Nexus 4 vs Galaxy S3 vs iPhone 5: Christmas most wanted

There are some great smartphones around right now and plenty of people will be adding one to their Christmas wish lists. We’re going to take a look at the Nexus 4 vs. Galaxy S3 vs. iPhone 5, flagship devices from LG, Samsung and Apple and undoubtedly three of the most popular phones for this holiday season. Hopefully if you’re torn between one of these three smartphones this could help you decide which you want most.

We’ve written many articles now about these three phones so if you want more background on any of these then hit these LG Nexus 4, Samsung Galaxy S3 (S III) or Apple iPhone 5 links. The Galaxy S3 released several months ago on multiple carriers while the iPhone 5 released in September, also on multiple carriers worldwide. The Nexus 4 is to be released later this month and is the next Google Nexus phone offering a pure Android experience. For now though we’ll start off by taking a look at the key specs and features for each phone. Specs used for the Galaxy S3 are for the international version.

The Nexus 4 has a 1.5GHz Qualcomm quad-core Krait processor while the Galaxy S3 has a 1.4GHz Exynos quad-core Cortex A9 processor (or a 1.5GHz Qualcomm dual-core processor for the US). The iPhone 5 has a 1.2GHz dual-core A6 processor, which on the face of it doesn’t match the quad-core processors of the Nexus 4 or Galaxy S3, however Apple boasts that it offers twice the performance of the A5 processor used on the iPhone 4S.

The Nexus 4 has a 4.7-inch True HD IPS Plus display with resolution of 1280 x 768 and pixel density of 318ppi. The Galaxy S3 has a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with resolution of 1280 x 720 and 306ppi and the iPhone 5 has a 4-inch display with resolution of 1136 x 640 and 326ppi. To be fair these are all excellent displays and your choice may be very simply down to whether you prefer a smaller display as on the iPhone 5 or a larger screen as on the Galaxy S3 or Nexus 4.

RAM and Storage
The Nexus 4 is very nicely equipped with 2GB of RAM but disappointingly has 8 or 16GB of internal storage that is not expandable. This is perhaps one of the only real letdowns of the Nexus 4 but a letdown nevertheless. The Galaxy S3 has 1GB of RAM with 16, 32 or 64GB versions for internal storage, which is also expandable to 64GB via microSD. The iPhone 5 has 1GB of RAM with 16, 32 or 64GB versions but this time is not expandable.

The next pure Google phone, the Nexus 4 has an 8-megapixel rear camera with 1080p video capture, autofocus and LED flash plus a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and also PhotoSphere panorama. The Galaxy S3 also has an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video capture, autofocus and LED flash and also has a 1.9-megapixel front-facing shooter. The iPhone 5 has an 8-megapixel rear camera with 1080p video captures, autofocus and LED flash and up front there’s a 1.2-megapixel camera. All of the above have plenty more camera features such as a panorama mode on the iPhone 5 and simultaneous HD video and image recording on the Galaxy S3 but all have a great deal to offer.

Operating System
For many this will be a deciding factor. As we’ve already said, the Nexus 4 is the next pure Google Nexus phone and as such will release running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. This will be the very latest operating system and as it’s a Nexus device it will be pure unadulterated Android, something that will be a huge draw to Android enthusiasts. The Galaxy S3 meanwhile, is another Android handset released on Android 4.0 ICS and currently the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update is rolling out to various carriers worldwide. If you’re not a diehard Android enthusiast though, then your choice may be the iPhone 5 running the latest iOS 6. If you want a phone that has a simple-to-use interface then this is where the iPhone 5 could be a great choice for you.

A 2100mAh battery powers the Nexus 4, claimed to offer around 15 hours of talktime using 3G. The Galaxy S3 uses the same capacity battery with talktime claimed of 11 hours on 3G while the iPhone 5 has a smaller-capacity 1440mAh battery that gives around 8 hours or 3G talktime, something to take into consideration if you’re a heavy phone user.

