Nexus v Nexus

Now that there are no questions about the Galaxy Nexus and it getting Android 4.2 (there never should have been any), it's time to take a look at the big question again -- should I spend money and upgrade? We've taken a look at how the Nexus 4 stacks up against the Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X, and how the 4.1.2 version of the Galaxy Nexus fares against the Nexus 4. Now that both phones are on the same version of the OS, and I've been able to use them for a few days, hopefully I can help you decide if you should push the button and order when the Nexus 4 becomes available again.

Build and specs


Android 4,2 changes nothing on the hardware and build quality front. Just like an OTA can't enable a magic hidden LTE radio, it can't turn plastic into glass or pentile into RGB stripe. Once you get past the fact that from the front both phones resemble each other, you quickly realize that the Nexus 4 is built very different than the G Nex. Personally, I think it's better built, but had no complaints about the Galaxy Nexus build quality.

When you get to the internals, there is no question of which is superior hardware. The Nexus 4's Snapdragon Pro runs circles around the OMAP in the G Nex. There's also double the RAM. If you're not with Verizon or Sprint (more on that next) there is no storage difference. 

The Galaxy nexus has a removable battery, and that matters to some folks. The Nexus 4 does not have one, and never will -- an OTA can't make a removable battery, either. The Nexus 4 does offer Qi wireless charging, and the availability of cheap charging mats from LG and Energizer shouldn't be overlooked.

All things considered, I give the Nexus 4 a serious advantage here.

The network

Speed Test

HSPA+ 42 makes a difference if you use T-Mobile

If you're on Verizon or Sprint, this one's a wipeout. Google's not offering a Nexus 4 for your carrier at this time, and the Galaxy Nexus is the clear winner simply because it's available. We can't overlook that, nor should we. If you're thinking of jumping ship to a GSM carrier, be sure to consider all the positives and negatives, then read on.

The Nexus 4 and Galaxy Nexus both perform about the same on AT&T. Expect speeds very similar to other HSPA+ phones, like the iPhone 4S or earlier Android models. If you're on T-Mobile however, you can get double the network speeds from the Nexus 4 than you can the Galaxy Nexus. 

Again, 4.2 doesn't change anything here. Because you can't get the Nexus 4 on every carrier, I call this one a win for the Galaxy Nexus.


Here's where things have changed. I'll be honest, the Galaxy Nexus runs Android 4.2 awfully well. The G Nex struggles with the new lock screen sometimes, and the new photosphere camera takes a good bit longer to process, but overall the G Nex is a really nice phone with the latest Jelly Bean update. 

The Galaxy Nexus lacks the Miracast screen sharing ability, but as of today that doesn't matter much because there's no equipment that works with it. In the future, we hope to see cheap HDMI dongles that support Miracast. If that happens, the Nexus 4 has a big perk when you want to share movies or pictures, or even play Angry Birds at 60-inches.

The Nexus 4 camera isn't the holy grail we were waiting for, but it's a huge upgrade over the Galaxy Nexus' shooter. It's cold, dark and wet here, but Alex had a chance to have a little walkabout with his Nexus 4. Here's a taste.

Nexus 4 camera

We're going to do a full blown camera test this week with the N4 in a controlled environment, along with some comparisons the the G Nex. But we already know the Nexus 4's camera wins.

For games, there's really not a lot of difference until you go big. Fun time wasters like Ski Safari play just as well on the Galaxy Nexus as they do on the Nexus 4, but load up a huge game like ShadowGun and you'll see the difference. The extra RAM and beefy GPU on the Nexus 4 make gameplay smoother, and more fun.

Where you won't see any difference is in normal use on the home screen and smaller apps. Doing things like checking Twitter or Google+, or looking at the weather on Google Now work just fine on the Galaxy Nexus. If you're the type who uses your phone as a communications tool and not a pocket computer, you'll be well served with the Galaxy Nexus. 

For any other use case, the Nexus 4 simply does things better. 



The Nexus 4 is a great phone at a great price, but on the software front the Galaxy Nexus holds its own. While the Nexus 4 does things a bit faster sometimes, there's very little you can't do with the Galaxy Nexus. Of course the 4.2 bugs affect both phones the same.

