LG G3 vs Nexus 5: What Buyers Need to Know

There’s an excellent selection of Android smartphones available to consumers this summer, especially now that most major manufacturers have unveiled their flagship devices for 2014. With the HTC One M8, Galaxy S5 and LG G3 all available from major US carriers, as well as around the globe, consumers have a tough decision to make when picking a new handset.

One device which wasn’t released this year but is still an excellent option for prospective buyers is Google’s own Nexus 5, which happens to also be made by LG. If you’re buying a new phone this summer or fall, it may be worth considering.

Read: LG G3 Deals Offer Big Savings

Here we take a look at how the new flagship LG G3 compares to the LG-made Nexus 5 released late last year by Google, a device Google built to help showcase the Android operating system and give developers a powerful device to work with. We’ll go over what they both have to offer, how they differ, and explain everything buyers will need to know ahead of making a purchase this summer.

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Calling any device “better” than another always comes with challenges considering each buyer has different needs, wants, budgets, and preferences. That being said, there are a few key differences between these phones that makes the LG G3 arguably the better choice, even if it costs a lot more. Again, we don’t have all the answers, nor know what every user needs, but below we’ll talk about the features or differences that separate the two and hopefully help consumers make the right choice.

In September we’ll see the release of the new Moto X+1, the Moto X2, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, and the iPhone 6. There will be a lot of new devices this fall, but if you need a phone now here’s how the LG G3 compares to the Nexus 5.

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Design

The Nexus 5 was made by LG, just like the Nexus 4 before it, and they both represent the LG of old. The styling and build materials were similar, and both were decent phones. However, in 2014 LG turned a new page and the LG G3 showcases where they’re headed as a mobile manufacturer, and how they’ll be able to take on Samsung and the rest.

The LG G3 is impressive no matter how you look at it. They packed all the latest technology, some new to smartphones as a whole, all into a sleek smartphone and still gave it excellent battery life. The Nexus 5 was all about hitting a budget for Google, while the LG G3 is aimed at dethroning the Galaxy S5.

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Google’s Nexus 5 is made of a simple soft-touch matte plastic with a large 8 megapixel camera protruding out the back. There’s a single speaker on bottom, and the rest of the design is rather plain and unassuming. That said, it’s a minimalistic device that does everything well, so it fits Google’s strategy. We loved the Nexus 5 (except for battery life) but we’ll let our reviews give you more ideas on both of these phones.

Read: Nexus 5 Review: One Month with Google’s Flagship

The LG G3 on the other-hand is completely different. The massive 5.5-inch display fits inside some of the thinnest bezels around keeping the device physical size not much bigger than the 5-inch Nexus 5, and the buttons are on the back to keep things sleek. LG has ditched the cheap plastics and are using a more durable plastic that has a “aluminum finish” design. It isn’t metal, but looks like it.

Read: LG G3 Review

The LG G3 is the best smartphone released from the manufacturer to date, and could be the best phone of 2014. There’s no arguing the design is better than the Nexus 5, but to each his own.

Display

The biggest difference aside from the price is the display. The Nexus 5 has a bright 5-inch 1920 x 1080p HD display like many flagship phones in 2014, and it still holds up quite well. However, the colors weren’t very vibrant and it wasn’t my favorite. Samsung’s AMOLEDs surely look better.

The LG G3 has a 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 Quad HD display, and it simply looks gorgeous. The viewing angles aren’t the best, and colors could still be somewhat better, but it’s one of the better displays available on any smartphone released thus far.

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Either device and both screen sizes will make users happy, based on their needs, but the LG G3 display edges out the Nexus 5 in all categories if you ask us. That said, if you don’t want a big device, the Nexus 5 is slightly smaller and more pocket friendly.

Specs

While specs aren’t as important as having a device that’s fast, fluid, and will work for years to come, it’s still something many consider while making a purchase. Below are the hard numbers for those interested, but it all boils down to these devices being nearly the same under the hood with a few small changes. That, and software will play the biggest role in how each device performs.