Dimensions and Weight
Measurements for the Nexus 4 are 133.9mm x 68.7mm x 9.1mm and it weighs 139g. The Galaxy S3 measures 136.6mm x 70.6mm x 8.6m, weighing 133g. Finally the iPhone 5 measures 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm and weighs 112g, definitely the slimmest and lightest of the three.

The LG Nexus 4 is available to order through Google Play at a price of £239 for the 8GB version or £279 for the 16GB version, that’s $299 or $349 for the relevant models in the US. These are prices for the unlocked Nexus 4 and as such offer excellent value but earlier today we told about pricing confusion as LG appears to want retailers to charge more for the device. We’ll be following developments on this closely. The Galaxy S3 in the UK starts from £499 for the 16GB version unlocked direct from Samsung or in the US is available unlocked on Amazon at around $540. Of course prices may vary by retailer and contract pricing is also available from many outlets. Finally the price of the unlocked iPhone 5 in the UK is £529, £599 or £699 for 16GB, 32GB or 64GB respectively. In the US the iPhone 5 is not yet available unlocked, but contract prices for Verizon, AT&T and Sprint are $199 $299 or $399 for the different storage options on the usual two-year contract.

There are a huge amount of factors to consider then and as well as the above we should tell you that the Nexus 4 and Galaxy S3 include NFC support, which the iPhone 5 lacks. On the other hand LTE variants of the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3 are available and the Nexus 4 lacks LTE connectivity. Design may also come into your choice and is very much a personal preference. Our choice design-wise would come down to the iPhone 5 or the Nexus 4 but plenty of people seem to be impressed by the Galaxy S3, which in our opinion looks and feels a bit cheap.

You really need to consider all of your options and requirements from a new smartphone before making up your mind and there are plenty of other things to consider that we haven’t time or space to mention here that you may want to look into further. Honestly though, all of these phones have a huge amount to offer but if you want the lightest device and ease of use the iPhone 5 might be the right phone for you. On the other hand you may want the pure and latest Google Android experience of the LG Nexus 4 with long battery life, although the storage is a drawback with this one. Alternatively the Galaxy S3 is a great all-rounder and despite being the oldest of the three devices will still make it onto plenty of holiday season wish lists.

We’re really interested to hear what you think of the above three smartphones. By taking a look at the various specs have you decided which is the smartphone that will make your most wanted list? Maybe you’d already decided which would be your next choice of smartphone but have changed your mind since reading our comparison? Let us know by sending your comments.


59 thoughts on “Nexus 4 vs Galaxy S3 vs iPhone 5: Christmas most wanted”

  1. andy says:

    Er a quality smartphone for £279 or a quality smartphone for almost double that price at £529. I have a Nexus 7 and know how good they are – I barely use the iPad anymore. Nexus 4 all the way.

  2. Kasra says:

    The things you’ve written about the CPU and the Battery life of the iphone 5 is complete rubbish… With benchmarks and testing (how you actually test the speed and performance of the phone) the iphone 5 came ahead of all mobile devices.. This includes tablets aswel. It out performed the nexus 4 by as much as 3x in some of the tests done. The battery life of the iPhone 5 was also ahead, with the nexus 4 being last of the 3 phones. They tested the battery life and yes, once again the iphone 5 was ahead. You get what you pay for, some might argue that the OS jellybean is far better than the iOS 6 of the iphone 5, I agree… The iOS is complete rubbish imo, designed for little kids or technologically illiterate adults who are missing a good few cells from their brain. But the bottom line is, taking count the shear performance and battery life, the iphone 5 is at least 2x better than these phones. I will personally be getting the Nexus 4, I am interested in the new jelly bean operating system and the phone to me is far more appealing, and also taking count the price of just £279. This price tag for such a good phone is to this date un-heard of.

    Also apple have stuck to the duel core processor to save battery life, and make the phone far more efficient. the A6 chip is capable of overclocking it self when the performance is needed. And with their programmes up at the headquarters, they have managed to make an OS that can fully take advantage of the micro chip.

