With day before yesterday’s release of the Nexus 5, and last month’s iPhone 5S, we now have two smartphones that are very clearly at the top of their game. On the one hand, the Nexus 5 brings you all of the latest and greatest technology, a huge 5-inch screen, and costs just $350 off-contract. On the other, the iPhone 5S is a sleek, light, beautifully designed phone with class-leading performance and battery life — but in true Apple fashion, it misses some newer technologies, such as NFC and 802.11ac. If you’re trying to decide between the iPhone 5S and Nexus 5, read on for our full breakdown of the two devices.
The Nexus 5 has a
- 4.95-inch 1920×1080 IPS display (445 PPI), bonded to some Gorilla Glass 3.
- The body is 8.59 millimeters (0.34 inches) thick, and weighs 130 grams (4.58 ounces).
- Inside, there’s a Snapdragon 800 SoC, with the four Krait CPU cores clocked at 2.3GHz, and an Adreno 330 GPU.
- There’s 2GB of RAM, up to 32GB of internal storage (not expandable).
- On the back there’s an 8-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization and 1.3MP front facing.
- A 2300 mAh battery,
- Talk time up to 17 hours
- Standby time up to 300 hours
- Internet use time up to 8.5 hours on Wi-Fi, up to 7 hours on LTE‡
- Wireless Charging built-in
The iPhone 5S has a
- Relatively tiny 4-inch 1136×640 IPS display (326 PPI),
- But it does manage to be both thinner and lighter than the Nexus 5 (7.6mm thick, 112 grams heavy.
- Inside, there’s the 64-bit A7 SoC (dual Cyclone CPU cores clocked at 1.3GHz and probably the new PowerVR G6430 GPU) and M7 coprocessor.
- There’s 1GB of on-package RAM, up to 64GB of internal storage (not expandable), and.
- The rear camera is the same 8MP as the Nexus 5.
- A 1570 mAh battery.
- Charging via USB to computer system or power adapter
- Talk time: Up to 10 hours on 3G
- Standby time: Up to 250 hours
- Internet use: Up to 8 hours on 3G, up to 10 hours on LTE, up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi
- Video playback: Up to 10 hours
- Audio playback: Up to 40 hours
On the wireless connectivity front, both the Nexus 5 and iPhone 5S support 4G LTE (but band support will vary between phones and models, so be sure to check the small print). Both phones also support Bluetooth 4.0, but the iPhone 5S draws the line at 802.11n, while the Nexus 5 supports the oh-so-fast-and-sexy 802.11ac. Both phones have all of the usual gyros, accelerometers, sensors, GPS, and so on. The Nexus 5 supports NFC, while Apple still stubbornly refuses to bring NFC to its smartphones.
As with all modern computers, by far the biggest factor affecting day-to-day usage is software, not hardware. The Nexus 5 ships with the newest version of Android, 4.4 KitKat; the iPhone 5S ships with iOS 7. Both mobile operating systems are wildly different, as you probably know. For an in-depth look at each OS, check out our iOS 7 and Android 4.4explainers.
In short, Android 4.4 is more powerful — more capable and feature-rich — while iOS 7 is generally slicker, faster, and more-integrated. It’s generally easier to get things done on the iPhone 5S with iOS 7 — but only if Apple has deigned to allow you. If you have less-conventional use-cases, the Nexus 5 with Android 4.4 is probably a better bet. The app ecosystem for Android and iOS is pretty comparable, but iOS probably still has the edge if you’re looking to use the latest and greatest apps.
Smartphones are great for taking casual snaps and videos when you’re out and about. The main camera on the Nexus 5 and iPhone 5S is 8Mp but they have different features.
The iPhone 5S offers a ‘True Tone’ flash and backside illumination (BSI) sensor while the Nexus 5 provides optical image stabilisation and an HDR+ mode. Both shoot video at 1080p but the iPhone 5S has a Slo-mo mode. You’ll need to choose which ones will be more beneficial to you.
At the front the Nexus 5 has a slight edge with 1080p video from its 1.3 Mp webcam compared to the iPhone 5S’ 1.2 Mp camera which is limited to 720p.
Beyond the software, the next big differentiator is price. The Nexus 5 with 16GB of storage starts at $350 off-contract, or $400 for the 32GB model. If you want a contract-free iPhone 5S, you can pick up a 16GB model from T-Mobile for $650. On-contract, the iPhone 5S starts at $200 — and weirdly enough, Sprint is offering the Nexus 5 for the same on-contract price of $200. T-Mobile will also offer the Nexus 5, but hasn’t yet announced pricing — with its recent shifts in contracting and monthly plans, we’d hope that the Nexus 5 is offered at a reasonable price.
Which one should you buy?
When it comes down to it, there are just three factors you need to consider when buying a Nexus 5 or iPhone 5S: The camera, the size of the device (and your hands), and pricing. If you’re an avid phone photographer, the iPhone 5S looks like it’ll be the better choice (we need some more hands-on time with the Nexus 5 to be sure, though). Size-wise, the iPhone 5S is a lot easier to hold if you have smaller hands — and indeed, even with big hands, you will struggle to hold the Nexus 5 comfortably. On price, the Nexus 5 simply can’t be beaten — but only if you have access to carrier that has a SIM-only offering.
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