Google Nexus 4 vs. Apple iPhone 5: Head-to-head

Which is the better smartphone? Google's new flagship Nexus 4 or the Apple iPhone 5?

Google's new Nexus 4 officially goes on sale in Australia next week. Announced late last month, the Nexus 4 is manufactured by LG and features a 4.7in IPS screen, a 1.5GHz quad-core processor and has an 8-megapixel camera with a new 360 degree panorama feature.

Read our first impressions of Google Nexus 4

Although it's priced well below Apple's iPhone 5, starting from just $349 outright, the Nexus 4 is very much a high-end smartphone. So, how does it compare to the Apple's newest flagship? Let's find out!

Apple iPhone 5

Apple iPhone 5

Google Nexus 4

Google Nexus 4 Android phone (preview)

Verdict

?
Operating system
Apple iOS 6
Google Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
Draw
Screen size
4in
4.7in
Google Nexus 4
Display resolution
1136x640
1280x768
Google Nexus 4
Display technology
LED backlit IPS
True HD IPS +
Draw
Pixel density
326ppi
318ppi
Apple iPhone 5
Front camera
1.2-megapixels
1.3-megapixels
Draw
Rear camera
8-megapixels, single LED flash
8-megapixels, single LED flash
Draw
Camera features
Autofocus, tap to focus, face detection, panorama, HDR
Autofocus, tap to focus, face detection, photo sphere panorama, HDR
Draw
Video recording
1080p HD @ 30fps
1080p HD @ 30fps
Draw
Internal memory
16GB/32GB/64GB
8GB/16GB
Apple iPhone 5
Expandable memory
No
No
Draw
Thickness
7.6mm
9.1mm
Apple iPhone 5
Weight
112g
139g
Apple iPhone 5
RAM
1GB
2GB
Google Nexus 4
Processor
Apple A6 1.06GHz (dual-core)
Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro 1.5GHz (quad-core)
Google Nexus 4
Australian 3G networks
HSDPA 850/900/2100
HSDPA 850/900/2100
Draw
Australian 4G networks
LTE 1800MHz
None
Apple iPhone 5
Wi-Fi
802.11a/b/g/n
802.11a/b/g/n
Draw
Bluetooth
4.0 with A2DP
4.0 with A2DP
Draw
HDMI-out
No (Yes via Lightning Digital AV adapter)
No (Yes via SlimPort to HDMI adapter)
Draw
Quoted battery life (talk time)
Up to 8 hours
Up to 15 hours
Google Nexus 4
Connector
Proprietary 'Lightning' 8-pin
Standard Micro USB
Google Nexus 4
SIM card
Nano-SIM
Micro-SIM
Draw

Nexus 4 vs. iPhone 5: Design

The first thing you'll notice about the Nexus 4 is how it feels in your hand. It's weighty (139g to be exact) without being too heavy and it immediately feels very solid. It also has impressive ergonomics considering its size. The phone itself is only slightly smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S III, but it feels more comfortable to hold single-handedly. The bezel around the screen is thin, so Google has maximised the screen without compromising on sheer size. The power/lock key and volume buttons are well positioned and comfortable to access.

We haven't spent long enough with the Nexus 4 to make a definitive call on its durability, so it remains to be seen how the glass back will hold up. LG has confirmed it uses Corning's latest Gorilla Glass 2 protective cover. One of Google's distinctive touches is the glass back of the Nexus 4, which has a holographic like pattern when viewed in certain light. It appears black most of the time and when the pattern does appear it certainly isn't distasteful.

Although it has a low $349 price tag, the Google Nexus 4 feels like a far more expensive phone.Although it has a low $349 price tag, the Google Nexus 4 feels like a far more expensive phone.

Although it has a low $349 price tag, the Google Nexus 4 feels like a far more expensive phone. Given the hardware is essentially based on the LG Optimus G, a phone that will more than likely sell for double that when it launches next year, you're essentially getting a $700-800 phone for under $400. There's no doubting that the Nexus 4 offers excellent value for money.

The Nexus 4's design is somewhat different to the iPhone 5. Its feather light 112g weight is one of the best features of the device. Apple certainly deserves a huge amount of credit for managing to make the phone significantly lighter than its predecessor while increasing its overall footprint. At just 7.6mm, the iPhone 5 is also one of the thinnest smartphones on the market bettering the Nexus 7's 9.1mm thickness.

