Google Nexus 5 vs HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy S4: What's the difference?

And so Google has announced the Nexus 5, subtly in comparison with other phone and kit launches, and the rumour mills can stop second-guessing the software giant and look to other targets instead.

For the rest of us, the fun has only just started. The Nexus 5, which will be on sale in the UK from tomorrow, 1 November, is perhaps surprisingly well endowed in the specifications stakes, considering it will come at a reasonable price (£299 for 16GB, £339 for 32GB). Some could say it will give other flagship and premium Android smartphones a run for their money.

That's why we've decided to look to see how it fares in key spec against two of the most popular flagship Android phones out there, the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.

Screen

In terms of size, the Nexus 5 and Samsung Galaxy S4 have slightly larger displays than the HTC One, both featuring a 5-inch screen in comparison to the HTC's 4.7-inch - although strictly speaking, the Nexus 5's is 4.95-inches.

The Samsung is the only one of the three with an OLED panel, a Super AMOLED in fact, while the LG-made Google phone has a True HD IPS Plus display, and the HTC a Super LCD3 screen.

All three come with Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel resolutions, with the HTC One possibly being a fraction sharper thanks to being a fraction smaller. It has 469 pixels per inch, while the other two are nigh-on identical. Because the Nexus 5 is the tiniest bit smaller, it has 445ppi, while the SGS4 offers 441ppi.

The SGS4 and Nexus 5 are both covered in Corning's latest Gorilla Glass 3 for protection, while the One has the previous iteration, Gorilla Glass 2.

Processing power

With the benefit of time on its side, the Nexus 5 easily outpowers its main rivals in these stakes. The Samsung Galaxy S4 came out in the UK sporting a 1.9GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor, while the HTC is driven by a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon 600. Six months have passed since, so the Nexus 5 makes use of the latest from Qualcomm, the much-lauded 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800.

That will obviously mean that the Google phone will be visibly quicker to perform many tasks. All of the handsets have 2GB of RAM.

One interesting development that does impact on this comparison is that Samsung recently announced an updated SGS4 with a Snapdragon 800 processor for European markets. Whether that is coming to the UK, we're not sure as yet.

Camera

To keep costs down, the Nexus 5 doesn't exactly come with an industry-leading camera on the rear. It's not bad though, featuring an 8-megapixel sensor and optical image stabilisation. The HTC One has a 4-Ultrapixel camera, which basically means a 4-megapixel camera but with larger pixels to allow more light to hit the sensor. It results in some shots, but without the definition of the Nexus. It too has optical image stabilisation.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 has the biggest camera in sheer numbers, with a 13-megapixel snapper on the rear, but only has a software-driven image stabilisation.

All have interesting camera software, with the Nexus 5 depending on the standard Android 4.4 KitKat offering, while the Samsung has a myriad of interesting features, including Dual Shot which allows you to shoot an object and put yourself in the picture too. HTC Zoe is the feature that has got the most plaudits perhaps, with animated pictures and more.

Battery

Both the Nexus 5 and HTC One come with a 2,300mAh battery which some have bemoaned in the latter phone's case. Time will tell if this is too small for the Nexus too. The Samsung phone has the largest battery at 2,600mAh, but there are also anecdotal tales of it having issues lasting any longer than the One.

Operating system

There's no doubt about it, if you want the very latest version of Android and all of the new features that come with it, you'll have to opt for the Nexus 5. Coming with Android 4.4 KitKat from the box, it is probably a year ahead of rivals.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One smartphones are only just getting Android 4.3 Jelly Bean now, and that's on what seems to be slow global rollouts for each. In the US, you could have bought Google editions of the SGS4 and HTC One, both of which featuring stock Android and we'd expect will be upgraded to 4.4 soon, but they didn't make it to the UK. And we expect they're hard to get hold of these days, even in the States.

Some might not like stock Android though, and be happy with the TouchWiz and Sense UI experiences afforded by the two other manufacturers. In which case, brand loyalty seems an obvious choice.

Conclusion

The Nexus 5 does look to be a very well-specified phone - considerably so when compared to the handset it is replacing at Google. It also more than holds its own when compared to the Samsung and HTC handsets and we suspect that it will be a very popular choice amongst Android fans.

That's why we'd also recommend you don't dally if you think you want one - especially if you want it before Christmas. It might not come into stock again for a while.