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Galaxy S5 vs Nexus 5 – Which is better?

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Galaxy S5 vs Nexus 5 – Which is better?

Which is the Best Android in Town?

Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone is now available in shops, with all the bells and whistles that you’d expect from the South Korean manufacturer. But how does the Galaxy S5 stack up to the Android platform’s official poster boy, the Nexus 5?

With a £250 price disparity, it might seem like they’re in a different class altogether, but you might be surprised to learn how closely fought this battle is.

Galaxy S5 vs Nexus 5 — Design

Samsung Galaxy S5 - 8.1mm thick, plastic construction, IP67 certified, 145g

Google Nexus 5 - 8.59mm thick, plastic construction, 130g

While few would argue that the Nexus 5 is one of the best-looking phones in a market that includes the HTC One M8 and the iPhone 5S, its simple, minimalist design is undoubtedly easier on the eye than the Galaxy S5.

There's a certain elegance and a commendable level of restraint to LG's and Google's all-plastic effort. It might be low-cost, but it certainly doesn't feel cheap.

Samsung, meanwhile, has continued with its own somewhat heavy-handed use of plastic and questionable design choices. The Galaxy S5's dimpled soft-touch rear cover looks like something you might find on the handle of a cheap old badminton racquet. We’re astounded, too, that the company is still pushing its faux-metal surround mid-way through 2014.Nexus 5 vs Galaxy S5 3

On the plus side, it feels a lot better than it looks, with a grippy and solid build. Also positive is the Samsung Galaxy S5’s IP67 certification, which means that it’s both water and dust resistant.

It’s also slimmer than the Nexus 5 by half a millimetre, though it’s a not-inconsiderable 15 grams heavier.

Ultimately, while the Nexus 5 continues to be a perfectly pleasant phone to look at and hold, the Galaxy S5 shows that we’re still waiting for Samsung’s aesthetic efforts to match the excellent work it puts in elsewhere.Nexus 5 vs Galaxy S5 2

Galaxy S5 vs Nexus 5 — Screen

Samsung Galaxy S5 - 5.1-inch 1920 x 1080 Super AMOLED (432ppi)

Google Nexus 5 - 4.95-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS LCD (445ppi)

The Nexus 5 really grabbed our attention upon release for offering a top-notch 4.95-inch display for a mid-range price. It continues to impress today, thanks to its 1920 x 1080 resolution and fine colour reproduction.

It also uses an IPS panel, much like the iPhone 5S, which makes for a clear picture even when viewed at an angle.

Over in the other corner, the Samsung Galaxy S5’s display is ever so slightly larger. This serves to produce a slightly less pixel-dense picture, but not to any noticeable degree.

Nexus 5 vs Galaxy S5 8

The biggest difference here is that the Galaxy S5 uses Super AMOLED technology rather than LCD. This results in considerably more vibrant colours and deeper blacks.

We’ve often criticised AMOLED technology in the past for offering unnaturally deep - and thus inaccurate - colours, but Samsung has taken huge strides forward with this in recent times. As a result, the Galaxy S5’s screen is an absolute treat.

Yes, it still uses the inferior PenTile array for arranging its sub-pixels, but the screen is so sharp and clear that you probably won’t notice.

In darker conditions in particular, the Galaxy S5’s display wipes the floor with the Nexus 5’s.Nexus 5 vs Galaxy S5 4

The Nexus 5 has software soft keys, the Galaxy S5 'real' ones

Galaxy S5 vs Nexus 5 — Software

Samsung Galaxy S5 - Android 4.4.2, TouchWiz UI

Google Nexus 5 - Android 4.4.2

Both phones run on Android 4.4.2 KitKat, the very latest version of Google’s mobile OS. However, the Nexus 5 still has the major advantage here.

That’s because while Google has its excellent stock Android OS, Samsung has once again layered on its intrusively busy custom TouchWiz UI. It’s an improvement over previous versions in terms of visual appeal and clarity, but it’s still well below stock Android in terms of day-to-day usability.

Samsung’s main mistake is that it seems to think choice and customisation are everything. Witness the dizzying number of toggles available in the expanded settings menu - so many that it actually negates the concept of such a 'shortcut' menu.

