pixels-per-inch. The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with a 5-inch 1080p display with 441 pixels-per-inch. Both offer fantastic quality content and are among the best screens on the market.

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There is no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S5 screen will be comparable to both of these displays. The only questions are, how big will the display be, and will it come with the same flexible Samsung Youm display that we saw emerge on Samsung’s Galaxy Round earlier this year.

Unfortunately, rumors about the Galaxy S5 display are scarce but we expect the device, at the very least, to boast a high-end 1080p display with a high PPI count, putting it on par with the Nexus 5′s display. At the very best, the screen could put the Nexus 5′s to shame. Whether that’s increased resolution, a flexible display or something else.

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And because Samsung has signed a deal with Gorilla Glass maker Corning, we expect the Galaxy S5 display to be as well protected as the display found on the current Nexus smartphone.

Specs

So how about the rest of the specifications? Well, as expected, Google outfitted the Nexus 5 with some pretty powerful hardware. It includes a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, one of the very best chips on the market, 2GB of RAM an 8MP camera sensor with Optical Image Stabilization, and a 2,300 mAh battery that, as we’ve said before, cannot be replaced.

It also features 16GB or 32GB of storage space which again, is not expandable due to the Nexus 5′s design does not come equipped with a microSD card slot.

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As for the Galaxy S5, pre-launch rumors have already all but confirmed its processor to be a next-generation chip, possibly of the Exynos 6 variety, that offers 64-bit support to users. 64-bit support, which is also found with the A7 processor inside the iPhone 5s, will deliver increased performance, particularly when it comes to gaming. The device could potentially be joined by a whopping 4GB of RAM, something that would make the Galaxy S5 one of the most powerful smartphones on the market.

Galaxy S5 camera rumors have firmed up and suggest a 16MP sensor with Samsung’s ISOCELL technology for better low light photography. We’ve heard that OIS may not be on board but this would be extremely shocking given that competitors like the LG G2 have it on board already. No word on how much storage it might have but we would expect there to be a 32GB model at the very least. Samsung recently phased out the 16GB Galaxy Note so we could see the same thing.

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The point here is this. The Galaxy S5, premium flagship or not, should be outfitted with a ton of high-powered hardware. A new processor and camera are almost a given at this point and so we expect to see the Galaxy S5 compete at a high level.

Samsung also knows the importance of battery life, the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 2 have solid batteries, so we could potentially see a larger battery inside the Galaxy S5. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Galaxy S5 featured better battery life than the Nexus 5. At worst, it should be on par.

Software

The Nexus 5 is the first device to run Android 4.4 KitKat, Google’s brand new software. And for the moment, it’s the only device that will see the new launcher that came with the software. Google says that it will remain an exclusive for now and it’s possible that it will keep that exclusive forever.

Since the Nexus 5 is a Nexus smartphone, it also comes with some perks. Vanilla Android that is untouched by LG, the company that made the new Nexus, quick updates directly from Google and an unlocked bootloader that allows users to install custom ROMs from the development community right off the bat. These are just a few of the reasons why the Nexus 5 is a device that is in the cross hairs of many users, including average ones.

We haven’t heard too much about the Galaxy S5 software yet but we here is what we expect. We expect the device to run Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box, something that is all but confirmed at this point, and we also expect it to come with a highly modified version of Android thanks to Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface.

TouchWiz on the Galaxy S5 should come with features from previous Galaxy devices including the Galaxy Note 3 and it should also come with some features of its own. Samsung has been focused on software driven by sensors embedded inside of the phone and we could see the next version of TouchWiz build upon that foundation. The touch less gestures that came on board the Galaxy S4 were likely just the start.

One Galaxy S5 rumor has suggested that we could see the device allow users to unlock the phone with their eyes and while it might seem like something out of a science fiction novel, it’s possible.

What matters here is this. The devices will likely be running Android 4.4 KitKat at the same time but vastly different versions of the software. The Galaxy S5 also won’t get updated by Google, it will be at the mercy of carriers, and we should see the usual bootloader complaints emerge as well.

Carriers

The Nexus 5 is the second Nexus smartphone to come with 4G LTE data speeds. It arrived for AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint and there are no plans to bring it to U.S. Cellular or Verizon. The device also does not come with support for LTE-Advanced, a high-speed network that is currently out of reach in the United States, but should start to become commonplace in the months ahead.

We expect the Galaxy S5 to not only feature LTE but LTE-Advanced as well. Samsung has already shown a willingness to offer the support and so we expect that the Galaxy S5 will have this on board. This means that when available, the device would be able to pull down faster speeds than the Nexus 5.

Samsung also has a penchant for attracting a host of carriers to its Galaxy S series so we wouldn’t be surprised to see the usual five suspects at launch including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon, something that would give consumers a better choice than the Nexus 5.

Price

One of the reasons consumers are looking at the Nexus 5 is due to its extremely cheap price tag. Sprint is selling it for $49 and up while T-Mobile is asking for just $17 a month at this point. Through the Google Play Store, the device is a mere $399 unlocked, $450 for those looking for the 32GB model. These prices are cheap for a phone of this caliber and it’s a big reason the Nexus 5 will stick around through most of 2014, even as its hardware is surpassed.

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There are no Galaxy S5 rumors at this point but we expect two things from the price. One, we expect it to arrive for the usual $199.99 starting price on-contract. And two, we expect it to come with a far more expensive unlocked price than the Nexus 5.

Comments

  1. truffol says

    If the S5 does turn out to look like your rendering that’d be very cool. Let’s hope it’s in metal and not the faux leather as it takes consumers fewer than 2 minutes to figure out it isn’t leather. HTC and Apple has proven metal is the way to go (They can thank Apple for setting the bar with the iPhone and the iPod)

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