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Google Nexus 4 vs iPhone 5 - Screen, Power and Software

Andrew Williams


Google Nexus 4 vs iPhone 5

The Google Nexus 4 is one of the most desirable Android phones of the year. Make that one of the most desirable gadgets of the year, full stop. But can it really lure us away from the prospect of shiny new iPhone 5?

We took a look at the design, specs, screens, value and power of both phones to see where each comes out on top. Read on for the full verdict.

Read our Google Nexus 4 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 comparison >


Google Nexus 4 – glass rear, plastic main body, disco ball rear finish

iPhone 5 – aluminium body, slate or white finish

For the past two generations of the iPhone, the design of the phone relied on glass sheets covering both the front and back. It looked and felt great, but wasn’t necessarily all that practical – glass smashes on impact. A crack-ridden iPhone 4S is a common sight.

This, we imagine, is part of the reason Apple switched the glass rear for aluminium in the iPhone 5. Its front is still toughened glass, but the back is shatter-proof. Another benefit of using aluminium is that it’s extremely light. The iPhone 5 is just 112g, more than 25g lighter than the Google Nexus 4.

Google Nexus 4 pics 3

The first impression the iPhone 5 leaves is one of being almost unnervingly light, and it’ll take some getting used to if you’re a previous iPhone 4S or iPhone 4 owner.

Almost the reverse of the iPhone series’s design trajectory, the Google Nexus 4 features a glass rear. Most of LG’s previous Android phones (LG made the Google Nexus 4) feature plastic bodies.

Google Nexus 4 pics 7

The glass rear affords the Google Nexus 4 a swanky look, but the iPhone 5 takes the design trophy. For one, the Nexus 4 doesn’t have the ultra-high-end feel of previous iPhones, possibly because the rest of the body is made of plastic rather than metal. Some might consider the rear design a bit over the top too.

Although in real life it doesn’t look anywhere near as garish as it does in pictures, the back of the phone has a disco ball-like finish that isn’t exactly super-classy.

The designs of these two phones tend to reflect their respective prices – the iPhone 5 is a cut above.

iPhone 5 vs Google Nexus 4 1


Google Nexus 4 – 4.7-inch 768 x 1,280 pixel IPS screen

iPhone 5 – 4-inch 640 x 1,136 pixel IPS screen

The screens of the Google Nexus 4 and iPhone 5 both use IPS-type screens. This kinda of screen was made most famous in its adoption by iPhones and iPods, and it’s designed to offer great viewing angles – turn the screen and it won’t go dim as some other types do.

The Google Nexus 4 display has a significantly higher pixel count, and much higher screen area – 4.7 inches instead of 4.0. It’s a greater difference than it may sound, especially as the display of the Google Nexus 4 is less widescreen, resulting in a wider display (when the phone’s held “upright”.)

Google Nexus 4 pics 5

Both these screens are excellent, although more fine tuning has gone into the calibration of the iPhone 5, resulting in technically better images. To be honest, though, you’d have to be quite a display pedant to notice a huge difference.

There’s quite a degree of personal preference here, as to whether you want a pocket-happy phone or are after the largest screen you can get.

iPhone 5 vs Google Nexus 4


Google Nexus 4 – Quad-core 1.5GHz Krait CPU, 2GB RAM

iPhone 5 – Dual-core 1.2GHz Apple A6 CPU, 1GB RAM

The Google Nexus 4 has a pretty impressive processor and RAM combo. It’s one of the first phones to offer 2GB of RAM and uses the quad-core 1.5GHz Krait processor from Qualcomm.

In numbers terms, that sounds a lot better than the dual-core 1.2GHz Apple A6 processor of the iPhone 5, doesn’t it? However, benchmarks show that the numbers don’t always tell the whole truth.

In almost all the most popular benchmarks, the iPhone 5 outperforms the Google Nexus 4, especially in graphical benchmarks. The iPhone 5 has a hugely impressive GPU, the part that handles graphics. This generally excellent performance is down to the architecture of the Apple A6 chip, which was custom-designed by Apple.

Among its Android peers, though, the Google Nexus 4 is a top performer. There won’t be anything you “can’t do” with this phone for quite some time.

iPhone 5 vs Google Nexus 4 1


Google Nexus 4 – Android 4.2.1, fast updates

iPhone 5 – iOS 6, fast updates

In software terms, the Google nexus 4 is the most “iPhone-like” of all Android phones. It’s not because the version of Android it uses is closer to the iOS software used by iPhones, but rather that it’s an official Google phone. This means it’ll always be among the first phones to get software updates (until discontinued), where others generally have to wait for months, as manufacturers make the necessary tweaks to their (largely unnecessary) custom interfaces.

Whether you’ll prefer iOS or Android is a fairly complex issue. We tend to find the easiest way to discover your likely preference is to ask whether you prefer things to be nice ‘n’ simple, or highly customisable.

Google Nexus 4 pics 4

Android 4.2 on the Nexus 4

There’s little you can change in the way iOS works – customisation of an iPhone 5 is limited to changing backgrounds unless you hack the device. Google’s Android is a completely different kettle of cod. You can fiddle with just about everything, and even completely change the system’s graphical front-end, without any technical fiddling. You just need to install an app.

