Nexus 4 vs Galaxy S3 LTE vs iPhone 5 vs Lumia 920 in video

We compare the four most magnificent smart phones money can buy, in a four-way phone fight. Who will win?

Luke Westaway Senior editor
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
Luke Westaway
7 min read
Watch this: iPhone 5 vs S3 LTE vs Nexus 4 vs Lumia 920

My word, it's been a busy few weeks in the thrill-a-minute world of consumer tech! A cavalcade of mind-blowing announcements from Microsoft, Nokia, Apple, Amazon and others would have seen lesser tech sites scampering into a bed of leaves, curling up like baby hedgehogs and hibernating until the safety of spring.

Here at CNET UK we're made of sterner stuff -- so let's smash the four biggest smart phones into each other, and see which one survives. First up, let's meet the competitors.

Nokia Lumia 920

The Lumia 920 is Nokia's flagship phone, powered by Windows Phone 8. It boasts a 4.5-inch display with a 720p resolution, as well as a dual-core processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE

Samsung's high-flying S3 gets a 4G makeover with the Galaxy S3 LTE. As well as 4G capability, the S3 LTE has a 4.8-inch display and Android 4.1 on board, all powered by a whopping quad-core processor.

Apple iPhone 5

The smart phone that needs no introduction, Apple's sixth iPhone has a 4-inch retina display, eye-watering speed and runs iOS 6, the latest version of Apple's restrictive but app-filled operating system.

Google Nexus 4

The most recent entrant to the portable elite, this 4.7-inch smart phone has a 768x1,280-pixel display, a quad-core processor and runs Android 4.2, the most advanced version of Android yet. As if that wasn't enough, it's yours for the bargain-basement price of £239.


For an industry typically thought to feature mostly black rectangles, this year has seen some unusally diverse designs. Which of these four phones you best like the shape and size of will be down to you -- do you prefer the ultra-light but plastic S3 LTE, the reassuring blocky colours of the Lumia 920, or the industrial finish of the iPhone 5? I'll leave that one up to you, and dedicate this section to talking about power, camera ability and display.

The Lumia 920 has a dual-core processor, but it handles its Windows Phone 8 software with speed and style. On paper it's not as powerful as its rivals, but the fact is, there aren't many apps for Windows Phone that will really push this processor to its limit, so you're unlikely to see the 920 slowing down.

The 8-megapixel camera takes satisfactory snaps, though detail isn't mind-blowing. The 4.5-inch screen looks great, and crams in a whopping 768x1,280 pixels for tonnes of detail.

The Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE brings the big guns to the hardware war, with a quad-core chip and 2GB of RAM. It's astonishingly fast, and you'll be hard pressed to find anything that taxes this monster phone's processing power.

The camera is brilliant, producing gorgeous shots that work well in low light even without the flash, and there's little to criticise about the S3 LTE's excellent 720p screen, even if it has marginally few pixels that its rivals. It's the biggest screen of the bunch, and is incredibly thin and light, despite its size.

What about the iPhone 5? Powered by the A6 chip, Apple's latest smart phone runs apps with no lag or stutter, and chews through demanding tasks like exporting high-definition movies using the iMovie app. The camera is arguably the best of the bunch, producing extremely clear and colourful shots, while Apple's retina display screen looks great.

A word of warning though -- this phone is the smallest of the lot, and despite having a bigger screen than the iPhone 4S, feels tiny when compared to the others. Apple has made this phone incredibly light however, which is worth a mention.

The Nexus 4 blows the competition out of the water on paper, with its 1.5GHz quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, making it even faster than the S3 LTE in our tests. The camera takes photos that are impressive, and made more spectacular by features like Photo Sphere, which lets you take a 360-degree panorama shot that you can scroll around in, Street View-style, and turn into these quirky mini-planet pictures.

The 4.7-inch screen is eye-wateringly beautiful, and will make your photos and video look good enough to eat, though we don't recommend trying that.

The Nexus 4 and Lumia 920 deserve a special mention because they have wireless charging, while the S3 LTE is the only phone to offer both a removable battery and expandable storage (via a microSD slot), a great feature if you have lots of music and videos.

