Apple iPhone 3GS and HTC Nexus One: side by side

Introduction and Design
HTC Nexus One Release Date - January 05, 2010
Apple iPhone 3GS Release Date - Jun 19, 2009

Two handsets compete with one another in attempting to overcome criticism all around to become arguably one of the best phones in the business right now. Apple’s iPhone 3GS still performs well in a market where it has seen its fair share of trials and tribulations. With a less than direct marketing approach, the HTC Nexus One has begun gearing up as the illustrious next dominant Android handset to give Apple a run for its money. Two handsets enter the arena; each seemingly carrying along their specific platforms along their shoulders – with both offering the highest level of performance to radiate among the crop of smartphones out there.


We’ve already gone extensively over the design of each handset – instead, we’ll focus on what concepts they introduce that ultimately become adopted on future phones. If you consider the Nexus One’s footprint as gigantic, then think back a couple years ago when the first generation iPhone was introduced into the market. Up until that point, you rarely saw any smartphones utilize a footprint that large; almost considered as being too big. Most people wouldn’t think anything special about the dimensions used by the Nexus One – it became all too normal nowadays to see handsets reach larger forms and not impact the minds of consumers. In the wake of other smartphones, the iPhone’s look has somewhat diminished over time – which is partly due to biases that it’s been a tried and true look for so long. What the Nexus One has an advantage over is just newer technology; the overall look can go both ways for people – either liking it or they don’t. Touch sensitive buttons undoubtedly replace the mechanical build of older handsets – still we see the implementation of physical buttons on the Nexus One. Both handsets exude a high level of workmanship thanks partly to their use of high quality materials. There’s no question that the iPhone’s build is still superior over the Nexus One – although it doesn’t boast the impressive long list of technological advances in hardware under the hood. Sure some will disagree that the iPhone still doesn’t have a removable battery, but it’s made apparent that Apple opts for simplicity in design as opposed to HTC’s concept of giving owners access to the Nexus One’s innards. 

Most people would argue that the Nexus One’s display is better than the one of the iPhone 3GS – yes, it does use an AMOLED display with better resolution (480 x 800), but the iPhone’s display (320 x 480) gives off a better feeling of durability. We’re still amazed to this day that the screen always looks brand new, without dirt or finger prints, as we take it out of our pockets – thanks to the olephobic coating. On the contrary, the bright and vivid display of the Nexus One clearly outshines the iPhone’s, but we’d question how well it would stand up against some extreme wear and tear over time. Newer technology clearly has its advantages by just looking at the Nexus One – its display is more detailed, brighter, and saturated.

Apple iPhone 3GS 360 Degrees View:

HTC Nexus One 360 Degrees View:


Comparing two opposing platforms can be difficult based on the ideas and foundations of what each one aims to accomplish. For Apple, simplicity overtakes raw graphical eye candy to provide users a seamless experience that doesn’t sacrifice performance. Just taking a peek into its medley of simple icons in the main menu, you can gather from the start that it may look a bit dated nowadays – but it’s the smooth and responsive feel when navigating through the main menu that continues to shine. The Apple iPhone OS moves away from the file menu driven interface that’s been engrained in the minds of computer users out there. We can’t express enough about how simple and easy it is for just about anyone to jump right in and get acquainted to the platform. Two years and there is still no one yet to dethrone the iPhone when it comes to on-screen QWERTY keyboards – they really have it nailed to a tooth to this day with no clear threat on the horizon. Although Apple has an iron fist when it comes to the way applications are developed for the platform, they always fall back on following some of the foundations that make the iPhone stand out – and that’s simplicity and performance. The introduction of the App Store placed the iPhone on another level all the while building up their dominance in a new market. The App Store itself is the one-stop shop for all your needs; hence the popular slogan of “there’s an app for that”.

With the Nexus One flaunting Android 2.1, it brings along a new level of personalization that we really haven’t seen to date. The live wallpapers are a clear stand out contender that enchants people into wanting to know more about the handset. Thanks to its lightning quick 1GHz Snapdragon processor, it takes Android to the next level by surrounding the user with its slick looking interface – easily trumping the outdated look of the iPhone OS. You’ve got plenty of graphical gems to point out from the 3D looking rolodex-like main menu to its interactivity with the live wallpapers. Google is always expanding Android and you can see it with its speech-to-text capability, which works pretty well and we find it useful. Even though its on-screen QWERTY keyboard runs faster with no lag, thanks to the Snapdragon processor, it still needs some tweaking to really overtake the dominance that the iPhone showcases. There’s no doubt that personalization plays a key factor in what makes Android so unique – no two devices look exactly the same. With Android seemingly always pushing the boundaries of hardware, the Nexus One ultimately packages everything required to exemplify its presentation thanks to the graphical prowess it exudes.


