Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S: Smartphone comparison

Which is the better smartphone? Samsung's Galaxy Nexus or the Apple iPhone 4S?

Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs. Apple iPhone 4S: Fight!

Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs. Apple iPhone 4S: Fight!

Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S: Design

Samsung has equipped the Galaxy Nexus with a curved screen and a body that has a teardrop profile — this means the phone is thicker at the top and slightly wider towards the bottom. The curvature makes the Galaxy Nexus feel natural to hold and therefore comfortable to use. If you're worried that the Galaxy Nexus might be too big, don't — the phone has on-screen controls rather than capacitive keys that were previously standard on Android phones, so it isn't much bigger than the popular Samsung Galaxy S II.

Unfortunately, the Galaxy Nexus' battery cover is way too fiddly and difficult to put back on once its removed. It's only a minor issue but the fit and finish is a step behind the iPhone 4S — the plastic feels durable but it doesn't look or feel as sturdy as a premium device should. We really like the non-slip grip that the back of the Galaxy Nexus provides, but we wish Samsung paid more attention to detail.

The Apple iPhone 4S on the other hand retains an identical design to the iPhone 4. It's constructed largely from aluminium and glass, is just 9.3mm thick and has an industrial look and feel with distinctive, sharp edges. The iPhone 4S also retains the iPhone 4's glass back that does look slick but attracts plenty of fingerprints. The iPhone 4S is a superbly constructed smartphone, but it doesn't feel as comfortable to hold as the Galaxy Nexus due to its sharp edges.

Galaxy Nexus

Verdict: We love the Galaxy Nexus' teardrop design, its subtle curve and the way it feels in our hands, but the winner here is the iPhone 4S. It may not be as comfortable to hold but there is no doubting it's superb build quality and construction. The iPhone 4S feels exactly like a premium smartphone should and even though the design is essentially more than a year old, it hasn't aged.

Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S: Software

The Galaxy Nexus is the first phone to run Google's latest Android software, Ice Cream Sandwich. The entire user interface has been refreshed to create a more uniform look and feel. It's faster and slicker than any previous Android software. It feels more consistent and easier to use. The camera shutter is staggeringly fast: there is almost zero shutter lag, so images are captured as soon as you press the on-screen shutter key. The Web browser is speedy and smooth and performance is consistently excellent.

The iPhone 4S runs Apple's latest iOS 5 operating system. It offers the same familiar swipeable home screen enhanced by folders, and the consistent Apple UI look and feel extending across all of the standard applications. If you have never used an iPhone before, you can expect a device that is easy to pick up and use, a well-populated App Store, and excellent multimedia capabilities. The latest iOS 5 version of Apple's platform also introduces iCloud, a cloud storage solution that automatically stores your content and makes it available on multiple devices including a Mac or PC. All iPhone users get 5GB of cloud storage for free but can upgrade to larger capacities for an extra cost: 10GB for $21 per year, 20GB for $42 per year or 50GB for $105 per year.

Galaxy Nexus

Verdict: Ice Cream Sandwich is a delicious upgrade to Android and ties up alot of loose ends. It's slicker, faster and easier to use than ever before. Despite this, Apple's iOS platform remains easier to use and its user interface is far more consistent. A choice between these two platforms ultimately comes down to personal preference: Android is far more flexible and offers more features, but the iPhone does the basics and does them incredibly well. Some might love iOS' elegance, others may hate its oversimplified approach. Some might love tinkering with Android, others may find it confusing. On that basis, we're calling this one a draw.

Galaxy Nexus vs iPhone 4S: Camera

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus has a 5-megapixel camera with single-LED flash that also doubles as a full HD 1080p video recorder. The best feature of the camera is its speed: it takes photos with virtually zero shutter lag and it really has to be seen to be believed. You can easily capture a whole heap of images in a matter of seconds, as the picture is taken the moment you press the on-screen shutter key. The Galaxy Nexus also has a 1.3-megapixel front facing camera will handle video calls and also record 720p HD video: a nifty addition for those who like to record themselves.

