Who made the best Nexus phone for its time: HTC, Samsung or LG?

Who made the best Nexus phone for its time: HTC, Samsung or LG?
Ah, the Nexus phones - probably the most beloved handsets in the entire Android universe. Never really achieving the status of top sellers, but always being highly-regarded, as they have not only been cool pieces of tech, but have also helped Google guide its hardware partners and introduce new versions of Android.

We've seen four of these: the Nexus One by HTC, the Nexus S by Samsung, the Galaxy Nexus, again by Samsung, and the Nexus 4 by LG. While it's safe to say that each Nexus has been more successful than the one before it, we think this is largely thanks to Google getting better at distributing the phones, as well as the constantly increasing number of users who are aware of what Android and Nexus are.

That said, it's definitely not an easy task to say which one of these three manufacturers has done its job best. Obviously, the answer to that question would be rather subjective, but still undeniably fun to explore. According to Google, Nexus manufacturers are being selected for having the right technology at the right time. But there's more to a device than the processor or the screen. Until now, the companies in this business have been able to get away with their generic, uninspired designs mostly because of the tremendous interest smartphones cause these days. People are simply crazy about smartphones, many are still discovering the power of these handheld devices and seem to be too obsessed with the possibilities they enable that they fail to notice the amount of work put into the shell of the product. And that amount varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer, and from model to model.

In addition to the design of the exterior, which is of utmost importance for the success of any consumer product, we can also talk about their specs. Sure, all Nexus handsets have aimed to be top-notch performers, but they haven't always been on the bleeding edge of technology. For example, the Nexus 4 sports an awesome specs sheet, but lacks a key feature - LTE. The Galaxy Nexus, on the other hand, has never been anything spectacular in the specs department - even when it first came out. Come on then, let's take a closer look at each Nexus!


Ah, the Nexus One, the device that started it all (for the Nexus line, that is). It actually had little to no flaws back then, when its 3.7" WVGA AMOLED display was considered large, and its Snapdragon S1 processor with Adreno 200 was the standard among high-end phones. Not only this, but it also had something that today's Nexus handset lack - a microSD card slot! With or without microSD, though, it later turned out that the handset actually suffered from a critical problem - its very limited internal storage. Unfortunately, this prevented Google from updating the handset past Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Thankfully, those who had some knowledge of custom ROMs could get the latest OS updates like ICS and JB, thanks to the productive dev community.

What's even more important for this story, though, is that HTC did a wonderful job with the design of this smartphone. Probably the most inspired Nexus phone to date, the Nexus One has a strong, distinctive appearance that can easily stand out from the crowd even today. What's more, HTC utilized its unibody technology giving the handset a quality look and feel, with all of the internals being enclosed by a single piece of aluminum.


With the hit that the Galaxy S turned out to be, it wasn't really a surprise that Samsung got assigned with the task of creating the second Nexus phone. Hardware-wise, the Nexus S was just as spectacular as its predecessor. It got a natural bump in screen size to 4 inches (though it kept the same resolution of 480 x 800), and it also got Samsung's own Exynos 3 single-core CPU, coupled with the trusty PowerVR SGX540 GPU. This was a great hardware configuration at the time, and one that is still able to deliver a satisfying user experience, as long as you don't push it too hard. Being much better prepared in the internal storage department, Google showed its readiness to support its devices and even issued an official update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

The change of the manufacturer, however, showed in a big way. The Nexus S was no longer that object of desire that the Nexus One could have been, given enough exposure. It had that weird hump at the lower end of its back, and it had a much more generic, entirely plastic appearance and construction. It's safe to say that this transition from HTC to Samsung largely foretold what's going to happen during the next couple of years on the mobile scene. Basically, the market was overtaken by countless Samsung and Samsung-like devices, which offered good flexibility and performance (for the most part), but little in the way of artistry.


How can one even forget about the Galaxy Nexus? It's a device we thoroughly enjoyed, mainly due to the operating system it came with - Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich. Introducing this new version of Android, the Galaxy Nexus became an instant favorite of the community. Those who disliked it from day one had a problem with the handset's TI OMAP4460 dual-core processor and the same PowerVR SGX540 GPU, which were good and reliable, but maybe not part of a geek's wettest dreams. Just like with the Nexus S, Google was once again blamed for making Samsung omit the microSD slot. Finally, the 5MP camera of the Galaxy Nexus was nothing to write home about. In fact, it was sub-par compared to other high-end devices out there. This was one complaint that we backed as well.

