Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Nexus 5: What Buyers Need to Know Adam Mills03/28/2014 In just a few short weeks, the Samsung Galaxy S5 will hit shelves in the United States and around the world. When it does arrive, many consumers will have a big decision to make: Buy the Samsung Galaxy S5, or buy something else. One of the Samsung Galaxy S5’s biggest competitors will be the Nexus 5, the LG-made, Google-branded Nexus that arrived back in November. The Nexus 5 emerged from the rumor mill on Halloween. Instead of taking the stage to announce the Nexus 5, Google rather quietly announced the arrival of its new Nexus smartphone and its Android 4.4 KitKat software. The device, like Nexus devices before it, features a unique design that is paired with powerful hardware and vanilla Android software. Along with its cheap price tag, the Nexus 5 is a device that consumers certainly have their eye on.Advertisement Those in the hunt for a new smartphone likely have their eye on another big name device that is set to arrive in early April. The Samsung Galaxy S5 first arrived at Mobile World Congress at the end of February. The Galaxy S5 was expected to deliver new, high-end features to consumers and that’s exactly what it will do when it arrives next month. With the Galaxy S5 now in play, consumers are likely weighing it against its top rivals. One of its chief rivals will be, you guessed it, the Nexus 5, one of the best Android smartphones on the market.Those who are trying to absorb as much information as they can ahead of the Galaxy S5’s arrival have come to the right place. Advertisement We’ve spent a great deal of time with Nexus 5 and we’ve also been able to spend some time with the new Galaxy S5. While Galaxy S5 release is still a few weeks away, there is a lot we can share about how the Nexus 5 and Galaxy S5 compare.Advertisement There are many features that only exist on one of these devices, so buyers will need to make an informed decision about what they want, based on the features they need most in a smartphone. That said, let’s take a look at what upgraders, and prospective buyers, need to know about these two smartphones. Release Date, Price & Carriers The Samsung Galaxy S5 release date is confirmed for April 11th. This is a global release date and one that thankfully, applies to carriers in the United States. The Nexus 5 is currently shelves and will remain there for much of 2014. Google, like Samsung, is on a yearly cycle with its Nexus and Nexus 6 rumors point to a release in late 2014. Those who are at all interested in the Galaxy S5 would be smart to wait for the Galaxy S5 to show up on store shelves in order to try out both devices before buying. Most carriers only allow one swap and a 14 day return window, so there is no need to be hasty about a decision. For a select few, there is a way to check out the Galaxy S5 right now. There are about 100 Best Buy stores in the U.S. that have the Galaxy S5 out on display. Those that can’t wait for April 11th can check this list to see if the local Best Buy has it available. The list is at the bottom of the page.Advertisement The Samsung Galaxy S5 release date in the U.S. is confirmed for April 11th, at least for some carriers. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular are all taking pre-orders ahead of that date and several carriers say that they’ll start shipping orders a few days before April 11th. That means that some will get the Galaxy S5 before its street date. Several carriers have yet to announce specific Galaxy S5 release details. The Verizon Galaxy S5 release date remains unknown. Verizon tells us that it’s focused on the new HTC One launch at the moment. We’ve heard that the Verizon Galaxy S5 will arrive in April. Release dates for MetroPCS, Ting, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile also remain unclear though we’ve seen Best Buy put the MetroPCS Galaxy S5 up for pre-order ahead of its release. MetroPCS said that it would arrive in April but has not specified a date. Boost and Virgin both said they plan to release the phone in Q2. Carriers are charging $199.99 for the Galaxy S5 16GB model and $650 and $660 for the Galaxy S5 off-contract. We still haven’t seen carriers confirm a 32GB Galaxy S5 but if one does arrive, it will likely be priced at $250. Both models will be more expensive than Google’s Nexus 5.Advertisement One of the strengths of the Nexus 5 is its price. Off-contract, the Nexus 5 is priced at $349 for a 16GB model and $400 for a 32GB model. On-contract at Sprint, the Nexus 5 is currently $99.Advertisement While the Galaxy S5 is available on a number of big name carriers, the Nexus 5 is far more limited. The device is only available on three major carriers in the United States including AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. Design & Durability The Samsung Galaxy S5 and Nexus 5 are both made out of plastic but they look vastly different from one another. While the Nexus 5 uses a black, red or white matte plastic back, the Galaxy S5 uses a perforated plastic back that comes in white, black, gold, and blue. The Galaxy S5’s back also utilizes a matte finish. So while they might look different, they both feel comfortable in the hand. Both the Nexus 5 and Samsung Galaxy S5 use Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 in front for protection though that is really where the similarities between the two end. The Samsung Galaxy S5 is designed to be water-resistant and dust-resistant. Its IP67 certification allows users to carry the phone around without worrying that bathtub, shower or puddle will break the phone. The design also includes a seal to prevent water getting in the USB port and a seal on the back to keep water out. The Nexus 