The iPhone 4S has 8-megapixel camera that's widely regarded as one of the best mobile phone cameras on the market. It has a backlight illuminated CMOS sensor that claims to offer better performance in low light situations. The 4S camera can record 1080p video and has an image signal processor to provide image stabilisation and face recognition. Apple says the iPhone 4S takes 1.1 seconds to be ready for a photo and then just half a second between successive photos: not as quick as the Galaxy Nexus, but still very fast.

Galaxy Nexus

Verdict: The Galaxy Nexus has a good camera, but the iPhone 4S has a great camera. We loved the fact that there is virtually zero shutter lag on the Galaxy Nexus but the iPhone 4S generally produces better quality images with a little more detail, less image noise and better exposure. The Galaxy Nexus is by no means a bad camera: in many instances it produces more natural looking photos than the iPhone 4S and its macro performance is very similar. But the win here goes to Apple.

Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S: Internals

The main appeal of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus may be its Ice Cream Sandwich software, but the phone is packing some serious hardware, too. The Galaxy Nexus is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, has 1GB of RAM and either 16GB or 32GB of internal memory. There is no microSD card slot for extra storage, so you'll have to make the most of the on-board memory. A 1750mAh battery powers the device.

The iPhone 4S is powered by an 800MHz Apple A5 dual core processor, but only has 512MB of RAM. It also has a dual-core graphics processor to speed up gaming. According to Apple, the dual core CPU combined with the dual-core GPU makes graphics performance up to seven times faster than the iPhone 4. A real positive is the 64GB model iPhone 4S, along with the standard 16GB and 32GB models. The iPhone 4S has a 1420mAh battery.

Verdict: The Galaxy Nexus has a bigger battery, a faster processor and more RAM, but the iPhone 4S has more internal memory. In the end, how the internals work depends on the software: the iPhone 4S may have a slower processor on paper, but is anything but a slow phone. In the end, we'll call this one a draw.

Galaxy Nexus

Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S: Other features

The Galaxy Nexus supports a wide range of video and music files and best of all it doesn't require software like iTunes to get music and video files onto it. You can simply plug the Galaxy Nexus into a PC via a USB port and drag and drop files onto the device. On a Windows PC the Galaxy Nexus appears in the control panel as a "portable device", but on a Mac or Linux computer you will need to download the Android File Transfer application in order to move files to and from the phone.

The Apple iPhone 4S requires iTunes software to synchronise video and music files. It doesn't come with a HDMI-out port, but an optional Apple Digital AV Adapter ($45) can mirror whatever is on your iPhone 4S screen to a high definition TV. The Galaxy Nexus can be connected to a television via HDMI but only if you purchase a seperate MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) adapter that uses the micro-USB port to output 1080p HD video and audio via HDMI.

The Galaxy Nexus comes pre-loaded with the Google Maps Navigation application that offers free turn-by-turn GPS navigation. This is a real advantage over third-party turn-by-turn GPS applications for the iPhone 4S that often cost well over $50.

The iPhone 4S comes with an exclusive software feature called Siri voice control. It's a voice assistant that lets you talk to perform tasks, such as asking for the weather forecast, making a calendar appointment, setting your alarm and creating a reminder. It’s a Beta release, but Siri works with Australian English in addition to US and UK English languages.

Another point worth noting is the fact that the iPhone 4S is a world phone, meaning it will work across both 3G and CDMA networks. There are no longer any CDMA networks in Australia, but for those who frequently travel to the US, the iPhone 4S' status as a "world phone" will definitely come in handy. The Galaxy Nexus is a quad-band HSDPA phone, so it will work across all Australian 3G networks including Telstra's 850MHz Next G network, and the 900 and 2100MHz networks used by Optus and Vodafone in Australia. Samsung says an LTE version of the Galaxy Nexus will be available "depending on the region" but has not clarified whether Australia will be part of that. Telstra's new 4G network operates on the LTE 1800MHz spectrum band.