LG G3 Specs

  • 5.5-inch 2560 × 1440 Quad-HD display
  • 2.5 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor with 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB internal storage (Micro-SD expansion)
  • 13-megapixel camera with OIS+, laser auto-focus, 2.1-megapixel front camera
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, 4G LTE, FM Radio Antenna, and Infrared laser for remote
  • DLNA and Miracast support
  • 3,000 mAh removable battery with wireless charging

Nexus 5 Specs

  • 5-inch 1920 x 1080p HD display
  • 2.3 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 800 with 2GB of RAM
  • 16/32GB storage with no micro-SD expansion
  • 8 megapixel OIS camera, 21.3 front shooter
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKAt
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, 4G LTE (no Verizon)
  • 2,300 mAh battery (non removable) with wireless charging

Overall the devices are somewhat similar under the hood, but the LG G3 is simply better in each and every category aside from software. Then of course, the LG G3 costs a lot more if you’re not signing a contract, so that’s something to consider. All said and done, the Nexus 5 is still one of the best and most fluid and fast devices available, so the increases won’t be as big as they sound on paper.

The Nexus 5 camera could use some work, while the G3 has one of the best cameras we’ve used to date, so that’s also something buyers may want to consider if they snap a lot of photos with their smartphone. However our biggest complaint with the Nexus 5 is the battery life, and rather poor sound quality from the single bottom facing speaker.

Software

The biggest difference between these two phones is software, and software updates. Google’s Nexus 5 runs the absolute latest Android 4.4.4 KitKat, has all the latest features and security fixes, and will be the first device to receive updates in the future. It already runs the new Android L beta preview. Google’s Nexus 6 may take priority, but the Nexus 5 will get updates before the LG G3 for the rest of it’s lifespan.

Above is the original Android 4.4 KitKat release on the Nexus 5, but it’s since seen multiple updates. The LG G3 however, was released in July, and is on Android 4.4.2 KitKat. We’re expecting updates to Android 4.4.4 in the near future, which mainly deliver security patches, but still.

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Nexus devices will always get priority, and unless something major changes in the Android ecosystem it will always get software faster than the LG G3. LG isn’t known for being the best, or the fastest with software updates, but hopefully they keep up with the G3.

Updates aside, the Nexus 5 runs stock Android built directly from Google with no changes or tweaks, but some prefer that over the changes made by manufacturers. Just like Samsung and HTC, the LG G3 has a skin over stock Android that changes the entire look and feel of the device. The new LG G3 has a completely overhauled interface from previous devices, arguably their best software stack yet full of customization, but again, this will depend on the users wants and needs.

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LG adds in customization options for on-screen keys, background colors, the home launcher, and even allows users to use two apps at the same time with multi-window mode.

There are a lot of added features of both the LG G3 software, and Google’s own like Google Now, so in the end it’s more what the user wants and needs.

Price

Last but certainly not least, is the price. This will be a big factor when someone is looking at either of these two devices. The Google Nexus 5 is $349 for the 16GB model, or $399 for the 32GB variant. This is from the Google Play Store, and some other places like Best Buy and other online retailers.

The LG G3 however, ranges from $599 to $649 from Verizon all the way to AT&T and Sprint. Meaning it will cost at least  $200 more than the Nexus 5, no matter which way you go.

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The only other options is for buyers to choose to sign a 2-year contract with a carrier, making the LG G3 $99 from Verizon, or $199 from the rest. This locks you into a contract, but gets the device as a lower price. And finally, there’s payment plans. All four major US carriers allow buyers to get the G3 nearly free, but make monthly payments for 12, 20, or 24 months until it is paid off in full.

You’ll still be spending the $599 or more, but it won’t be one outright chunk that will dent your wallet. Personally I’ll never sign another contract with a carrier, but a payment plan for the G3 may be a better route in the long run than spending $399 for the Nexus 5. But both have their pros and cons.

Final Thoughts

The new LG G3 is one of my favorite phones so far of 2014, but we’ll have to see what other options arrive from Samsung and Motorola. The Nexus 5 is still a quality device with tons of support from Google and 3rd party developers, and will be popular for years to come.

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Our final closing argument though, is that there’s reportedly a Nexus 6 coming this fall. One with a bigger quad-HD display, an improved camera, better internals, and an overall better device which will run Android 4.5 or 5.0 L when it gets released this fall. If you have to buy a phone now both the G3 and Nexus 5 are great options, but a Nexus 6 may be just a few months away.

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