Google and Apple have new flagship phones — but which one is the better buy for business users?
In October, Apple launched the iPhone 5s, which features a fingerprint sensor for extra security and iOS 7, an operating system update with plenty of business-friendly features.
Meanwhile, Google launched its brand-new Nexus 5 smartphone late last month. The phone is the first and only handset running Android 4.4 KitKat, an OS update that's packed with productivity boosters.
The iPhone 5s and Nexus 5 both feature next-generation hardware, but they are vastly different devices, each with a unique feature set and value proposition for small business owners.
Read on for a head-to-head comparison that will help you choose which device is right for your business.
The Apple iPhone 5s and Google Nexus 5 are strikingly different in terms of form factor. Your business's specific needs will determine which phone is the right fit.
Nexus 5: The Nexus 5, which boasts a screen just barely shy of 5 inches, dwarfs the iPhone 5s, which retains the same 4-inch screen as all previous iPhone models.
A big screen could be a big plus for some business users, who will use the extra real estate for easier Web browsing and email management. And if you need to get real work done — for example, viewing and editing documents — on your smartphone, the Nexus 5's bigger screen is a winner.
iPhone 5s:Some users will prefer the smaller build of the iPhone 5s, which might be a better fit for your palm or pocket. And most observers have noted its aluminum body gives it a decidedly more premium feel than the plastic (albeit sleek) Nexus 5.
In terms of speed and performance, expect few differences between these two top-tier phones.
Nexus 5:The Nexus 5's 2.3-GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and improved memory management make browsing and multitasking on the device nearly as speedy as on any handset on the market.
iPhone 5s:The iPhone 5s packs a 1.3-GHz dual-core Apple A7 processor and 1GB of RAM. Notably, the iPhone 5s' processor is the first and only smartphone chip with a 64-bit architecture, but tests show it performs about as well as the Nexus 5 for everyday business tasks.
Both Android and iOS are already capable of helping business users stay productive on the go. But brand-new software upgrades are what make these smartphones stand out as business devices.
Nexus 5: The debut of Android 4.4 KitKat is the Nexus 5's claim to fame.
KitKat introduces a smarter, more accessible version of Google Now, an intelligent personal assistant that can help business users stay on track and never miss a call or meeting.
The service works by monitoring your activity within the Google ecosystem and pushing relevant notifications to you as they're detected. In practice, the service can notify you of traffic delays, weather, upcoming appointments and much more.
It's more powerful than other notification services because of its tight integration with Google search and your existing Gmail and Google Calendar accounts.
Android 4.4 users can now access Google Now hands-free by saying "OK, Google." The service also features improved voice-recognition capabilities.
The OS update also includes native support for Quickoffice, a free Android-based office suite. The Nexus 5 will be the first Android smartphone to ship with the Quickoffice software preinstalled and fully integrated into its operating system.
That means business users on the go can more easily create and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files; access documents stored on Google Drive; view PDF files; and more.
The Nexus 5 is also the first Android device with native printer support, making it easy to send documents to the printer straight from your mobile device, without fussing with third-party apps.
iPhone 5s: Apple's new phone debuted with iOS7, an OS update that includes a visual redesign as well as enticing features for small business owners.
The iPhone 5s comes with a revamped version of Apple's iWork mobile office suite preinstalled. The software package includes three apps: Pages (word processor), Numbers (spreadsheet editor) and Keynote (presentation maker).
The iWork mobile apps are fully integrated with Apple's desktop iWork applications, letting users transition seamlessly among devices.
Also new on iOS 7 is AirDrop, which lets users share files with a single tap. AirDrop-enabled apps make it easier to send documents, presentations, photos, videos and other files to a person or group via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. That feature makes the iPhone 5s a good tool for group collaboration.
AirDrop also makes it easier to exchange proposals, blueprints or other files with clients — which will come in handy if those needs apply to your business.
And iOS 7 features a revamped email app with the ability to add and organize "smart" auto-sorting mailboxes and view PDF annotations. It also features a more powerful email search tool and touch gestures.
Note that iOS7 is not exclusive to the iPhone 5s. Business owners can also install the update on the iPhone 4, 4s or 5, though it may be a bit sluggish on older devices.
In this matchup, cost could be the deciding factor for small business owners on a budget.
Nexus 5: If you prefer to buy your phones through your carrier, steer clear of the Nexus 5. The phone is only sold by Google, and no carrier subsidies apply.
Off contract, Google's Nexus 5 is notably inexpensive for a high-end smartphone: The phone starts at just $350 for the 16GB version, or $400 for the 32GB version.
One more potential deal breaker: The Nexus 5 is not supported by Verizon.
iPhone 5:On contract, the phone is sold for a subsidized price of about $200 on all major U.S. carriers.
Off-contract, the iPhone 5s' $650 price point is well above the price for Google's offering.
The X factor
The iPhone 5s has one exclusive feature that's been touted as a new standard for mobile security: a fingerprint scanner.
Apple's Touch ID system lets you unlock your phone simply by pressing your finger to a scanner embedded in the home button on the front of the device. That means only you can access sensitive company data stored on your iPhone 5s.
The ability to unlock your phone more quickly and easily than ever is just a bonus.
So far, the new iPhone is the only mobile device on the market with a built-in fingerprint scanner. Users of Android phones like the Nexus 5 must rely on cumbersome password systems to keep their data locked down, at least for now.
The Nexus 5 and iPhone 5s are both top-of-the-line smartphones. Each features high-end hardware and a mature ecosystem of business and productivity apps.
The real story behind Google and Apple’s new flagship smartphones are the revamped operating systems each runs on.
Before you buy, take some time to consider which phone has the features you need to help you run your business.