In this titanic battle between the Apple iPhone 4S and the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus, let’s picture the trench run sequence from the finale of Star Wars… Which one is the X-Wing piloted by Luke Skywalker’s childhood pal Biggs? And which one is Darth Vader, flying the TIE Fighter Advanced x1 with its distinctive angled wings? We know this, one of these phones is going to crash and burn…
Round #1 – Connectivity:
The spec sheet of the potent iPhone 4S lists 3G/HSDPA (14.4Mbps) plus CDMA2000 1xEV-DO, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP as the core connectivity options.
Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, meanwhile, dishes up 3G/HSDPA/HSPA+ (21Mbps), 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP. An LTE version of the handset will also be made available for compatible markets.
Score: +1 to both phones (1-1)
Round #2 – Size & Weight:
True pocketability is difficult to quantify but the iPhone 4S comes in a neat 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm package – the same as the older iPhone 4. Samsung’s phone is 135.5 x 67.9 x 8.9mm.
The iPhone 4S is the smaller phone, hardly surprising when you look at the two screen sizes (see below). Checking on weight, the iPhone 4S weighs 140g, while the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is 135g. The Samsung phone gets the point here.
Score: +1 to Galaxy Nexus (1-2)
Round #3 – Camera:
The iPhone 4S’s 8.0 MP camera features tap to focus, an LED flash, geo-tagging and 1080p HD video recording with video image stabilization. There’s also a front-facing camera for video calls and FaceTime. And taking self-portraits.
In this battle, the Galaxy Nexus takes second place. Despite autofocus/touch-focus, an LED flash, geo-tagging, face detection, panorama mode and 1080p video capture, its 5.0 Megapixel camera isn’t up to the standards of the iPhone 4S. It does, however, have another camera located on the front, which is ideal for video Skyping.
Score: +1 to iPhone 4S (2-2)
Round #4 – Screen/keyboard:
For a long time, the iPhone 4S has had the best screen around. Like the iPhone 4, it features a touch-sensitive Retina display, 3.5 inches across with a quoted resolution of 640 x 960 pixels. Jamming 614400 pixels into this screen size gives the iPhone 4S a pixel density of 329.714 pixels per inch (PPI). Nice.
The 4.65-inch touch-sensitive Super AMOLED screen on the Galaxy Nexus is bigger. Way bigger. And way nicer. Thanks to a 720p HD resolution (720 x 1280 pixels), the pixel density is almost a match for Apple’s phone. Specifically, it manages 315.914 pixels per inch here compared to the 329.714 rating given to the iPhone 4S.
Score: +1 to Galaxy Nexus (2-3)
Round #5 – Processor:
Speed is crucial and so the iPhone 4S’s employs a 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 chip that’s based on the ARM Cortex A9 design. The Galaxy Nexus is also powered by a dual core chip, in this case a TI OMAP 4460 processor, rated at 1.2GHz. In terms of raw speed, the TI chip takes the point in this round and the Nexus opens up a small lead.
Score: +1 to Galaxy Nexus (2-4)
Round #6 – Software:
Both of these smartphones debut brand new software. Apple launched the 4S with iOS 5, which features a raft of noticeable improvements including Android-style notifications.
The Galaxy Nexus struts its stuff with Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich (see above), which boasts a redesigned UI, better email and web browsing, plus resizeable widgets. Which is better? Apple’s iOS 5 or Android 4.0? We wouldn’t want to make that call, so a tie is a fair result here.
Score: +1 to both phones (3-5)
Round #7 – Applications:
In an iOS vs. Android battle, which has the best app store? Taking the numbers below into account, the Galaxy Nexus is beaten by the iPhone 4S. But Android is catching up. And fast.
Score: +1 to iPhone 4S (4-5)
Round #8 – Storage:
In this fight, the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Nexus both come with 32GB of memory – the iPhone 4S is also available in 16GB and 64GB versions. Without an expansion slot on the iPhone 4S, 32GB is the maximum amount of storage.
The Galaxy Nexus is also missing an expansion slot and so the phone is restricted to its 32GB of storage. A 16GB version is also on the cards.
Score: +1 to both phones (5-6)
Round #9 – Battery life:
In terms of battery performance, Apple’s spec sheet lists 8.0 hours of talktime for its phone. Samsung has yet to reveal the battery life ratings for its phone, so we call this round a draw until the numbers are in.
Score: +1 to both phones (6-7)
Note: The Standby time specification is an industry standard that is only intended to allow comparison of different mobile phones under the same circumstances. Power consumption in a standby state is strongly dependent on factors including: network, settings, location, movement, signal strength and cell traffic.
Round #10 – Extras:
The iPhone 4S also includes GPS/A-GPS, digital compass, 3-axis gyroscope, dual GSM/CDMA connectivity and the Siri voice assistant. In comparison, the Galaxy Nexus features GPS/A-GPS, stereo FM radio (with RDS), a three-axis gyro sensor, DLNA content sharing, Wi-Fi hotspot functionality, NFC, a barometer and a digital compass.
Score: +1 to Galaxy Nexus (6-8)
BPF Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy Nexus wins!
If you’re one of those people who thinks that the iPhone 4S wasn’t enough of an upgrade over the iPhone 4, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus only backs up your point. It eclipses the Apple handset in terms of screen technology, screen size, processor speed and design.
Granted, with its 4.65-inch display, it might be too big for some. But you can’t deny that this is one helluva Android smartphone. Wow. It seems the Galaxy Nexus is the ruthless Darth Vader here and the 4S is the talented but hapless rebel.
See if these two phones make our Top 20 Best Smartphones list…