LG Nexus 4 versus Samsung Galaxy S3: Which one is the right one for you?

The new LG Nexus 4 has arrived, and with it comes a question about whether or not the new Nexus upstages the previous flagship device that is the Samsung Galaxy S3.

While both devices have some similarities, there are some pretty key differences here as well. Let’s take a quick look at specs, dimensions and the software running inside to get a better idea of how the two Android phones really compare next to each other.

Weight and Dimensions

Both devices are large-screen phones that still have a fairly sleek and sexy overall design. The Nexus 4 probably has a design that is going to appeal to those looking for more eye candy though.

As for actual size, the Galaxy S3 is thinner at .34-inches, versus the Nexus 4′s .36-inch thickness. Weight wise, the Galaxy S3 is also just 133g, while the Nexus 4 is a bit heavier at 139 grams. Is this a HUGE difference? For most of us, probably not.

Display

Pretty close here. The 4.7-inch Nexus 4 has a 1280 x 768 display with a ppi of 318. In contrast, with the Galaxy S3 you get a 4.8-inch 306ppi device with a resolution of 1280 x 720.

Processor and RAM

With the Nexus 4 you have a Quad-Core Qualcomm S4 running at 1.5GHz with 2GB of RAM.

As for the S3? It depends. In the North American market you get a Qualcom S4 dual-core at 1.5GHz with 2GB of RAM. As for the international market, you get a quad-core Exynos at 1.4GHz with just 1GB of RAM.

While the Nexus 4 might be a little faster here, it’s really hard to say for sure considering the major differences between the international and North American Galaxy S3.

Storage

Honestly, the Samsung Galaxy S3 really wins here. You have 16/32/64GB choices and can expand the memory even further with an SD slot. As for the Nexus 4? No SD slot and only 8 and 16GB storage sizes.

Battery

Actually, the batteries in both devices are 2100 mAh. That being said, the Nexus 4 doesn’t have LTE so it might actually perform better. Probably too early to call for sure.

Wireless

Unfortunately, the LG Nexus 4 just has HSPA+ 42 and no 4G LTE. This might not matter to you if you are in a region that doesn’t have 4G LTE, though. In many ways HSPA+ 21 and 42 are more widespread than LTE anyhow.

This is probably where preferences are really going to kick in hard. If you absolutely want LTE… the Samsung Galaxy S3 wins here.

Cameras

The Nexus 4 gives us an 8MP rear cam and 1.3MP front cam. The Galaxy S3 has an 8MP rear cam and a 1.9MP front cam. At least on paper, these two devices are pretty on par in this category.

Operating System

While both devices are running Android, many markets have yet to even get Android 4.1 Jelly Bean delivered to the Samsung Galaxy S3 yet– let alone the new Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update. While there isn’t that major for some users, it is still another factor to consider. If you want the latest version of Android, the Nexus 4 has it and the Galaxy S3 still doesn’t. Also worth noting, the Galaxy S3 has the TouchWiz interface, while you get a vanilla Android experience with Nexus devices.

So Which Wins?

Honestly, there is no clear winner here. If you want a solid device that is fast and has the latest version of Android but don’t care about LTE, you might certainly want an LG Nexus 4.

If you want more storage space and 4G LTE (in select markets) then you might want to consider the Samsung Galaxy S3. What is great about Android devices is that there is a wide variety out there, which makes it easy to find something tailored directly to what you are looking for. Which do you prefer, the Galaxy S3 or the new LG Nexus 4?

If price is a factor, the LG Nexus 16GB might also be worth looking at since it is only $350 unlocked, versus $600 for an unlocked Galaxy S3. If you want a contract, there are sometimes some pretty good deals for the Galaxy S3 with a two-year commitment, though.


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76 Comments

  1. critic says:

    technology i just want a tracfone because i dont want to be robbed for a high tech high priced phone

  2. popop says:

    s3 wins but the price could change my mind i am actually neutral

  3. Larry Donwald says:

    Now THAT’s a thorough review. I’m torn between these phones. I’m on AT&T and 4GLTE and it’s often a toss-up since it seems to have a wide selection. I have a graphics design firm in New York and my smartphone is becoming like a third arm since the data speeds are so good.

  4. Don Mega says:

    Correction, LG Nexus 4 has LTE but it is not enabled/activated, the hardware is on the phone though! And just the fact that updates get pushed makes the LG Nexus 4 the better phone, unlike samsung when they launch their newer model S4,S5 etc. They forget about the older models and do not offer updates but rather you Upgrade your phone…Hands down Nexus 4 which I own is the better phone!

  5. qazibasit says:

    S3 still is the winner because it will get the multi window feature which is part of TW. plus it has additional features like pop up play and others. those who think vanilla android will give more score to nexus line are just noobs. who dont know about functionality. plus exynos a9 quad core is still out performing the s4 pro. s3 has a mali gpu which still is far superior. s3 has some extra sensors thats costing it more. Plus a 1 gb ram with more wider bus speed. dont be lame and think sensibly. howcome lg make a cheaper phone when its buying components with other vendors. its the same like s2 vs galaxy nexus and s2 outperforms it.