    1. It’s worth noting that all the reviews have been done on the Nexus 4 on what I assume are pre-production units with pre-release software.

      A lot can happen in the two weeks between the reviewers getting a phone and the actual release. Especially when you consider this phone didn’t exist 6 months ago.

      Things could improve in terms of battery life etc. for the Nexus when we get our hands on the final hardware and software.

    2. Leon Slater says:

      I’m inclined to disagree with your statements about performance and battery life though. Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that this review is relying too heavily on figures on a specs sheet rather than real-world usage – the dual-core processors Apple use do produce incredible performance largely due to the functionality and refined coding of iOS. Android, being so heavily customisable does make it more demanding on hardware. But I have to say, my iPhone 4S has terrible battery life – if I leave 3g on throughout the day, and with moderate use, it needs charging again by 4pm. And having used the Galaxy S3 for a few days, I found it to be easily as fluid, if not more so. If there is a considerable difference in performance between the iPhone 4S and 5, it would be very difficult to actually notice it in day to day use, or even in demanding use for that matter. But I do take your point.

      I kind of hope that Apple eventually release a phone with a significantly larger battery that also utilises a quad-core processor. That would be astonishingly powerful.

    3. Maximillion82 says:

      I have seen these benchmark comparisons, and they were for the GPU not the CPU, Apple always had the faster GPU and iPhones are good for gaming. But raw CPU power goes to the S4 Pro Krait CPU.

      As for battery life the iPhone 5 and S3 are similar both are good for a day if you are a power user and last about 2 days for moderate use. No one knows yet how well the N4 will perform in this segment.

  3. Ray says:

    I hope LG does not raise the price. I will be VERY disappointed if they do. The only reason I am buying the Nexus 4, is because if I sell my Samsung Galaxy S3 for $400 (used), I can have enough money to put it towards the Nexus.

    1. Fabricio says:

      If they raise it, it’ll be outside of the US and Europe, except Italy which will have the phone at a higher price, but the US and most of Europe will have the phone priced at $299 USD for 8gb.

  4. shadhu says:

    Another “subtle” iphone-leaning article trying to sound objective – “If you’re not a diehard Android enthusiast though, then your choice may be the iPhone 5 running the latest iOS 6”. What if you’re not a “diehard iOS enthusiast” or better not at all a tech enthusiast of any kind but think you need a new smartphone? Doesn’t the $300 Nex4 provide hands down the best value that ANY smartphone in the market?

    1. Maximillion82 says:

      I agree the writer is definitely leaning towards the iPhone, I head in other review that Android is since ICS as easy to use as an iPhone and offers more features for the same ease of use. The OS is Apple’s major drawaback.

      1. Colin Griffith says:

        Sprint uses CDMA and LTE, and the Nexus 4 doesn’t have either of those.

        My parents have a family plan with Sprint, and I have a dumbphone with them with 1 year left on the contract. I’m still going to buy the Nexus 4 though, and go with T-Mobile’s $30/mo. for unlimited text/data and 100 minutes (I don’t talk much on my phone as it is, this is PERFECT for me).

        It’s a no-contract pre-paid plan, so if a better offer comes up with AT&T, or I visit Iowa and need to purchase a few days on iWireless, I can easily do so.

        Edit: The $30/mo. pre-paid plan with T-Mobile has unlimited data, but only the first few GB are at HSPA+ speeds. After that, it throttles down to slower speeds. No extra cost though, and I’m sure that with careful use of wifi instead of data, I won’t be going over.

