Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini vs iPhone 5 vs Nexus 4 Comparison

In this article I will compare the  Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini vs iPhone 5 vs LG Google Nexus 4.   The iPhone 5 is soon be replaced with a new model (probably a few models according to recent rumors), and that probably leads to a quite a few people waiting for the next release, instead of buying the iPhone 5 right now. When a new model is released, Apple cut the price of the older model quite aggressively. Nevertheless, some of you probably don’t want to wait and want to make a decision to buy one of those phones very soon. If so, this is the useful comparison for you.

So without further ado, let’s start out comparison and see which phone comes on top: GALAXY S4 mini, Google Nexus 4 or iPhone 5?

Price Comparison

The first thing that many people care about first is the price of the device and of course whether or not a specific model is available on their current carrier or not.

GALAXY S4 is available or will be available on AT&T, Verizon Wireless (at least according to those photos on engadget.com), T-Mobile and Sprint and the iPhone IS available on all those carriers as well.

  • Verizon iPhone 5
    16GB 2-year contract: $199.99
    16GB month-to-month: $649.99
    32GB 2-year contract: $299.99
    32GB month-to-month: $749.99
    64GB 2-year contract:  $399.99
    64GB month-to-month: 849.9

* prices as for 8.13.2013 (visit Verizon website for updated prices)

As for the S4 mini price, as of the time of writing, costs Rs 27,900 in India and £350 in U.K, roughly $530 without a  contract and let’s not forget that the S4 mini has a 8GB of onboard storage. The Google Nexus 4 16GB is available on t-mobile for $0 up front but $18 (cost of the device) + $50 (basic plan) per month, which includes 500 MB data plan for 2-year contract -or- $432 full retail price (prices and data plan as for 8.13.2013, visit the corresponding carrier websites for updated prices). Carphone warehouse selling the S4 mini for £0 up front and £21 per month for 2-year contract which is around $33 per montha nd the SIM free for £389.95 which is around $603 (prices as for 8.13.2013).

The GALAXY S4 mini price is certainly a bit too high, especially for a mid-range device and this just makes the Google Nexus 4 looks like a much more attractive package overall.  The iPhone 5 is of course the most expensive device of the three, and this is why there are many people hanging on until October where according to rumors, a number of new iPhone models (iPhone 5s, iPhone 6?) are planned to be released. This will drop the older iPhone 5 price down and make it more reachable for many people.

So in terms of pricing, the Nexus 4 is certainly the most attractive phone among the three. The Price is a base upon we will be comparing all the features upon and we’ll get to see whether or not those devices justify their current asked price. At the end of the day, you’ll be the one to decide whether a particular device worth the asked price or not.

Phone Design and Build Quality

The iPhone 5 is made of durable aluminum unibody housing with beveled edges, front gorilla glass and a sapphire glass covering the rear-camera lens to protect it against scratches.  The iPhone 5 comes with a 4.0 inch 640×1136 pixel IPS LCD display. The iPhone 5 display has a  16:9 aspect ratio which is very wide and allows you to watch High Definition videos without the top and bottom black spaces (also known as letterbox).

Having said that, the iPhone 5 display is indeed slimmer and therefore allowed Apple to use a larger screen compared to the iPhone 4S (4″ vs 3.5″) but at the same time maintaining the same width as the iPhone 4S (58.6 mm). The iPhone 5 is taller than the 4S (123.8 mm vs 115.2 mm) but it’s still easy to hold and easy allow easy one-hand operation. The iPhone 5 feels very solid in the hands and you feel that you are holding a premium device.

Galaxy S4, iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 smartphone side by side image

Galaxy S4, iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 Smartphone side by side (relative size comparison – click to view on mobiledevicesize.com)

The Galaxy S4 mini is slightly taller (0.8 mm) and wider (1.7 mm) than the iPhone 5 but at the same time features a slightly larger 4.3-inch display. The S4 mini is made of plastic and glossy back. It carries the same design principles as its bigger brother the S4 but in a more compact package.  In terms of weight there isn’t much difference between the two, the iPhone 5 weights 5 g more.  Some people prefer the metal build because it just makes the phone feel better in the hands. Nevertheless, the plastic on the GALAXY S4 mini does feel pretty solid too, not that quirky toyish feeling that you get with Samsung’s cheaper devices (e.g. Samsung Young).

