Google Nexus S vs Samsung Epic 4G

Introduction and Design

Building upon the foundation established by the original Samsung Galaxy S model, both the Google Nexus S and Samsung Epic 4G unequivocally represent iterative elements that make them stand prominently from the other existing variants out there. In reality, they boast impressive and innovative hardware under the hood that considerably makes them more valued – while still emanating a high level platform experience. Google's latest flagship device has been making the rounds of late, thanks partly to being the sole Android 2.3 Gingerbread device on the market, but does it still pack enough enticing features to make consumers gravitate to it over the Samsung Epic 4G?


On the surface, they might share close ties with one another with their slate looks, but naturally, the Epic 4G tucks away a landscape sliding keyboard – which in essence makes it the more bulkier and heavier device between the two. Sure it isn't bad when you think about its 0.56” thickness, which takes into account a keyboard, but the Nexus S definitely looks and feels like the more compact one as it measures in at 0.43” thick. Additionally, they mainly share a similar all plastic construction, but the Epic 4G's chrome trim border adds some charm to its persona, while its soft touch back cover does a better job of repelling scratches and smudges. Conversely, the Nexus S is a bit more prone to scratching with its plastic back cover, but its Contour Display dashes a little bit of spark to its overall minimalistic design.

Without much question, the biggest physical attraction found with both handsets are their gorgeous looking 4” Super AMOLED displays. Producing some mesmerizing vibrant colors, deep blacks, and sharp details, there's no arguing that it'll instantly glaze your eyes over and over again with its radiance. However, we find the Super AMOLED panel on the Nexus S to be brighter – which is evident with lighter colors or white. Nevertheless, they're still responsive to the touch, offer great viewing angles, and WVGA (480 x 800) resolution to make even the smallest of text more than distinguishable to the eye.

At this point, just about anything is better than the poorly back-lit capacitive buttons found on the Nexus S as they are discretely located beneath the display – even more when we have a tendency of accidentally hitting them. That's why the ones on the Epic 4G are perfectly lit and visible, but when it dims and turns off, it blends into the display and we're left to figure out their placement.

Luckily, both smartphones offer 0.3-megapixel front-facing cameras found directly above their displays to provide useful functionality like video chat or taking self-portraits.

On the left edges, we find their volume rockers which are decent in size and offer good feedback when pressed – but we prefer the one on the Nexus S due to its slightly more pronounced feel. Moreover, the same can be said about our preference to the dedicated power button of the Nexus S because of its distinguishable feel. However, the Samsung Epic 4G manages to pack a dedicated shutter key to provide the convenience of quickly launching the camera application.

A notable differentiator for the Nexus S is the presence of an NFC chip, while the Epic 4G features a microSD card slot.As we said, the Samsung Epic 4G offers the added benefits of a landscape style keyboard. We're actually thrilled with its layout, size, and usability in speed typing without much falter.

Google Nexus S 360-degree View:

Samsung Epic 4G 360-degree View:

Interface & Functionality:

Beating and supplying the dose of speed for both high-end smartphones is none other than a 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor that brings forth a sense of responsiveness when navigating around their platforms. From opening up applications to scrolling through their homescreens, everything is effortlessly accomplished by these two powerhouse devices – with very few instances of lag or sluggishness. Even testing their limits by using a graphically intensive live wallpapers, there's nothing that's going to get in the way of their ability to exhibit a high level of speed and responsiveness.

Obviously, the Google Nexus S is the sole Android device on the market right now to sport the latest build of the platform – Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Combining that and its rigorous processor in tow, there's no denying that everything operates at a blazing rate. However, even with Android 2.1 Eclair still running on the Samsung Epic 4G, it's able to establish the same level of performance from a visual point of view. Love it or hate it, the TouchWiz UI running on top of Android 2.1 on the Epic 4G might not appeal to everyone, but it packs on some of Samsung's specific widgets. On the other hand, the Nexus S sports an untainted appearance with its stock experience – which some can appreciate to an extent. Regardless, there's a lot of personalization offered by both devices with their widgets, folders, shortcuts, and live wallpapers.

Aside from the Samsung Epic 4G's “Feeds and Updates” widget, which aggregates social networking content, the overall experience is pretty much even between the two. Moreover, you can instantly post a status message and tweet from directly within the widget – as opposed to running separate dedicated apps. However, you'll essentially gain the same functionality if you happen to install the Facebook and Twitter apps on the Google Nexus S.

For those individuals heavy on text messaging, the Samsung Epic 4G is easily the perfect device for them – especially with its highly usable physical keyboard. But in terms of their on-screen options, the offerings with the Epic 4G are slightly more appealing and functional over the new revamped stock Android keyboard with the Nexus S. Granted that it now implements numbers into the first row of its keyboard, which lessens the time needed to type numbers, it still doesn't beat the larger sized buttons found with any of the Epic's keyboards. Moreover, the Swype keyboard is also available on the Epic 4G to really provide a swift and accurate experience for those who can master its unique method.