If you're not the type who simply has to rush out and get the new best thing as soon as it's available, none of us here would blame you for holding on to your Galaxy Nexus for a while longer. Especially if you're a Sprint or Verizon customer. Your phones will get 4.2 soon enough, and you'll have everything you see here plus more storage and LTE. 


Reader comments

Should I upgrade to the Nexus 4 now that the Galaxy Nexus has 4.2?


If I can get decent and consistent network speeds out of the N4 on TMo where I am, I'm leaving the Verizon GNex behind. I'm not expecting LTE speeds, but as time goes on, the battery life and increasingly wonky 3G/LTE handoffs are irritating me more and more with the Verizon GNex. It also would be nice to have a camera that isn't so Jekyll and Hyde. Not to say that the GNex has held up remarkably well. It's still darn quick and a great phone.

I was ready to buy it, however, I was not able to place an order for the new Nexus 4. Now that I have 4.2 on my Galaxy Nexus and I don't have a date as to when I could actually buy & receive the device...I am thinking I should just continue with the Galaxy Nexus. In January at the big mobile conference, I am sure many things are going to be announced...and if there are other NEXUS devices coming along, I may want to wait to hear what they have to say.

If there were other Nexus devices, Google would've said so by now. There's no reason to keep it secret.

I'm a Sprint customer, so the Nexus 4 is out but after careful consideration I find the Sprint Optimus G to be more than adequate.

Optimus G with Apex Launcher and the extra 32Gb storage plus LTE, seem to negate all concerns for a Nexus 4 on Sprint.

Please someone, tell me if I'm thinking sanely or not.

You're thinking sanely. It's not THAT bad of a choice if you just pick an Optimus G.

Remember, it's just a phone. :P Pick what you want, man.

Thanks for this one Jerry...

Last tuesday I ran like an IPhone fanboy to try my shot on a good price for a Nexus 4.
But at the moment I was sooooo eager to get one and later sooooooo angry about the failure of Google store, that I forgot that, for sure, taht Key Lime Pie was on the way.
And for sure, when this update will leave the post, it'll be better and with a phone of the same blade.
And if I'm not diminish by my today's phone (Galaxy Nexus with 4.2) but why should I do like all the other one that are running more to get the last toy.
Clearly I understand that if I had a S or a One would be a good opportunity, but now... I believe I should keep my money for the holidays...
I'll drink a nice bottle wine in your name Jerry... Not a $400.00 one... But a good one...
Alain Lafond

i'm so waiting for the camera review =D

coming from a GSII

and I really don't mind fast focus and a lot of stuff on the camera, this could be software improoved, i just wanna know the real capacity of the camera, 'cause I don't wanna do a downgrade from my phone

Yakju Galaxy Nexus still waiting for 4.2... :( I won't be upgrading to the Nexus 4 though (on a contract and a budget).

Love these ccomparisons!

I've been comparing my wife's Nexus 4 with my Galaxy Nexus and I have to admit that the Nexus 4 is a very nice device. One peculiar difference I love on the Nexus 4 is the feedback vibration - it's a linear actuator compared to the Galaxy Nexus' rotational actuator and it just feels more - how should I put it - luxurious. And when you get a vibration alert while the Nexus 4 is lying on a table, it doesn't rattle like the Galaxy Nexus does.

Other than that, the one thing that keeps me from running out to order a Nexus 4 is the screen. Yes, I said it! I'm a total sucker to the real blacks of AMOLED displays so when looking at the glare that shines from what was supposed to be a black screen on the Nexus 4, I get sad. The issue comes with every LCD display, but after experiencing the close to true blacks of AMOLED displays I will have a hard time going back to an LCD. It would be impossible for me to use the "Day Dream" feature to show a dimmed clock when sleeping with the Nexus 4 because it would light up the room. With the Galaxy Nexus it is perfect... Other than that, the Nexus 4 it a fantastic phone.

