Google Nexus 4 Phone vs Apple iPhone 5

The Nexus 4 alongside an iPhone 5

Both Google and Apple have newly released smartphones – Google’s Nexus 4 being announced today, Apple’s iPhone 5 being announced in September.

The Nexus 4 is unavoidably slightly bigger in size (by about 0.5″ length and width, but only by a twentieth of an inch in depth) due to having a much larger screen size – a 4.7″ diagonal screen compared to the 4.0″ on the iPhone, and with a corresponding increase in pixels too (35% more pixels).  It also weighs 0.7 oz more than the iPhone, not that you’d really notice the difference in your pocket.

We feel most people would happily accept the moderate extra size and weight in return for the massive increase in screen size, and the much greater ease of viewing everything on its screen that comes as a result.

As for other features and measurements, the biggest difference that is immediately apparent is the iPhone 5 has better support for fast wireless data from phone companies, with some limited LTE support as well as similar 3G support.  The iPhone will only work with North American LTE frequencies, not with those in any other countries.

On the other hand, the Nexus 4 also supports the prime 3G frequency used by T-mobile, whereas the iPhone does not.

The Nexus 4 has three extra features the iPhone 5 lacks – inductive charging of its battery, near-field communications, and a barometer sensor.  These are probably of limited value to most people, but add to its technological appeal to people who wish state of the art.

Amazingly, the Nexus 4 is currently showing as being available sooner than the iPhone.  The Nexus 4 can be used with your choice of either AT&T or T-mobile, and is being sold directly by Google without any carrier subsidies (and therefore also without the need for any lengthy contracts, either) and is unlocked to be used with most GSM type wireless carriers around the world.

The unlocked price of the Nexus 4 is comparable to the locked/subsidized price of an iPhone.  The iPhone has to be purchased in a carrier specific model for either AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon.

Which should you buy?  We like the LTE capabilities of the iPhone 5, but we love the bigger screen and extra resolution of the Nexus 4, and if we had to choose between ‘bigger screen with fast enough data’ compared to ‘smaller screen with faster data’ we’d probably choose the former.

Here are the raw specifications about both phones to help you make your choice based on the features of most relevance to you.

Apple iPhone 5Google Nexus 4
Size4.9″ x 2.3″ x 0.30″5.3″ x 2.7″ x 0.36″
Weight4 oz4.9 oz
Screen Size4.0″4.7″
Screen Resolution1136 x 640 326 ppi1280 x 768 320 ppi
Rear camera8 MP8 MP
Front camera1.2 MP1.3 MP
GSMQuad bandQuad band
3G850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz850, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz
4GUMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz)
LTE bands 4 & 17
HSPA+ 21
SIM sizeNanoMicro
Battery lifeUp to 8 hrs talk or internet2100 mAh LiPo
Removable batteryNoNo
Wireless chargingNoYes
ProcessorA6 dual core 1.3 GHzQualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro quad core 1.5 GHz
Storage16GB or 32GB or 64GB8GB or 16GB
ConnectorsLightning, 3.5mm headphoneMicro USB, SlimPort HDMI, 3.5mm headphone
Wi-Fi802.11 a/b/g/n802.11 b/g/n
Price$299 locked, 2 yr contract, 16GB
$399 locked, 2 yr contract, 32GB
$499 locked, 2 yr contract, 64GB
$299 unlocked, no contract, 8GB
$349 unlocked, no contract, 16GB
$199, T-mobile 2 yr contract, 16GB
Availability3 – 4 weeks to shipShips on 13 Nov


3 thoughts on “Google Nexus 4 Phone vs Apple iPhone 5”

  1. David, I don’t think I know all the pluses and minuses about a non-contract phone. Can you enlighten?

    Specifically, can I buy a phone and go on a month to month contact with a carrier and then switch later? Is the cost of service about the same as with a contract? Can these un-locked phones use a SIM card in Europe or New Zealand?

    Big question: Why does Nexus 4 not have LTE, which seems to be the best way to use the internet on a phone? That would seem to be a big disadvantage as LTE coverage is getting widespread these days.

    1. Hi, Mike

      Thanks for your sensible questions.

      You can certainly use a phone you own – either one you bought separate from a package deal as part of a contract (extension) with a wireless company, or one that has served its full contract and subsequently been ‘unlocked’ to work with other carriers – on any sort of post-paid or pre-paid basis, whether for a fixed contract term or month by month. You can switch, etc, any time you choose.

      Service costs vary all across the board. It is impossible to say exactly for sure what is best; it depends on how you use your phone. For example, I make very few voice calls but consume a lot of data; but I know other people with the exact opposite usage pattern.

      If the unlocked phone is a GSM type phone with all four service bands, then yes you can use it in any of the GSM served countries, any/everywhere in the world.

      LTE is a real mess at present. First, while coverage is growing, it is very far from widespread, at least with my AT&T service. Major cities only seems to be the rule.

      Most phones with LTE only support the frequency bands used locally for LTE, and don’t support other ‘foreign’ LTE bands as well. That reduces its value further.

      LTE can also be more of a drain on your battery life. And, most of all, don’t get too hung up on the ‘speed’ of LTE. In theory, it is much faster than any other type of internet, including probably your wired internet at home. But, in practice, as more and more LTE phones start appearing, the speeds are starting to slow down, because each cell tower has a fixed amount of LTE bandwidth to share among all its concurrent users.

      So whereas the improvement from EDGE to 3G and 3.5G and ‘4G’ was like the difference between night and day, the difference between the various 3G and 4G technologies and ‘true’ 4G in its LTE version is more like the difference between twilight and a bright full moonlit night. 🙂

      I do agree, it is a shame the Nexus 4 doesn’t have LTE. But I don’t think it to be a total deal breaker. But if it is, then you can choose between the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S3, or various other LTE phones out there too.

      Hope this helps


  2. Pingback: Google Now Has a Full Apple Beating Product Range – Phone, mini Tablet, full Tablet » The Travel Insider

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