iPhone 5s vs Nexus 5 smartphone comparison review

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5S: Software

The principal reason to choose the Nexus 5 is always going to be the price. We have a whole section discussing price at the bottom of this article. But you are a Macworld reader and an iPhone fan, so we are going to assume that mere trifles such as the cost don't enter you mind when making purchasing decisions. (For more visit Macworld UK's iPhone and iPad spotlight, or read our Apple iOS 7 review - a major design overhaul with numerous tweaks and new features.)

Android 4.4 KitKat vis iOS 7 is a conundrum. Android isn't like it used to be: if you are new to the smartphone game there's no obvious winner. These are the two most popular and best mobile operating systems around so it's about picking which one is right for you.

Android 4.4 KitKat brings some great features such as a full screen mode and many improvements across calling, messaging, search, audio playback and more. iOS 7 has the handy Control Center, better multi-tasking and an overhaul in terms of look and feel. It's also more responsive on the same hardware, although whether these two handsets enjoy the same hardware is to be discussed later on!

In essence, if you are a long-term iOS user you will probably best off sticking with what you know. You have after all almost certainly spent a lot of cash on apps that you'll have to spend again in Android. But it is worth considering that your iTunes music files will work in Android, and Android offers the opportunity of shopping around for music, movies, books and TV shows. (See also: iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5S comparison review: What's new in the iPhone 5S.)

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5S: Display

The Nexus 5 has a much bigger screen than the iPhone 5S display. It's 4.95 in compared to 4 in, and that extra real estate will come in handy for web browsing, gaming and watching video content – especially with Android 4.4 KitKat's new full-screen Immersive Mode.

If you're more interested in resolution then the iPhone 5S sticks to the previous 640 x 1136 Retina quality display while the Nexus 5 is higher res at Full HD 1080 x 1920 – typical for a top-end Android handset. This means the Nexus 5 has a pixel density of 445ppi against the iPhone's 326ppi.

But before you conclude that the Nexus 5 has a 'better' display, there is something to be said for the iPhone's narrow display which works well in landscape mode as a widescreen. And as we find in the next section, a big screen makes a big phone...

[Read about how Apple's iPhone compares to the other phones launched at Mobile World Congress]

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5S: Design and build

The Nexus 5 is a bigger smartphone than the iPhone 5S. Most smartphones are larger than the iPhone these days because, like the Nexus 5, they have bigger screens.

Both the iPhone 5S and the Nexus 5 are slender and light but the iPhone 5S wins on measurements, but a long chalk. It's 7.6 mm and 112 g which means it's thinner and lighter than the Nexus 5 which is 8.6 mm and 130 g.

Made from aluminium and glass, the iPhone 5S is more fragile than the Nexus 5 and demands some kind of protective case. But it also infinitely more aesthetically pleasing. It is an iPhone, after all. Google has ditched the glass rear cover which it used on the Nexus 4, making the Nexus 5 a much more robust device. You don't need a case. The Nexus 5 comes in black and white, while the iPhone 5S comes in silver, space grey and gold.

So good looking, thin and light, with a choice of colours, or robust and monochrome. You decide. (See also: iPhone 5s review: The only smartphone worth getting excited about.)

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5S: Specs and performance

Both of these smartphones pack in impressive hardware. The iPhone 5S sports Apple's A7 chip which is the first 64-bit processor to be put into a smartphone. It also has the M7 motion coprocessor. This makes for impressive performance, as witnessed by the iPhone's benchmark results. In SunSpider 1.0, the 5S completed the test in just 417ms. In Geekbench 3 the iPhone 5S managing a very healthy score of 1,076. Running GLBenchmark 2.7 (Egypt HD), the iPhone 5S managed 53fps. These are great results.

Google and LG have opted for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip, a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor, for the Nexus 5. This is paired with 2GB RAM. These specs take the Nexus 5 to a Geekbench 3 score of 2800, GLBenchmark 2.7 of 24fps, and a SunSpider time of 801ms.

That would appear to show that the Nexus 5 is much the faster phone, but synthetic benchmarks are not to be used in such a specific manner. Each of these phones is noticably fastm and more than capable of running the tasks asked of it. If you're trying to choose between these two then you're best off doing it based on things other than the chip.

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5S: Storage

Storage is important if you're going to keep lots of music, apps, games and videos on your smartphone. Neither the iPhone 5S nor the Nexus 5 has a microSD card slot for a memory card so it's paramount you pick the right amount of storage.

Google has double the capacity of the Nexus 5 compared to the Nexus 4 so there is 16 GB and 32 GB options. Apple also has these available on the iPhone 5S but has a larger 64 GB model, too.

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5S: Cameras

Both the Nexus 5 and iPhone 5S have 8Mp rear-facing cameras, but each has 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.

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5S: Connectivity

The Nexus 5 and iPhone 5S are similar but different when it comes to connectivity. The iPhone 5S has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS combined with Apple's Lightning connector and the new Touch IS fingerprint scanner.

Meanwhile, the Nexus 5 has dual-band Wi-Fi with the latest 11.ac standard, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, GPS and NFC with a microUSB port (SlimPort enabled) and wireless charging.

As you would expect from a recently released smartphone, both support 4G LTE mobile networks.

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5S: Price

iPhone 5s tariffs and pricing: Best Apple's iPhone 5s contract

Price is by far the biggest different between the Nexus 5 and iPhone 5S. Both firms have increase the price of their smartphone compared to the previous generation but there is a big gap between them.

The Nexus 5 starts at just £299 while the iPhone 5S costs a comparatively huge £549 – both with 16 GB of storage. That's the kind of value for money which is hard to argue with. The difference is much closer on contract, of course.

It's also worth considering the cost of replacing any iPhone cases, docks and speakers you own.

Finally, know that Google subsidises the Nexus devices to drive adoption of Android, which is in itself a data gathering exercise aimed at increasing advertising revenue. There's nothing wrong with this, but it is a factor to take into consideration.


The iPhone 5s is the best phone Apple has ever made, but on price alone it is difficult to suggest that it is a better deal than is the Nexus 5. If money is no object, however, we'd always choose the iPhone.

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