What do you think about the Galaxy Nexus and the Apple iPhone 4S? Let me know in the comments below!

Tags Galaxy NexusApple iPhone 4SSamsung Galaxy Nexusiosmobile phonesAndroidsmartphonesAndroid 4.0iOS 5Ice Cream SandwichiPhone 4S

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World

35 Comments

maikai.guy

1

Apple store wins over Android Market? Really? Maybe last year. Isn't that a preference rather than a reality at this point?

Processors are a draw? The A5 is not a more advanced processor than an A9... and with the Nexus being clocked a full 50% faster... winner = Galaxy Nexus

user

2

what about durability? if I have a two year contract, which will hold up better in the long run...

Dianne

3

Please, please tell me that this was written to be a parody of spec-based comparison reviews.

Geoff

4

Good comparison Ross. Pretty close call by the look of it. It seems the main differentiators are the size & user focus. Apple makes it easy, Android makes it powerful. I believe the Nexus GSM variant has a pentaband hspa+21 radio & the iPhone has quadband hspa 14. Not much difference really.

Ross Catanzariti

5

@maikai.guy: I still believe iOS apps are generally more polished than Android Apps, though you're right, it will more often than not come down to user preference.

@user: I believe both will hold up great. iPhone 4S build may prove to be a little better, but despite being plastic the Galaxy Nexus definitely feels durable.

@Geoff: Thanks, definitely a very close call. Good point on the HSDPA, I should probably add that in even if its a minor point.

Bob

6

The Nexus is a Penta phone not a quad phone. However it doesn't support CDMA. It also support faster download speeds than iphone.

JB

7

How do you ding the Nexus for dimensions and declare it the winner for screen size? Of course it's going to be longer and wider... for the exact reasons that you gave it 'the win' on screen size. Yet, it's slimmer than the 4S.

Horse

8

Ross, How good is Undinese!!

Juju

9

@Ross Catanzariti
You did not answer maikai.guy's question about A5 vs. A9 comparison.

Smakdown

10

The A5 SoC has the latest GPU I believe. Which leads the market. The GN is clocked higher, but I dont we would see much of a difference

Andy

11

The iPhones processor isnt even close to the g-nex's. The iphones is underclocked to 800mhz, which is exactly what my OG droid is set to.

Smakdown

12

You do know this is a dual core processor, right? Im not saying one is better than the other (Except the GPU), but I bet the speed would be Indistinguishable between the two during daily use. I just want the thing to be released!!!!

Alex

13

All of you talking about the Nexus Processor blowing away the Iphone 4s are on crack. Yes, it is clocked higher, but in real world use what's going to be most noticeable is your battery draining because of the higher clock speed. There's a reason apple only clocks their process at 800 mhz, because they know it's more than sufficient to handle anything you want to do, and won't drain your battery as much. About the only benchmark the G-nex wins is in the browser benchmarks, and that is primarily due to the higher clock speed. So do I want website to load 1-2 seconds faster, or do I want my battery to last all day? I'm taking battery every time. And the A5 vs A9 comparison makes no sense. The A5 is a SoC that contains ARM cortex A9's in it.

MIke

14

@Alex... What about all the complaints of poor battery life on the iphone 4s and the so-called fix? I wouldn't be so sure that that the iphone one-ups the nexus on battery life even with the lower clocked speed (Ross seems to agree Galaxy Nexus is even slightly better in his battery life comparison.) Clocked speed is really a mute point however; what really matters is how well the OS handles its tasks at hand. The clocked speed has an effect, but some of the posted benchmarks show the iphone loosing in browsing processing, yet winning in graphics processing- for example: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Galaxy-Nexus-Benchmarks-iPhone-4S-Speed-Fastest-Phone,news-13257.html

We all know iphones, and IOS(x) have always been super responsive, with zero lag… they've had that part down pat. On the other hand- iphone has been catching up to Android in multi-tasking and notifications, where Android has been catching up to IOS with lag-free processing, and less buggy apps. They both have really started to equal out. It comes down to what you want in an OS's functionality as well as hardware, and the quality of it, where each has its strengths over the other. Beating to death the argument of which is better is never going to be a definitive answer, and the riff-raff between IOS and Android users is comical, yet more, and more so annoying. Why can't we just give these developers BOTH some love?