Overall, there's an extraordinary attention to detail in the construction of the iPhone 5 and it's something that most competitors lack. However, the anodised aluminium used on the back and the edges of the iPhone 5 seems to be easily scratched and marked, particularly on the black model we reviewed.

Nexus 4 vs. iPhone 5: Display

The Google Nexus 4 has a 4.7in true HD IPS display that promises better battery efficiency and better whites than competing super AMOLED screens. The screen has a resolution of 1280x768, which gives it a pixel density of 318ppi, only a touch below the iPhone 5's 326ppi.

In our brief hands-on with the Nexus 4, it displayed extremely crisp and clear text even when zoomed out, while whites were impressively bright. We did notice, however, that colours aren't as vibrant as we might have hoped, sometimes appearing washed out. To users with a keen eye, however, this more natural colour reproduction may be a positive.

The Nexus 4 certainly has its work cut out in competing with the iPhone 5's display, which is one of the best on the market. It's larger than previous iPhone's at 4in, but it's the same width as the screen on every other iPhone, only taller. Apple says the decision to keep the phone at the same width ensures that the span of a user's thumb can reach all the way across the display when using the phone single-handedly.

The iPhone 5's display is one of the best on the market.The iPhone 5's display is one of the best on the market.

In a side-by-side comparison with the previous iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5's screen is slightly brighter at the full brightness setting. It also displays deeper blacks, most notably when watching video content.

Nexus 4 vs. iPhone 5: Software

The Google Nexus 4 will be the first Android phone to ship with the latest 4.2 version of Google's mobile operating system, which is still called 'Jelly Bean'. The new version is more of a refinement than a complete overhaul, so much of the focus has centered around improving existing features and adding a few new ones that enhance the overall user experience.

Highlights of Android 4.2 include a new gesture typing feature on the keyboard that replicates Swype, the ability to add widgets to the lock screen, expandable notifications that can be actioned and a new quick settings menu that can be accessed by swiping down the notifications panel with two fingers instead of one.

A highlight of Android 4.2 includes expandable notifications that can be actioned.A highlight of Android 4.2 includes expandable notifications that can be actioned.

There's also been some enhancements to the Google Now personal assistant, which now uses your Gmail account as a data source for new cards. In our brief hands-on with a pre-production version of the Nexus 4, the software was slick and fast with no apparent issues, so this bodes well for the final release.

The iPhone 5 runs Apple's latest iOS 6 operating system but using the device is a very similar experience to previous iPhone's. Apple says iOS 6 has added over 200 new features to the platform.

The most significant change is the abolishment of Google's Maps application, which has been replaced with Apple's own Maps app. This is a change for the worse as the Maps app is a half-baked, unfinished solution that lacks both the detail and the accuracy of the Google Maps app it replaced. Google Maps, which comes standard on the Nexus 4, is one area where Android phones can now claim to hold an advantage over the iPhone 5. Google Maps for Android offers free, turn-by-turn navigation in Australia (this feature is coming soon to the iPhone 5 but not available now) and offers integrated public transport directions, unlike Apple Maps.

Panorama photos, Facebook posts from the notifications screen and the 'Do Not Disturb' feature on the iPhone 5.Panorama photos, Facebook posts from the notifications screen and the 'Do Not Disturb' feature on the iPhone 5.

Nexus 4 vs. iPhone 5: Camera

The Google Nexus 4 has a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video calls and a rear-facing 8-megapixel camera for photos and video capture but most of the highlights appear to be software based. First, there's a 360 degree panorama mode that Google is calling photo sphere, allowing users to capture a scene in multiple directions including above and below. The photos can then be published to Google maps or shared through Google+.

There's also a new circular menu in the camera app that allows users to tap and hold anywhere on the screen to bring up a settings menu, while a HDR mode and more photo editing options are other new additions to the camera application.

The Nexus 4 will certainly need these impressive features to impress in order to better the camera on the iPhone 5, which is one of the best we've used on a smartphone. It remains at 8-megapixels but captures excellent photos with great detail. Many of the shots produced are comparable to some dedicated point-and-shoot digital cameras.