Nexus 5 vs Galaxy S5

Then there’s Samsung’s habit of doubling up on apps. Again, it’s better than it was, but the Galaxy S5 still has its own app store, its own music app, and its own chat app when Google’s own versions are superior.

TouchWiz is also a bit of a resource drain, slowing down homescreen navigation in spite of the zippy hardware (more on that in a bit).

Additional features like Air View and Multi Window are neat little gimmicks, but they fail to fundamentally enhance the user experience.

While the Galaxy S5 can arguably do everything the Nexus 5 can do and more, it somehow comes out as the loser in the software round thanks to its lack of restraint and cohesion.

Galaxy S5 vs Nexus 5 — Power/CPU

Samsung Galaxy S5 - 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 CPU, 2GB RAM

Google Nexus 5 - 2.26GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU, 2GB RAM

While the Nexus 5 is powered by the trusty Snapdragon 800 CPU, the Samsung Galaxy S5 packs the newer, faster Snapdragon 801.

But really, there’s not an awful lot in it. In fact, the 801 is very similar indeed to the 800, with the main difference being that it can be clocked a little higher. Sure enough, the Galaxy S5 is clocked at 2.5GHz to the Nexus 5’s 2.26GHz.

It's certainly an advantage, but hardly a resounding one.

Nexus 5 vs Galaxy S5 6

Elsewhere, the Galaxy S5’s Snapdragon 801 processor has a superior Image Signal Processor, which is one of the reasons its camera takes quicker pictures and the autofocus is snappier.

Both phones have 2GB of RAM, which is pretty much par for the course when it comes to modern high-end smartphones.

All in all, neither phone is going to be found wanting with the upcoming genertion of mobile games, 1080p video playback, or multitasking. They're both strong performers, with the Galaxy S5 taking a slight edge.

Galaxy S5 vs Nexus 5 — Camera

Samsung Galaxy S5 - 16MP, 1/2.6-inch sensor, software stabilisation, f/2.2 aperture, LED flash

Google Nexus 5 - 8MP, 1/3.2-inch sensor, OIS, f/2.4 aperture, LED flash

For the first time in this comparison, well, there really is no comparison. The Samsung Galaxy S5’s camera is better than the Nexus 5’s in almost every way.

On paper, the Galaxy S5 wins easily. It packs double the number of megapixels (16 versus 8) into a larger 1/2.6-inch image sensor, while it also features a larger f/2.2 aperture lens, allowing it to let more light in.

Nexus 5 vs Galaxy S5 9

Of course, megapixels and F-stops don’t necessarily a superior camera make, but in the Samsung Galaxy S5’s case it happens to translate into far superior images with a greater degree of sharpness - provided you give them enough light, of course.

The Galaxy S5 is also extremely fast at loosing off its shots - as fast as an iPhone 5S, in our experience.

The Nexus 5’s camera isn’t bad by any means, and it offers real hardware stabilsiation. But it’s not the top-end component that we see elsewhere on the phone. For once, the part fits the price.

Here's how their photos compare:

Nexus 5 sampleGalaxy S5 sampleNexus 5 comparison

The Galaxy S5 produces much more natural-looking colours, although detail on the Nexus 5 compares pretty well despite the much lower-res sensor.

Galaxy S5 vs Nexus 5 — Battery

Samsung Galaxy S5 - 2,800 mAh, 390 hours stand-by, 21 hours 3G talk time

Google Nexus 5 - 2,300mAh, 300 hours stand-by, 17 hours 3G talk time

While the Samsung Galaxy S5 might have the faster processor, a larger display, and a busier UI, its battery life stretches much further.

That’s because it comes packed with a much bigger battery unit. Its 2,800 mAh capacity dwarfs that of the Nexus 5 and its 2,300 mAh equivalent.

The listed stamina figures suggest that Samsung has put this extra capacity to good use. It should last 90 hours longer in stand-by, while it should achieve around four hours more 3G talk time.

Nexus 5 vs Galaxy S5 7

Our real life tests appear to bear this superiority out. With regular use, we struggled to get the Nexus 5 to last through a full day, whilst the Galaxy S5 could keep going for a day and a half before we needed to plug it in.

It’s also worth noting that the Samsung Galaxy S5 is one of the few modern high-end phones that allows you to access and exchange the battery. This should be of great interest to those who travel a lot with little to no access to a charge point, as well as to those who game or watch videos a lot whilst out and about.

