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Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Nexus 4: What We Know So Far

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The Nexus 4 may not be the top Nexus device on the market anymore but it remains an option for those in the hunt for a new smartphone. More importantly, the Nexus 4 remains in the hands of consumers across the globe. Many of those consumers are likely going to be weighing their options in the new year and one of those options is likely going to be the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Google’s Nexus 4 arrived in November of 2012 alongside Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Up until last September, the device was considered one of the best Android smartphones on the market thanks to vanilla Android, its high-end hardware, and its extremely cheap price tag that, in its final days, was even cheaper than it was when the device launched.

After a brief lull, the Nexus 5 came to replace the Nexus 4 and it will reign as the top Nexus smartphone option up until the company rolls out a new Nexus device, a device that could very well come from Lenovo, the company that recently bought Motorola Mobility.

The Nexus 4 isn’t on the Google Play Store anymore but it is available through various retailers including Amazon. And because it’s only a year old, it should get at least one more software update, making the Nexus 4 a viable option, even in 2014.

While the Nexus 4 certainly has some life left in it, owners are likely surveying the landscape here in 2014. We can’t blame them. Already, we’ve heard about a number of big time smartphones set for arrival in 2014. One of the leaders of the pack is the rumored Samsung Galaxy S5, a device that will likely be the replacement for last year’s Samsung Galaxy S4.

Nothing is set in stone but we do have enough credible information to make some early comparisons to current devices and here, we take a look at how the rumored Galaxy S5 currently matches up with the Nexus 4.

Release Date

Those weighing the Nexus 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S5, or more importantly, weighing the Galaxy S5 as a replacement for the Nexus 4 likely don’t have a long time to wait before Samsung’s device becomes a viable option.

Samsung Galaxy S5 rumors currently center around two launch windows. The first, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain which is set to kick off in late February and March, the same month that the company launched the Samsung Galaxy S4. Neither window has been confirmed though there is reason to believe that the Galaxy S5 will arrive in March rather than February.

Earlier this month, Russian blogger Eldar Murtazin claimed that the Galaxy S5 would launch on February 23rd, or, a day ahead of the Mobile World Congress. Shortly afterward, he took back his comments, saying that Samsung hadn’t decided on a date or venue but that it was focusing in on London.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Launch Unpacked - 009

Oddly enough, a report today from Rappler claims that the company will indeed be launching the Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress and that it will take place on February 24th, the first day of MWC, rather than February 23rd. As we pointed out, given the source and given the sources that are claiming March, this is probably off base.

Earlier this month, Flavio, a journalist who accurately leaked last year’s HTC One announcement date, claimed that the Samsung Galaxy S5 launch would take place in London in mid-March. This mirrored a report from SamMobile which also placed the Galaxy S5 launch date inside the month of March.

Murtazin has a checkered track record and Rappler has none. So at this point, smart money would be on a launch in March. As for the release date, all signs, including signs from Murtazin himself, point to a release by the end of April. This is likely given that Samsung typically releases its flagship phones about a month after announcing them.

Those thinking about buying, or ditching the Nexus 4, should have their answer soon. Samsung usually sends out invites a few weeks before its launch events.

Design

The LG-made Nexus 4 arrived with a brand new design in tow. Instead of an all-plastic design like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 4 combines plastic with a glass back, to give it a more elegant look. The overall design is both slim and lightweight and it shuns a removable back and a microSD card slot. The latter means that users are left with 8GB or 16GB of storage.

Nexus-4-575x465

Samsung does a fantastic job of keeping its flagship smartphone designs a secret up until launch and things are no different this time around with the Samsung Galaxy S5. In fact, Galaxy S5 rumors are far more confusing than Galaxy design rumors have ever been.

This is thanks, in part, to Samsung’s ability to keep a secret. However, it’s due in large part by the conflicting rumors that have emerged in recent weeks.

Samsung changes its flagship designs every single year but Galaxy S5 rumors have been very specific. The report from SamMobile parroted earlier rumors that claimed that the Galaxy S5 would come in metal and plastic. The metal version supposedly has a metal back, though nothing else was revealed. SamMobile is typically very credible so the rumor was, and is, believable. But so is KGI Securities analyst Ming-Cho Kuo.

Galaxy S5 concept.

Galaxy S5 concept.