5 does not feature this type of protection and the only way users are going to get it is with a case. The Galaxy S5 is a little thinner than the Nexus 5. The Nexus 5 is lighter than the Galaxy S5 but it’s a little bit thicker. The Galaxy S5 is wider and taller than the Nexus 5 though we didn’t find it to be any less pocketable. They’re both easy to wield in one hand. Galaxy S5 Dimensions – 142 x 72.5 x 8.1 mm Nexus 5 Dimensions – 137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59 mm Samsung also now includes a fingerprint reader in the Galaxy S5′s home button and that allows users to secure the phone with a fingerprint and also lock files behind a fingerprint password. Google’s Nexus 5 does not come with any physical buttons which means that users rely on on-screen buttons for navigation. It does not come with a fingerprint reader. Display The Samsung Galaxy S5 is larger than the Nexus 5′s display, but not by much. While the Nexus 5 offers a 5-inch display, the Galaxy S5 display checks in at 5.1-inches. The size difference isn’t noticeable and both devices provide plenty of real estate for gaming, watching movies, and surfing the web. The Nexus 5 and Galaxy S5. Both displays offer superb resolution as well. The Galaxy S5 does not come with a QHD display but it does come with a full HD 1080p screen. The Nexus 5 matches it in quality and offers up a 1080p display on its own. There are, however, some features that the Nexus 5 display does not have on board: Ultra Power Saver – Turn the screen black and white and limit running apps to make the battery last longer. Super Bright Mode – The screen can enhance contrast and deliver a very bright display to make reading the phone outdoors easier. Super Dim Mode – A mode that turns brightness down dramatically for a display that is easier on your eyes at night. These features were included by Samsung, not Google, which means that we doubt that they will arrive on board a future Android update for the Nexus 5. Camera The Samsung Galaxy S5 camera is one of its highly touted features and the overall experience offers users some things that the Nexus 5 camera experience simply will not. Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 comes with a 16MP camera sensor while the Nexus 5 comes with an 8MP camera sensor. There are benefits to sensor sizes and megapixel counts but the Galaxy S5′s major advantage comes from other enhancements that Samsung has tacked on. The Galaxy S5 arrives with a new 16MP sensor and new features not found on the Galaxy S4. Maybe the biggest improvement that Samsung made to the Galaxy S’ camera is its faster auto-focus system. Samsung switched to a hybrid focus system that it says can focus as fast as 0.3 seconds. The Nexus 5 camera cannot perform that fast and will need some extra time to put the subject of a photo into focus. Another other feature that stands out is the Galaxy S5′s ability to pick a point of focus after taking the shot. This allows uses to blur a background or foreground right on the phone. The Samsung Galaxy S5 can also show HDR previews live on the phone, something that the Nexus 5’s HDR+ cannot do. And it can also record 4K video while the Nexus 5 cannot. It’s stuck with 1080p video recording. Most people don’t have 4K resolution screens but those that do are going to appreciate this feature. Samsung’s Galaxy S3 takes advantage of a camera application, one that was improved by the Android 4.3 update that delivered Galaxy S4 camera features, but live HDR and selective focus are not on board and there is no guarantee that they will ever arrive for Samsung’s former flagship. In fact, we doubt that they will. The Nexus 5’s stock camera application is solid but Samsung’s additions to its camera app and the live HDR and selective focus give the Galaxy S5 a distinct advantage in the camera department. Software & Features Out of the box, the Samsung Galaxy S5 will run Android 4.4.2 KitKat. The Nexus 5 also runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat though the devices don’t share similar software because Samsung devices is dominated by the company’s TouchWiz UI. The Samsung Galaxy S5′s new software is focused on several key areas including health and fitness. The software includes new S Health 3.0 functionality which, when combined with the pulse reader on the back of the Galaxy S5, allows users to record their heart rate and track it in the app. It’s a nice feature but as we’ve pointed out, Nexus 5 owners can track their pulse using third-party apps and accessories. We should point out that, in addition to the new features, it also includes a flatter design and a number of small tweaks to the overall look of the operating system. Those looking for more details can find them in the video below which highlights many of the changes that Samsung has made to its TouchWiz user interface. The Nexus 5 doesn’t come with TouchWiz. Instead, it runs pure vanilla Android, also known as stock Android. It looks and feels a lot different than the software on the Galaxy S5 and it comes with different applications as well. The camera app is just one of the major differences. Those who are curious about the Nexus 5’s software can take a close look at by watching the video below. There are also some perks that won’t be apparent when looking at these two devices. The Nexus 5 receives updates directly from Google which means that it will always get Android updates before the Galaxy S5. Samsung works with Google in addition to individual carriers, something that slows the process down. Google keeps its Nexus devices updated for 18 months before retiring them. Samsung likes to keep devices updated for 24 months. In other words, there is the potential for the Galaxy S5 to get better software support.