        1. Gr33nBack says:

          I am doing the exact same thing. Finally gonna drop the Evo 4g its too bad tho, the Sense UI was hands down better then the garbage touchwiz or Moto UI yet HTC fell on their face with the Evo 4g LTE

  5. Kulz says:

    I was accidentally an early adopter of Android and purchased the HTC Magic on the day of release all the way back when Android had only been on 2 two devices… It…Sucked…A lot… So Steve Jobs enticed me over to Apple cos u know everything ‘just works’ and I got an Iphone 3GS for my next smartphone…And it took me all of two months before I was bored s***less and had to ‘jailbreak’ the damn thing just so I good actually USE the hardware Apple had so kindly developed to do what I wanted it to… Then it became laggy or got stoned or something and behaved as erratically as the HTC from ages before… Then I felt like death… My experience of android and ios was abismal and my smartphone wet dreams were never brought to life… then I used an android device on ICS and thought…OMG… its almost as smooth as ios, and it lets me do stuff without treating me like I just worked out how to use a smart device yesterday… And then came Jelly Bean.. Now I knew my next device would be an Android…. but which one? Then came the Nexus 4… The moment I saw it… I thought Android 4.2+Nexus+2GB/RAM+1.5ghzQC+ONLY £279 = WIN … LTE = too expensive anyway in the UK and to the lack of expandable memory I say… well… it is like half the price of other devices… go and buy an iphone and moan at Apple for not giving you expandable memory, NFC or wireless charging for double the price of the N4 on top of suffocating u in the virtual gimp suit that is ios and if***ingtunes…
    Sorry about the rant…. I’m just too excited… It seems I cant control my joy for the upcoming Nexus as much as I cant control my nausea towards Apple and their overpriced junk!

    1. shlk7 says:

      Pure Android and android based phones are different. If you had bought the nexus one you would not have been disappointed. I have always stuck to the nexus line since launch. And now finally a nexus where the quality of the specs matches the software! Cant go wrong!

      1. Kulz says:

        Buddy, the nexus one came out after the HTC Magic… And that, like you mentioned about quaity of specs, was let down by its hardware… Besides that I agree with you… Finally… A Nexus where the quality of the specs matches the software! Truly exciting and precisely why I will hopefully be using my new Nexus 4 a week today provided I can order it as soon as it goes live to order on Play 😀 !!!

      2. Maximillion82 says:

        I agree I am still using the Nexus One and this was by far the best phone I have ever had, I used a load of many different Blackberries and had an iPhone 3G and 3GS both can’t compare, my gf has an iPhone 4. Out of these phones I still prefer the N1. I know it’s time for an upgrade and the N4 will be my next phone. The Nexus line does NOT disappoint.

    2. Jaaaack says:

      google music too, you don’t need to fill your memory up with ALL of your library, you can switch it up and play em offline. 16gb aint that bad with that

  6. EnviroTO says:

    I was all ready to buy the Sony Xperia T since I have Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited (on PS3 and Sony Google TV), and games on PS3 and PSP, and because the Xperia T has a 13MP camera and is Playstation Certified. Then the Nexus 4 was announced offering a promise of frequent upgrades and a ridiculously low unlocked price. I’m sold… I will just have to hope that Sony finds a way to make their ecosystem of music, videos, and games available to me via apps (Music Unlimited app already available but not the other two). The iPhone wasn’t an option because the affordable unlimited data plans in my area are on a carrier that doesn’t have the bands the iPhone runs on. Samsung S3 was an option but my decision is based on (a) hardware, (b) content, and (c) OS updates. The S3 doesn’t have the frequent OS updates Nexus 4 has and doesn’t have access to as much content as Xperia T. Price, OS updates, carrier compatibility, and good hardware… Nexus 4 wins.

  7. 2pha says:

    Phones are getting too damn big.
    I would prefer the nexus, except that it’s too large.
    I might buy the iphone, except AFAIK you need itunes to connect it to you pc.
    So…I wont buy either.

  8. Jeff Martinez says:

    My money will be going to the Nexus 4, sheer value + performance + consistent firmware updates from Big G…Nexus 4 is the phone to beat IMO, second place the note 2

  9. Leon Slater says:

    It would have been nice to have seen a Windows phone included in here as well, but those phones aren’t nearly as popular as their Android or Apple counterparts, so it’s no surprise. I had originally intended to purchase the Motorola Razr I for its good blend of performance and battery life, but the price of the Nexus 4 has completely swayed me.