What's probably been the most compromised Nexus phone as far as hardware goes, though we didn't really consider the issues it seemed to be suffering from really major, actually stood a bit better than its predecessor in terms of visuals. Samsung had taken the time to polish its looks creating a perfectly clean front side and giving the plastic material a pleasant finish, but the weird "hump" on the lower backside was still there, and overall, there just wasn't anything too exciting about its design. Nothing that makes you say: I need to have this.


And so we finally arrive at our last stop - the current-gen Nexus model, this time produced by another South Korean company - LG. Samsung's smaller neighbor managed to grab the rights to manufacture the handset thanks to having access to combo of cutting-edge technologies that allowed it to put the latest and fastest mobile processor around, as well as one of the most beautiful screens in the industry right inside this year's Nexus. Google seemed to like the idea of it and let LG have a go. The result was the Nexus 4 - one of the most powerful smartphones around, and one that will remain relevant to the needs of high-end smartphone users for quite a lot of time. Naturally, nothing is perfect, and the compromises which had to be made with the Nexus 4 were quickly identified, with the most notable one being lack of LTE connectivity. Google, however, managed to make up for it by selling the Nexus 4 at a spectacular price - only $300 without a contract. It's Google that should be credited for that price, and not LG, as it already became clear that the phone's manufacturer doesn't have the slightest intention of offering it at such an outrageous price. Outside of Google's badly-stocked online store, the Nexus 4 will be found at almost double the cost.

And what can we say about the looks of this controversial, but still utterly exciting Nexus? Has LG managed to reimagine the series after Samsung's traditional lack of attention towards the visual attractiveness of its Android phones? To a certain degree - yes. Probably not as great as the inspired and unique looks of the Nexus One, the Nexus 4 still presents us with a clean, but not generic shape, put together using two large, flat pieces of glass for the front and back sides. This alone has been enough to turn the Nexus 4 into a desirable object, but LG has also added a nice little pattern to the back side just to freshen things up a bit.

So, can we conclusively say which manufacturer did the best job when producing its Nexus phone? The answer is no, of course. For some reason, emotional, aesthetical, or other, the HTC Nexus One and LG Nexus 4 seem to be our favorites out of the bunch, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are the best.

But now that we've taken you through such a detailed refresher, it's your turn to tell us which company do you think did the best job with its Nexus phones. HTC, Samsung or LG? And which is your favorite Nexus model? Sound off in the comments  below!

Who made the best Nexus phone for its time: HTC, Samsung or LG?

HTC (Nexus One)
Samsung (Nexus S)
Samsung (Galaxy Nexus)
LG (Nexus 4)



1. bayhuy

Posts: 320; Member since: Jun 23, 2011

Nexus One all the way!

12. danny_a2005

Posts: 365; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

Totally agree.. If Nexus 4 would have been made by HTC this year I would totally buy it.. Sorry LG never liked your hardware.. I bet the camera on the nexus 4 sucks

16. SleepingOz unregistered

So according to you, the Nexus 4 would've been better only if it had an HTC logo on it? Oh man!

19. danny_a2005

Posts: 365; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

No, HTC is not only a tademark, HTC means quality.. Have you seen a comparison of the Optimus G against DNA? You should.. And look what Samsung has done to Nexus.. Plastic phones.. Sorry but the galaxy's are really ugly..

28. SleepingOz unregistered

Having higher benchmark scores doesn't mean that the DNA hardwares are better since they're using more or less the same hardwares which invalidate your "LG never liked your hardware". Not to forget that the Optimus G is running 4.0.4 while the DNA is running 4.1.1 with project butter. It'd be really bad if it doesn't manage to score higher than the Optimus G.

32. SleepingOz unregistered

"and even tough it seems that Droid DNA preforms slightly better(due to 4.1.1), the Optimus G is good as well. Moreover, the South Korean flagship even runs faster in some apps."http://www.android.gs/htc-droid-dna-vs-lg-optimus-g/ "The Droid manages to refresh webpages slightly faster, the Optimus G launches the camera app quicker, and in the end, both perform quite similarly in terms of day-to-day use."http://www.gforgames.com/gadgets/htc-droid-dna-vs-lg-optimus-video-battle-28011/ Also no one talked about Samsung here, you seem to ignore that HTC phones are also made of plastic. And the DNA is one of the ugliest phone out there. Try harder next time you want to troll.