The LG Nexus 4 carries a 4.7-inch IPS LCD display and it’s also the largest phone among the three devices. Although the Nexus 4 isn’t as compact as the GALAXY S4 mini and the iPhone 5 — it’s still very comfortable to hold and carry around.  The Nexus 4 also enjoys a 1280×768 pixel HD display. The Google Nexus 4 will appeal to those who’ll take advantage of this display size for playing games, watching videos or doing a lot of web browsing.

galaxy s4 mini screen vs nexus 4 and iphone 5 screen size comparison

Galaxy S4 mini screen size vs Nexus 4 and iPhone 5

 

I personally find the iPhone 5 display to be too small for my needs, a bit too tight. When you compare the Nexus 4 along the iPhone 5 you can really see why a larger display makes such a big difference in terms of user experience. The Nexus 4 is also an Android device, so it enjoys a wider range of homes-screen customizability and therefore you will be able to take advantage of that display resolution and size to better customize the home-screen to your liking (e.g. Using widgets, Live wallpapers, more icons, etc.). The Nexus 4 is made of plastic and has patterns at the back that shine in the light when you rotate the device. Some of you might like it, others won’t.

As you can see, the S4 mini as the least impressive resolution and also the lowest pixel density in the group (256 ppi vs the Nexus 4 318 ppi and iPhone 5 326 ppi).  The Nexus 4 has the advantage of having the largest screen size among the three, but still with decent pixel density so you won’t notice the pixels when looking at the device up close.

Another thing to notice here is that the S4 mini is the only one that employs a super AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 2. The same panel technology used in the S4.  The Super AMOLED produced very vibrant and saturated colors, for some of you this might look way too oversaturated.  I personally like those bold vibrant colors — it just revives everything on the screen.  Even my boring photos suddenly look amazing. IPS LCD displays are known for their better outdoor visibility, lifelike colors and sharp text.

It really boils to personal preference. I personally prefer the vivid colors and deep blacks of the Super AMOLED, you might like the IPS LCD better.

Camera

Non of the device uses a camera technology that will WOW you.  If you are searching for a very high-quality camera, you might want to take a look at the Nokia Lumia 1020 (WP8) or HTC One (Android) Smartphones.

Let’s take a look at the specs:

  • Nexus 4
    Rear: Sony IMX111 1/4″  (3.20×2.40mm) 8MP BSI sensor | 1.12 micron pixel size | 4.6 mm f/2.4 aperture lens | Full HD 30 fps video recording | LED flash | No Optical image stabilization
    Front: 1.3MP
  • iPhone 5
    Rear: 1/3.2″ (4.54×3.42mm) 8MP BSI sensor | 1.4 micron pixel size | 4.10 mm f/2.4 aperture lens | Full HD 30 fps video recording | LED flash | No optical image stabilization
    Front: 1.2MP
  • Galaxy S4 mini
    Rear: 1/3.2″ (4.54×3.42mm) 8MP BSI sensor |  1.4 micron pixel size |  3.7 mm f/2.6 aperture lens | Full HD 30 fps video recording | LED flash  | No optical image stabilization
    Front: 1.9MP

The Samsung GALAXY S4 mini rear-facing camera featuring the same sensor size and image resolution as the iPhone 5 but has a narrower field of view. The Google Nexus 4 has the smallest sensor and also the smallest pixel size in the group. None of the rear-facing cameras have an optical image stabilization mechanism.

The GALAXY mini and the iPhone 5 have the advantage in low light due to their larger pixels. The iPhone 5 has a slight advantage of having a bit faster aperture lens than the S4 mini.  If you take a look at this photo album on anandtech.com, you can see that the iPhone 5 produces more saturated colors and the image look more vivid overall — the Nexus 4 images look more.. Let’s say.. Natural. IF you look at the color of the metal camera you can see that the metal color looks more real at the Nexus 4 images and it also seems that the Nexus 4 image did a better job with the white balance as well.

After observing some iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 sample images using gsmarena photo quality comparison tool, I did find the iPhone 5 to produce higher quality images both in terms of sharpness, details and noise and the overall image look more pleasing overall. Unfortunately those two websites don’t have S4 mini sample images to compare the iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 against.

I viewed a few s4 mini sample images on clove.co.uk  and I can say that I was very pleased with what I saw.  Images have punchy yet natural colors to them.  The lens performance is just amazing. You can view these images at 100% and you can you can see for yourself how sharp this lens is. Honestly, I was quite surprised with the result.  Even at the corners the image just looks very sharp. The camera does tend to overexpose just a bit and I was less impressed with the S4 mini’s low-light performance. When shooting in daylight, the S4 mini does a remarkable job, no doubt about it.

The S4 mini main strengths come in the form of built-in camera software application.  A feature like Sound & Shot, Story Album, Eraser Mode, Drama shot — all make the S4 mini a very attractive phone when it comes to built-in camera features. If you are after low-light performance, the iPhone 5 is your best bet. None of the phones was designed to offer unique hardware innovative features. Having said that, it’s nice to see that next-generation phone cameras can take  high quality images for us to enjoy.

