Nexus 4 vs iPhone 5

Comparing a £529-plus super-smartphone such as the iPhone 5 with an Android handset costing less than half its price might sound a little like comparing apples with oranges. In fact, a key selling point of the Google Nexus 4 is its incredible value: this is a high-end smartphone with a mid-range price tag. It's also the only smartphone available with Google's latest Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system, while an iPhone is your only option if you want to get your hands on Apple iOS 6.

Truth is, whether you choose the Google Nexus 4 or Apple iPhone 5 will likely come down not to your bank balance, but whether you fall into Camp Android or Camp Apple. Keep a clear mind, though and, spec for spec, which smartphone should you buy? Here, we pit Google's Nexus 4 against Apple's iPhone 5 to find out which is the best smartphone.

You can also read our standalone Apple iPhone 5 and Google Nexus 4 expert reviews, or scroll down to view video reviews of these high-end smartphones. Also see: Group test: what's the best smartphone? and Group test: what's the best Android phone?

Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Price

Let's start with that glaring difference between the iPhone 5 and Nexus 4, then: price. Apple's iPhone 5, available in either black or white, starts at £529 with 16GB of storage, or you can buy a 32GB model for £599 or 64GB for £699. Importantly, you can actually buy this device, too: the Nexus 4 has spent much of its first two months onsale at Google Play sold out. Indeed, it's still sold out. But that doesn't make Apple's handset the winner in this category - Google's Nexus 4 offers unbeatable value.

Like all its Nexus devices, Google's smartphone is said to be subsidised to encourage uptake of the Android platform and content sales at Google Play. Regardless of the reason behind its low price, the Nexus 4 makes available to all users high-end smartphone performance. The 8GB version costs £290 less than the cheapest iPhone 5, at £239, and the 16GB Nexus 4 is still £250 cheaper than the equivalent iPhone 5, at £279.

Meanwhile, if you've got your heart set on an iPhone, but aren't willing to pay such a high premium, Apple sells its old iPhone 4 from £319, and iPhone 4S from £449. Yep, the Nexus 4 is still the cheapest of the bunch. If you would rather buy a smartphone and sign up to a SIM-only contract than pay over the odds on a monthly basis, it's certainly got the edge.

Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Dimensions

Don't be fooled with the '4' and '5' in the Nexus and iPhone product names: Google's Nexus 4 is the larger smartphone here, whichever way you look at it. That said, despite packing a significantly larger 4.7in screen than the iPhone 5's 4in panel, the Nexus 4 is only a centimetre taller than Apple's handset, at 133.9mm versus 123.8mm. It's exactly the same amount wider, too, at 68.7mm versus 58.6mm. And it's fatter, at 9.1mm versus the iPhone 5's ultra-thin 7.6mm. Unsurprisingly, then, you're more likely to feel the Nexus 4 in your pocket, with it weighing in at 139g, while the iPhone 5 could more easily slip away unnoticed, at 112g. Apple's smartphone is almost too light.

Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Build

Apple's products are renowned for their flawless build quality, and one reason iFans have remained so loyal to the brand. The Nexus 4, on the other hand, is cheap - but in its asking price only. Google's smartphone looks and feels great in the hand, both sturdy and attractive - it has a better build than any Android smartphone we've seen, with a screen that sits flush to the bezel. It's a slippery character, mind, although a rubbery finish to the circumference usefully adds grip. As for the iPhone 5, its build quality has been described as jewel-like for good reason. It truly is a stunner.

Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Screen

The Google Nexus 4 might have the larger, higher-resolution display here, thrusting its 4.7in (1280x768-pixel) panel in the face of Apple's smaller 4in (1136x640-pixel) screen, but that size difference means the iPhone 5 actually packs more pixels per inch than the Nexus 4. There's not a lot in it, with just 6ppi separating the 320ppi Nexus 4 and 326ppi iPhone 5, but a difference there is.

Both panels are of the in-plane switching (IPS) variety. The Nexus 4's screen is stunning, with excellent contrast, rich colours, fantastic viewing angles and good detail. In our tests we found it performed particularly well, and better than most when viewed in direct sunlight. Meanwhile, the iPhone 5's panel is slightly taller, and with even richer - but still natural-looking - colour saturation, than the gorgeous pixel-hiding 'Retina' display we admired in the iPhone 4S. Apple lists an 800:1 contrast ratio and 500cd/m2 brightness rating. The iPhone 5 gets our thumbs-up here, but the Nexus 4 is a close contender.

Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Processor & performance

Google's Nexus 4 runs a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, clocked at 1.5GHz, which is paired with 2GB of RAM. The iPhone 5, by comparison, has a 1.3GHz Apple A6 chip with 1GB of RAM. You would expect the Nexus 4 to have the lead in performance, right?

Well, of course, you are correct - but the difference isn't as great as you might expect, and both Nexus 4 and iPhone 5 felt incredibly snappy in our subjective tests.

We use three benchmarks to measure smartphone speed: Geekbench, GLBenchmark and SunSpider, for overall, graphics and web-browsing performance respectively.

In Geekbench the iPhone 5 managed 1,650 points, while the Nexus 4 delivered the best performance we've seen from a smartphone, with 2,009 points.

In GLBenchmark we saw identical gaming framerates from the Nexus 4 and iPhone 5, with both handsets capable of 39fps.

And in SunSpider, we saw lightning web-browsing speeds from the iPhone 5, with 903ms, but much slower JavaScript performance from the Nexus 4, with 1,906ms.

Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Storage

It's important to choose the storage capacity that best fits your needs when you buy either the Nexus 4 or iPhone 5, since neither have removable memory slots for expansion. If your needs are great, and your pockets deep, the iPhone has up to 64GB of storage. Meanwhile, the Nexus 4 maxes out at 16GB.

There are ways around storage limits, of course. Both Android and iOS platforms actively push the cloud as an everyday medium for storage and streaming - Apple with its iTunes and iCloud, and Google with its Play Movies & TV, Books, Magazines, Music and more. But the cloud is accessible only while you're within range of a Wi-Fi hotspot or the constraints of your cellular download limit. At other times, you could consider carrying a Wi-Fi-enabled portable hard drive, such as the Kingston Wi-Drive.

Streaming is made all the more accessible in the iPhone 5 with 4G LTE connectivity in the UK. However, early 4G tariffs are expensive, and available in select cities only.

Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Cameras

The two smartphones are evenly matched in the camera department, both equipped with an 8Mp snapper and LED flash, also capable of full-HD (1080p) video recording at 30fps. The Nexus' front-facing camera supports a slightly higher 1.3Mp resolution than the iPhone's 1.2Mp 'FaceTime' equivalent for video chat, although the iPhone also boasts Wideband audio in this regard (note that both caller and callee must have compatible handsets). You'll find features such as HDR and panoramic modes in each handset.

Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Connectivity

Dual-band wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 are offered by both Google and Apple phones, while the Nexus 4 also supports NFC and the iPhone 5 4G LTE (where available). A SlimPort HDMI adaptor lets you hook up the Nexus 4 to an external display, and there's also support for wireless charging.

Perhaps the more important difference is the Nexus 4's offering of the universal Micro-USB port for charging and data transfer, whereas the iPhone 5 has a proprietary Lightning dock. The latter differs from the 30-pin port found on previous iPhones and iDevices, meaning existing accessories will be accessible only with an adaptor cable (not supplied).

One other small difference in connectivity terms is the iPhone 5's use of a Nano-SIM in place of the Micro-SIM now seen in most smartphones, including the Nexus 4. You'll need to contact your mobile operator to request such a SIM - things are getting a little too small here to risk it with a pair of scissors or craft knife.

Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Software

With either smartphone, you will get the latest version of iOS or Android preinstalled - not always a given for Android handsets. You'll also be the first to get an upgrade when future versions are released. We won't go into great detail over the main differences between Apple iOS 6.1 and Android Jelly Bean 4.2 here, suffice to say that with Jelly Bean Google finally has a true rival to iOS. You can read more about each OS in our Apple iOS 6 and Android Jelly Bean reviews.

Thousands of apps are available on either platform but, while this situation is changing as Android increases in popularity, many still become available for iOS long before they make their way to Google Play. Although you'll be charged for many of the apps in Apple's App Store that are free in Google Play, with iOS you get some additional reassurances in terms of security.

By default, Android won't let you install apps from anywhere other than Google Play, although changing this is simply a matter of disabling an option in the Settings menu; with iOS, you can't install apps found elsewhere, period. And while all the apps found in Apple's App Store are rigorously screened, with developers having to jump through several hoops to get their wares instore, with Android the process is a lot easier. This means rogue and malicious apps more easily find their way into Google Play - not that you should be unnecessarily alarmed, since mobile malware is still largely unheard of, but it will pay to keep your wits about you. In the end, whether you prioritise freedom or security is your choice.

Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Battery

Neither smartphone has a removable battery, so swapping in a spare when you've run out of juice on the road isn't an option. In our informal tests we found both handsets would stretch to a couple of days with normal use.

Google Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: which is the best smartphone?

We still haven't got over the incredible value offered by the Nexus 4; anyone who goes by that old adage that if you count the pennies the pounds will look after themselves will surely plump for Google's handset. But price isn't the number-one criteria for many buyers, particularly those picking a smartphone on an 18- or 24-month contract.

Both handsets possess exceptional build quality, and there's little difference in their sizing. The iPhone 5 has the better (but smaller) screen, faster web-browsing (but slower overall) performance, more useful available storage capacities, support for 4G LTE connectivity as and when it becomes available in your area, and wins in the apps department, too. But the Nexus 4 is staggeringly fast, supports universal Micro-USB for charging and data transfer, plus it runs a more 'open' OS.

NEXT PAGE: our original comparison of the Nexus 4 and iPhone 5, from December 2012, by Chris Martin >>

Apple iPhone 5

Google's latest smartphone is the LG Nexus 4 and you're probably wondering how it compares to Apple's iPhone 5? We’ll explain all the differences in our Google LG Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5 comparison review.

Google's has teamed up with LG to make the Nexus 4, but can the pair trump Apple's popular iPhone? We'll compare these two smartphones in-depth to help you decide which is right for you. See also: Group test: What's the best smartphone?

We'll be bringing you a full Nexus 4 review as soon as we can but for now check out the following articles: iPhone 5 review, and Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Google LG Nexus 4 comparison review, as well as Google Nexus 4 preview, and Google Nexus 4 price in UK and specs.

Google LG Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Price

The LG Nexus 4 is a considerably cheaper alternative to the iPhone 5. Google is selling it on the Google Play Store for much less than it's worth, like it does with the Nexus 7 tablet. See also Google announces LG Nexus 4, Nexus 10 and new Nexus 7 models.

The Nexus 4 starts at just £239 for the 8GB and jumps to £279 for 16GB. There's no 8GB model of the iPhone 5 but the 16GB costs almost twice as much at £529.

Google LG Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Dimensions

The iPhone 5 is bigger than previous generations but is smaller than the Nexus 4. It measures 59 x 124mm compared to 69 x 134mm. The iPhone 5 is also thinner at 7.6mm against 9.1mm.

It's no surprise then to find that the iPhone 5 is also lighter than the Nexus 4 – it weighs just 112g and the LG handset weighs 139g.

Google LG Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Screen

Google's Nexus 4 has a 4.7in screen, almost as large as the Galaxy S3's display. Apple has increased the size of the iPhone's screen for the first time to 4in.

Apple has maintained the Retina quality 326ppi by increasing the resolution of the iPhone's screen to 640 x 1136. The Nexus 4 uses a resolution of 768 x 1280, but because the screen is larger the pixel density is slightly lower at 320ppi.

Google LG Nexus 4 smartphone

Google LG Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Processor and memory

Google's Nexus 4 uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, a 1.5GHz quad-core processor. Apple uses its own A6 chip, it's a dual-core and clocked at 1.3GHz. The Nexus4 has twice the amount on offer in terms of RAM than the iPhone 5 at 2GB.

