Nexus 5 vs. Nexus 4: What to Expect

The Nexus smartphone program isn’t dead, despite the presence of Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One Google Play Editions. Rumors suggest that Google may have an LG Nexus 5 cooked up for later this year, with rumors also suggesting that a Motorola Nexus 5 could be in the works as well. With a Nexus smartphone launch likely in the next few weeks, it’s time to take an early look at how we expect it to compare with the current Nexus, the LG Nexus 4.

Every year, Google releases a new Nexus branded smartphone to appease those that want a pure Google software experience. First, it was the Nexus One from HTC, the original Nexus smartphone. Since, we’ve seen the Samsung Nexus S, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and last year’s Nexus 4 which was made by LG.

Over the years, Nexus devices have offered Android enthusiasts and average buyers a number of perks including cheap pricing, vanilla Android and high-end hardware. Nexus smartphones typically are among the best available Android options during their year life span and we many are expecting the same from 2013’s Nexus smartphone.

Read: Nexus 5 Launch Date Pegged for October 14th.

The Nexus 4 is part of Google's new focus on design and build quality.

LG or Motorola or both could be making the Nexus 5 with Android 5.0.

Back at Google I/O, Google introduced a Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition. At the time, some saw this as a sign of the Nexus smartphone program’s impending doom. After all, the Galaxy Nexus was hampered by carriers and the Nexus 4 struggled to get out of the gates due to supply issues. Perhaps Google was looking to do something different.

Soon after, it announced an HTC One Google Edition but by then, we knew that Google wasn’t killing off the Nexus line. Why? It refused to tag these with the name Nexus and it refused to give them a Nexus price tag. The HTC One retails for $599 on the Google Play Store, the Galaxy S4 for $650.

Our suspicions have slowly been confirmed over the past few weeks thanks to a number of rumors and leaks that have sprouted up, suggesting a new Nexus is on the way.

For months, Nexus 5 rumors have been swirling, teasing buyers with the possibility of a brand new Nexus smartphone to replace Google’s Nexus 4. Google itself added fuel to the fire by dropping the Nexus 4 price tag and discontinuing the 8GB Nexus 4 model, a model that reportedly will never make another appearance on the Google Play Store.

Rumors suggest that the Nexus 5 could launch as soon as October 14th. And with the launch date now closer than ever, it’s the perfect time take a look at how we expect the Nexus 5 to stack up against the Nexus 4.

Nexus 5 to Kill Off Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 is on sale right now in 16GB form on the Google Play Store. It’s also available through T-Mobile’s website. However, once the Nexus 5 rolls around, expect the Nexus 4 to vanish from shelves. There are a few reasons why we think this will happen.

  1. Google already discontinued the Nexus 4 8GB.
  2. Google killed off the original Nexus 7 with the new Nexus 7.
  3. Google killed off the Galaxy Nexus when the Nexus 4 arrived.

It’s possible that we could see T-Mobile continue selling the Nexus 4 like it sells older iPhone models, we can’t be sure. But we do not expect the Nexus 4 to remain on the Google Play Store once the new Nexus smartphone arrives.

So, those looking to buy through Google should consider buying in the near future. Otherwise, the only place to buy may be through T-Mobile or a third party website.

No Supply Issues

Last year, the Nexus 4’s success was severely hampered by supply issues. Google grossly underestimated the demand for the Nexus 4, blamed it on LG, who then fired right back at Google. It appears that everything is cool now though. We saw supply issues afflict the original Nexus 7 when it arrived as well.

The Nexus 4 was hampered by supply issues.

The Nexus 4 was hampered by supply issues.

Not the case this year. The Nexus 7 remains in stock on the Google Play Store and it remains available through a great number of retail outlets across the United States. Google did its homework. with the Nexus 7 and we expect it to so with the Nexus 5.

So instead of a broken website, a sell out, a quick return, another sell out and a return in February, we expect the new Nexus or Nexi to be readily available to consumers throughout the holiday season.


One of the biggest complaints about the Nexus 4 was its lack of 4G LTE data. LTE is now commonplace, appearing on big name phones and mid-range phones alike. So, it was a little surprising to see the Nexus 4 launch without LTE. Well, that is until one takes the Galaxy Nexus disaster with Verizon into account. Then, it kind of makes sense.

Last year’s Nexus 7 did not have LTE either though this time around, Google came through with a Nexus 7 LTE that recently launched in the United States for AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. And while nothing is confirmed, it’s pretty clear that the new Nexus smartphone is going to have LTE on board in some capacity.

Read: Nexus 5: 3 Key Details Emerge.