So if I had to pick a winner, I would go with the iPhone 5 in the first place, S4 mini in the second place and Nexus 4 in the last place.

Performance

Let’s take a look at the specs first:

  • Samsung GALAXY S4 mini
    Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8930 Dual-core 1.7GHz Krait 300
    Adreno 305 GPU
    1536MB RAM LPDDR2
    8GB storage (5 user available)
  • Apple iPhone 5
    Apple A6 Dual-core 1.3GHz Apple Swift
    PowerVR SGX543MP3 GPU
    1016MB RAM LPDDR2
    16GB/32GB/64GB storage
  • LG Google Nexus 4
    Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 Quad-core 1.5GHz Krait
    Adreno 320
    2048MB RAM LPDDR2
    8GB/16GB storage

This is where the Nexus 4 start to shine. The Nexus 4 is the only phone among the three smartphoens that employs a quad-core processor, as the other two feature a dual-core processor. Furthermore, the Nexus 4 features 2GB of RAM compared to 1.5GB on the S4 mini and 1Gb on the iPhone 5. For a direct side by side comparison you can read my Nexus 4 vs iPhone 5 detailed comparison to find out more about the differences between the two smartphones.

The iPhone 5 was able to even outperform the Nexus 4 in various benchmarks, including GLBenchmark 2.5 offscreen. The Nexus 4 got a slightly higher score in GLBenchmark 2.5.1 Egypt HD Off screen by winning with a 1 fps advantage.  In SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9.1 the Apple iPhone 5 put the Nexus 4 to shame with 908 mm vs 1867.2 ms — and that’s due to the iPhone 5 superb single CPU performance.

The S4 mini is a solid performer. According to a benchmark done by gsmarena.com, the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini reaches 1937 score in Geekbench 2 benchmark compare to 1601 of the iPhone 5.  In Quadrant benchmark the Mini scored 7153 which is way better than the Nexus 4′ 4567 score.

Let’s take a look at the GFXBench 3D graphics performance benchmark results (2.7 T-Rex HD C24Z16 – Offscreen 1080p):

  • Galaxy S4 mini (SGH-I267) – 230 frames (4.1 fps)
  • iPhone 5 – 363 frames (6.7 fps)
  • Nexus 4 – 871 frames (15.6 fps)

The Nexus 4 did outperform the S4 mini and iPhone 5 when it comes to sheer 3D performance. It’s worth mentioning that if you buy the iPhone 5 you certainly don’t need to worry about performance in games as all the latest titles are optimized to run well on this Apple’s latest smartphone device. With Android devices it’s a bit different because developers can’t optimize the game for all Android phones and therefore people turn to benchmark to get a clue how good their future android phone will perform in 3D games.

You can rest assured that the Nexus 4 will run games at very playable frame rates.  I can understand why gamers will prefer the Nexus 4 over the S4 mini: it has a larger display, quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and more advanced GPU. Having said that, both devices will run the operating system and app smoothly without any noticeable lags.

Other Specs Comparison:

 
S4 Mini
Nexus 4
iPhone 5
Micro SD ExpansionYesNoNo
FM RadioYesNoNo
A-GPSYesYesYes
Bluetooth4.04.04.0
Wi-Fi802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz
NFCYesYesNo
IRYesNoNo
Wireless ChargingNoYes (check here)No
DLNAYesYesYes

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini is quite an expensive mid-range device.  When looking at the overall spec and performance, the LG Google Nexus 4 looks like a much better buy. On the other hand, the S4 mini inherited some of great built-in software features of the S4 which improves the user experience.  The phone is relatively compact, at least compared to the Nexus 4 and it comes with a gorgeous sAmoled display. The S4 mini becomes more attractive when you start playing with the device yourself and experiment with all its unique software features.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 mini is not the fastest device among the three, doesn’t have an aluminum build nor its compact as the iPhone 5, but it takes very high-quality pictures in daylight, it’s fast, has a gorgeous bright display and good battery life. It’s a very good alternative to the S4, no doubt about it, but its relatively high price might prevent some people to buy it.

If I had to pick one, I would probably go with the LG Nexus 4 myself. I love the big screen, its excellent performance, wireless charging, HDMI port and of course its excellent price.  I will also take the Galaxy S3 into consideration as well.

Which one do you prefer? — Share your opinion by in the comment section below. Thanks for reading.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • K August 18, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks a lot, this is exactly the comparison I was looking for.

    Still undecided, the S4 Mini has expandable memory and corning gorilla glass 2, but the Nexus has a bigger screen (both good and bad), stock android and better graphics =/

    Reply edit

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