Kuo, the man who accurately predicted many of the iPhone 5s features, released his own Galaxy S5 predictions last weekend and he tells a different story. According to Kuo, the Galaxy S5 will indeed come in two different models but they will both be made out of plastic. This has thrown Galaxy S5 rumors into flux and it means that we can’t say exactly how the Galaxy S5 design might compare to the Nexus 4′s design.

What we can say is that it will be different. Samsung won’t recycle a design from 2012, particularly one that was knocked for durability issues because of the glass. We also know that the device’s design will be different than last year’s Galaxy S4.

galaxys5

One Samsung executive told Bloomberg that when the company “moved to S4 from S3, it’s partly true that consumers couldn’t really feel much difference between the two products from the physical perspective, so the market reaction wasn’t as big.” In response, the company has evidently created a Galaxy S5 whose changes center around “the display and the feel of the cover.”

Display

Google’s Nexus phones generally use the high-end hardware that emerged during their release year. In the case of the Nexus 4, this translates into a 4.7-inch display that offers 768 x 1280 pixel resolution and 318ppi. 720p resolution was fantastic in 2012 but the 1080p displays that arrived in 2013 simply blew it away.

The Nexus 4, in the middle, next to the Galaxy Note 2 and iPhone 5.

The Nexus 4, in the middle, next to the Galaxy Note 2 and iPhone 5.

Rumors suggest that the Samsung Galaxy S5 display could blow the Nexus 4′s display away. SamMobile points to a 5.2-inch display, something that has been rumored several times, and Kuo agrees with this assessment. This doesn’t make a 5.2-inch display a definitive Galaxy S5 feature but it does make it likely given how many times we’ve seen it rumored.

As for the quality of the display itself, it appears that at least one of the Galaxy S5 variants will use a QHD display. This would mean 2560 x 1440 resolution and a 500+ pixel-per-inch count. If true, it would likely mean sharper looking video and images, perfect for content consumers and gamers.

The Galaxy Note 3 design could feature thinner bezels like the Galaxy S4 to stay with a similar size.

Kuo suggests that the budget Galaxy S5 variant will offer a 1080p resolution display, something that benchmarks for an alleged AT&T Galaxy S4 model seemed to back up. If that’s the case, then the budget version of the Galaxy S5 may offer better screen resolution than the Nexus 4. And that’s something that buyers, and current Nexus 4 owners, need to keep in mind.

Camera, Processor, Battery

Again, the Nexus 4 arrived with specifications on par with some of the best phones of 2012. So, that means that it comes with an 8MP camera that can shoot solid photos and video. A quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor that is supported by 2GB of RAM. And a 2,100 mAh battery that delivers good battery life. These specifications are, of course, outdated and the Galaxy S5 is expected to feature specs that blow these out of the water.

Samsung Galaxy S5 rumors suggest that it will have a 16MP camera sensor which should be an improvement over the 13MP camera inside the Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S4 camera was, and is, better than the Nexus 4′s so we consumers should expect the Galaxy S5′s camera to hold a distinct advantage.

The rumored Samsung Galaxy S5 specs arrive from a well-known analyst.

The rumored Samsung Galaxy S5 specs arrive from a well-known analyst.

Processor rumors have emerged almost non-stop but they still haven’t agreed with one another. Here’s where we stand right now. SamMobile believes the device will have a Snapdragon 805 processor from Qualcomm or a Exynos 6 from Samsung. A 64-bit processor has also been rumored which, if true, would match up with the iPhone 5s’ 64-bit A7 chip.

Kuo thinks that 64-bit is out and that the device will use 32-bit processors across the board with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and Exynos 5 on board. Whatever the case may be, it’s looking like the Galaxy S5′s processor will offer better performance than the CPU found in the Nexus 4. All of these processors are better than the Snapdragon S4 Pro.

Finally, battery rumors revolve around 2,900 mAh, or, 800 mAh larger than the Nexus 4′s battery. PhoneArena believes it will feature a fast-charging 2,900 lithium ion battery that is capable of holding 20% more charge than other batteries in its class. Kuo thinks the battery will be 2,850 mAh though he does not suggest anything special. At this point though, without proper testing, it’s not clear how much of an advantage this would give to Galaxy S5 users.

Software

The Nexus 4 utilizes a vanilla version of Android software. What this means is that it’s a pure Google experience, a piece of software untouched by the manufacturer. Right now, the device runs Android 4.4 KitKat which can be seen running on the Nexus 5 in the video below.

Samsung’s Galaxy S5 will also use Android, probably Android 4.4 Kitkat, though the software is going to look, feel and function a lot different than the Android software found on the Nexus 4.

