Google Nexus S vs Apple iPhone 4: Fight!

Android-powered phones collectively outsell the iPhone, but can the Nexus S alone beat the iPhone

Google has reentered the phone production market with the Nexus S, the first phone to launch with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system.

The Nexus S joins a large group of high-end Android-powered phones that collectively sell more than Apple's wonder-child, the iPhone 4. But can the Nexus S alone beat the iPhone with its revamped specs and extra features?

The Nexus S, which was made with some assistance from Samsung, follows the recent trend for large smartphone displays, and boasts a 4-inch Super AMOLED display with a 480 by 800 pixels resolution. The Nexus S also has what Google calls a Contour Display, basically a curved glass screen, meant to fit better against your face and make typing easier. The iPhone 4 has a 3.5-inch screen, but packs in more pixels per inch with its 640-by-960 pixels resolution Retina display.

The Nexus S and the iPhone 4 are tied when it comes to cameras. Both have 5-megapixels cameras with flash and auto-focus on the back, and front-facing VGA cameras for video calling. The notable difference is that the iPhone 4 can record 720p HD video (1280×720 pixels), while the Nexus S can only record DVD-quality video at 720 x 480 pixels.

The Nexus S and iPhone 4 also match in processors, both running at 1GHz, and RAM memory, both with 512MB. Something that is usually an advantage for Android phones is expandable storage, but the Nexus S takes a leaf from Apple's book, and offers only 16GB of built-in storage, with no microSD card slot. So for example, at $199 on a contract, you can get either a 16GB iPhone 4 or Nexus S.

With specifications that don't blow the iPhone 4 away, Google and Samsung incorporated a special feature on the Nexus S: NFC (near field communication), which allows you to read information from objects or stickers/posters that are embedded with an NFC chip. This would allow you to make mobile payments directly.

Another step forward Google took with the Nexus S is store availability. The now-defunct Nexus One put many people off because they couldn't try it out in store before buying. But from December 16, when the phone goes on sale, you can go to Best Buy and take the Nexus S for a spin. The Nexus S will cost $199 with a two-year T-Mobile contract, or $529 unlocked. You can use the unlocked version with AT&T SIM cards as well, but because of antenna differences, you will be stuck with EDGE speeds, and not 3G.

Is the Nexus S revolutionary enough to persuade you to choose it over an iPhone 4 or other Android phones like the Verizon Droid X? Sound off in the comments.

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Daniel Ionescu

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