Nexus 5 vs. Galaxy S4: The gloves come off in this Android phone smack down

Which Android heavyweight is best when it comes to productivity?

Google's Nexus 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 are considered the best Android phones. If you're looking for a phone to boost productivity, which one is for you?


Both the Nexus 5 and the Galaxy S4 feature top-notch 5-inch 1080 x 1920 screen. That being said, there are differences between them. Some people have complained that the S4 has oversaturated colors and somewhat of a cold look. On the other hand, there have been complaints that the Nexus 5's blacks are a bit washed out, and its colors are duller than the Galaxy S4. But these are nits to pick. Both screens are excellent. This one's a tie.

Processors and RAM

For top-notch productivity, you want a fast phone with enough RAM to get any job done. Here the Nexus 5 noses out Samsung Galaxy S4. The Nexus 5 has a 2.3 Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processsor, while the Galaxy S4 sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 1.9GHz quad-core processor. That gives the edge to the Nexus 5, although only slightly, because there's not a great deal of difference between the two of them in practice. But the Nexus 5 is better positioned to handle any processor-intensive apps that might come along. Both have 2 GB of RAM, which is enough to tackle whatever work you've got to do.


Both phones come with either 16GB or 32GB of storage. But the Galaxy S4 gets the clear nod here because it has a microSD slot that can handle an additional 64GB of storage, so it can handle many more files.

Android compatibility

Google regularly upgrades Android, and not uncommonly, each upgrade adds productivity-boosting features. So Android compatibility is important. The Nexus 5 wins this one hands down because it's a pure Android phone, and has the latest version of Android on it, version 4.4, called KitKat. The Galaxy S4 comes with Samsung's TouchWiz interface, so it's not pure Android. Android upgrades come to it more slowly than to the Nexus 5. (The S4 doesn't yet have KitKat on it, for example.) And there's no guarantee that the S4 will get all future Android upgrades.

Extra software

With the Nexus 5 you get Android, but no extra software. Samsung has stuffed the Galaxy S4 not just with the TouchWiz interface, but with a lot of extras, such as some very nifty phone features as well as some innovative inteface capabilities such as being able to scroll just by moving your eyes. Not everyone is a fan of TouchWiz, though, so I'll call this one a tie.


If your work involves anything to do with a camera, you'll favor the Galaxy S4. It's got a 13-megapixel camera compared to the Nexus 5's 8-megapixel one. And Samsung's phone software is far superior.


The Nexus 5 is clearly ahead here. For between $349 and $399 you get an unlocked phone with no contract. If you wanted to buy an off-contract Galaxy S4, you'd have to fork over $600 or more.

Bottom line

Both phones are excellent, with no clear winner. If you care about storage, and you use a camera in your work, you'll probably want the Galaxy S4. If you like TouchWiz, you'll want it as well. But for most other purposes, and especially if you're budget-minded, you'll likely go with the Nexus 5.

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