I appreciate your comment Phillip...I too am still enamored with the "true blacks of Amoled displays" as you say. I think I would be disappointed with anything less. I've only had my GNex since the release of JB, so what 6 or 7 months now? It's still feels new and fresh to me and I hate having to buy new accessories so often, esp. car mounts (I don't use the universal ones). I'll still play with an N4 once I get into a Tmo store or when my buddy finally gets his. The only thing that tempts me to buy one is the 2x network speeds. My wife's S3 gets double the speed vs my GNex as it should being hspa+42.

ha, you know, I got sad when I got my N10, powered it up, and the black wasn't black at the 'Google' splash screen, I was like OMGBBQ light bleed! then I remember it's LED, that's not light bleed.

I can't wait for everything to be AMOLED.

+1 to both points. I didn't know that there was that type of vibration in the N4. Ask anyone who went from an iPhone 4 or 4S (linear) to an iPhone 5 (rotational). It makes a big difference. And I too really like AMOLED for the black levels and color. It's been a while since an LCD was my daily driver, so I'm hoping the tech has improved so the washed out effect is mitigated. I'm sure it has been to some extent.

I have a Nexus 7 and 4.2 is not really that much of an upgrade. I'd rather go with a non-Nexus device like GS3 or Droid DNA for the better hardware.

huh? The Nexus 4 hardware blows away the GS3's dated processors. The Nexus 4 may not have the screen of the DNA but it shares the same processors without the Sense bloat.

Thanks Jerry.

I was set to order one and like many, missed out. My Sprint Gnex is chugging along just fine, I'm not in a big rush to be honest. I personally do use the extra space, I battery swap often and I will soon have LTE (we all know how terrible 3G is on Sprint though).

The cost savings of trying T-Mobile is what I am excited to try at some point though. Plus no contract. Maybe I'll get lucky by waiting and a revision comes out with LTE and/or 32GB of ROM.

In the meantime I will enjoy "fairly fast" updates with my Sprint GNex. I still have a long way to go anyway to avoid an ETF.

Oh. Poor baby. Still butt hurt because both the Nexus 4 and the international galaxy S3 got owned in benchmarks?

By the way, it's "you're", not your. Moron.

Just so this moron knows, the CPU in iPhone, despite customizations to increase memory streaming performance, is still an ARM Cortex A9 dual core processor at heart. A15 cores, like those in the Nexus 10, destroy whatever performance gains Apple made with the A9.

So your brand new iPhone won't be a year behind the Android phones in 12 months. It'll be an entire GENERATION behind in five months when A15 Android phones hit the market. Congrats for getting suckered by Apple.

I want a N4. I just jumped ship from my short stint with iOS and Apple. Before that I had a One X that I just couldn't get satisfied with: didn't care for Sense, inconsistent battery life and random rebooting. So in my desire to come back to Android I only allowed myself the option of a Galaxy Nexus. I've only had it a few months but I have never been so satisfied with a phone as I am with the Galaxy and pure Google. Sure, there are a few weaknesses like the Pentile display, plasticky construction (as compared to iPhone 5), but that said, this phone and the capabilities of pure Google far outweigh those weaknesses. So naturally I want the Nexus 4 and all the goodies it brings along, but I am so happy that I think I can wait until Key Lime Pie to upgrade. Besides, after the fiasco of purchasing a Nexus 7 from Google Play Store, I'd be better served by waiting.

VZW: DNA or stay with Galaxy Nexus I have to admit just when I was enjoying my Galaxy nexus the DNA comes along... Nice screen, hardware but 11GB avail storage is weak... What are the VZW people thinking at this point two days from DNA launch?

Actually, I think I'd take one of the RAZR HD's if I were to move on from my GNex. Better battery and lighter skin, plus better storage options. The only downside is the camera.

Sadly, I would love to be getting a new phone this time of year (I usually buy every year) but there's not a great choice to me.

You can forget about CDMA versions happening not ever again will Google do that Verizon screwed it up for ever lol gsm versions only mark it down

I didn't say the N4 was a good choice either. Besides the software, it has no real advantages over any other flagship phone on the market now, and since I'm happy to root/rom, that's not really a big deal.

