Is the Galaxy Nexus Ready to Take out the iPhone?

To iPhone or to Android? That is the question. That’s been the question for the last couple of years, and with webOS out and BlackBerry taking a way backseat in the smartphone race, it appears that this will remain the question for new smartphone buyers in the near future. I’ve been wrestling with which platform I like better over the last couple of years, and the decision is becoming harder than it ever has been with the recent batch of phones out now.

Is the Galaxy Nexus Ready to Take out the iPhone?My current daily driver phone is an iPhone 4S, but I also have a Samsung Galaxy S for testing and reviewing Android apps. I’ve used both devices extensively, as well as the original Droid, which was my first smartphone. While the 4S blows both devices I’ve owned out of the water, the Galaxy Nexus is the new Android phone hotness, and if there is anything that makes me want to switch away from iPhone land back to Android, this is it. Between the 720p screen, 4G, and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the Nexus is very, very tempting. But is it a better phone than the 4S? Do the raw specs and cutting-edge features of the Nexus overshadow the ease of use and overall simplicity of the 4S? Let’s take a look at the two devices and see how they compare to each other.

Raw Specs

The 4S contains Apple’s state of the art dual-core A5 processor, a “retina display” screen with a 3.5″ screen and 960×640 resolution (326 ppi), and 512 MB of RAM. It has an 8 MP camera on the back with 1080p video support and a VGA-resolution camera on the front. On the other hand, the Galaxy Nexus has a dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9 processor, 1 GB of RAM, and an absolutely huge 4.65″ screen with a 720p resolution (316 ppi). The camera on the Nexus is 5 MP, and it also shoots 1080p video.

The specs of these two phones mostly even out, with the Nexus getting a slight edge in the raw power and screen department. With the increased RAM and processor speed, you would expect the Nexus to be faster and snappier than the 4S, but that isn’t always the case. While the Nexus is the speediest Android phone yet, the fact that iOS is running native code while everything in Android runs inside a Java virtual machine mostly makes the devices perform fairly similarly. The screen debate is ongoing, but it comes down mostly to the size of your hands and your pockets. The Galaxy Nexus is a huge phone, and if you have small hands, you might have problems using it with one hand. Both screens look incredible, and you will be hard pressed to see a difference between the iPhone’s 326ppi and the Nexus’ 316.

Edge: Tie


Is the Galaxy Nexus Ready to Take out the iPhone?As someone who hasn’t spent a ton of time with Ice Cream Sandwich, I cannot totally vouch for the Galaxy Nexus in the usability department. Let’s take a look around the Web at some other reviewers who gave their opinion on Ice Cream Sandwich and its usability.

In his post comparing the two devices, GigaOm’s Darrell Etherington has this to say:

In the end, though, Android still has the same problems it always did: it’s harder for new and inexperienced users to get into and navigate, and apps either may or may not work with the device depending on what version of Android they’re coded for and/or what devices they support… The Galaxy Nexus is the best Android device yet, and ICS is the best version of Android to date, and they do a lot to narrow the gap between Google and Apple’s mobile efforts, but they don’t close it, at least not completely.

On the other hand, Josh Smith from GottaBeMobile says that Homescreen Widgets give Android a leg up:

Android still has a leg up on the iPhone when it comes to widgets, and the Galaxy Nexus takes advantage of new Ice Cream Sandwich features to make widgets even better. In addition to smarter built-in Gmail and Calendar widgets, you can customize the layout of most widgets with a drag and drop to fit the way you want your home screen to look. This is much nicer than looking for the right 4×1 widget in settings. Widgets provide fast access to information like weather, traffic, your inbox, and much more.

Over all, while widgets on Android are totally awesome and iOS could definitely use something similar, the experience of using iOS is simply easier. Ice Cream Sandwich is furthering the Android fragmentation problem, as as of now the Galaxy Nexus is the only device with the OS. Apps won’t all work with the new version, and who knows how long it will take for developers to fix all of the issues? In addition, while Ice Cream Sandwich has come a long way in the ease-of-use department, iOS is still a much easier OS for a computer novice to pick up and use.

Edge: iPhone 4S


Here is perhaps the biggest difference between the 4S and the Galaxy Nexus. The Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus supports its new 4G LTE network, which is blazing fast. Pages load over 4G in no time at all, streaming music and movies is easier, and, once you’re used to 4G speeds, it is definitely hard to go back to 3G. The iPhone 4S remains with the same 3G network that ran the iPhone 4. If you are someone who spends most of their time on their phone with Wi-Fi, this isn’t a huge deal. But if you commute daily and are using your phone on the go a lot, the 4G is going to make a big difference.