    Still waiting to see a decent review of the Nexus 4’s battery life though – the different reviews I’ve read have completely mixed opinions on it, and as always manufacturer claims need to be taken with a considerable degree of scepticism. All in all though, for the price, guaranteed updates, and brilliant specs, I’ll be able to cope with any negatives the phone may have,

  10. meir says:

    when you write “The iPhone 5 has 1GB of RAM with 16, 32 or 64GB versions but this time is not expandable” it’s like you forgot the fact that none of the older version had an expandable memory…

  11. fluffhead says:

    Battery life is a factor for me, the S3 has a removable battery, which can be had for about $3/ea on eBay A big plus when you’re away from any power source for several days, camping, music festivals, or hunting/fishing trips. Also, expandable memory/micro SD card slot is a factor. The S3 wins in these categories.

  12. Google want more people using the Nexus devices. Its easier for software developers to write apps for a few devices than many, so if everyone is on Nexus we will see more apps.
    Most of the Android market share is still using Gingerbread. Making this phone so much cheaper will push alot more users to Jelly bean.

    I wonder how the Smartphone market will react to this? This is a massive price undercut, so anyone who doesn’t have lots of money to burn will buy this phone. The Galaxy S3 is pretty much twice the price of the Nexus 4, and only really offers LTE and expandable storage as extra… To a gross majority this is not important.
    Hard to predict how this will affect the iPhone and Windows market yet. Google do not believe in or create the hype that Samsung and Apple do about their products, so most people are probably unaware the Nexus 4 exists at this price.

  13. Raghav Grandhi says:

    I live in india and for me Nexus 4 which is unlocked costs just 349$ for a 16GB, whereas iPhone 5 unlocked will cost approx 500$ for an unlocked version which includes taxes. I have been an iPhone fan since its launch and used the iPhone, iPhone 3, iPhone 3GS, iPhone4 and iPhone 4S. But now i wanted a change and will plan to buy the nexus 4 this holiday season.

  14. anton00234 says:

    Apple made their comeback from bankruptcy after the 80’s by marketing to the non IT Savvy.
    With Ads like I’m a Mac and your a PC they set the tone for “its cool to have the latest tech but its uncool to talk specs”, what they have done here is promote ignorance, give Apple your money and they will make sure you have the latest tech and you wont need to learn or understand what specs are.This is how they are able to sell $200 worth of H/W for $600, they have dumbed their customers down to the point they will blindly put their faith that Apple will give them value for money. Fashion is a huge part of it too, just like people who buy a Porsche aren’t buying the best bang for buck they are paying for the name, to be able to tell others they own one.
    Anyone with half a brain can hold any Android phone up and compare the home screen with an iPhone and see the Android is years ahead in design and function. The Apple is looking dated and it’s just a matter of time before the non it savvy Apple customers become IT savvy enough to make the switch to Android.
    The thing that worries me is Google’s reasoning for not putting in an SD Card, “they didn’t want to make it confusing”. This is like saying we want to win over Apple customers and in order to do that we have to keep it basic. Competitors feel they have to dumb down their products to compete with Apple. Apple is actually killing the IT Industry with their patented Eco-system, if other manufactures think the secret to success is creating your own user friendly Eco-system like Apple have then you will no longer have to decide if your a PC or a Mac person you will have to decide if your a Mac, Dell, HP, Acer, or IBM user. We all lose if that happens. BTW I’m a 10 yrs running Windows Phone user.

    1. Maximillion82 says:

      Glad to see you saved me typing this long paragraph, I was just about to say the same. I also wanted to add since Apple started getting successful their customer service went down the drain and is now worse than any other I have experienced in the tech industry.