Sporting the same 0.3-megapixel front facing cameras, both have the ability to move past voice phone calls and straight into video chat. Though, the Epic 4G comes pre-loaded with Qik's video chat service, whereas there is nothing offered from the onset with the Nexus S.

Internet and Connectivity:

Upon first using both phones, you wouldn't suspect the experience to be any different since they basically exhibit the same performance – especially when Flash enabled ads load up. However, the Google Nexus S offers full Flash 10.1 support while the Samsung Epic 4G only offers Flash Lite, due to it still running Eclair. Still, they both radiate smooth scrolling, offer multi-touch gesture support for zooming, and properly render complex web sites to the teeth. But if there's an ace up the sleeves of the Samsung Epic 4G, it has to be the fact that it's a 4G enabled device – thus offering moderately faster speeds. All in all, you won't be disappointed with the web browsing experience on either smartphone.

Since the Samsung Epic 4G is a CDMA device, it's going to be a problem when you attempt to bring it along your trips overseas. However, it's not a problem for the GSM enabled Google Nexus S as it'll work in just about every location across the globe. But in the event that you're not getting sufficient connection to the network, you can always opt to switch over to the built-in 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi on either handsets to get faster data connections. Meanwhile, Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR is available on both to enable a myriad of wireless devices to connect to them.

Camera & Multimedia:

Sizing up evenly with their 5-megapixel auto-focus cameras, the results are actually quite different with the Samsung Epic 4G providing better looking shots in general. Even though details are almost identical in good lighting conditions, the Epic 4G manages to produce fairly richer looking colors over the neutral tones offered by the Nexus S. Taking it indoors where lighting is dim, the shots produced with the Epic 4G once again outshine the Nexus S with their distinctive color reproduction.  Meanwhile, the LED flash with the Google Nexus S tends to make images look a little over-exposed, with the results from the Epic 4G looking more natural in tone.

Sadly, the eye straining omission of 720p video capture with the Google Nexus S is a big eye sore in the company of other high-end smartphones in the market. With that in mind, there's no denying that most people will take a liking for the Samsung Epic 4G with its high-definition capture. Not only does it move steadily at a capture rate of 29 fps in good lighting conditions, but the Epic 4G still retains the same capture rate even in low lighting conditions. In the same situation for the Google Nexus S, its usual capture of 29 fps drops to a dismal looking 16 fps in low lighting areas. So if you want to capture precious memories, you'll want to have the Samsung Epic 4G in hand over the Nexus S.

Google Nexus S Sample Video:

Samsung Epic 4G Sample Video:

Sporting the usual stock Android music players, there isn't anything too striking with either phone since they look and feel identical – while still being functional at their core. As for the audio output with their respective speakers, the one with the Nexus S is more than audible with its strong tones. However, you'll be blown away by the stronger tunes emitted by the Samsung Epic 4G as it clearly resonates at a deafening tone – while still being acceptable to the ear.

As we mentioned earlier, the Samsung Epic 4G features a microSD card slot which is occupied out of the box with a 16GB card. It's nice to have since it enables you to swap it out with something bigger at an instant, which easily makes it more of a convenience as opposed to the fixed 16GB internal storage of the Nexus S.


If you're the type to primarily rely on voice phone calls than anything else, you won't find any issues using either handset for that purpose. In fact, the two Android powered smartphones provide the same level of quality as voices on both ends of the line are clear, distinct, and free from any distortion. However, there is a distinctive difference in quality when switching over to their speakerphones as the Epic 4G emits stronger tones – but don't count out the Nexus S with its still acceptable experience.

Depending on what kind of data connectivity you get in your specific area, battery life slightly favors the Google Nexus S since it's only a 3G enabled device. However, both smartphones are more than above average versus other touch enabled smartphones as we managed to get approximately 1 ½ days of normal usage on a single charge by monitoring open apps and manually adjusting brightness to slightly below the middle setting. Either way, you'll be more than surprised by their better than average output.


Taking a closer gander at their on-contract pricing, the $50 dollar separation between the Google Nexus S and Samsung Epic 4G doesn't necessarily come into consideration as much that one would suspect. Sure the Nexus S sports some new hardware, like its NFC chip and Contour Display, but that doesn't translate to something eye catching enough to catch the attention of consumers all around. But when you look at the Samsung Epic 4G, with its fantastic physical keyboard, support for 4G speeds and better camera, that $50 difference looks mightily more appealing in the present term. On software level, the Nexus S has the advantage of running Gingerbread, while the Epic 4G is still stuck with Eclair, but as we know that it will be updated soon, we won't consider this much of a drawback for the Sprint device. In the end, the Samsung Epic 4G still feels like the ultimate Android powered device on the market thanks to its stellar performance, substantially iterative offerings, and a design that's still satisfactory.

Google Nexus S vs Samsung Epic 4G Video Comparison:

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless