Of course when comparing 2 high end devices like the Galaxy Nexus and the iPhone 4S it’s impossible to take in to account the personal preferences of each of phone shoppers. The subjective areas of smartphone synergy will always be one of the strongest driving factors for which device someone purchases and we aren’t forgetting that.
So, what are the differences between the iPhone 4S and the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus flagship phone for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. We thought we’d throw a quick comparison of some of the key features together and try to explain what the differences actually mean, if indeed they mean anything at all.
We also acknowledge that one cannot truly compare every aspect of a phone, so this comparison will cover as many of the basic bits that customers worry about when choosing between two high-end devices as we can, before the word length gets too out of hand.
So without further ado, here’s our head-to-head of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the iPhone 4S and if you're after a more summarised spreadsheet we've got our Apple iPhone 4S vs Galaxy Nexus
DisplayOne of the first things anyone notices about a device is the display, so that seems like a good place to start. This is also one of the areas where the iPhone 4S and Galaxy Nexus differ most obviously, even to the most cursory of glances.
Where the iPhone 4S sports the trusty and proven 3.5 inch retina display that made the iPhone 4 such a hit, the Galaxy Nexus has taken a slightly different approach.
The G-Nex (as we shall refer to it occasionally from now on) boasts a whopping 4.65 inch Super AMOLED display with 720p HD resolution.
This is an area where numbers and buzz words like “720p HD” can be misleading. It’s certainly impressive that Samsung has managed to cram a resolution of 720x1280 on to such a small screen, but if you were to measure by pixels per inch (ppi) you’d find that the iPhone 4S was still slightly in front. The Galaxy Nexus has a ppi rating of 316 and the iPhone 4S of 326. Is this a big difference? No. But it puts that “720p HD” tagline in to perspective.
Basically both of these phones have incredibly crisp displays. Both have clear blacks, uniform whites and vibrant colours. Both will be among the best displays you will have ever seen on a handset. The only area where they ultimately differ is in size; 3.5 inches compared to 4.65.
This is one of those subjective areas we talked about. Many people will love the idea of a larger screen for browsing, movies and just general use. Others will prefer the more compact approach, as it means a smaller device that takes up less room in the pocket and drains less power. It’s totally up to the user to decide.
Physical Design and DimensionsPerhaps next most obvious area of difference is outward appearace. With such different sized screens the Galaxy Nexus and 4S will obviously differ greatly in dimensions, which can definitely affect how comfortable a device might feel in the hand, or when kept in the pocket. There’s also the element of aesthetic style that is inherent to every high-end purchase. When someone gets a new top-tier handset, it’s always nice to be reminded every time you use it by its level and quality of stylish design.
--The Samsung Galaxy Nexus’ Design--During the Galaxy Nexus keynote presentation, Samsung stated that design creates the “emotional connection to the amazing technology at the heart of the Galaxy Nexus.” Whether or not this is true, we’re still fans of the Galaxy Nexus’ design.
In keeping with the Google Nexus S’s signature curved design with contoured screen, Samsung has done something similar again with the Galaxy Nexus. Back in our Nexus S review, we mentioned how appreciative we were of this approach, as it not only made the phone more comfortable when held against the head, but also when kept in a pocket. The curvature allows the phone to rest against the leg or chest more snugly, and as such makes less of an impact than a totally flat phone would. This allows the handset to be both thicker and larger overall, without decreasing from comfort.
Other than that the Galaxy Nexus has taken a new approach to button design. Neither hardware nor fixed capacitive buttons are employed on the G-Nex. Instead what Samsung and Google are calling virtual buttons. Now, instead of actual separate keys, the Galaxy Nexus’ buttons are part of the display. This allows the buttons to slide away when watching media, or even to light up when pressed. However, once they’ve slid away there’s that little bit extra screen space that hasn’t been sacrificed just to accommodate 3 buttons. It’s an intriguing idea and we can’t wait to see how it goes.
The bezel around the display is just 4.29mm, creating a streamlined look not shared by many other phones. Once again this allows for the display to be larger without impacting the dimensions of the phone unnecessarily.
The back cover is made of what Samsung calls “hyperskin”. This material is said to increase slip resistance and make the device easier to hold overall.
The dimensions of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus are:
- Height: 135.5mm
- Width: 67.9mm
- Depth/Thickness: 8.9mm
--The iPhone 4S’ Design--We went in to great depth on the design of the iPhone 4S in our iPhone 4S review a short while back. Basically between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S nothing has changed.
