Samsung Galaxy S3 vs. Google Nexus 4

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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon

Google recently introduced the latest in its Nexus family of phones, and in the process, it has entered a new power player into the Android ecosystem. But how does the new Nexus 4 stack up against one of the current kings of the category? We take a closer look at the Nexus 4 and the Galaxy S3 to see who deserves your love and hard-earned money.

Samsung Galaxy S3

Google Nexus 4

Screen 4.8 inches
720x1280 pixels
4.7 inches
768x1280 pixels
Hardware Quad-core 1.4GHz
Quad-core 1.5GHz
Storage 16GB, 32GB options
MicroSD card slot
8GB, 16GB options
Connectivity Wi-Fi
Dual-carriage HSPA (42Mbps)
Dual-carriage HSPA (42Mbps)
Wireless charging
Thickness 8.4mm 9.1mm
Weight 133g 139g


This is the true battle ground for these two devices. Samsung's flagship is available on all Australian networks for about AU$60 per month on a two-year plan. You can also buy it outright; the prices here vary greatly, depending on where the stock comes from. Australian stock sells for about AU$700 in electronics retailers, while parallel import stock can be had for as a low as AU$479 from online stores.

Even with this wild variance in price, the Nexus 4 will still be cheaper when bought through the Google Play store. The 8GB model is AU$349 and the 16GB will sell for AU$399. If the telcos decide to sell the Nexus 4, this pricing should translate into plans of well under AU$50 a month, perhaps even as low as AU$30.

Storage options

Like for like, there are many aspects about these phones that are similar; from screen size to the quad-core processors in each and the capabilities of the Android platform. Storage is significantly different, though, and it will be a deciding factor for many choosing a new phone, we think.

Samsung's approach to storage is pretty standard. You can choose either 16GB or 32GB models, plus, there is a micro-SD card slot under the battery cover, where this base storage can be expanded.

Google, on the other hand, is pushing an all online approach, hoping that its Nexus customers won't mind the scant storage options in the Nexus 4 because of the numerous cloud options that can complement the internal storage in your phone. Pictures and documents can be stored on Dropbox, for example, music can be streamed and movies temporarily rented over Google Play Movies.

We like Google's dream for an online utopia, but the fact of the matter is, phones with higher and more flexible local storage options still tend to sell better, and this may be one major area that continues to have people clamouring for GS3s.

Stock Android vs. TouchWiz UI

In some ways, this is a purists debate, but there is a significant difference in how you will be using these phones because of Samsung's custom UI layer, known as TouchWiz. Both phones have most of the same capabilities, thanks to the Android platform, but Samsung's take on the Android look and feel is busier than the stock Android UI. This may not sound like a good thing, but the extra complexity also equals improved functionality in some cases. Samsung, for example, includes quick settings in its pull-down notification panel, and fast home screen switching with a row of buttons across the bottom of the screen. These tweaks are definitely welcome once you get to know how to use them.

On the other hand, the Nexus 4 comes with the latest version of Android, and will continue to be updated as soon as Google completes new versions of the software — provided you buy your phone directly from Google, itself. This helps to future proof your phone in a way that no other manufacturer can match at this time.

And the winner is...

Based on the information we have in front of us, the Nexus 4 is ahead by a nose, though this could change after we have a chance to actually review the phone. The Galaxy S3 is a superb smartphone, but Samsung can't compete on price with Google, and when these phones are so similar, the significant premium you will pay for a GS3 has to be factored in.

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OscarJ posted a comment   

At 16 im ready to. Uy my first smartphone (probably at christmas time) and whe i saw the nexus 4 i thought wow a cheap samrt phone that still does alot! But the i saw only 16gb of room and my hesrt sank. The galaxy s3 is certanly good i would rather it over the nexus but the price is almost to much for me. Im am tied between these two at the minuet (with 1 or 2 from HTC also looking good)! I cant decide! Think ill wait to see how this nexus turns out. Ill be keeping a very close eye on it.P.S. what has won me so far for the nexus is Induction charging! Love it!wish it was everywhere!


TimF1 posted a comment   

SGS 3 does NOT have DC-HSDPA 42 Mbps, only regular slow HSDPA 21 unless it's the newer 4G variant. Check your facts.


Im Batman posted a comment   

Nexus 4 does tick alot, if not all the boxes. Price is amazing.

But if the Telcos don't pick it up, then its a completely different equation for people.


BobL2 posted a comment   

The Nexus 4 has a SIGNIFICANTLY faster processor/gpu. Snapdragon s4 pro beats samsung's exynos anyday. Look up the benchmark results.

Nexus 4 has photosphere.

Nexus 4 has much better battery. It is lithium polymer instead of the crappy cheap lithium ion. However the battery is non removable.

N4 should also come with free wireless induction charging kit.

N4 has a better looking display. IPS vs amoled.


Dunners posted a reply   

Exynos holds its own and is now 6months old. In 6 months when Samsung release thier 5450 it will smash the S4.

And I have to disagree with the screen AMOLED is soooo much better than IPS (in my opinion)


Juz1093 posted a comment   

Hey Joe, when does cnet AU expect to have a review up? Will you get one in pre-release date?


Joseph Hanlon posted a reply   

It's hard to say. I'm hoping to play with one early next week, but I'm not sure whether I'll be allowed to give it the full test treatment. Fingers crossed.


anthonaut posted a comment   

I'm ready to move on from my SGS2. Sick of touchwiz and after buying a Nexus 7, want a pure Android experience running the latest version.

Love the Nexus 4 but small storage options still don't make sense. Could maybe squeeze onto 16gb but would prefer a 32gb model in order to store all of my music. Don't care about SD as long as the internal storage is big enough.

Hopefully Google/LG follow suit of the N7 and release a 32gb version in the not-too-distant future. If so, I will definitely be picking one up outright.


DarrenH4 posted a comment   

Seriously...? Who would want a high data usage smartphone device that comes with 8GB internal storage and NO SD card slot?? That's why the phone is cheap - Google have gone cheap on the storage capabilities. Hey Google - it's 2012!!


jbray posted a comment   

I think this will be the most popular Nexus to date, purely based on that amazing introductory price from Google. Should go gangbusters! The latest tech in a phone at a sharp price with the promise of fast updates and no bloat. I was previously considering that my Galaxy Nexus was enough until possibly the next one but with that price, it's hard to resist (the 16Gb).

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