Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5c smartphone comparison review

iPhone 5C

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5C: Size, weight, design

The iPhone 5c is in essence the iPhone 5, but in a polycarbonate plastic casing. That makes it a little bigger and heavier than its predecessor, albeit only slightly. The iPhone 5C measures 59 x 124 x 9 mm and weighs just 132 g. It is also a striking and brightly coloured handset, coming in a plastic casing which is available in five different colours – white, red (Apple calls it pink), blue, yellow and green. The iPhone 5C is steel reinforced inside, too.

With a screen that's an inch bigger than its rival, you'd expect the Nexus 5 to be a bigger and heavier smartphone than the iPhone 5C. Most smartphones are larger than the iPhone these days, which is a good- or a bad thing depending on your point of view. The Nexus 5 is, however, thinner and lighter than its rival, measuring 8.6 mm and weighing 130 g. The Nexus 5 is, as you might expect, measuring 69 x 138 mm.

Both phones feel robust and we'd be happy using either without a case. They also feel like quality products, which indeed they are. (See also: iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5S comparison review: What's new in the iPhone 5S.)

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5C: Screen

Nexus 5The Nexus 5 has a screen an inch larger than the iPhone 5C'. It's 4.95 in compared to 4 in, so 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. But it does account for the bigger handset size also explained above.

The iPhone 5C's 4in display has a resolution of 640 x 1136 pixels, which gives it a pixel density or sharpness of 326 ppi. 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.

Both are excellent displays, although to our untrained eye the Nexus 5's is the outstanding screen of the two.

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5C: Processor and benchmarks

Both of these smartphones boast impressive hardware. Under the bonnet of the iPhone 5C is Apple's A6 chip, according to the Geekbench 3 app, the device has a 1.3 GHz clock speed and 1 GB of RAM.

Google and LG have opted for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip, a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor which in other phones has given us record benchmark results. This is paired with 2 GB RAM.

The reality is that, although the components are different, each phone is 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. Using both the iPhone 5C and the Nexus 5 convinces us that both are quality high-end performers.

Should you put any store by synthetic benchmarks, and we're not convinced you should, the results are as follows (higher is better in all but SunSpider):

Nexus 5 benchmarks:

  • [Geekbench 2: 3962]
  • Geekbench 3: 2800
  • GLBenchmark 2.5: 52fps
  • [GLBenchmark 2.7: 24fps]
  • SunSpider 1.0.2: 801ms

iPhone 5C benchmarks:

  • GeekBench 3: 710
  • GLBenchmark 2.5: 37fps
  • SunSpider 1.0.2: 788ms

...all of which would suggest that the Nexus 5 is noticably quicker than the iPhone 5C. It isn't. They are both fast, responsive devices.

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5C: Storage

Storage is important if you're going to keep lots of music, apps, games and videos on your smartphone. Neither the iPhone 5C 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 5C.

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5C: Cameras

The iPhone 5C retains the 8 Mp iSight camera which can be found on the iPhone 5. A new camera app adds various features including square shots and Instagram style filters. The front facing FaceTime HD camera has been improved compared to the iPhone 5's. Apple says that larger pixels and an improved backside illumination sensor give it better performance in low-light situations.

The Nexus 5 also has an 8Mp camera, one that provides optical image stabilisation and an HDR+ mode. Both shoot video at 1080p.

At the front the Nexus 5 has a slight edge with 1080p video from its 1.3 Mp webcam compared to the iPhone 5C' 1.2 Mp camera which is limited to 720p.

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

iPhone 5C

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5C: UK price

This is almost unfair to the 'budget' iPhone, and it is worth bearing in mind here that the Nexus is subsidised by Google in order to drive further Android adoption, and to generate more data via which to sell advertising. That being the case, however, the facts are as follows. The Nexus 5 starts at just £299 while the iPhone 5C costs a comparatively huge £469 – both with 16 GB of storage. Step up to 32GB and the Nexus 5 will cost you £339, the 32GB iPhone 5C meanwhile will cost you £549. If upfront cost is the major issue there is no question which handset offers the best deal. Things are much closer on contract, obviously. (See also: iPhone 5s review.)

Nexus 5 vs iPhone 5C: Connectivity

The Nexus 5 and iPhone 5C are similar but different when it comes to connectivity. The iPhone 5C has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS combined with Apple's Lightning connector. 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 5C: Software

If money is no object then software is a real fork in the road in your decision here. It's a choice of Android 4.4 KitKat or iOS 7 and 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. 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.

OUR VERDICT

Both the iPhone 5C and the Nexus 5 are great handsets. If money is an issue, the Nexus 5's status as the best deal on the market means it could be the handset to tempt you away from the iOS - it's certainly much cheaper for roughly the same performance. But the deeper decision to make is the step to Android, and for many iPhone users that is a step too far. Bought outright, the Nexus 5 is a brilliant deal, and if you are looking to switch to Android we can recommend it. But the iPhone 5C is a brilliant deal if you want to stay in Apple's iPhone world.

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