We live in a day of age when we hold a mini-super computer in our hands, and it's only going to get better. I guess arguing the word BETTER between the two will always keep competition strong, but at some point, I'm going to stop reading the comments, because I just can't take the bickering any longer, nor those who want to squash honest reviewers like Ross who are just trying to get useful information (not always 100% factual, but opinion matters as well…) to their readers. On the other hand some other reviewers are terribly one-sided.

Generally, it was a good review among the many out there… Thanks Ross.

Mike^2

15

I don't comment often, but I am 100% with the Mike above. The bickering is very annoying and there are too many fanboys on both sides. While i am an android user and dont really care to use an iOS device, I do believe thre are certain people for both. Power and customization = android, clean and ease of use= iOS . You should be able to choose the one that suites you best without being ridiculed by the other.

JoeUser

16

Dont see much mention of nfc. Have google wallet on my nexus S and it is too awesome. wallet is now on phone. NFC is the future and google was first. Please include this in future reviews. If apple were to put nfc in a phone, it would be mentioned in every review as some key feature... android does it and its hardly mentioned.

inexperienced

18

As my name states I am inexperienced in all of these new smart phones however I find myself wanting to keep up with technology so I set out to find a few things out. What stopped me dead in my tracks unfortunately, is that if anything happens to the iphone, it can only be repaired by apple, and one worse for me, is that if the battery goes on the iphone, it has to be sent back, and there goes my phone for who knows how long......anyway from someone who is inexperienced that is what has made the difference for me.......cheers all......

Ever

19

Definitively a victory for the Galaxy Nexus, buying that when is available on Verizon.

Fred

20

There was no mention of the quality of phone quality. After all that is the most important capability.

ANgel

21

All of you talking about the Nexus Processor blowing away the Iphone 4s are on crack. Yes, it is clocked higher, but in real world use what's going to be most noticeable is your battery draining because of the higher clock speed. There's a reason apple only clocks their process at 800 mhz, because they know it's more than sufficient to handle anything you want to do, and won't drain your battery as much. About the only benchmark the G-nex wins is in the browser benchmarks, and that is primarily due to the higher clock speed. So do I want website to load 1-2 seconds faster, or do I want my battery to last all day? I'm taking battery every time. And the A5 vs A9 comparison makes no sense. The A5 is a SoC that contains ARM cortex A9's in it.

actually that chip is two a8s

Jennifer

22

My friend just bought me the iphone 4... When talking on it it keeps cutting in and out to where they can't hear me most of the time. Does the iphone 4s do this? or should i go with the galaxy nexus?

Drew

23

How is the processor speed a draw? The Nexus is considerably faster than the 4S. Also, how are the markets in favor of the 4S? They both have their advantages, and should be a draw.

Drew

24

EDIT TO MY PREVIOUS COMMENT:
In addition, I really don't understand why Apple gets as much attention as they do. Android had a slide-down notification system for years. Now that Apple introduced it, it's suddenly a huge advancement in smart phones. The same goes with Siri. Voice commands? Really? So 2007. Yes, you can have a conversation with Siri. So Apple is telling us we really don't need friends anymore. Just our phones. I've owned the iPod Touch, and I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Then I got an Android phone, and sold my iPod Touch for $50. Haven't regretted it once.

ocybero

25

jennifer, it happens when vodafone is your carrier

AppleSux

26

You forgot to award points to the Galaxy Nexus because you never have to deal with Apple Tech Support.