An impressive photo we captured with the iPhone 5's camera. (Click to enlarge)An impressive photo we captured with the iPhone 5's camera. (Click to enlarge)

During testing, we found that the iPhone 5's camera consistently produced more accurate colours than the previous iPhone 4S. Macro performance is excellent, and the lens is quick to focus on close range subjects — an issue we found on the 4S. The biggest improvement on the camera is the ability to take better quality photos in low light conditions, though these images are still noisier than most good point-and-shoot cameras.

Nexus 4 vs. iPhone 5: Internals

Google's Nexus devices usually focus on software innovation, but the Nexus 4 certainly boasts impressive specifications. It's powered by a quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro processor that Google says is the fastest on the market, has 2GB RAM and comes with 8GB or 16GB of internal memory. In a move that may disappoint current Android users, however, the Nexus 4 lacks a microSD card slot so the on-board memory isn't expandable.

The other big omission is LTE connectivity, which means the Nexus 4 won't work on the Australian 4G networks operated by Telstra and Optus. The lack of 4G capabilities means data speeds will be slower on the Nexus 4 than competing devices like the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S III 4G, the Motorola RAZR HD and the HTC One XL. If you live or work in an area where you're not serviced by Telstra or Optus 4G coverage then you won't be too fussed, but those who are desperate for the fastest mobile data connection will be left disappointed.

One interesting feature that the iPhone 5 can't boast is built-in wireless charging using the Qi wireless power standard. Google will sell a wireless charger called the Wireless Charging Orb as an optional accessory, but there's been no word on Australian availability or pricing for this accessory yet. The Nexus 4 also comes with NFC connectivity.

Google will sell a wireless charger called the Wireless Charging Orb as an optional accessory.Google will sell a wireless charger called the Wireless Charging Orb as an optional accessory.

The iPhone 5 is powered by an updated A6 processor, has 1GB of RAM and comes with 16, 32 or 64GB of internal memory depending on the model you choose. Apple says the A6 processor is two times faster than the A5 chip used on the iPhone 4S and has two times faster graphics. There's no NFC capability but the iPhone 5 is 4G compatible in Australia. The iPhone 5 also uses a new SIM card standard called Nano-SIM. It's a smaller SIM card than the Micro-SIM Apple used on the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S.

The Apple iPhone 5 is available now through all major Australian telcos. The Google Nexus 4 will initially sell outright through Google's Play Store from Tuesday 13 November, when orders will open. The 8GB model will sell for $349 and the 16GB model will retail for $399. At this stage there are no plans for Australian carriers to sell the phone, but LG says that the 16GB model will sell through retailers at a later date, though there's no word yet on which retailers.

What do you think about the Google Nexus 4 and the iPhone 5? Which smartphone would you buy and why? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Related content

Apple iPhone 5 review
Google Nexus 4 preview
Hands-on with the Google Nexus 4

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
Topics: android phones, iOS 6, lg, Google Nexus 4, iPhone, smartphones, iPhone 5, nexus, jelly bean, Android 4.2, Apple, Google

Comments

Jrt

1

Buying the Nexus 4 as soons as it cones out!! The mexus 4 is in my opinion one of the bet phones on the markets specially because of the price

MobileAppDeveloper

2

I have to say the iPhone 5 feels very refined, but in the end I have to vouch for the Nexus line because the latest android software experience always brings more features than iOS. I have found it a recent trend of Apple copying fundamental android features (notification bar, answer with text, panorama, etc) and refining it for iOS. Now that Google has made jellybean 4.2 "buttery smooth" like iOS 6, it is only more reason to get a Nexus 4. The issue with lack of LTE barely registers for me because this technology is a premature and partial 4G technology. It was not initially accepted as 4G technology by the ITU. Although, through the deceptive campaigns of American wireless providers, it has been marketed as 4G. The biggest decision factor, though, still lies in the fact that the Nexus 4 is unlocked and contract free. This allows users to use prepaid mobile data (much cheaper than contract service). It will also allow users of the Nexus 4 to upgrade earlier without hassle when the next generation of phones come out. By that time the latest and greatest phones will not be using LTE, instead they will be fitted with radios that utilize the international standard LTE-Advanced. Lastly, If you were wondering, I own both the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3 GT-I9300. I use both these devices for mobile app development.