  15. Neill Buchanan says:

    Nexus 4 hands down! GoogleMusic launches in the UK tomorrow along with the Nexus 4 and the way Google works (being heavy into Cloud storage) means my MP3s as well as my iTunes library be imported and I’ll be able to move from my 64GB iPhone 4S to the 16GB Nexus 4 with no complaints or concerns about capacity.

    I use two mobiles everyday, for over the last year they have been the same two phones, the Galaxy S2 (since May’11) and the iPhone 4S (since Oct’11) prior to which the S2 was accompanied by my old iPhone 3G having given my wife my iPhone 3GS at the time she got me the Galaxy S2. The iPhone 4S is 64GB and is largely consumed by photos/video I’ve not bothered backing up yet and a lot of music, both of which are solved by Google quite easily if I replace my iPhone 4S with my new Nexus 4 when I order it tonight/tomorrow. I’ve never inserted a microSD card into my S2, nor have I filled the internal 16GB available. I’m more realistic with my purchases on my Google devices (I also have the Nexus 7) whereas particularly in the early days of the iPhone (I’ve had an iPhone device since launch day of the original iPhone in the UK) at which point I was learning every feature I could and downloading way too many apps to ever get time to use effectively.

    The iPhone 4S will likely remain, the S2 has had a harder life, I have texts and apps restricted to iOS land that I see no reason to lose access to in light of my work/personal life owing me the privilege of needing to currently have two phones. Lets face it, the iPhone 4S with iOS 5 is better than any previous combination of iPhone / iOS and I believe it is better than the latest too. I’ve also got texts to/from my wife going back to before we got married years ago, so I’d miss not keeping hold of that (not that I’m claiming to read back through all those texts every week – but they are the modern cyber equivalent of letters to each other and I wouldn’t choose to destroy those).

    The 4G/LTE talk is garbage in my opinion. I’m tied into O2 until next year anyway yet I still read up about the iPhone 5, I could have paid the penalty if I really wanted to in order to upgrade. What I read from O2 though was that the iPhone 5 on O2 is not 4G/LTE compatible. You have to “upgrade” with O2 next year when they launch their 4G service and get tied into a further contract extension at that point in time, which is no doubt going to end up happening just before you hear everyone talking about the iPhone 5S, Iphone 6, iPhone XL, iPad Mini 2 with sim card support or whatever Apple calls it being due very soon thereafter. The Nexus 4 is faster than standard 3G, so it is no slouch anyway but the fact of the matter is if I’m not in a WIFI area, I’m likely on the move and therefore the only times standard 3G hasn’t been adequate has been when the signal in the area is poor, which I’ve found to be very rarely the case. I certainly have no interest in paying a hike in my contract costs for 4G data allowances, so if that comes into it, forget it.

    Moving on, I don’t like the build/finish of the iPhone 5, I prefer the glass front/back of the iPhone 4S, so I’m sure I’m therefore going to love the finish of the Nexus 4 which adds the stable Nexus curved screen finish to it. I also don’t like iOS 6, keeping my iPhone 4S on iOS 5 with Google Maps, firmware/OEM YouTube. I also know and love Swype style interfaces that Android has beautifully and well, forget iOS there!

    I look forward to ordering my Nexus 4, the wireless charging, the PhotoSphere camera and overall slick awesomeness of this latest Google phone.

  16. iPhones vs Android says:

    I don’t understand y everyone’s being on opposite poles, honestly I’m a diehard apple fan because of the ecosystem they created and their services. If ur involved with their products everything actually does “just work”. Not to say android is bad. It is a great is itself my brother has a nexus s and its pretty amazing. The only thing is that android has to become a little more stable and refined. That is the reason for all those over the edge specs. Apple achieves more with little specs cuz of their os optimization. They are like mercedez they don’t HAVE to change it. Over the years they refine not entirely change, apple feels their I’d is the best and just keep it up to date. Android changes and experiments. And also they have a bigger phone market cuz they have hundreds of phones ranging from 100 to 700 bucks and they shell out 5-10 phones a year. Choose whatever u like. I like iPhones, I have the ip5 and I love it.

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