That’s because Samsung will load up the software with its own UI. Galaxy S5 rumors suggest that we could see some drastic changes emerge with the Samsung Galaxy S5. While Samsung has continued to load up its TouchWiz UI with design tweaks and new features, the Galaxy S3 was really the last device to usher in a brand new look for TouchWiz.

Rumors have pointed to Samsung adopting a new look for its UI. The changed appearance could be based on the Magazine UI that debuted on Samsung’s new tablet line at CES 2014 earlier this month. It can be seen running on the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 in the video below.

Leaks also point to improvements to the device’s touch less gestures, gestures that were introduced on the Galaxy S4 and aren’t found on the Nexus 4, and a new interface with touchpoints in the corners that would allow users to activate shortcuts to apps and settings.

These rumors are still valid though it appears that we could see Samsung make some changes before it releases the Galaxy S5 to the public. Recode claims that Google has pressured Samsung into slimming down future UIs. Whether this applies to the Galaxy S5, a device that is already in development, is unclear.

Google reportedly isn’t pleased with the Magazine UI and how much different it looks from stock Android so it could be that pressure from Google forces Samsung to make some changes to the alleged Galaxy S5 software that we’ve seen leak.

gs5

There is also talk of a fingerprint reader on board the Galaxy S5. Kuo claims that it will be on board and leakster @evleaks today posted evidence that points to its inclusion on board the Galaxy S5.

Whatever the case, the software will certainly be different than the software found on the Nexus 4.

Carriers

Google’s Nexus 4 is only available on two major carriers in the United States, AT&T and T-Mobile, and even then, it doesn’t offer users 4G LTE data speeds. Instead, users are stuck with AT&T’s HSPA+ network and T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42. HSPA+ is the best HSPA network around but it’s still not as good as 4G LTE.

The Nexus 4 Android 4.3 update leaks.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 is going to be a 4G LTE device, no doubt about that, and rumors suggest a widespread launch on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. At least. Samsung devices almost always land for smaller pre-paid and regional carriers and that’s what consumers should expect this time around with the Galaxy S5.

Price

Before Google canned it, the Nexus 4 8GB sold for $199.99 unlocked and a 16GB Nexus 4 sold for $249.99 unlocked. That’s virtually unheard of in the smartphone world. For comparison, the iPhone 5s 16GB sells for $650 unlocked. Now, the Nexus 4 price is a little more difficult to nail down.

The price obviously fluctuates on third-party places like eBay and Craigslist but currently, on Amazon, it’s available for $350. That nets users a 16GB Nexus 4 model.

Nexus 4 vs Nexus 5 design.

The only Galaxy S5 pricing rumor that we’ve seen comes from the same SamMobile report and it states that the Galaxy S5 will come in at two different price points, mirroring Apple’s iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

The publication says that a premium Galaxy S5 will cost about 800 Euros while the budget model will cost around 650 Euros. When converted to U.S. dollars, the premium model would be over $1000. More likely, the Galaxy S5 will land in the vicinity of the iPhone 5s’ starting price of $199.99.

So at this point, it’s hard to gauge how it will match up with the Nexus 4 though we can say this. The Galaxy S5 will be more expensive than the Nexus 4. Count on it.

6 Comments

  1. Alan

    01/31/2014 at 11:46 am

    I’m confused. I just bought a Nexus 5. Why would I downgrade to compare to vs. Galaxy S5 with KitKat etc?

  2. D1ckface

    01/31/2014 at 4:50 pm

    Got enough ads at the bottom of this page? Can barely see the content of the article…

  3. Bruce

    01/31/2014 at 5:36 pm

    I have an idea. Let’s compare a mid priced T model Ford (that was excellent in its day) with a 2017 model GM car that we now almost nothing about. Please don’t waste everyone’s time.

    • Joshua Percell

      02/02/2014 at 5:42 am

      Exactly. Comparing last year’s Nexus device to a phone that has only rumors surrounding it, much less not even being announced by Samsung yet? Author, please don’t waste people’s time, and just remove this abomination you call an article and try writing something that’s actually read-worthy.

  4. Bryan

    02/02/2014 at 12:24 pm

    I remember my first joint. Either you have no business in the tech world or you got too high when you wrote this article. You compared the nexus 4 to a not released, presumed, s5. Am I forgetting something? Oh yea the 4 got replaced by the new 5. The 5 doesn’t exist? LG G2, LG G Flex? I know when to put the bong down at least.

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