  6. Pet says:

    Where… did you add the prices??

  7. memyself&i says:

    Does anyone have an opinion on this:
    I get a very good discount on T-Mobile plans, so theres no point in me getting the nexus from Google Play. Is it more worth to get the on-contract, 16 GB Nexus for $200 or the S3 for $270? Right now i am leaning towards the Nexus since I actually like it better in several ways, but any advice?

  8. José Ribeiro - Brazil says:

    Galaxy S3 forever. EVER, EVER AND EVER. s2

  9. ab. sateri says:

    Why Google play charged me for 16 GB $ 450,00 or on line order, where, they all talking about
    $ 350,00 can some one tell me why

  10. The LG Nexus 4 has surprised us so far. Remember it is the ONLY phone which will get assured Android upgrades in future. Our users have been very positive so far. On a completely unrelated note the 920 is awesome also

  11. viny says:

    Folks: If I want to buy Samsung S3, I just need to enter my credit card. If I have to buy LG nexus 4 – we do not know when it will be available.. I am really going to wait and watch how many units Google/LG is going to make available at $249 and $349 prices.. One part of me says that this is just a hype – and they may not sell too many phones actually

    why would LG focus on churning out nexus 4 units, while it can focus on much profitable optimus-G?

  12. bilal says:

    which one is better that we should buy galaxy s3 or nexus 4 reply me

  13. Klaine says:

    i want to see if the Nexus 4 fixes some of the problems of the Galaxy Nexus. Mainly, is the camera much better. Ive been surprised at how bad the 5mp camera has been. More than half of my pictures come out blurry and its doing worse than an old 3mp camera I have on a previous phone. Its really a bummer because I didnt want to buy a separate company when I go on a trip or a party or something. The other thing that kills me on the GNEX is how low the volume levels are. The highest level is as high as the low level on older phones. Its virtually impossible to hear ring and notifications tones. Google Music is useless as is watching video UNLESS youre using headphones. With headphones, it all sounds great, but otherwise its terrible ,- I even have to strain to here the GPS as I turn everything on my car off. Thespeaker on the bottom of the phone so its covered whenever you place your phone down isnt helping either. So those are my main concerns. The phone is ridiculously cheap and can be used on prepaid where youll save half of what you pay on contract plans for most people. No contracts. Id sell my Gnex and another old phone so I could pay for the 4 but I want to make sure its not another disappointment that doesnt fix my main problems with the current edition. I also would like to test out the +42, which is another difference. I only average about 3mbps on the +21

  14. MrBaun says:

    im actually thinking about selling my 32 gig galaxy S3 (north american version) for the nexus. the button on the s3′s screen really bugs me. and i dont like the location of the volume buttons

    • Klaine says:

      I want to wait to hear reviews from users of the actual phone and see what hiccups developed. Like I said above, the GNex volume problems (and poor camera) are driving me crazy and once again ruining my Android experience. Dont know how many more times I can give Android a chance before joining everyone I know and moving to an iphone.

  15. mike says:

    wanna know nexus 4 unlocked price….

  16. fejevi fejevi says:

    No sd card, so less apps in Nexus 4 . I still prefer Samsugn Galaxy S 3 .

    • memyself&i says:

      I got the 16gb Nexus a month ago, and have used most of the space I am likely to and left with 9gb free space. And I apparently use about the same as an average consumer, so this is unlikely to be an issue for most people.

  17. Brendan says:

    The Galaxy s3 has a Qualcom S4 SnapDraggon dual-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz with 2 gb of ram with (4g LTE) which will make it faster. The back camera is 8mp with a zero shudder speed lag with low light features for best picture quality. The front camrea which is 1.9mp with face recognition features.Samsung Galaxy s3 now runs on 4.1 jelly been and will be upgrated soon to 4.2 jelly been (key lime pie). The Lg Nexus is 299 amercian dollars with a upgrade compared to the Galaxy s3 which is 199 american dollars with a upgrade.

  18. Shubham says:

    jus 2 GB RAM is extra.. Anyhow everyone wil get 4.2 update on S3 .. Wil Stick to my S3 only..

  19. khalid alomary says:

    you forgot to say that the s3 has more features like s voice, smart stay, etc. rather than stock android

  20. f says:

    faster processor snapdragon s4pro vs crappy exynos,

    nexus wins!!

  21. f says:

    lithium poly battery on nexus 4 much better , also photosphere

  22. bob says:

    The Nexus 4 has a better battery. It is significantly more durable. It is a lithium polymer whereas the galaxy s3 is a cheap lithium ion. HUGE difference.

    Not only that the nexus 4′s processor is gigantically faster than exynos. Look at the benchmarks for gods sake. the nexus 4 also has photosphere.

    • MISINFORMATION says:

      People like you. Lithium ion is superior to lithium polymer in nearly every way. Not a huge difference. Nexus 4 processor is useless in most real world applications. Photosphere is useless except for the cool factor. I do however agree that the Nexus 4 is the superior phone.