Also, I don't think think there's no chance for a CDMA version, as Google has often released additional models later.

PS. Punctuation is your friend. Try using it. :)

Outside of the Nexus 7, they haven't 'often released additional models later'.

But hey, it could be a trend they start. release a new product every year for the 3 different spaces (phone, 7", 10") and 6 months later release a version with more hardware features (more storage, network connectivity).

I wouldn't hold my breath for that happening (at least not for the phone), but I wouldn't count out more Nexus devices being invited to the party. remember the rumors were for other phones to be introduced? What if they had planned it, but the other manufacturers didn't have a finished product for Google on time?

This makes sense, especially since Google did announce there would be 5 Nexus devices for sale this year. So far (including the Nexus Q) we saw 4, that leaves 1 no show, which was probably going to be a phone...

of course, now there's rumors of a Sony device running Android 5....

I meant different versions of the same, like the GSM Gnex, VZW, then Sprint.

But again, I wouldn't go for the N$ anyway, so kind of a moot point.

I'm kinda thinking next years RAZR line might be the one to get really excited about. All they needed to do this year was bring out the phone a bit earlier. Now for people like us who read these forums, it's hard to buy a flagship phone that's on a last gen processor and costs the same or more than the phone with the better specs.

If the RAZR HD Maxx had the S4 Pro, I think it would be an unbelievable phone. As it sits it's still an amazing phone, but damn they came late to the game with the S4 and a $300 price tag.

I doubt you'd even be able to tell the difference other than how the phone physically feels.

I'm happy with my Gnex for now. As long as it runs the OS fine, without any lag. Of course I'd like to have the N4, but i don't see it as a drastic improvement over the Gnex, on the current iteration of Android.

This is why many folks argue those aren't true Nexus phones. As a recent Sprint customer, I feel your pain. As a new Straight Talk customer... I wonder why I (and others) put up with it.

The "true" Nexus argument is a bunch of bull. The phone carries the Nexus name and was designed by Google so it's a Nexus device.

and Yakju, the only Gnex to get the update so far is US play store devices, takju, which are most Americans. Us early adopters are rumored to be waiting for 4.2.1, after all the takju devices do some open beta :-p

So....many of us upgraded from the N1 to the G Nex. That was a big jump technology wise and similar to going from a 1972 Corvette to a 1985 Corvette. Now, you suggest we upgrade from the 1985 vette to a 1986 vette with no reall "killer" jump in technology. HSPA+ or LTE (eventually) still wont make it worth it. Nothing to see here....I am keeping my G Nex......

Bad analogy. I would take the '72 Vette anyday. "No real "killer" jump in technology"? Quad vs single core vastly improves not only the performance but the battery usage. Keep your G Nex and try to live with it until the next Nexus comes out.

lawl, no problem.

my N1 was a bit shaky for the last few months before I got the gnex. and the gnex shows that it's aging much better than the N1 did, I'll gladly continue using it until next November/December.

On Yakju... still waiting for my OTA...

But yeah, I'm quite happy with my GNex.
Besides the point that I'm simply not in the market for a new phone, as I just got this one several months ago, even if I was buying a new phone, it certainly wouldn't be anything made by LG.

I've had nothing but the absolute WORST experiences with anything LG, and I stay far away from their inferior built electronics.

Thank you for posting a shot of the network speeds! I've been curious to see what it gets on HSPA+42 and couldn't find an example of the speed test. The things I missed about my GS2 were network speeds and camera. I'm excited to get that back... as soon as I can order a N4.

I was able to play a little with the N4 at T-Mo and it felt really nice. As someone mentioned, the vibration feedback really caught my attention as a premium feel. Hard to explain. The screen being a little wider is also a nice touch. I couldn't get the real experience of the feel in hand because of the security brick T-Mo uses to tether the phone to the display.

Side note: I was working on a project yesterday and needed a level (forgot mine), so I downloaded an app to use. Because of the GNex's curved design and hump on the back, the level app was off. That was the first time I needed to use it, but the flat glass on the N4 would come in handy if the need arises again.