There’s still an element of beautiful simplicity to iOS, although many argue that Apple has left it too late to innovate the system . It has been around since 2007, and hasn’t changed a great deal since then. Android, on the other hand, started as a bit of a mess but has recently upped the ante a good deal, adding much-improved response times to its feature-rich base.

iPhone 5 vs Google Nexus 4 2


December 13, 2012, 2:28 pm

Clearly Android will be the winner in the long run...


December 13, 2012, 3:10 pm

If you want a phone now, order the iPhone 5. If you want to wait an undetermined amount of time like I am, get the Nexus 4. On a side note you listed the Nexus 4 storage options as being 16/32GB when in actual fact the only options are 8/16GB. I think the iPhone wins that one.

Simon Heather

December 13, 2012, 6:38 pm

Factual error - there is no 32GB model (yet)!

"You can get a 16GB model of the Google Nexus 4 for £239 or a 32GB edition for £279."


December 13, 2012, 9:53 pm

There is no 32gb Nexus 4, the 8gb model is £239 and the 16gb £279

Alejandro Gama

December 15, 2012, 3:46 am

You get 50gb in BOX for free with the Nexus 4 and also you can upload your entire music library (up to 25000 songs) to google's cloud for free. So, bad comparison.

Also, my gf ordered her nexus 4 3 days ago and got it yesterday.


December 15, 2012, 12:17 pm

I don't think that you can compare cloud and physical storage. Sure, it's nice to have but it doesn't offer the same flexibility. Do you live in the UK? From what I've heard the only place that late orders are dispatching before early ones is in the US.


December 18, 2012, 11:22 am

Never underestimate the power of Apple. The long run might be longer than you think.


December 19, 2012, 1:14 pm

Clearly Apple brings innovation, but this looks so similar of what happened when Windows became the most popular OS due to the IBM PC clones...Apple brought innovation (although copying major concepts previously from Xerox) but then was copied by Microsoft who could grew massively!


December 19, 2012, 1:24 pm

Thanks for pointing our the error guys. I'll correct it now. Apologies for the delayed response. We're still getting used to our non-moderated comments system.


December 20, 2012, 8:27 pm

Apple don't innovate per se, they perfect innovations that have failed in the consumer sphere because of a focus on function rather than usability and design. They learned their lesson with the failure of the Newton and now consistently create exceptionally crafted hardware with excellent usability (I say hardware - Apple Maps anyone?).

I like value though and find it hard to justify the extra cost particularly with the Nexus 7 as compare to the iPad mini.


December 21, 2012, 7:06 pm

To say the iPhone wins in design is quite oppinion based. I find the Nexus 4 to look and feel better than any iPhones I have ever held. Also to say benchmarks are what really decides power is about as accurate as reading specs on paper. The Nexus 4 runs without any lag ever really. I can't say the same for the Note II GS III and all the other high end Android devices. I'ts also cheaper by a ton


December 29, 2012, 3:10 pm

If Android wins in the long run Google will become Microsoft and be perceived negatively, the same as Fandroids perceive Apple now.

For those who want a stable workhorse buy an iPhone, for those who want to customise and fiddle endlessly (and some would say needlessly) buy an Android phone.


December 30, 2012, 9:07 pm

iphone 5 ftw


February 7, 2013, 5:51 pm

This is such an interesting discussion. I have had Apple iphones since the beginning, and I have an iPhone 5 which is a great phone. I bought the Google Nexus out of curiosity, and find as with the authors that both are great products, and it just boils down to which one you like. I am inclined right now toward the Nexus because of the larger fonts that are available for mail and web browsing, but the iphone is a great product as well. Amazing that the Nexus is able to compete at about half the price though.


March 21, 2013, 5:44 pm

I have doubts... Apple became a BIG FAT ELEFANT... moving too slow...
As an Apple executive said: Google is getting better at things they were not good at faster than Apple is getting better at things they should improve.

Scott clements

April 4, 2013, 11:25 pm

mine took one day to arrive


June 23, 2013, 1:34 pm

The iPhone is made of more premium and slightly better engineering. Nexus 4 is a good quality top of the line Android OS mobile phone with unbeatable price. The Nexus 4 is the mobile phone with the best software optimisation of any Android phone. No other Android phone runs as smoothly and fast as the Nexus 4. The decision to which is the best phone comes down which OS the user prefers. Currently Android is a little more buggy and lacks slightly software optimisation then the iPhone. Android is by far more open then iOS, but this also make it more vulnerable to malware exploitation and privacy issues. iOS stock and third party apps in general tend to be better engineered with better features and quality then Android apps (with some exceptions, e.g. Google+ or Google Now). Third party iOS apps are in most cases cheaper then Android ones. iOS is more secure and better optimised and more stable then Android. Currently Android is much more customisable then iOS. iOS has a bigger number of third party apps on the App Store then Google Play store, but not by a gigantic difference though. So far Android has been receiving major and minor regular OS updates then iOS. Android changed quite a bit especially its UI over the last few years. Easy access to settings and some other productive features have been introduced to Android. Meanwhile, ever since it was created iOS changed very little or close to zero, especially its UI. Off course this is about to change when the new refreshing iOS UI and new features appears later in the year (2013). Some people like the black background prevalent all over the Android UI especially the Settings app, while others prefer the lighter and 'cleaner' tones on iOS UI. Ultimately the decision to which phone you should buy comes down to the OS, to taste.


October 14, 2013, 8:35 pm

Samsung Hardware is very bad .... Colour gets faint on sides ... im using S3 and this is happning wth me!!
Go for iphone 5 or wait for nexus 5

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