Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs Apple iPhone 4S

Introduction and Design

Some things ln life just have to happen. Kids have to grow up, car tanks have to be filled with gas, Santa has to put presents in our stockings (thank God phones fit in there!), Lady Gaga has to top the charts, and the Galaxy Nexus has to be compared to the iPhone 4S. It's inevitable! And since we happen to not be so concerned with Gaga, and (most of us) don't have kids yet, how about shifting our focus towards that smartphone comparison thing?

Now that we've closely examined the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy S II side by side, and determined that Google's latest and greatest does indeed set new standards with its redesigned software platform and beautiful screen, it seems like the next logical step for us is to set the stage for a nice tactical fight between the new Nexus and the overly-polished iPhone 4S.

Which one will come out on top? Read on to find out!


Place these handsets next to each other and it immediately becomes obvious that much more thought has gone into the design and execution of the iPhone 4S. This phone continues to be one of the very best offerings in terms of appearance and construction. Not only does it look beautiful, but it's also made from premium materials like glass and steel – no plastic whatsoever.

Meanwhile, the Galaxy Nexus is a typical Samsung phone, being made from plastic, and having this characteristic bump on the bottom of its back side. It is pretty light for its size, but this doesn't make up for the fact that the handset doesn't have a classy feel when held. Thankfully, it doesn't feel cheap either.

One of the most obvious differentiating factors in terms of design are the dimensions of the Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S. Honestly, if you don't like having to carry around a very large smartphone, the iPhone 4S will be the better option due to its significantly more compact body.

On the other hand, the large dimensions of the Nexus allow it to have this giant 4.65” HD Super AMOLED screen, which dwarfs the 3.5” panel of the iPhone 4S. Both screens employ different technologies – on the Nexus there's Super AMOLED, while on the iPhone 4S we have IPS-LCD. Both feature nicely saturated colors and good contrast, although the Nexus leads in this respect. The situation with screen clarity is very interesting. On one hand, the Nexus' has an HD (720x1280) resolution screen, which offers more pixels compared to the iPhone 4S' 640x960 pixel resolution, but in reality, the pixel density on the iPhone 4S is slightly higher at 326 ppi, versus 316 on the Nexus. This is because the screen of the iPhone 4S is much smaller, but still, this difference in pixel density is almost unnoticeable, so both handsets will offer you amazing image quality.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus 360-degrees View:

Apple iPhone 4S 360-degrees View:


The Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Apple iPhone 4S have radically different approaches as far interface goes. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the Nexus is of course the livelier software experience thanks to such elements like Live Wallpapers and various 3D transitions and effects, whereas the experience on the iPhone 4S' iOS 5 is much more static and simplified in terms of visual presentation.

Until now, Android has been struggling to offer a truly well-made user interface, but with ICS, we're happy to report that the platform now looks very, very good, on par with what we have with iOS 5. However, the differences in the way they operate have remained, with Android allowing the user to place varioius widgets, which deliver information right on the homescreen, while with iOS users will still have to jump between apps in order to gain access to different kinds of info. Thankfully, with the new A5 processor this happens very fast.

Speaking of performance, both the Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S are exceptionally fast. We feel that the iPhone 4S is still the more fluid of the two, with the Nexus experiencing an occasional slow-down every now or then, but as a whole there really isn't much of a difference with regards to their speed.


If you're used to typing messages with one hand only, you won't find any difference between the two smartphones. However, due to the larger screen of the Nexus, it's landscape QWERTY keyboard is slightly more comfortable for typing out long emails. This is further reinforced thanks to the presence of haptic feedback on the Google phone.

Recommended Stories

In addition, Google has worked to improve its auto-correction functionality while typing, and has made it about equal to the one found in the iPhone 4S. All in all, both handsets offer a great messaging features, but the bigger landscape QWERTY on the Galaxy Nexus, coupled with its haptic feedback, is a bit more comfortable to type on.


The iPhone has been the undisputed kind of mobile browsing ever since its launch due to its incredibly well-performing Safari browser. Android's browser, on the other hand, has never been as smooth or accurate in its operation, but with Ice Cream Sandwich, it's closer than ever.

There are some more or less negligible differences in terms of browser performance with both handsets, with the frame-rate in Safari being just a tad higher. Anyway, the bad news is that neither handset offers Flash at the moment. And while the iPhone 4S will continue to be Flash-deprived, the Galaxy Nexus, along with the other Ice Cream Sandwich products, will eventually get it, when Adobe optimizes its plug-in.

In terms of data connectivity, the international variant of the Galaxy Nexus is an HSPA+ phone, which goes as high as 21.1 Mbit/s on the downlink and 14.4 Mbit/s on the uplink. On the other hand, the iPhone 4S manages to achieve 14.4 Mbit/s download, which is a bit slower, at least theoretically, but in reality there won't be that much of a difference. However, when the Nexus hits Verizon a bit later, it's going to sport an LTE radio, which will surely make a difference.


The whole photo-taking experience with both the Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S is quite simplistic. Their camera interfaces lack many options that you'll see in some handsets that have manufacturer overlays on top, like the Galaxy S II, for example, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, ICS on the Galaxy Nexus does come with some basic settings that you won't find on the iPhone 4S, like White Balance, Exposure and Scene Modes. Additionally, the Nexus has a Panaroma mode built-in, but this kind of functionality can be easily added to any iPhone or Android device by installing a third-party app.