Our early benchmark tests indicate that the Nexus 4 is faster. Stay tuned for full details in our Nexus 4 review.

Google LG Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Storage

A downside to the Nexus 4 is its limited storage since it only comes in 8GB and 16GB options. The iPhone 5, on the otherhand, sticks to iPhone tradition offering 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities. Neither Google nor Apple allows this to be added to, choosing not to include a microSD card slot.

Google LG Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Cameras

On paper the main rear cameras on the Nexus 4 and iPhone 5 are tied. Both rear cameras are rated at 8Mp with the ability to record video in full HD 1080p quality, although both have different features.

Apple iPhone 5 camera

Both front facing webcams can shoot video at 720p, but the Nexus 4's has a slightly higher resolution of 1.3Mp compared to 1.2Mp for still photos.

Google LG Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Connectivity

Connectivity features of the iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 include dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth. On top of this the Nexus 4 has near-field communications (NFC) and wireless charging. It also supports HDMI output via an adaptor.

Familiar to Android handsets, the Nexus 4 uses a microUSB port while the iPhone 5 uses Apple's new 8-pin Lightning connector.

A big connectivity difference is that the iPhone 5 supports 4G LTE mobile broadband in the UK but the Nexus 4 is restricted to 3G.

LG Google Nexus 4 with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean

Google LG Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Software

Apple’s iPhone 5 runs its own iOS 6 software while Google’s Nexus 4 runs its own Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system. This then, is one of the biggest differences between the two smartphones.

iOS 6 review

Android 4.2 Jelly Bean FAQ: What you need to know

Google LG Nexus 4 vs Apple iPhone 5: Battery

The iPhone 5 has a 5.45Wh capacity battery which we find lasts a couple of days. The Nexus 4 has a larger 7.8Wh battery, but with a bigger screen it's all relative. Neither battery is removable so you'll be stuck with however long it can last. Look out for our full Nexus 4 review for battery performance.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.

Google Nexus 4: Specs

  • SCREEN: 4.7" diagonal,768 x 1280 pixel resolution (320 ppi),WXGA IPS,Corning(R) Gorilla(R) Glass 2,MEMORY:16 GB internal storage (actual formatted capacity will be less),2 GB RAM
  • OS: Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon(TM) S4 Pro
  • CAMERAS: 8 MP (main),1.3 MP (front)
  • BATTERY: 2,100 mAh Lithium polymer,CONNECTIVITY: Micro USB,SlimPort HDMI,3.5mm headphone jack
  • WIRELESS: Wireless charging,WiFi 802.11 b/g/n,NFC (Android Beam),Bluetooth
  • SENSORS: Microphone,Accelerometer,Compass,Ambient light,Gyroscope,Barometer,GPS
  • NETWORK: Unlocked GSM/UMTS/HSPA+,GSM/EDGE/GPRS (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz),3G (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz),HSPA+ 21
  • SIZE: 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm
  • WEIGHT: 139g
  • SCREEN: 4.7" diagonal,768 x 1280 pixel resolution (320 ppi),WXGA IPS,Corning(R) Gorilla(R) Glass 2,MEMORY:16 GB internal storage (actual formatted capacity will be less),2 GB RAM
  • OS: Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean)
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon(TM) S4 Pro
  • CAMERAS: 8 MP (main),1.3 MP (front)
  • BATTERY: 2,100 mAh Lithium polymer,CONNECTIVITY: Micro USB,SlimPort HDMI,3.5mm headphone jack
  • WIRELESS: Wireless charging,WiFi 802.11 b/g/n,NFC (Android Beam),Bluetooth
  • SENSORS: Microphone,Accelerometer,Compass,Ambient light,Gyroscope,Barometer,GPS
  • NETWORK: Unlocked GSM/UMTS/HSPA+,GSM/EDGE/GPRS (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz),3G (850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz),HSPA+ 21
  • SIZE: 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm
  • WEIGHT: 139g

OUR VERDICT

As we wrote at the start of this comparison review, whether you should buy the Nexus 4 or iPhone 5 will largely come down to whether you're a member of Camp Android or Camp Apple: neither smartphone will prove a disappointment.

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