Which is the better phone?

In some technical respects, the Galaxy S5 seriously outclasses the Nexus 5. Its camera is a lot better, its processor is a little more advanced and the new Samsung OLED screen is a corker. However, the Nexus 5 is better in some less techy ways. We love the restraint of its plain design and its unadorned software, making it a better choice if you fancy saving some money.

Read More: Galaxy S5 vs Galaxy S4

Deftdrummer

April 25, 2014, 7:38 pm

I love my Nexus 5. My brother just received his GS5 in the mail. On day one he was raving about it, but at the same time had nothing bad to say about my phone.

To me, the GS5 is another Samsung phone that is bloated, made of questionable materials, and just plain ugly and hard to use.

Now contrast that to my brother, who admits that he likes Samsung's software(s) and services and this was actually a major factor for him in his decision.

So the moral of the story like the article states: If you like saving money and having an unobtrusive design aesthetic, all the while receiving Android updates first, then the N5 is for you.

If you are a fan of Samsung's Galaxy line, have or will have Galaxy gear then this would be a good phone. Doubly so if you already use and prefer Samsung's suite of software and services.

Yuwhan

April 25, 2014, 11:43 pm

Photos were not taken at the same time, in facts, the result can't be comparable due to the orientation of the sun ( Look at the shadows ).

Jeffrey Fazal

April 26, 2014, 8:55 am

I still find
my Nexus 5 much better then latest flagship of major brands whether I consider Galaxy
S5 or HTC M8. Whether the new phone comes with little advanced features then Nexus
5 but still the main feature according to me that should be there in every
phone is inbuilt wireless charging back cover. It is absent in Galaxy S5 and
HTC M8 or either could purchase separately for Galaxy S5 for which I have to
shell out more money. Well I recently purchased a wireless charging pad from
Amazon by CHOETECH to keep my Nexus 5 fully charged without messing up with wires
anymore.

Den72

April 26, 2014, 1:55 pm

I've upgraded from the Nexus 5 to the Galaxy S5 (I previously had an HTC One M7 and a Galaxy S3 before the Nexus) and I like everything about the S5 better than the Nexus.

Don't get me wrong, I think the Nexus is a corker of a phone, but I had major problems with voice quality on phone calls, so I decided to buy yet another SIM free phone, and am really happy with the S5.

I am one of the few that like TouchWiz and found vanilla android (that I wanted to try for so long) lacking. I had to pay for inferior programs to emulate what was in TouchWiz (like smart stay). TouchWiz on the S5 is much better (and a lot less bloated) than what was on my old Galaxy S3.

I think the quality of the plastic on the Nexus 5 is worse than the S5. The N5 was too shiny and slippy (I have the white one). I dropped the N5 once without a case on, and the whole of one side it dented badly and looks a mess. If I had done this to my S5, I could pop the back off and put another on.

I know people like to defend the phones they purchase, but having used the Nexus 5 since the day it was released, I cannot think of a single thing that the N5 is better at than the Galaxy S5. I have still kept the Nexus 5 as a backup phone.

Prem Desai

April 26, 2014, 7:18 pm

Is this really a fair comparision. The S5 costs more than 2x the Nexus 5.

abcdefgqwerty

April 26, 2014, 11:03 pm

These two phones are in completely different price categories which I think easily means nexus 5 wins.

THEBESTSGT

April 27, 2014, 7:05 am

The Galaxy s5 camera is fantastic just ask all those Verizon customers who had to return their s5 because the camera doesn't work.

Completetab

April 28, 2014, 8:03 pm

The Nexus 5 is a thing of beauty, providing you with 16GB or 32GB of on-board storage. The Galaxy S5 provides the same amount of local memory storage, but does allow you to upgrade your memory by way of its microSD card slot – a feature the Nexus 5 doesn’t have.
The water and dust resistance gives the GS5 the win over the Nexus 5.

barney klingenberg

May 11, 2014, 7:20 pm

the camera comparison here is flawed.
Even though the S5 is better in good lighting it's a lot worse in low light. Thanks mostly by the OIS of the nexus 5

There has been said nothing about this striking nexus 5 feature in the entire review. And then there is the obvious double price tag which is hard to justify.