It’s the same stylish and smooth handset that we’ve all become familiar with. It’s still made out of durable Gorilla Glass and it still has that external antenna running around the side. The antenna itself has received a tiny redesign to avoid the ‘death grip’ issues that plagued the iPhone 4 upon its release, but other than moving a couple of little gaps around there’s really no physical difference.
The dimensions of the iPhone 4S are:
- Height: 115.2mm
- Width: 58.6mm
- Depth/Thickness: 9.3mm
SpeedSpeed is also an area in which certain phrases and terms can be misconstrued to mean more than they actually do. For instance, hardware-wise the Galaxy Nexus is definitely in front in the speed department.
With a 1.2GHz Cortex A-9 processor and a full 1GB of RAM the G-Nex definitely puts itself in front of its competitor. The iPhone 4S has a still impressive dual-core 1GHz A5 processor that has been under-clocked to 800MHz and just 512MB of RAM. But at the end of the day the speed of the two devices is very similar.
If these were 2 Android phones competing against one another then the victor would be clear, especially if they were manufactured by the same company. However, iPhones are renowned for their speed, efficiency and reliability. iPhones are designed alongside the very operating systems on which they run and thus make efficient use of their hardware. As a result it would be safe to say that both the 4S and Galaxy Nexus will be comparable in speed, despite the hardware discrepancy.
Yes, there will be differences between the two if you were to run any of the myriad of benchmark tests out there. But at the end of the day what matters is what the user notices. If you simply notice that your device is fast, switches between apps well and handles reliably then that’s all the average consumer really needs to know.
Both phones are fast; as fast or faster than any other high-end phone out there. Each will excel in certain areas and be simply good in others. It’s really not worth judging a phone by its speed based on specs at the end of the day. What you really need are reviews or hands-on experience. We’ve already got an iPhone 4S review up and we promise we’ll have a Samsung Galaxy Nexus review up as soon as we can. But if a phone is smooth and reliable at every level of operation then that’s all you really need to know, numbers need not really come in to it at all.
CameraOnce again phone cameras are an area where it is easy to be misled, or hasten to judge based on a spec sheet. It’s true that megapixels do give a reliable round-about idea of a phone’s capability, but it’s never wise to make up your mind based solely on any number immediately preceding “MP”.
That being said the iPhone 4S is definitely a winner in the camera department. Its 8MP camera is a wonderful piece of engineering and was one of our favourite features when we reviewed it. The combination of Lens, MP density and the software backing it all made for a truly impressive photo experience.
On the other hand Android phones have always been very similar in quality to one another and, while we hate to take sides, we must admit that the iPhone line has always edged ahead when cameras of equal MP rating were compared.
Having said all of this, Samsung Galaxy Nexus has just a 5MP camera. Given its lower MP rating and the fact that Apple has always had an upper-hand in the camera department, we’d suggest that the Galaxy Nexus would be overshadowed here. The 5MP camera on the G-Nex is no doubt impressive and should definitely take acceptable photos and we’re not saying it won’t. But based on the history between Apple and Android it’s difficult to imagine a 5MP Android camera outclassing an 8MP iPhone competitor.
Memory and StorageMemory and storage is important for a lot of people on devices. Just how much media content or random file space is available can make or break a purchase. Both the iPhone 4S and Galaxy Nexus have plenty to go around.
The Galaxy Nexus comes in both 16 and 32GB versions. Unlike other Android devices it does not have a MicroSD slot for expandable memory, so what you get is what you get.
The iPhone 4S comes in 16, 32 and 64GB versions. It’s a little bit more variety, but variety you’ll have to pay for. This difference in storage space will only matter for the upper end of media users who really think they’ll need that extra 32GB of space.
Price Comparison of the iPhone 4S and Samsung Galaxy NexusThe pricing of both the Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S is very close. For the 16GB versions of each you’re looking at starting around $15-$16 extra per month on a $29 dollar 24 month cap on Virgin, Vodafone and Optus. Telstra prices vary a bit, but that’s to be expected.
If you’d like a more detailed comparison you can put both devices head to head on our phone comparison calculator. Just click “Add a phone” to add your first device, then in the same area click “Add another phone” to add your second.
If you want you can then adjust the search to include your estimated number of calls, texts and the carriers whose prices you’re interested in once you click search. All that info is accessed via the sliders on the left side.