Samsung Galaxy S5 vs. Nexus 5: What Buyers Need to Know

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

Samsung Galaxy S5 HERO

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.

nexus-5-review

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.

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.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Release - Pre-Orders U.S.

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 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.

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.

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.

Nexus5

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.

Galaxy S5 Display

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.

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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.

Comments

  1. Hildy J says

    The one thing I need to know is that neither the S5 nor the new M8 offers anything revolutionary and neither is twice as good as the Nexus 5. But, assuming Google keeps its pricing structure, I can buy a Nexus 5 now AND a Nexus 6 in the fall for the off contract price of Samsung’s or HTC’s flagships.

    BTW, your Nexus 5 prices are high. The Play Store is offering the 16GB for $349 and the 32GB for $399.

  2. Dileja says

    My friend is working part time and averaging $25000 a month. I’m doing this for 5 days and just got my first paycheck for $6546! I still can’t believe it. I tried it out cause I was curious and now I couldn’t be happier. See this site Jobs29(.com)

  3. sarahjane says

    I think only one thing in favour of S5 is it is a Samsung brand and Samsung always the first preference of many people.Otherwise it doesn’t stand in front of Nexus 6.

  4. Tony G says

    From this article my takeaway is that the Nexus 5 is adequate for those who don’t need hi-res 16MP pictures or 4k video. OK, and water resistance helps but really now, just be careful, eh? Outside of that there’s very little difference. Personally the ability to get vanilla Android updates from Google is a huge plus compared to waiting for a modified version. That puts me in control of my device. More control for a lower price points me directly to Nexus 5. Higher cost for higher resolution certainly speaks to priorities of others. BTW, about cost, yes you can try/return a device within 14 days but T-Mobile charges a $50 re-stocking fee. And apps are available to control screen brightness so that’s one less significant distinction, and of course there are innumerable health apps out there. If you can wait for some number of months, the Nexus 6 might provide an advanced camera plus vanilla Android (4.6-5.0?) plus a great price – near equivalent but less costly than the capable but pricey S5, which seems to be targeted to those eager to part with more cash for the privilege of getting new and slightly more shiny toys sooner than their friends.

  5. David Bell says

    The N5 is zippy, and @ 32 gigs I don’t need an SD slot.
    G5’s gotta be a bit of a thumb stretch, not that I’d mind for the extra real estate, but don’t you get to a point where you start to think of it as a fablet? I don’t know if I got a pocket for it?

  6. Gjaggi says

    Cool comparison! Based on it, I will go with nexus 5, since it is a more dashing phone with quite some great features unlike S5, which is just a copy of S4.. thank you

  7. zoidslaDave says

    Having the Nexus 5, it basically does nothing well. Little things like send voice messages though hangiuts and other small insufficiencies in each of the programs. The Nexus phone app sucks. The email app sucks, the contacts suck compared to other phones. You need to get an app for almost everything. Oh, the camera sucks, i can hear calls better on my cheapo $35 Huawei, and the hangouts in general doesnt work very well, (which i am sure that Samsung has tweaked tio fix those things). Other things like the bluetooth to the car is poor, and the google maps stops working though the car system and then you cant reasume easily. It make me appreciate the , sorry, iphone. But most of these stpid reiews just copy and paste articles, and dont really use the phones for anything pther than re installing roms or playing games.

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