The only caveat to the 4G is that it uses more battery than 3G, but it can also be turned off and on when you need it. Since we are just talking about the network and not the battery life here, the Nexus gets the edge in this category.

Here’s a video comparing the speeds of the 4S (3G) vs. the Droid Bionic (4G). You can expect similar speeds from the Nexus.

Edge: Galaxy Nexus


At the end of the day, we are looking at two incredibly capable phones, each with unique pros and cons that make deciding between them very hard. To be honest with you, there isn’t really a winner in this battle of the phones, but my money is that the iPhone 4S will end up being the winner of the real battle: the device that sells more. The iPhone 4S is cheaper ($200 vs $300 for the Nexus), has better brand recognition, and is easier for the average person to use. While the Galaxy Nexus might be a great device for a tech-savvy person, the iPhone 4S is going to be the device that your mom, grandma, and uncle buy, and that’s where most of the money is. The Galaxy Nexus is a great phone, probably the best Android phone of all time, but it’s not an iPhone killer.

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  • VyperX

    Totally agree with you; great article

  • Anonymous

    to me the galaxy nexus is just way too large of a phone, they dont even sell belt clip cases like I use thats large enough for that, and I dont want one that size anyways because thats like having a freaken fanny pack strapped to your pocket, and I have many apps that just aren’t available on any android device, plus android can’t stream video content to my apple tv

  • Ambrodji

    What the H, The SGSII has been out for a long time now, and it has almost the same specs.
    Why is this review only written now about the Nexus instead of the SGSII months ago?
    This is only criticism not bashing :)

    • Anonymous

      Because the SII is not Google’s phone, hence its not a representative for the Android.

  • Nancydoesrealestate

    I started with an iPhone from an LG and I don’t plan on stepping backwards…Iphone for me all the way.  Herry up 5, my children are waiting in line for my old ones….lol

  • Anonymous

    Can we for once have a review, that looks at it from an experienced computer users perspective? I keep reading pros and cons for novice that barely know how to run a computer, I’d like to know what it gives to an experienced users.

  • Anonymous

    Have both android & Jo’s devices, preference to the  android tho. 😉

  • S. LeBeau Kpadenou

    I think your conclusion is right, the Iphone 4s will outsell the Galaxy Nexus. But not because of its ease of use. As I always tell people, I’m sure IOS/Mac is easier to use, because everyone tells me so. But every time I try to use said devices, I’m hopelessly lost. Can’t even find the web browser. 
    I just got a Touchpad for Christmas, and WebOS is clearly more intuitive than IOS OR Android. How’d that work out?
    Furthermore, in the ease of use category, you bring up fragmentation, an idea I think only tech geeks understand or are concerned about. I’m the tech go-to guy for all my friends, family, coworkers, and no one has ever asked me why they can’t install “app X” on their android phone.
    No, the real reasons are, in my mind:
    1. Price and brand recognition, which you mentioned.
    2. Availability. The Nexus is only easily available on Verizon, and I swear they’re trying to bury it.
    3. Cache. Apple is a marketing machine that makes marketing machines. They’ve convinced a significant portion of the population that owning an Apple device makes you a better person. You’re hipper, smarter, and, ironically, more of an non-conformist. Seriously, go to YouTube and watch the “1984” apple commercial for a taste. If you’re tech-aware, you’ll get a laugh.
    4. Exclusivity: If you do like IOS better, you’re going to buy an IPhone 4 or an IPhone 4s. If you like Android better, you might buy any of dozens of new to newish phones. I don’t ever think there will be an Iphone-killer per se. But Android is clearly an IOS-killer.
    5. Siri. While no one I know with an IPhone 4S ever uses this feature, it’s much more flashy/appealing than, say, Google Maps with navigation and Latitude, which many Android owners use daily.
    … and most importantly….
    6. Vendor lock-in: Apple uses proprietary hardware and formats. If you’ve ever owned an Iphone, you probably have a bunch of equipment that won’t work on any other vendor’s device. Further, you may have digital property that you can not easily access on another vendor’s device. This effectively increase the price of every other device for you.

  • White Razor

    I don’t really like this article… doesn’t feel like it’s in depth enough.

    One thing that keeps coming to mind is about usability and how easy it is to use from getting it out of the box. I don’t think it’s an issue. It’s nice to be able to use it straight away but before all this smartphone stuff, how many of us were experts at using our previous phone? Pretty much all of us. We can navigate from the very front page to some obscure folder buried in some other folder to show a single picture or music file in seconds. Why? Because we got used to our phones. It’s like saying Call of Duty is easier to play for newbies because it’s just run and shoot, while Battlefield you have to learn how to use vehicles too and therefore not as good.