We need only look at the Nexus 7 to figure that out but for those that need more evidence, a recent FCC filing for an LG D820, a device suspected to be the Nexus 5, revealed LTE bands. Anandtech’s Brian Klug was able to conclude that the device sports the appropriate bands for LTE, CDMA, and HSPA+ on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Yes Sprint.

There aren’t, however, bands for Verizon’s LTE network. So perhaps Verizon is getting left behind, perhaps support just hasn’t been revealed yet, but what’s clear is that LTE is likely going to be on board any Nexus smartphone that launches later in the year. A huge step up from the HSPA+ found on LG’s Nexus 4.

Big Camera Differences

Many people forget that Google’s Vic Gundotra made a promise. He promised that Nexus smartphones of the future would have much better cameras than the Nexus phones of the past. Now, he didn’t come right out and confirm an awesome camera for this year’s Nexus but there is reason to believe that the Nexus 5 will have a fantastic camera.

The leaks has shown that LG’s Nexus 5 may have a oversized camera sensor. We saw one in the video that leaked, we saw one in the FCC filing for the LG D820. Now, that doesn’t confirm a vastly upgraded camera but with Gundotra’s comments in mind, one has to wonder.

The FCC filing points to a camera that could be similar to the 13MP camera inside the LG G2. That camera comes with Optical Image Stabilization which could mean that the lens will move inside the Nexus 5 when the phone senses movement so it can react to a shake and hopefully negate the shake of the phone while in hand.

The upgraded sensor itself could mean better photos in low light environments.

Upgraded Hardware

We’ve singled the camera out but we also expect the Nexus 5 to offer improved all-around hardware. The Nexus 4 came with solid specs including a 4.7-inch display with 720p resolution, and a quad-core processor. However, Nexus devices typically boast the big time features of the year they are launched and in the case of the Nexus 5, we expect it to come with a 1080p display and next-gen chip.

This could be the new Nexus 5 from LG and Google.

This could be the new Nexus 5 from LG and Google.

The FCC filing didn’t confirm the resolution or screen size for the rumored Nexus 5 but we would imagine that it will be no smaller than the Nexus 4’s. Perhaps, somewhere in the range of 5-inches so that Google can market it with a different name. The filing did apparently confirm a Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor, Qualcomm’s latest, and one that could provide a number of enhancements for Nexus 5 owners.

Both would be a step up from the Nexus 4 and both would not be surprising to see.

Similar but Different Price

One of the perks of the Nexus smartphone program is the price that Google attaches to its devices. For instance, the unlocked Nexus 4 started at $299.99 for the 8GB model and the 16GB Nexus 4 started at $350. By comparison, the iPhone 5 unlocked was and is $650 for a 16GB. Google’s prices are ridiculous and they are a big reason why the Nexus 4 sold as well as it did without LTE.

However, Google also showed that it’s not afraid to up the price of its Nexus products, particularly its successful ones. This year, the company bumped the Nexus 7 up in price, not by a lot, but a bump nonetheless.

With the a better display, better processor, better camera and LTE expected, we could see Google charge a bit more for the Nexus 5. How much more, we can’t say for sure, but we wouldn’t be shocked if it started around $350-$400 instead of at $200. Parts cost money, particularly high resolution displays, and with the iPhone 5C priced at $549 unlocked, it still would have a lot of breathing room and something to sell.

Same Software

Unlike Apple, Google typically doesn’t release unique software features for its yearly smartphone. For instance, the Nexus 4 and the Galaxy Nexus share software features while the iPhone 5 will be getting more features than the iPhone 4 when iOS 7 arrives.

What this means is that we expect the Nexus 5’s vanilla Android 4.4 KitKat update to be the same as the Nexus 4’s Android 4.4 KitKat update, something that should keep the Nexus 4 relevant, even if it does get replaced on shelves.

Same Limitations

Finally, we expect the Nexus 5 to have the same limitations as the Nexus 4, something that the FCC filing seems to have confirmed.

It’s no secret that Google hates microSD card slots and thus far, the company has refused to put them on its Nexus devices. Expect the Nexus 5 to have two storage options, perhaps 16GB and 32GB this time around, but no expanded storage. For many, this will be enough, for others it will present a bit of a struggle.

There is no apparent Micro SD card slot on the Nexus 5 as shown in photos taken by the FCC.

There is no apparent Micro SD card slot on the Nexus 5 as shown in photos taken by the FCC.

While the Galaxy Nexus featured a removable back and battery, the Nexus 4 did not and we don’t expect Google to reverse course with the Nexus 5. In fact, the FCC filing points to a non-removable back which means a non-removable battery.