It's hard to pick a winner in hardware terms, because each of these phones is really bringing its A game. When it comes to speed, camera and a big display, the Nexus 4 and S3 LTE are probably just ahead, but the Nexus 4 doesn't have the same expensive feel as its Samsung-made rival. We're giving this one to Samsung for the S3 LTE's flexible battery and storage, but it only just edges it.

Hardware winner: Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE

4G in the UK

If you're in the UK and thinking of buying a new phone, 4G is something to consider. At the moment we've only got one 4G network -- that's EE -- but O2, Vodafone, Three and others will be kicking off their own 4G services next year.

The Nexus 4 doesn't support 4G, so it's instantly disqualified. The iPhone 5 does support 4G, but only on the spectrum band that EE uses, the 1,800MHz chunk to be precise. That's fine if you're on EE, but be aware the iPhone 5 currently on sale won't work with O2 or Vodafone's 4G networks when they launch. (It'll work as a 3G phone, just not 4G.)

The Lumia 920 and Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE are joint winners in this category, because they each support the 800, 1,800 and 2,600MHz spectrum bands, which are the bits of bandwidth the UK will be using for 4G. That means they should get 4G on non-EE 4G networks once they launch -- handy if you want to switch networks in the future, or sell your phone.

We wouldn't recommend choosing a phone based on 4G just yet, as only one network has it, tariffs are very expensive and coverage is limited to major cities. We've also found 4G can drain battery faster than 3G. It shouldn't be a dealbreaker, but it is something worth bearing in mind.

4G winner: Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE and Nokia Lumia 920


Hardware's one thing, but it's software that makes these phones all very different.

Put simply, if you want a phone that's as simple as possible, choose either the Lumia 920 or the iPhone 5, because they're both very easy to use. If you fancy yourself as a renegade -- a lone-wolf who plays by your own rules -- go for the sleek, less common Windows Phone platform on the Lumia 920, but be aware there aren't many apps available.

Apps is exactly where Apple's platform excels, meanwhile. It may not have the bubbling live tiles of Windows Phone, but take a stroll through iOS' App Store and you'll find plenty to keep you amused.

Movie and magazine apps are present and correct, and iOS is particularly good for games. Because Apple enforces a strict approval process, all the apps are of a reasonable quality, and for the most part they're very cheap too.

That leaves Android, the winning choice for more tech-savvy viewers who want to customise or otherwise tinker with their smart phone. The S3 LTE and the Nexus 4 are running quite different flavours of Android, however.

The S3 LTE is currently on Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, disguised beneath Samsung's own TouchWiz interface. Samsung's thrown in a bunch of its own apps, like S Calendar, which improves on the standard Android calendar with a better layout, but not every app is a hit. I'm looking at you, S Voice.

The Nexus 4 is running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and because this is a Nexus device it's a raw, untouched version of Android. You don't get Samsung's apps, but the Google ones are really good already.

Version 4.2 brings goodies like the swipe gesture keyboard and the camera treats mentioned earlier, but the real benefit is that if you buy this phone, you'll be the first to get new versions of Android direct from Google.

Android is moving at a terrific pace right now, so getting new updates fast is a real plus. If you're looking for something dead easy to use I'd still recommend the iPhone, but those who want more options from a mobile should go for the Nexus 4.

Software winner: Google Nexus 4


A year ago when comparing high-end smart phones, we probably wouldn't have mentioned price, because the best of the best have traditionally been similarly expensive. The Google Nexus 4 has changed that however, possibly forever.

The iPhone 5 costs £529 for the 16GB version if you buy SIM-free, while the Galaxy S3 LTE is likely to cost around the £500 mark too. The Lumia 920 is so far only available on Orange, T-Mobile and EE, from free on a £41 two-year contract, or £984 in total.

The Nexus 4 costs £239 if you buy it from Google's Play store -- half the price of its rivals. If 8GB isn't enough storage, there's a 16GB option for £279 too.

We have to talk about price, because it's really the Nexus 4's secret weapon. Other smart phones may have slight advantages when it comes to the camera or available apps, though they really are only slight advantages, but seriously, how can you argue with something that's half the price?

Price winner: Google Nexus 4

All these phones have their merits and all are good choices, but for doing our wallets a massive favour while offering absolutely top-notch hardware and software, the winner here can only be the Nexus 4.

Overall winner: Google Nexus 4

Which of these smart phones is your favourite? Tell me in the comments or on our Facebook wall.