It’s no great secret that Android users are spoilt for choice when it comes to high-end handsets – in early-2013 alone, there’s the Sony Xperia Z, BlackBerry Z10, HTC One, LG Optimus G Pro and, now, the Samsung Galaxy S4 to choose from. But you don’t have to shell out £500 to nab a top-notch smartphone, as 2012’s über-capable and eminently affordable Google Nexus 4 proves.
Can the older LG-manufactured device compete against the best that the green robot has to offer this year? Let’s take a look at how the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Google Nexus 4 compare.
Size and weight
The super-svelte Samsung Galaxy S4 measures just 7.9mm in girth and tips the scales to the tune of 130g. The Google Nexus 4 is a comparatively chubby 9.1mm in depth but is similarly untaxing to hold, weighing a mere 139g.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 joins the growing of ranks of smartphones boasting a Full HD (1080p) resolution, and its 4.99in Super AMOLED display features a pixel density of 441ppi – considerably sharper than the 4.5in Nexus 4, which offers a 1,280 x 768 pixel resolution at 320ppi on its IPS LCD screen.
Storage and memory
If Samsung can hold good on its promise to deliver a 64GB model of the Galaxy S4, then the South Korean firm’s latest handset is a content hoarder’s dream: factor in the microSD card slot, and you’ve got the potential to pack 128GB of stuff on to your mobile. The Nexus 4 maxes out at 16GB of on-board storage – to the perplexment of many handset junkies, it doesn’t offer a microSD card slot. Both devices feature 2GB of RAM.
In the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Nexus 4, the Android platform has two of its biggest stars. Both ship with Jelly Bean version 4.2, with the main difference that the Google-branded handset offers a vanilla Android experience, while the Galaxy S4 features Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay.
Some versions of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 will feature the heavily hyped 8-core Exynos 5 Octa processor, though the LTE model of the handset will in fact come with a quad-core Snapdragon 600 chipset. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – its 1.9GHz clock speed is one of the highest we’ve seen on a smartphone. The Google Nexus 4’s quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC reaches a respectable 1.5GHz.
Beefy cameras are all the rage in the smartphone world right now, and Samsung has accordingly fitted the Galaxy S4 with a whopping 13-megapixel primary sensor and a 2-megapixel front shooter. The Nexus 4’s camera is hardly shabby, but its specifications are more in line with 2012’s standards – there’s an 8-megapixel primary snapper augmented by a 1.2-megapixel front camera. On paper, this is a clear win for the Samsung phone, but photography enthusiasts know that image quality isn’t really about the numbers.
The Samsung Galaxy S4’s mammoth 2,600 mAh battery should be able to keep things rolling for a good while, though talk time estimates are still up in the air at the time of publication. As with previous Galaxy S handsets, the S4’s battery is replaceable, meaning that you can double – or triple, or quadruple for that matter – battery life by packing a spare. The Nexus 4 sports a more modest 2,100mAh battery and comes with a jabber boast just shy of 11 hours.
Connectivity and wireless
The Galaxy S4 will be supported on the UK’s 4G LTE spectrum, while the Nexus 4 will only reach 3G (HSPA+) speeds. Both devices feature NFC, and the Galaxy S4 also supports the latest 802.11 ac Wi-Fi standard. The S4 will also be available in a 3G-only model, presumably at a reduced price point. The Nexus 4 is capable of wireless charging.
Price, availability, and opinion
Samsung has indicated that the Galaxy S4 will be available globally from next month – 26 April is the UK consumer release date as far as we know. Off-contract pricing for the device is still up in the air; however, you can register your interest in the new handset with the likes of EE and Phones 4u and pre-ordering is surely set to commence in the near future. Of course, you can buy the Google Nexus 4 from the Play Store right now – it retails for £239 and £279 for the 8GB and 16GB model, respectively. So, should you wait for the Galaxy S4, or would you in fact be better served by the older Google-branded smartphone?
If it’s the latest technology you’re after, look no further than the Samsung Galaxy S4. New-gen hardware is all present – a quad-core or octo-core processor, Full HD display, and 13-megapixel camera being the headline specs – and there’s also a bevy of slick software-based features of offer. Following the example set by the HTC One, the Galaxy S4 features an infrared LED sensor, enabling your handset to double as a remote control in the living room. Then there’s S Translate and S Health – the former is a real-time translation feature, while the latter monitors your activity and provides an insight into your health.
Elsewhere, Samsung Knox enables employers and IT departments to create a sandboxed work environment on the S4 to protect sensitive enterprise data. Smart Scroll and Smart Pause let you stop video and scroll pages via intuitive retina movements, while Air Gesture allows you to navigate your smartphone without actually touching the screen. We’re no fan of the Galaxy S4’s polycarbonate build, however – military-grade or otherwise, plastic is still plastic.
For what it’s worth, the Google Nexus 4 is still probably the best value handset available. Sure, you’ll be stuck with 3G connectivity, a maximum on-board storage capacity of 16GB, and a plain ol’ HD display. But you’ll keep your pockets lined to a £300 ditty without compromising on key hardware specs: the Nexus 4’s quad-core Snapdragon SoC, beefy battery, and 8-megapixel camera will all prove highly serviceable throughout 2013 and probably beyond. You’ll also have a vanilla Android skin at your disposal, and that’s how a lot of people like to roll. Sure, you might not get access to the nifty TouchWiz features, but you will ensure you’re able to boost to the latest and greatest version of Android when it becomes available. Both devices are highly desirable in their own right – it all depends on what your priorities are.