49. psysect

Posts: 49; Member since: Sep 27, 2012

sleepy wake up plzz!! DNA is one of the ugliest phone !! R u Good??!!

52. mr.techdude

Posts: 571; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

SleepingOz mate wake up u doosh, the HTC droid DNA has had people all over the world saying "what a beautiful phone"...........etc. Ur really sleeping, sure HTC uses plastic but its poly carbonate, and has that matte feel to it, Samsung uses the same poly carbonate plastic but they put a glaze over it which feels like pure cheap plastic, so stop posting comments while ur sleeping OK

67. amiroo

Posts: 269; Member since: Sep 03, 2012

exactly!! dna is the most beautifull monster.

75. gelo0291

Posts: 16; Member since: Nov 06, 2012

"HTC phones are also made of plastic". Totally incorrect. My HTC One S is made of aluminum, treated under thousands of voltage called the Micro Arc Oxidation process, which is also used in satellites, which makes it's aluminum 200% tougher.

40. SherlockHolmes

Posts: 125; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

Hey Speak after thinking it twice !! Sammy Fans all around !!

68. IHateApple

Posts: 122; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

I voted for the Galaxy Nexus for one sole reason: It had Android version 4.0.1. Period. IMHO that feature made it better than even the SGS2! On a personal note I wish phones like the Motorola Razr had come with ICS from the start.

71. DylRicho

Posts: 17; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

Don't forget the One S and how that pulverises the One X and Galaxy S III into the ground. :)

35. RaKithAPeiRiZ

Posts: 1488; Member since: Dec 29, 2011

Htc made the best nexus in my opinion , htc had the best display ,the best CPU ,the best designs during its heyday ,so they did a excellent job at it , LG also did make a great nexus but still its missing some things like a Sd slot which htc had back on its nexus, in my opinion Samsung nexus s comes third best , followed by the kind of half baked galaxy nexus which clearly shows htc had dedication


Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 21, 2012

Read some articles related to Nexus devices. Google did not want a SD slot because they didn't want to confuse users (and didnt want to pay patent fees to MSFT)

39. PhenomFaz

Posts: 1236; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

I love HTC more than LG but as far as the Nexus goes the best is LG Nexus 4 just because it is the latest and greatest in the Nexus camp. its modern the crystalline back looks awesome and the whole phone feels premium. its the best cuz its the latest with HTC coming in at a close second. the samsung nexi devices...not so much though G Nex isnt bad by any means either

69. IHateApple

Posts: 122; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

Hullo? The device says best in it's time. Not the latest and greatest. As of December 2012 the Nexus 4 is "obviously" the best.

70. NokiaFTW

Posts: 2072; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

I bet u suck !! -_-

51. KParks23

Posts: 729; Member since: Oct 13, 2010

I find it actually funny that the nexus 4 has the most votes..... IT SAYS BEST OF ITS TIME FOOLS!

54. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Exactly. This isnt just about specs....its about overall user experience IMO. And the Nexus 4 hasnt been out long enough.

53. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I say so far....the Nexus One too. The Nexus 4 hasn't been out long enough. The Samsung Nexus's....too many reception issues. Sorry Samsung fans. I had a G Nex, kids mother had a Nexus S.

56. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Also specs, storage, LTE wasnt an issue for the Nexus One at the time. Many felt it had it all. Not too many ppl felt like it was compromise. Same cant be said for the other Nexus's.

65. moroninc

Posts: 193; Member since: Jul 14, 2012

Nexus One ... so sexy i bought it twice!!

2. Wiki_jaan

Posts: 704; Member since: Jun 24, 2012

every nexus is and was best for the time of their launch.....

3. MeoCao unregistered

I cast my vote to LG, the greatest all around Nexus!

4. omar98

Posts: 71; Member since: Aug 28, 2011

if only the nexus 4 had a 32 gb model if only....

5. ChizCurls

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 21, 2012

Nexus S - Simply beautiful.

6. toiletcleaner

Posts: 224; Member since: Oct 10, 2012

Galaxy Nexus

38. Reluctant_Human

Posts: 913; Member since: Jun 28, 2012

That was my favorite as well. I really like the form factor. Perfect size and shape for my pocket and the really liked the curved screen.

7. abdane

Posts: 507; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

for each for its own year, the Galaxy nexus is the best... i am saying only for its year not among all !

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.