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Google vs Apple - comparison between Nexus 5 and iPhone 5s

Authored by: Kris Carlon — Mar 7, 2014

Considering a lot of the super expensive new flagships are not that much of a step up on older models, we thought we'd hark back to two of the heavy hitters from the last six months. I certainly have my pick (I'm a Nexus 5 owner working at an Android site), but I've positively reviewed the iPhone 5s in relation to the Xperia Z1 Compact previously, so I'll aim to be as objective as possible. Fair warning though Android fanboys, it is entirely likely I may say something nice about the iPhone 5s. Think of the children before you start abusing me in the comments.  

iphone 5s nexus 5
The Apple iPhone 5s and the LG-built Google Nexus 5. © Apple/Google/AndroidPIT

Design

  iPhone 5s Nexus 5
Dimensions 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 137.84 x 69.17 x 8.59
Weight 112 g 130 g
Materials Aluminum and glass Rubberized plastic and glass

You probably couldn't get two phones more removed from one another design wise than the best of what Google and Apple have to offer. The iPhone 5s is all aluminum and glass and is significantly lighter than the Nexus 5, but considering the massive size difference that is entirely understandable. The iPhone 5s perhaps feels a bit more sturdy because of its build materials, but the sensation of lightness in the rubberized plastic chassis of the Nexus 5 is noticeable. It's largely a consumer choice between the warm rubbery texture of the unassuming slab of the Nexus 5 versus the cold, edgy and instantly recognizable contours of the iPhone 5s.

Nexus 5 camera sensor
The rubberized plastic back of the Nexus 5 feels great to some and cheap to others. / © AndroidPIT

The Nexus 5 could perhaps be said to feel cheaper than the 5s, but that is a matter of personal taste where metal bodies come into play. Both are very nicely manufactured though. Neither case can be removed and neither battery is removable. Neither device has microSD expansion either. The Nexus 5 has flat, razor sharp buttons on the sides and no hardware buttons up front, whereas the iPhone 5s has small round buttons and the TouchID button under the display. It's impossible to pick a winner on the design front as both devices can be considered emblematic of what each OS strives for.

Display

  iPhone 5s Nexus 5
Dimensions 4 inches 5 inches
Resolution 1136 x 640 pixels, 326 ppi 1920 x 1080 pixels, 445 ppi
Material IPS, Retina Display IPS, Full HD
Nexus 5 tela quality
The gorgeous screen of the Nexus 5 is unbeatable compared to the iPhone 5s. / © AndroidPIT

Personally I found that the colors on the Nexus 5 appear more natural, while in the case of the iPhone 5s there's a tendency to reddish. This detail, combined with the better pixel density makes me lean towards the Nexus 5. It is unfair to make a judgment call on screen size though, as the Nexus 5's 5-inch display is quite common for Android devices, whereas the iPhone 5s' 4 inches is what Apple owners have been used to forever. Of course, it can be argued that the Nexus 5 screen is better for viewing content on and is easier on the eyes. If I had to pick a winner on objective grounds though, it's impossible not to vote for the Nexus 5.

Camera

  iPhone 5s Nexus 5
Resolution 8 MP / 1.2 MP 8 MP / 1.5 MP
Vídeo capture 1080p 1080p
Extras Dual flash, Slow Motion Recording OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), HDR+
iPhone5S 4
The iPhone 5s has a nice double flash feature. / © Apple

On the surface it may look like both devices have similar cameras, but nothing could be further from the truth. Both offer the same resolution cameras with similar capabilities, but the Nexus 5 has OIS, improved software and cool features like PhotoSphere and HDR+. However, as with almost any Android/iOS comparison there is simply no comparing to the iPhone's legendary camera. The color reproduction on the 5s is richer and more realistic than the still flattened out Nexus 5 results, even after the glorious update to 4.4.1 and 4.4.2. Post-update the Nexus 5 can actually post some pretty good results, but it's safe to say the iPhone 5s wins this category hands-down.

