Nexus 5 vs. iPhone 5s: Review and Comparison

side by side

Google released the Nexus 5 today and it’s something special.

Let’s start with our handy Nexus 5 vs. iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C specifications chart.

After the chart, see the detailed analysis comparing the hardware of these phones.  In our estimate, Android 4.4 and iOS 7 are both great OSes and for the average user, they’re not going to make a huge difference, even though we give a slight edge to the Google OS.

Right off the bat, notice that the resolution of the Nexus 5 is about 3 times that of the iPhone 5s.

nexus 5, iphone 5s, iphone 5c, comparison, review

***UPDATE: CNET says that the Nexus 5 will be available with 2 year contract from Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T for $150***


Screen Resolution, Winner: Nexus 5

Frankly, this is a great place to start because it really is the best selling point of the Nexus 5: the screen is SUBSTANTIALLY better. Massively. The number of pixels on a iPhone 5S is around 700,000. On the Nexus, it’s over 2,000,000. This round’s not even close: Nexus hits it out of the park with a screen that has 3 times as much detail.

nexus pic

Capacity and Price, Winner: Nexus 5

The Nexus 5 is clearly hitting this category out of the ballpark as well. While prices have yet to be announced for picking up the phone at your local wireless carrier’s store under a contract, it’s clear that the Google phone will be significantly cheaper than the iPhone bought under a contract. It’s significantly cheaper with out one. You can get it at the Google Play store now unlocked for $399 (the 16GB version is sold out).

nexus 5 pictures

Dimensions and Size, Winner: iPhone 5s

iPhone 5s is going to easily nab this round. The Nexus 5 is almost 50% bigger and about 12% heavier. Not much to analyze here except other than to say… how much does it even matter? These phones are both very sleek, and pretty tiny. An extra half inch of width and height isn’t likely to make the Nexus not fit in anyone’s pocket, but I suppose it is possible. I can see this being a factor for some people, the small-pocketed perhaps, but for most this shouldn’t really be a big deal.

Touch ID, Winner: iPhone 5s

Another easy win for the iPhone. The iPhone 5s is a more secure phone, at least, in terms of your friends going on it and accessing your Facebook. Some people find Touch ID unsettling and creepy, but even then, it’s not a disadvantage as you can always turn it off.

Still, as good a Touch ID is, if someone really wants to steal your phone, Touch ID won’t protect you as hackers can easily wipe the phone of all contents and sell it as they please. On the other hand, in that case, your data will be safer on a iPhone 5s than the Nexus 5 — where someone is but a password away from getting into your stuff.

Selfie Camera, Winner: Nexus 5 (barely)

It’s by such a small margin, it hardly matters, but technically the Nexus 5 camera does see a few more pixels than the iPhone 5s. Hardly even a thing, but I point it out for completeness.

iphone 5s camera

Main Camera, Winner: iPhone 5s

While the Nexus and iPhone 5s have the same number of megapixels, don’t be fooled, the iPhone’s camera quality far exceeds the Nexus. Increased pixel size and better optics are going to account for that. For most cases, it’s not going to matter, but for the photographers and videographers out there, iPhone 5s is going to take better, less noisy and more accurate shots at night.

Video Recording, Winner: iPhone 5s

1080OP recording all around, but again, iPhone 5s’ bigger pixel size is going to make it shoot better video. Not massively better, but certainly an improvement.

The iPhone 5S also has a slow-mo video mode. It’s unknown whether the Nexus 5 will have this feature.

Voice Commands, Winner: Google Now

While Siri has slowly gotten better, there’s no way around it: Google Now has always been the better service. Not only that, you have to press a button for Siri, for Google Now all you have to say is “Google now…” and your wishes will be met. That’s amazing. Some authors have said they’re equal, but these reviews fail to discuss how they are actually implemented and focus instead of their different but equally valuable functionality.

Overall Winner: Nexus 5

While the iPhone 5s is better in a few small ways, the Nexus 5’s screen makes iPhone 5s seem a few years older even. Having a slightly inferior camera and security isn’t going to affect average use really at all. The Nexus is simply going to be a better phone for the vast majority of users and the vast majority of purposes because it’s screen is nearly three times better than the iPhone 5s’.

Questions/Comments: Email danny at heavy dot com