What matters most is the actual picture quality, and in this respect, the iPhone 4S is definitely the better choice. Images from its 8MP camera enjoy more details and better exposure, whereas the 5MP snapper of the Galaxy Nexus tends to overexpose certain things at times. Color reproduction however, is slightly more natural on the Nexus, since the iPhone 4S' photos are a bit on the warmer side. Anyways, its safe to say that both handsets take good pictures outdoors, however, the situation with indoor shots is very different. When there isn't enough light in the scene, images from the Nexus get altered colors and much noise, while its LED flash is simply useless. Not that the iPhone 4S has a better LED, but all in all, its indoor photos are to be preferred.

While both devices record 1080p video, the one from Apple's handset is noticeably better. It has much more detail and it's smoother, due to its superior frame-rate of 30 fps. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Nexus' videos are a bit blurry and are shot at 24 fps. Now, 24 fps isn't really low, but when it comes to these so-so cameras used in phones, it makes quite a bit of a difference.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Sample Video:

Apple iPhone 4S Sample Video:

Video Thumbnail


As a whole, in-call quality on the receiving end is better with the Galaxy Nexus, as it manages to emit some decently-sounding and loud enough tones from its earpiece. On the other hand, the iPhone 4S is very loud, but not as clear. On the other end of the line, our callers liked how we sounded more when we were with the iPhone 4S, since the mic of the Nexus makes voices sound a bit more robotic than usual.

When it comes to loudspeaker performance, the one on the iPhone 4S is much better overall, thanks to its loud and clear sounding, while the one on the Galaxy Nexus is quite weak.

While battery life in stand-by is claimed to be equal on both phones, talk-time should be longer with the iPhone 4S. Of course, this will vastly depend on your usage patterns, but as a whole, we did notice during our testing that the battery of the Galaxy Nexus drained a bit faster.


Thanks to Google making one giant leap forward with Ice Cream Sandwich, the software experience on the Galaxy Nexus can easily rival the one on the iPhone 4S. Both handsets are extremely capable and very fast, which actually makes issuing our final verdict a very hard thing to do. If you expect to hear which phone is better overall, we'll have to disappoint you – there isn't a better phone. However, one of these is certainly better for Jerry, and the other will surely be better for Katy. What we mean is that it all boils down to your personal preference.

For example, if you can't stand having to carry around such a massive phone like the Galaxy Nexus, the significantly more compact iPhone 4S will easily turn out to be a better option. However, if you happen to demand as much screen as possible, then the Nexus will better suit you.

In case the camera is too important to you, we think we made it obvious that the iPhone 4S is capable of taking overall better shots. The same goes for video recording (to an even greater extent).

However, if you are of the type who enjoy tinkering with the software on their smartphone, tweaking various aspects of it, customizing, rooting, etc., etc., then you'll surely appreciate Android's more open approach, which is a kind of freedom that you won't find with iOS.

However, this also means that what you get with the iPhone is slightly more reliable, due to the closed and polished nature of the ecosystem. Not that the Galaxy Nexus is an unreliable phone, but if our lives depended on the software found on one of these handsets, we'd prefer it was the iPhone... figuratively speaking.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus vs Apple iPhone 4S:

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":1,"image_id":105526,"width":2592,"height":1944,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-Nexus-02","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":2,"image_id":105527,"width":2592,"height":1944,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-Nexus-03","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":3,"image_id":105528,"width":2592,"height":1944,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-Nexus-04","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":4,"image_id":105536,"width":3264,"height":2448,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-iPhone-01","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":5,"image_id":105537,"width":3264,"height":2448,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-iPhone-02","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":6,"image_id":105538,"width":3264,"height":2448,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-iPhone-03","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":7,"image_id":105539,"width":3264,"height":2448,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-iPhone-04","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":8,"image_id":105529,"width":2592,"height":1944,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-Nexus-05","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":9,"image_id":105530,"width":2592,"height":1944,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-Nexus-06","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":10,"image_id":105531,"width":2592,"height":1944,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-Nexus-07","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":11,"image_id":105540,"width":3264,"height":2448,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-iPhone-05","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":12,"image_id":105541,"width":3264,"height":2448,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-iPhone-06","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":13,"image_id":105542,"width":3264,"height":2448,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Samples-iPhone-07","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S

Outdoor samples","module":"reviews"}]},"gallery-06a3fdee-1f8f-4fb4-b1de-a1de1e265a3c":{"type":"slideshow","data":[{"type":"image","id":0,"image_id":105532,"width":2592,"height":1944,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"01-Strong","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S
Indoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":1,"image_id":105533,"width":2592,"height":1944,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"02-Medium","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S
Indoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":2,"image_id":105534,"width":2592,"height":1944,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"03-Low","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S
Indoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":3,"image_id":105535,"width":2592,"height":1944,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"04-Darkness","comment":"Apple iPhone 4S
Indoor samples","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":4,"image_id":105543,"width":3264,"height":2448,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"01-Strong","comment":"Strong","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":5,"image_id":105544,"width":3264,"height":2448,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"02-Medium","comment":"Medium","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":6,"image_id":105545,"width":3264,"height":2448,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"03-Low","comment":"Low light","module":"reviews"},{"type":"image","id":7,"image_id":105546,"width":3264,"height":2448,"hasWatermark":false,"name":"04-Darkness","comment":"Darkness with flash","module":"reviews"}]},"gallery-5b0ab179-9924-4484-b889-b7be56d14ec3":{"type":"imageGroup","data":[{"type":"image","id":0,"module":"reviews","image_id":105547,"name":"Galaxy-Nexus-vs-iPhone-4S-Design-01","width":1600,"height":1200,"hasWatermark":true}]}}}

Recommended Stories

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