Processor, UI and OS

  iPhone 5s Nexus 5
Processor Apple A7 + M7 co-processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
Properties/RAM Dual core, 64-bit, 1 GB RAM Quad-core, 2.3 GHz, 2 GB RAM
OS iOS 7 Android 4.4.2

The Nexus 5 has what we might still call the current base standard for Android hardware: a quad-core Snapdragon 800. Sure, newer devices have faster clock speeds and more RAM but the Nexus 5 is still pretty much par for the course. On the other hand, the highlight of the iPhone 5s is a dual-core A7 processor with 64-bit architecture and the M7 co-processor. The iPhone 5s has half the RAM as the Nexus 5, but both devices are insanely fast and responsive. In all fairness though, the iOS device may be a little smoother and more stable than the Android.

nexus 5 first steps teaser
The possibility for endless customization on stock Android is a win for Google. © AndroidPIT

The biggest difference between the two devices is the OS, something I will not go into too much detail on (for fear of sparking an all out war). The basic differences, however, include the customization options and open source nature of Android versus the closed source, locked-in vibe of iOS. Android pushes Google Now as an information prompter while Apple has Siri the personal assistant. Apple's voice recognition may be better but it's hard to compete with the awesome power of Google and its unparalleled relevancy machine.

Android has an app drawer while all iOS apps are tiled on homescreens and do not feature widgets like Android. Preferences for Apple's stock apps and Google's suite of apps is an argument for the pub, but I think it's fair to say that no matter what your personal preference for either UI, the fact that Android is endlessly customizable means it pips iOS (you can even have your Android set up to look exactly like iOS). So that's a win for Apple on processor, objectively undecidable on OS and a win for Android on UI – I'll call this too hard to judge and go with a tie.

ios android control center quick settings
Both iOS and Android have direct access to quick settings and notifications. Which do you prefer? / © AndroidPIT

Connectivity and extras

  iPhone 5s Nexus 5
Connectivity LTE, HSPA+, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n LTE, HSPA, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n dual band
Extras Touch ID (fingerprint scanner) User-customizable LED notifications
Internal memory 16 / 32 / 64 GB (non-expandable) 16 / 32 GB (non-expandable)
iPhone5S 5
The iPhone 5s was not the first smartphone to bring a fingerprint scanner, the Motorola Atrix was. / © Apple

In the area of connectivity, there is not much of a difference between the two devices other than the Nexus 5's NFC capability. It must be noted here that the iPhone 5s has the TouchID fingerprint sensor in the home button. It must also be noted that the Nexus 5 has a customizable notification LED. Neither device has microSD, but the iPhone 5s has an additional internal storage option: 64 GB. Both devices can be linked to cloud storage of course.

Battery

  iPhone 5s Nexus 5
Capacity 1570 mAh 2300 mAh

Duration (from manufacturer):

Talk-time / Stand-by / 3G web navigation

10 h / 250 h / 8 h  17 h / 300 h / 7 h
Removable no no

Of course, manufacturer's estimates of battery life are about as reliable as a used car salesman's promises. Despite this, both the iPhone 5s and the Nexus 5 will scrape in 24 hours of battery life for an average user. Don't be fooled by the difference in milliamp hours because the display and processors draw very different amounts of power on each device. Particular usage habits mean that results will vary wildly. While in benchmark tests the Nexus 5 scored lower than the iPhone 5s battery, the Nexus 5 has the ability to have custom kernels installed that will greatly improve power management. I'd have to call this one even too, depending on your level of customization on the Nexus 5.

Final verdict

If I add up the points tallied in my admittedly arbitrary categories it basically comes out as a tie. I'm trying to be objective here but there's obviously many other categories I could have added that would have different results, and I of course opted for a Nexus 5. I think the moral of the story is that both devices offer exceptional features for their respective OS. Both will have fans and haters for various reasons but it's safe to say they are Apple and Google's best for good reason. Perhaps this is a slightly unfair point to drop in at the very end, but when you consider the Nexus 5 costs half the price of the iPhone 5s, you have a deciding factor that is critical to the Nexus 5's success for some, and something to be blindly ignored by others. I'll leave the final say up to you in the comments.