  23. Andrew N says:

    Also, pixel density of the N4 is 320 ppi not 318

    • Twiglets says:

      Square root of (1280^2+768^2) = 1492.72368508 diagonal pixels
      1492.72368508/4.7 screen size = 317.6007840596PPI – rounded up 318 pixels per inch!! Gotta love Maths :P

    • Andrew N says:

      You’re correct.

      I should do the math myself instead of believe in the posted spec lol

    • Jon says:

      I think this math is wrong. The spec of 320 pixels per inch is correct,
      coming straight from Google. Where the math is wrong is that the
      screen is really 4.665 inches, not 4.700 inches. They rounded up to
      4.7, I think. In addition on the N4, a row of 96 pixels is taken up
      for the on-screen back and home buttons that are off-screen capacitive
      buttons on the S3. This means the N4 has a usable screen size of 4.410
      inches. I believe the S3 has a true 4.8″ screen with no rounding up.
      Not a huge deal, but a minor negative for the N4. Look at pictures of
      the two side by side and you can clearly see that the S3 has a much
      bigger usable screen.

    • Twiglets says:

      Yeah I get what you mean! Same with Nexus 10 – 10.055 inches (all about the fives again!! – Oh Google! :D ) … So yeah it is probably 320 (ignoring the on-screen buttons!) But they do still have pixels soo … :D Thanks for pointing that out :)

  24. Andrew N says:

    The nexus 4 screen is IPS & true RGB array unlike the annoying Pentile type on the S3

  25. Anonymous says:

    I spoke to someone in customer service for Google Play & they said that they can guarantee that a wireless charging orb will be included.

    • Anonymous says:

      Really? That’s pretty sweet. It adds to the even more reasons to get the phone.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. You can try calling the Google Play customer service and ask them also but the guy I spoke with says hemcan guarantee it. I just asked if he had any idea how much the wireless charging orb would be and he said it would be included with the phone.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s awesome then. Free inductive charging sounds good to me. The nexus 4 looks to be a great little package.

    • Klaine says:

      I emailed an executive who told me it will be sold separately

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve realized over the last few days that Google’s customer service regarding the play store is not really well informed. I called two other times asking various other questions and I’ve gotten different answers for things each time & regarding the wireless charging orb, a different customer service rep told me it’s not included. So at this point I won’t get excited about it & just assume it won’t come with. I’ll be buying the phone either way though.

    • memyself&i says:

      They can say all they want, but the orb doesn’t even exist yet, never mind it being packaged for free. Or at least, if they included it for other packages I was ripped off.

  26. Francisco Javier Melgar says:

    Is the LED’ nexus 4 works the same for notifications alerts?

  27. dammers says:

    the best one is the samsung galaxy s3

  28. Chill Guy says:

    Nexus 4 is the phone to beat this holiday ill be buying on launch day

  29. Rex_D says:

    Few questions… is the battery removable on the Nexus 4? Can a SD card be used on the Nexus 4? The Nexus 4 is an unlocked phone sold only through the Play store? Does that limit which carriers it can be used on? Why is it so important to some to be “off contract”? Do people switch carriers that often? Also, does anyone know is pricing different for HSPA vs LTE on such carriers? I’m on Verizon, and I believe the cost monthly is the same regardless.

    • sean says:

      Battery can’t be removed on the Nexus 4, SD card can’t be used on the Nexus 4. Biggest reason people would buy off contract is for Google updates. If you have a S3 or Nexus “3″ you have both manufacture and carrier to wait for updates. If you have a stock Nexus “4″ from the play store, you get updates as they occur. Plus no bloatware would be installed.

    • Klaine says:

      I have a question about the battery not being removable. Everytime I have a problem with my phone< im always told to take the battery out and then wait a couple minutes and th en restart the phone. About 80% of the time, it fixes the problem. Im wondering if Im going to be stuck with an ever worse Android experience if this is taken away and its not a tool for a quick fix. I much rather remove the battery than being told to do an entire factory reset every week = especially since changing phones on Android has been a huge pain for me. If one of you experts, can show me how it can go smoothly without having to reinstall everything and reconfigure ev erything , losing all progress on apps, let me know. Its one main thing I hate about even thinking of a new phone

  30. Adam says:

    Also prepaid plans are much cheaper than contracts. When I was looking to buy a Galaxy Nexus, the cheapest plan I could get on Verizon was $90/month but I can get a prepaid plan with T-Mobile that for $30/month.

  31. haxen says:

    u forgot to mention the prices…LG Nexus 4 16GB is for $350, while the 16GB S3 is for $600 (both unlocked)…many people who unable to afford high end smartphones will surely go for the Nexus 4

  32. Xander314 says:

    Also, the Nexus 4 is selling far cheaper off contract compared to the S3.

  33. You forgot to mention that the Nexus is going to run vanilla Android versus the Galaxy Touchwizz Android. This is a major factor for those who dont want the bulk.

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