Rob

3

Nexus 4 all the way, Android is a far better OS than Apple iOS. Plus the Nexus 4 hardware is superior. Great phone, can't wait.

Anonymous

4

Overall, it appears that Nexus 4 excels iPhone 5 in almost every aspect to those not care about LTE, the difference between 8 mega pixels and its memory, and most of all, the price of Nexus 4 covers its disadvantages compared to $800 iphone 5, but not worth that much.

faiyad

5

getting a nexus 4

f3nr15

6

I think it's a bit premature to call the Nexus 4 over the iPhone 5.

A lot of the "verdicts" above are contrary to what has been found in current testing with the US-based press. E.g, the photo quality of the iPhone 5 is better than the N4; the iPhone 5 has consistently better benchmarks despite having an "inferior" processor and less RAM; the iPhone 5 battery life has been consistently better despite having a smaller capacity. And I'd expect no less, considering the price points of the two gadgets.

However, it's not really about the individual specs as it is about the whole user experience, and I'm sure both phones shine in this respect, to the point where it simply comes down to which ecosystem you prefer.

For the record, I'm a former iPhone 4, current Galaxy Nexus, and probable Nexus 4 user.

Brad

7

You really should weight the categories. I'm getting sick of device comparisons just counting how many categories each one takes out!

I.e. battery life = huge + weighting vs. SIM size = who cares.

Jordan

8

I read a similar review here and Nexus wins!!

http://versusio.com/en/apple-iphone-5-vs-google-nexus-4

But you're right it can't just be measured point for point, some things are much more important!
If the world keeps comparing things like this eventually companies could just tick most of the boxes by going one better on the easy fields!

Lionel

9

HDMI out on nexus 4 is using a slimport adapter (not MHL)

FoesterAU

10

Did anyone else notice that the author compared the camera to the previous iPhone and not the nexus 4?

Jellybean 4.2 supports miracast a new standard in Wi-Fi video transmission won't be long until there are cheap HDMI adapters that will allow you to access your content on the big screen and TV's that will have it built in.

As iPhone compares their devices to their previous iteration, according to some reviews the nexus 4 offers the smoothest android experience to date through its impeccable hardware just as IOS 6 performs well on iPhone 5 that doubles the processing power of its predecessor.

I think Android has done well to get to this level and now it's up to the consumer to look at the merits of both mobile OS's and If they are tech savvy enough to see value and the freedom android offers to their users especially the nexus branded devices then they will make the choice that best suites what type of smart phone user they are. The hardest part is leaving the investment they have made in the previous mobile eco system.

Tika

11

I check the price of both device. can't wait for nexus 4. why should I pay double money for iPhone 5?

jon

12

nahh, if you wanna be seen or noticed, or you want to stand out from the sea of iphones and androids, go buy a cyan or red or yellow nokia lumia 920

Ben

13

Ross,
You call the front facing camera difference of 1.2 to 1.3 megapixels a draw, yet give the Iphone the lead on pixel density, despite it being a smaller % difference. How come?

KEVIN HENDERSON

14

how ,when and where can i buy a negus4 want one

Al

15

Umm how about the price ?, the n4 is $400 cheaper, whoa

natalie

16

NEXUS 4 ALL THE WAY YIYY YIYY

natalie

17

Ben, you make a really good point there, and i think Ross, you should amend that

Iphones in our house are banned simply because its .... crap (compared to Android software) and i have learnt so much (not to be a mindless sheep). plus the value of this baby!! omg my husband is gonna be so proud of me!!

Give N4.

19

Nexus 4 FTW!!! But small problem... if a fan can't buy one, what about the average consumer? Google may have stock for 2013, but Christmas is soon, nothing happens in January... is this a missed opportunity, probably. To the people who are saying there's a $400 premium, yep very true. But at least you can get one...or at least order it. =(

Nagarajan,M.

20

Definitely Nexus 4 scores well on most of the points and very well on it's hardware. There is vast difference in the cost for i ph 5 comparing Nexus 4 and value for money is always weighed. Great value with Google Maps and free applications on Android platforms.

agle

21

Has anyone got any reviews on a nexus 4 they have?

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