Pat

27

Jennifer iPhone 4S are worst then iPhone 4 had a samsung galaxy for a bit great phone I can't tell u how bad iphone4s are

TuscanCowboy

28

I am literally confused. I just want to know which one os a better deal for my money. My girlfriend has the new IPhone, and I've tried it out and it's very easy to use. Plus I can get it with a new contract very cheap, if not free. But I think I'd like the Galaxy. I don't know the cost of it though, and I get worried about how long it will last. Apple seems to have such incredible quality. While these comments were somewhat helpful, they mostly just addressed specs, and not price. Not to mention, the bickering is just useless. Ford...Chevy...Ford...pointless! Wouldn't somebody buy a hot, fast car that costs less and performs almost the same as another hot, fast car?

Asitejust

29

Theres more FREE apps in the android store than the ISTORE. I would go an android any day over an apple. Superior navigation vs the apple navigation which is reliant on hardware buttons.

Tony

30

DON'T BE FOOLED WITH ANDROID/SAMSUNG PRODUCT AND SAVE YOUR MONEY

GOOGLE PROVIDE NO SUPPORT ON ITS PRODUCT AND THE SAME GOES TO SAMSUNG.

The following is a list of faults with your Android Software on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus I have encountered to date and others as well such as my friends and also if you do your research on the internet:

• Volume is very low. The latest ICS update 4.0.2 does not fix this issue.
• Accelerometer pulls to the left. It is not aligned.
• Android email native app does not support S/MIME. Customers need to purchase a third party app such as Touchdown in order to connect to their Exchange Servers ($20.00 gone). Google/Samsung advertise that we canconnect to corporate emails EASILY. Actually at times we can’t at all. http://www.google.com/nexus/# As the native mail app does not support S/MIME I really don’t understand how they can advertise that we can connect to corporate emails easily. My guestimate would be approximately 80% of companies are unable to connect or if not more.
• Android on occasions reboots for no known reason. Even during a call whilst the phone rings.
• Multi touch does not work properly.
• Screen sometimes does not rotate with ease.
• Phone’s battery life is atrocious
• Poor 3G connectivity and in some cases no internet connection at all while in the middle of the city with a mobile tower above me.

GOOGLE AND SAMSUNG YOU ARE PATHETIC. THEY SHOULD BE SUED AND PROVIDE FULL REFUNDS TO ITS CUSTOMERS.

Blergan

31

apple devices are made to be simple. people jailbreak their iphones when really the should just buy an android..... what apple does it does perfectly, it doesn't stuff anything up instead it just doesn't release those features. Android on the other hand allow you to customise your phone exactly how you want it. People buy apple for its ease of use and simplicity, people buy android so that they can get flash support and so they can fully customise their phones. I use apple products (iphone 4 and macbook pro) and love them both. I probably will only buy apple products for the rest of my life but thats just me.
In reality the galaxy nexus wins because of the amount of features offered + the amount of customisation allowed. the apple app store still beats the android market though and apple support is still the best of any company i know of. Just think though, if apple made the galaxy nexus then that would be the perfect phone!

No one important

32

People jailbreak ther iphones cuz you can get both the features of third party apps and simplicity of apple software. Compared to the Apple appstore, Google's play store is just too unorganised. And plus, you can't really purchase movies and tv shows or download podcasts. It also doesn't show what you're searching for and instead shows a whole lot of other apps that have nothing to do with the one you've searched for. Maybe google offers more free apps, but seeing as the apps cost only a few dollars, the app store is a definite win.

roflmao

33

your all a bunch of idiots lol shut the #'@{ up

pokepal101

34

Internals is a DRAW? You crazy?
More RAM and better processor is definitely better than more storage...

LAURA

35

what about the SAR count on each...very important to health both the regular and the body SAR please compare that, thanks so much

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