The next-generation Google smartphone finally arrived with the Oct. 31 unveiling of the Nexus 5 and has already begun shipping to customers. And though it had a rather anti-climactic rollout -- instead of a huge media event, Google quietly swapped the Nexus 4 out for the Nexus 5 in the Google Play Store -- the Nexus 5 appears to bring a lot to the table, including new hardware, a new operating system, and better connectivity, among many other features.
Only time will tell if the Nexus 5 will be a market favorite like the Nexus 4. Meanwhile, we can see how the two Google smartphones match up for specs, availability and value.
Design and Dimensions
The Nexus 5 follows the recent trend of thinner and lighter devices with larger screens. Weighing in at just 130 grams, the Nexus 5 is definitely lighter than the 139-gram Nexus 4. While users liked the interesting double-sided holographic glass design of the Nexus 4, the device was also prone to shattering, on both sides. This may be why Google changed the accident-prone material and gave the Nexus 5 a matte-looking polycarbonate shell. The Nexus 5 also gets a little extra screen protection with Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3, while the Nexus features Gorilla Glass 2.
With 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1mm dimensions, some described the Nexus 4 as a bit bulky; however, there were few complaints with the device’s handling. Some are already giving the Nexus 5 positive reviews for handing, despite its wider and longer profile of 137.8 x 69.1 x 8.6 (mm).
The Nexus 5 features a 4.95-inch full-HD IPS Plus display with the 1080x1920 pixel resolution we have all come to know and love in full-HD devices and a 445ppi pixel density. Unlike many recently released devices, the Nexus 5 does not utilize a thinner bezel in order to increase the size of the display, while keeping the overall size of the device similar to that of its predecessor. Still, the Nexus 5 does not appear to have an extensive bezel. The Nexus 5 does, however, utilize a transparent status bar and navigation buttons in order to free up screen space for the user.
The Nexus 4 features a 4.7-inch True HD IPS Plus (LCD) display with a 1280×738 (720p) resolution and 318ppi pixel density. With a black status bar and on-screen navigation buttons, the display for the Nexus 4 can look a bit busy, even in the minimalist pure Android user environment.
Both the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 contain the top chipset for their time with the Nexus 4 featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro and the Nexus 5 featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. The Snapdragon S4 Pro within the Nexus 4 includes the 1.5GHz quad-core Krait 200 processor and Adreno 320 GPU, while the Snapdragon 800 within the Nexus 5 includes the 2.3GHz quad-core Krait 400 processor and Adreno 330 GPU. With an extensive clock power boost, we should see a much better handling of the 2GB RAM in the Nexus 5, which has not changed from the Nexus 4. However, the Nexus 5 does receive another boost in ROM options, with the device coming in 16GB and 32GB models while the Nexus 4 came in 8GB and 16GB models. Notably, neither device features expandable storage.
Seeing as each new Nexus device introduces a new Google operating system, both the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 contain the latest software for its time. The Nexus 4 introduced Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, which included such features such as multiple user profiles for tablets, HDMI connectivity, Android Daydream, interactive notifications, and the Photo Sphere camera app, among many others.
The Nexus 5 has now introduced Android 4.4 KitKat, which includes such features as immersive mode, new lock screen features, “always on” hands-free navigation, “Project Svelte” for decreased fragmentation, smart calling, Hangouts as a hub for messages, an emoji keyboard and cloud printing and storage, among many others.
The camera upgrade on the Nexus 5 is the introduction of optical image stabilization and HDR+ as its lens remains the same as the Nexus 4 at 8 megapixels with f/2.4 aperture and LED flash. The Nexus 4 notably features a back-side illuminated sensor, which is supposed to aid low-light photography. However, preliminary comparison photos have shown that the Nexus 5 fares much better in low-light than the Nexus 4. Both devices also feature a 1.3 megapixel front camera. In addition, recent updates to photo and video features on Google + have likely been developed to work best with Google devices like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5.
The Nexus 5 gets a tiny power boost with its 2,300mAh battery, while the Nexus 4 features a 2,100mAh battery. Some wonder how the battery in the Nexus 5 will fare against its high-resolution, and if its Full HD display will be source of battery drain. The Nexus 4 is known for its lackluster battery life, something fans have especially hoped to see improved in the Nexus 5. Preliminary reports indicate the Nexus 5 does have improvements battery-wise, but still is still not one of Google’s strong points in device making. According to LG, the Nexus 4 functions for 390 hours on standby and 15 hours of talk time, while the Nexus 5 functions for 300 hours on standby and 17 hours of talk time.
Networks and Connectivity
One features that stands as a major improvement in the Nexus 5 is the implementation of4G LTE networking in addition to 3G. Many lamented when the Nexus 4 released with only 3G networking, and hope the device would be updated with an LTE model. In addition, the Nexus 5 features dual-band Wi-Fi. Both the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 feature connectivity including Bluetooth 4.0 and wireless charging.
Ports and Sensors
Ports and sensors on the Nexus 5 have remained essentially the same as on the Nexus 4, including Micro USB, Slim Port, 3.5mm headphone jack, accelerometer, compass, Proximity /Ambient light, Gryoscope, Pressure and GPS. The Nexus 5 also features dual microphones, ceramic power and volume buttons, and a sensor called Hall Effect, which “measures the magnetic field strength used for proximity and presence detection likely used for smart covers.”
Price and Availability
Both the Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 have competitive prices in a market that touts phones at an upwards of $500. The 8GB Nexus 4 sold for $299 while the 16GB sold for $349 and was available at the Google Play Store and the T-Mobile network. Demand for the Nexus 4 was so great after its release that availability delays stretched from weeks to several months, and prices on online retailers like Amazon and eBay skyrocketed.
The 16GB Nexus 5 is selling for $349 while the 32GB is selling for $399 and is currently available at the Google Play Store, despite a short sell out of the 16GB black model. The Nexus 5 will also be available at Sprint and T-Mobile, as well as Amazon, Best Buy and RadioShack. Sprint will begin offering the Nexus 5 on Nov. 8 starting at $150 with a two-year contract and $499 off-contract. T-Mobile has not revealed release information for its Nexus 5 models, but consumers can sign up for more information.
Currently, reports indicate that the Nexus 5 will experience shipping delays of up to four weeks after purchase from the Google Play Store; however, some orders purchased just after the Nexus 5 released have already begun to ship.
While the Nexus 5 is a generation up from the Nexus 4, the two devices may still be fierce competitors. Currently carriers and retailers such as T-Mobile and Amazon still sell the Nexus 4, likely still priced lower than the Nexus 5. The biggest selling points for the Nexus 5 will likely be its LTE capability and new Android 4.4 KitKat operating system. However, the Nexus 4 will also soon run Android 4.4. Consumers will likely have to figure out how badly they want the latest and greatest from Google to determine which device to get.
Do you prefer the Nexus 4 or the Nexus 5? Let us know in the comments below.
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Fionna Agomuoh is a Technology Reporter for the International Business Times, a vegan foodie, and a lover of Electric Dance Music.