Google has just announced the Nexus 5 smartphone which replaces the less-than-a-year-old Nexus 4 with a larger and more powerful handset. But how exactly has Google gone about improving on the Nexus 4? Let’s break down the spec differences and take a look.
The most obvious change Google has made is to increase the size and resolution of the display. Gone is the 4.7in 1280 x 760 touchscreen to be replaced by a 4.95in 1920 x 1080 panel. That increases the pixel density from 320 ppi to a massive 445 ppi. Google has also shifted from using Gorilla Glass 2 to Gorilla Glass 3, which means the Nexus 5’s display is three times more damage resistant according to maker Corning.
This is a great upgrade and anything you load up on the Nexus 5 display is going to look gorgeous. And with Gorilla Glass 3 being used, it’s that much harder to scratch or smash the glass and ruin your wonderful view.
CPU, GPU and RAM
In 12 months, a lot changes in the processor world, and this is reflected by the chip Google decided to place at the heart of the Nexus 5. Last year’s Nexus 4 carried a very respectable quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro running at 1.5GHz, combined with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM.
The Nexus 5 has retained the 2GB of RAM, but replaced the S4 with a quad-core Snapdragon 800 running at 2.3GHz. The GPU has been upgraded to an Adreno 330. As you can imagine – and according to the tests which have already leaked (there were plenty of leaks with this handset) – the Nexus 5 blows its predecessor out of the water in performance terms.
Size and weight
The Nexus 5 is a bigger phone because of that larger display, but it’s not that much bigger. It’s barely 4mm longer, just 0.5mm wider, and is actually thinner than the Nexus 4 at just 8.6mm. Better yet, it’s lighter than its predecessor by some 9 grams, coming in at 130 grams exactly.
More space in the slightly larger body means room for a larger battery, and that’s exactly what Google has included. The Nexus 4 had a 2,100mAh battery, but the Nexus 5 enjoys an increase to 2,300 mAh. That should get you 300 hours of standby time, 8.5 hours on Wi-Fi, 7 hours on LTE, and 17 hours talk time. Compare that to the Nexus 4, which only managed around 7 hours on Wi-Fi and 15 hours talk time. So the increase is impressive, especially when you take into consideration the Nexus 5’s larger display and availability of LTE.
On the face of it, not much has changed with the cameras. Both have an 8-megapixel main camera and a 1.3-megapixel front camera. However, the Nexus 5 adds Optical Image Stabilisation, which will ensure many more great images are captured by default and without much effort on the part of the user.
Ports and sensors
The ports and sensors on both phones remain pretty much the same. The main differences are that the Nexus 5 gets dual microphones, ceramic power and volume buttons, and something called “Hall Effect”. Google hasn’t yet clarified exactly what the latter is.
Network connectivity has received a much needed boost, including the addition of LTE and dual-band Wi-Fi, along with 802.11ac support. Bluetooth support is now at 4.0 LE, and wireless charging has been retained.
Memory and price
With the Nexus 4, Google decided to offer 8GB and 16GB options. 8GB seems positively ancient as a storage size in a smartphone today, and Google has thankfully decided to move with the times. The Nexus 5 has 16GB and 32GB models available.
As for pricing, at launch Google priced the Nexus 4 at £239 and £279 (for the 8GB and 16GB handsets respectively). The 16GB variant of the Nexus 5 will be just a touch more than its predecessor at £299, with the 32GB model costing £339.
Note, though, that the Nexus 4 did drop in price to £199 for the 16GB model recently, so we may see a similar reduction with the Nexus 5 (perhaps to £219) later next year when everyone starts preparing for the Nexus 6.
Overall, the Nexus 5 looks to be an excellent update to the Nexus range of phones. If you haven’t got a Nexus handset already, then the Nexus 5 is an extremely tempting proposition based on what else is available right now. If you already own a Nexus 4, then it’s going to take every ounce of self-control not to give in and upgrade immediately.
For more on Google's new phone, see our article on the Nexus 5's cheap pricing and how it's a key element of Google's Android strategy. You might also be interested in our closer look at Android 4.4 KitKat, which Google revealed alongside the Nexus 5, and we believe is the most important Android update in ages.
Google Nexus 5
Google Nexus 4
1,920 x 1,080 pixels
1,280 x 768 pixels
Processor and battery
Snapdragon S4 Pro
Claimed 3G talk time
Up to 17h
Up to 15h
Storage and memory
8GB / 16GB
1080p @ 30fps
802.11 a / b / g / n / ac
802.11 a / b / g / n
Integrated wireless charging
137.8 x 69.2 x 8.6mm
133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1mm
Android 4.4 KitKat
Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (will be upgradable to 4.4)
£299 (16GB) / £339 (32GB)
£239 (8GB) / £279 (16GB)