    I also don’t think the usability section should be based on a small sample of reviews.

    I’m an iPhone user, and when I saw the Ice Cream Sandwich keynote, I thought nearly everything they showed was just superior to iOS. There were a few that could be improved, but just functionality in the calendar, web browser, and general OS felt more satisfying and better value (I won’t judge ‘price’, because ‘value’ should be the comparing factor).

    At the end of the day it’s really the user. I recommend that if you’re a Mac user, or own lots of iDevices, then the iPhone is better for you. If you’re tech savvi, like to program, like options and functionality, then Android devices are best. It’s a similar argument if you prefer OS X or Windows.

    It also depends which values you prefer more; if you want to benefit from iCloud, syncing iCal, contacts, iTunes (assuming it’s your primary music player), and the same apps from your iPad to your iPhone, then obviously the iPhone is better for you. You also won’t have to buy apps multiple times because your tablet and telephone will be nice and share between themselves. If you really want to talk to your phone, then iPhone 4S’s Siri is obviously a big deciding factor. If you don’t have any Apple products and hate iTunes, value being able to plug your device into your computer as a normal flash drive, like a large screen (say you travel lots and want to watch stuff more), like being able to run more more than like two different types of video files without having to spend money on third party software, then Android is a clear winner.

    If you just go “I just want a phone that can call and text people”, then obviously you go the cheapest of the two (if you really want to pick one of these two and not an unlocked 30 dollar handset).

    Anyway, so is the Nexus ready to take on the iPhone? I think yes. It’s not the phone everybody should get, but if you want the highest end smartphone, then these two (or the Galaxy S2 with ICS) are definitely the ones you’d look at… meaning the iPhone shouldn’t be the one people compare everything else two. I want to see both of these phones sell just as well so people use both as a benchmark for their vast differences.

    I’m sure this rant could have been lots shorter, and I’m also sure nobody will really read it.

    • Lisa Lloyd

      I read it! & thought I would be annoyed at your criticism… but glad I read it all the way through for it made an interesting point about what phone might be best for different users! I fall into the category of “many iDevices” & love my Apple devices! But, as I sometimes forget, there are other people in this world! 😉 Variety is the spice of life! 

      • Zhaojflove

        I believe that most spice of life owe similar requirement–convenience,while there are other people in this world.So the almost peoples’  demand will leading the developing of smart phone. 

  • Lisa Lloyd

    LUV LUV MY IPHONE!!!!! As the article clearly states at the beginning… iPhone slaps back the latest & supposedly greatest!  I still have my iPhone 3GS & luv it!  I am planning an upgrade in the next few months to the 4S – but just because I WANT a new one! & am passing the 3GS over to a friend! Apple keeps the pace as the standard EVERYONE else tries to match – nobody has! & most people I know who have gotten all excited over some new android eventually admit they want an iPhone somewhere down the line!!!  & I love these articles – its a tech site & you guys do a great job of presenting each side & give your preference – which is what an article is for! THANK YOU! & HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

  • Brian Aldape

    they’re the same price. the galaxy nexus on the verizon has 32gb and it costs $300. The 32gb iphone 4s also cost $300. on the other it’s nice to have the option of a 16gb iphone 

  • Aaron Cunningham

    Nobody ever fully sides with one brand or another… at least not at lockergnome.  You can’t truly compare the prices since the $200 iPhone has less memory.  Yes, the option is there to get a cheaper phone, but that’s not the same as being less expensive in general.  I wish someone would put themselves out there and take a side.  As you can probably tell, I prefer Android, and I’ll be happy to tell you why.  Getting sick of fence-sitters.

    • Mun Jun Hyeon

      You can compare these two devices. As mentioned above, the real-world performance is about the same as iOS is optimised to work with iDevices. Specs are not always proportional to the performance. 

  • Lindsay Manahan

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  • Nicodeimous

    Dont mind he article really, phones are an accessory choice more or less. They call, sms and do things extra … regardless of os choice. Personally i am an android user, for those who love ios gui, just flash your android with miui … it acts like ios without the walled garden of apple.

    I have done so on my g2 and thunderbolt handsets.

  • Luke

    iPhone for me is the best cell phone ever made… it’s easy to use and understand, loads of fun to play games on and listen to tunes. So iPhone for me is the better deal