July 26, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S5 versus LG Nexus 5

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The Samsung Galaxy S5, introduced at Mobile World Congress 2014, will likely go on to become one of the top-selling Android smartphones of the year. And why not? It’s the latest in Samsung’s flagship line of devices and it’s better than ever. But, how does it fare when you compare it to other top smartphones of the day?

Let’s stack the Samsung Galaxy S5 up against another key Android handset, the LG Nexus 5. We’ll take a look at how they match up in terms of hardware, yes, but we’ll also touch on some of the differences in software and user experience.

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Operating System Android 4.4.2 KitKat (w/ Samsung UI) Android 4.4 KitKat
Display 5.1-inch Super AMOLED (1920×1080) 4.95-inch True HD IPS (1920×1080)
Storage 16GB, 32GB 16GB, 32GB
Processor Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
RAM 2GB 2GB
Connectivity 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, HSPA+, NFC 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, HSPA+, NFC
Camera (Rear) 16-megapixel 8-megapixel
Camera (Front) 2.1-megapixel 1.3-megapixel
Battery 2800mAh 2300mAh
Weight 145g 130g
Size (mm) 142.0 x 72.5 x 8.1 137.9 x 69.2 x 8.6
Bluetooth 4.0 4.0
Expansion Card Yes (up to 64GB) NO
Fingerprint Scanner YES NO
Water Resistant Yes (IP67) NO
Charging USB 3.0 microUSB

 

General Hardware

At first blush, the Samsung Galaxy S5 appears to have a slight edge in the camera, battery, and a few other details. But, dig deeper, and you’ll learn that the Snapdragon 801 processor is more than a slight upgrade of the Snapdragon 800 processor. With that in mind, we shouldn’t be all that upset that the Galaxy S5 does not have 3GB RAM. Internal storage capacities are the same, however the Samsung benefits by having external storage options.

It doesn’t hurt to have an extra 500mAh of juice in your battery, but we’re not yet sure as to how that translates to real world usage.

Camera

If you’re looking at just the specs, the 16-megapixel rear camera sounds much better than the 8-megapixel found on the Nexus 5. But, toss in some features like the fastet-yet shutter speeds, HDR, and selective focus, and Samsung pulls away. And, while we might not yet be able to take full advantage of it, the Galaxy S5 can record in video at 4K resolution. Should you have a TV or display capable of displaying that resolution then you’ll definitely be in business.

User Interface and Enhancements

Indeed, its water resistance is a nice touch this time around and helps protect the phone from life’s accidents and spills. It’s not quite ready to go swimming all day but a spilled glass of water is not the end of the world.

We also like that Samsung has opted for the USB 3.0 option in charging as it opens the door to added functionality. No, not every user will take advantage of it, but we like future proofing devices.

Fingerprint scanning is likely to find a place in most of the bleeding-edge smartphones going forward. It’s not a perfect tool, yet, and has limited capabilities. Samsung, for its part, is playing nice with the SDK and letting developers hardness the technology.

You know what else matters to a lot of users? Freebies and value-added bundles. To that end, Samsung is giving upward of $500 worth of apps and services away with each Galaxy S5. Not all stuff that every user will want or need, but it’s pretty darn appealing nonetheless.

Android

If there’s one thing that matters to heavy Android enthusiasts, it’s the software experience. While Samsung has added plenty of wonderful features, apps, and services, the edge still goes to the Nexus 5. That is, of course, if you care a great deal about timely upgrades and no carrier interference.

Availability

The Nexus 5 is offered through Google Play Store for $349 (16GB) and $399 (32GB) in three color options. Pricing has yet to be determined for the Galaxy S5 but we’re thinking the $200 range is in order. The key difference, however, is that the Nexus 5 does not require you commit to a two-year service agreement. Yes, you’ll be able to procure an unlocked Galaxy S5 (and likely a Google Play Experience, too), but it will be in the order of hundreds more.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 will be sold starting in April in 4 color options and should be available through just about any carrier you can imagine. All of the major players are expected to sell the device as are a number prepaid arms.

Which is right for you?

The first question you should ask yourself is whether you are willing to sign a contract. If that answer is yes then you should go with the Samsung Galaxy S5 without pause. For those who don’t want to tie up for two more years, it gets trickier. The Nexus 5 will be about half of the overall cost of the Galaxy S5 and is still a best-in-class experience. It’s ironic to even say this sort of thing, but you could do much worse than to go with a Nexus device.

Something else that you should consider is whether you need to be on the cutting edge of Android updates. Things have slowed on the overall platform front and features are coming at a slower pace. We venture to guess that most smartphone users cannot identify the exact build of their OS. If you don’t know the difference between a Jelly Bean and a KitKat release then it should not bother you to go with a modified UI.

Average consumers are going to flock to the Samsung Galaxy S5. Those who are coming out of contract with their Galaxy S3 are looking at this device as a huge step forward. At this point there’s nothing to stop the Galaxy S5 train; others may slow it a bit, but it will be the top-seller of 2014. For great reason(s).