Guest

May 21, 2014, 3:32 am

Actually, there is a microSD card slot just under the power button. You stick a key (that generally comes with the phone) into the small hole, and a tray for the card pops out

Guest

May 21, 2014, 3:35 am

your right! the nexus pictures were taken at just before sunset while the S5 ones were taken at around 3 pm

Zach Walls

May 22, 2014, 1:55 am

actually....you're a moron. That is the sim tray. The nexus 5 has no expandable storage slot.

Guest

May 23, 2014, 3:25 am

Oh, so sorry, until now I didn't know the difference between the two. Thank you for teaching me something new, Zach. Good day.

Zach Walls

May 23, 2014, 3:32 am

I shouldn't have been so harsh I suppose. But yes the SD card is not present on the nexus 5. The SIM(subscriber identification module) is what tells your phone what network to connect to and also tells the network who you are. Have a good day

John Smith

June 4, 2014, 5:26 am

It's actually kinda funny. It doesn't seem there are any consistencies among reviews when comparing cameras. The Nexus camera has much brighter color and contrast. I can't tell you how many times I've seen the iPhone win a comparison on that basis. Now, all of the sudden, definition is more important. I guarantee if the Nexus was an iPhone, it would have won the comparison, because its name trumps definition lol. If you had those first 2 pictures to choose from, which would you post on your Facebook? Exactly...

Tom Ward

June 4, 2014, 5:35 am

Yes, it really is. The pictures are taken at very different times of the day, just look at the position of the shadows, making the comparison COMPLETELY FREAKING USELESS.

SBUS

June 12, 2014, 1:25 am

You're all morons. The truth is... that it's ALWAYS a personal decision. Discussing differences of 1/2" of screen size, or 200MHz of CPU speed, or whether the plastic is 'nice' is SO SO SO subjective. Each person is going to evaluate exactly the same data, and then simply DECIDE what they want to pay attention to. So why bother to discuss it in public? Who cares what YOU think? It's a phone. Life has a lot more to offer than geek toys. Don't believe me? Look between your legs. Look outside the window. Listen to the wind, or music. GET OFF THE INTERNET. Quit being screenbound. LIVE.

Erica Mathis

July 23, 2014, 3:37 am

I like the looks of the S5 a lot, don't think it looks cheap at all and it feels real good in the hand and stays looking clean. The Nexus is a great phone for the money, but the smudge magnet tar-black back cover looks old and dinghy with normal use.

Bobby

August 1, 2014, 6:21 pm

You also have to take into consideration that the Nexus 5 costs $350 off contract while the Galaxy S5 cost double that at $700, so technically you could buy a Nexus 5, break it and buy another one for the same price of the Galaxy S5.

Gabriel

August 9, 2014, 3:43 pm

I have the Nexus 5 and I compared it to a Galaxy S5 in the shop.
The Nexus 5 is a lot smoother than the Galaxy S5, it feels so clean and smooth.
Whereas when I tried the Galaxy S5 it feels slow and like a toy store.

I would definitely go for the Nexus 5, try them in a store, and you'll see how much smoother and cleaner the Nexus 5 is.

misty dake

September 19, 2014, 5:52 pm

Lol. And yet here you are, having searched for this review, posting a reply to it. Ic you're not at all concerned about comparing the pros and cons of each phone then why are you even on this page?

eslachance

February 24, 2015, 4:11 am

Well no, because of the contract you'd have to pay for the full phone amount, if you broke it. :P

Jeff Taylor

March 11, 2015, 4:52 pm

"The Galaxy S5's dimpled soft-touch rear cover looks like something you might find on the handle of a cheap old badminton racquet."
Agg... This continual bad reviews of the S5 case drives me nuts. Personaly, I think the dimpled case looks very nice. Plus, most people will have a case on thier phone anyway, so who cares?

Jeff Taylor

March 11, 2015, 5:01 pm

These photos are taken with default automatic settings. You can adjust the settings to get different results, or even use an HDR app to get almost any result you want.

Qaiser

April 3, 2015, 8:38 am

Whilst nexus is a great phone and serves well Google's strategy of selling it near the cost price to encourage developers and influencers to buy it, it remains a mid-range phone. Comparing it with a flagship AND making it look almost similar - if not better - is frankly insulting the consumer intelligence.

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