My wife and I will be sticking to our Gnex, our reasoning is the battery, we've got to have a removeable battery, some people may not mind having a non-changeable battery that's 2100mah, but i know first hand that even with a 2100mah battery that when your on vacation and away from your hotel from sunrise to sunset and don't have access to a charger, that one of the 3 spares i have will work for the wife and I.

*shrug* While I agree in general that a removable battery is preferable, personally when I go on vacation, I set my phone to Airplane unless I absolutely need something. For me, that's part of the vacation, cutting off the digital tether.

A portable charger would work just as well for those certain instances though, and can evern be shared with others in the group if need be! (Just an idea if you haven't tried it)

I am on VZ so no Nexus 4 for me, I just picked up a GN for good price so I will mess around with that for awhile. Hopefully it's not to buggy...

I have found that the cheapest way to enjoy the latest phones is to trade asap. I love my GN, but note it's resale value is down to $169 on, versus $575 for a 32GB iPhone 5. When I heard N4 was going to be delayed, I considered getting a LG Optimus G (it's twin) at AT&T. But the previous iPhone push and now the current Microsoft push make it next to impossible to get served at such times in an AT&T store (I'm in Microsoft territory). Therefore I will wait for N4 (love those fast upgrades) and when my next AT&T phone upgrade opportunity comes up in March, I may go buy an iPhone 5 and ship it off the same day, pocketing $275 at today's prices. Then do it again in September when my wife's phone comes up - she's happy with a red clamshell. Ka-ching!

I love my GNex. I have no plans on leaving VZW for anything else. Simply because no other carrier has service in the middle of nowhere (that's my actual address) I'll wait for the next big thing to come from Samsung. Hopefully, the Note 3 is out next November when its time for me to upgrade.

It seems like most people have all but forgotten about Galaxy S2. I mean it was the flagship phone that really gave Samsung the momentum it needed to be the biggest phone manufacturer in the world right now. I mean it is actually impossible to find any side by side comparisons of the the N4 and GS2. Since my warranty just expired, I plan on rooting and flashing a jelly bean rom...but obviously it wont have 4.2. Anyway, is there anyway you guys will do a comparison about these two phones and whether or not there's enough incentive to upgrade? :P

Thinking about getting a cheap Galaxy Nexus from Verizon. The 32GB Storage is key for me and the camera is not a big deal so long as it is able to do 720p/1080p video decently, which seems to be the case. The GPU in it is a bit of a let down, though, I think it's worse than the GPU in an S3.

I just have issues with Stock Android. It's too bare and I'm used to the services tie-ins in skinned Android Devices. It just makes things a lot better for those of us who are heavy social networkers or communicators, and not just tinkerers.

On the other hand, the only reason I'd be getting it is to get the latest Android version, which does make me think twice if I should just go to iOS 6 or Windows Phone 8 instead, since they had the features I need and much better support than Android OEM devices... Photo Sphere doesn't do anything Apple's Panoramo Mode or Microsoft Photo Synth doesn't do... Not sure why they're raving about that, TBQH...

you guys are doing a disservice to the community when you recommend people upgrade to nexus 4 over galaxy nexus. there are three huge reasons why a great many people would never trade their gnex for a nexus 4

1) LTE (VZW) - a late 2012 flagship phone that doesn't have current-gen wireless tech is not a flagship phone, regardless of the stated reasons...

2)Removable battery - is it a dying trend? who knows. but i know that i swap batteries enough to know that a non-removable battery is a dealbreaker for me, and i'm not alone...

3) 32GB storage - the last straw for me. beautiful display, nice dual/quad core processors, and 16GB of storage? fine for some, but if you are a power user (and if you want a nexus you are a power user) this is laughable

The only one butt hurt here is your dumb ass for picking up another outdated POC device that is in no way handing out a can of whoop ass to any current generation phone. Do your research Moron there is no benchmarks showing the iPhone 5 beating any Snapdragon Pro or Tegra3 device, or DNA with 1080P display let alone a true 720P display like the N4 has. At this point there is nothing relevant on an iPhone other than software and even then that gap is trivial. God how I love you Trolls...