From its inception, there are some fundamental applications on the iPhone that have set the bar in terms of presentation to this day. That’s why the iPod integration is one of the key driving forces that make people go out to purchase one. Still to this day, cover flow on the iPhone is considered by many in the industry as the premier music interface that everyone needs to live up to. Again we see the experience shining without sacrificing on performance – you’re able to swipe through albums without any noticeable slowdown. When it comes to taking photos, we do like how the iPhone is able to focus in on specific areas by tapping somewhere on the screen, but its lack of options can hinder the quality. Its 3-megapixel camera is impressive when compared to others in its class, but clearly falls short in quality over what’s seen on the Nexus One. Watching videos is an enjoyable experience on the crisp display of the iPhone, but the Nexus One is obviously more detailed in every aspect – still the experience should be no different other than the inability to play videos at higher resolutions.  Just like taking photos, the iPhone is limited to its hardware and does not match the updated ensemble that the Nexus One packs; still it does really well for being usable for almost any circumstance. If hardware limitations weren’t holding the iPhone back, it could really give the Nexus One a run for its money in the multimedia department. Despite its shortcomings, it still clearly sets the bar in terms of music playback by offering the best interface for your music.

Little has been changed in terms of multimedia capabilities on the HTC Nexus One, when comparing it to other Android handsets. From the onset, we do prefer the updated 3D Gallery interface that’s used to check out your videos and photos. Aside from that one glaring new offering with the Nexus One, it remains faithful to the Google experience – meaning there is little to separate it from previous incarnations. For taking photos and videos, the Nexus One has a definitive advantage thanks to its hardware – colors are lusher in photos while the detail in shooting videos is exceptional. The AMOLED display is by far one of the glaring features that stand out among its long list – it’s extremely bright and highly detailed.   Now when it comes to playing music on the Nexus One, its presentation is a bit short – the music player is just like what you see on any other handset; even feature phones. There’s no visual equalizer within the music player, except when you set one of the live wallpapers to it. We would’ve liked to see the same interface seen with the Gallery app be integrated with the music player to rival cover flow on the iPhone; especially when the hardware is more than capable of doing it. Android 2.1 has done a magnificent job in certain aspects of the phone, but we’re still wondering why the presentation isn’t pushed to its limits.


Calling performance will vary depending on certain factors, but for the most part, the iPhone’s speaker wasn’t as loud as the Nexus One’s. Although AT&T’s network may seem like a better candidate when it comes to coverage nationwide, it does little to affect voice quality on the handset. Callers complained that our voice was static sounding and that it also was cutting in and out; making it even more difficult to comprehend conversations in noisy environments. Although both handsets are data intensive, the average user would be glad to see themselves getting a good days worth of battery life. During our testing, we’d give the iPhone 3GS a slight advantage with getting the most juice between charges. We did notice that the iPhone did a better job of managing the brightness levels of the screen – it’s more than viewable in good lighting conditions; while it dims down to the perfect level in low light areas to make it easy for the eyes.

Between the two smartphones, the Nexus One has a slight advantage when it comes to calling quality. We easily noticed how much louder the speaker was on the Nexus One; making conversations very easy on the ears. Despite the audible tones, there was a noticeable static sound on both ends. Even with its AMOLED display, we did notice the charge on the battery managed to get us at least a day worth of use; still it falls just a tiny bit short of what the iPhone puts out. The 1GHz Snapdragon processor could be one driving factor for the slightly less than optimal battery life, but the sacrifice is made known in its animated presentation level. If there’s one thing we can say about the Nexus One that’s prominent from the start; it has to be how bright you can adjust the display. We really were annoyed with how the Nexus One manages the brightness levels – it just seemed that the phone didn’t adjust it properly to make it viewable. At times we had to turn it off and set it manually to get the look of the screen to the perfect level based on our current environment.


Two of the biggest juggernauts are duking it out right now; vying for supremacy among buyers as the ultimate gadget. The Apple iPhone 3GS continues to be a handset that all phones are going to be compared to due to its association in revolutionizing the mobile world. With the HTC Nexus One on board as being one of the flagship handsets for the Android platform, it’s really hard to gauge what kind of impact it will have in the long term as we see even more powered Android phones hitting the market. Ultimately, consumers will look at the choices they are given with each device and choose among themselves as to which one will provide the perfect solution they’re looking for.

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