Kris Carlon comes to the AndroidPIT Editorial Team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He joined the Android community while resurfacing in civilization back in 2010 and has never looked back, using technology to replace his actual presence in other people's lives ever since. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.

17 comments

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  • Youssef Niaz 11 months ago Link to comment

    This is the best comparison I have seen between the two flagship devices,right down to the point. I have a nexus 5 and I surely agree to everything you say and I am glad you added the part of custom kernels because it greatly affects battery life. The only thing right now that makes the iphone 5s more appealing to me is the amazingly fast auto focus they have and the ability to take slow motion videos.

  • Andy James Mar 16, 2014 Link to comment

    Hey Kris Carlon, I am a big fan of Yours. Getting paid is a double option. I wonder Apple still pays you the Best !! Cheers mate :)

    • Kris Carlon
      • Admin
      • Staff
      Mar 17, 2014 Link to comment

      I just give credit where (I think) credit is due. We can smack talk Apple products until the cows come home, but that doesn't change the fact that some parts of iPhones are better than Android - see @Karlo's comment above. But you're entitled to your opinion too!

  • Karlo Vestil Mar 16, 2014 Link to comment

    I have both devices. I love how my Nexus 5 looks and feels. I also like how I am able to customize it the way I want it. But the iOS is just much user friendly. Siri beats "OK Google" hands down. iOS is easier to play with plus Apple TV is better than Chrome (for now). When traveling and navigating, and ease, Apple is my choice. When watching on my device, customization and personalization, Android it is.

  • Philipp Junghannß (My1) Mar 10, 2014 Link to comment

    Kris I have something I won't let slide that easily.
    quote on quote:
    "The iPhone 5s was the first smartphone to bring a fingerprint scanner. / © Apple"

    I think you didnt see the Atrix, did you?

    • Kris Carlon
      • Admin
      • Staff
      Mar 14, 2014 Link to comment

      As above, it's been corrected. Thanks for pointing it out. That'll teach me to reuse someone else's caption without double checking it! Thanks for pulling me up guys!

  • 7
    Guy Devos Mar 10, 2014 Link to comment

    You can't compare the two. One is a smartphone, the other one is an overpriced hipster gadget that doesn't even have a user accessible file system.

  • cjpp78 Mar 9, 2014 Link to comment

    Always considered 5s and nexus 5 about equal. Nexus having bigger , better screen and better os in my opinion. Newly announced phones like gs5 don't really get me excited either. I'll stick with the nexus 5 for another year. Running stock android it will probably run as well as the new software bloated devices with snapdragon 801 chips.

  • Bernard Bourgeois Mar 9, 2014 Link to comment

    THE IPHONE 5S WAS NOT THE FIRST PHONE TO HAVE A FINGERPRINT SCANNER. THE MOTOROLA ATRIX WAS IN 3011.

    But seriously, I know the image probably originated from somewhere else, but please check your facts before publishing

  • amith pujari Mar 9, 2014 Link to comment

    . Nexus 5 all the way...

  • vincent M. Mar 8, 2014 Link to comment

    Too many faults in this article ^^

  • Saransh Bansal Mar 8, 2014 Link to comment

    camera of nexus 5 is to the least, equivalent to 5s. the huge sensor produces razor sharp images. at times it beats 5s fair n square. camera is probably the 2nd best thing about n5 after stock android. customizations are bullshit and make alredy ugly android even worse.

  • Mike Mar 8, 2014 Link to comment

    The Nexus 5 also has an IPS display.

    Screen
    4.95" 1920x1080 display (445 ppi)
    Full HD IPS
    Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3

    The Nexus also uses dual band wifi, the iPhone does not.

    Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G) 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

  • Reg Joo Mar 8, 2014 Link to comment

    The biggest difference is the os, android is highly customizable , and you can make it your own.