Google Nexus S vs. Apple iPhone 4 – Review

by Jerry D on December 9, 2010

If the Google Nexus S is vying to be ‘king of the smartphones’, then it’s going to have to compete against the iPhone 4. Like it or not, Apple set the benchmark for touchscreen super-handsets with its follow-up to the 3GS. Who’s going to win? Time for a big phone fight…

nexus s vs iphone 4 Google Nexus S vs. Apple iPhone 4   Review


In terms of wireless connectivity, the Samsung-built Nexus S includes 3G/HSDPA (7.2Mbps), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi And Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR. The iPhone 4 features 3G/HSDPA (7.2Mbps), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR. (1-1)

See more Nexus S fights or find other iPhone 4 tussles

Size & Weight:

As far as size and weight are concerned, the Nexus S and the top-ranked iPhone 4 measure 123.9 x 63.0 x 10.88mm and 115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3mm respectively.

Overall the Nexus S is the bigger of the two phones, unsurprising considering the device’s large display. You’d also expect it to be heavier. But the iPhone 4 carries more weight than the Google phone. Compare the two and Apple’s handset is 137g while the ‘S’-class Nexus is only 129g. (1-1)



The Nexus S’s 5.0 MP lens features a maximum resolution of 2592 x 1944 plus autofocus, an LED flash, geo-tagging, touch focus and 720p video recording. For video calls, there’s also a front-facing camera.

The two phones match each other for megapixels – the iPhone 4 also packs a 5.0 Megapixel camera with tap to focus imaging, an LED flash, geo-tagging, VGA and HD video recording (720p). A extra camera on the front is designed for video calling. (1-1)

Here’s how the raw technology of the cameras compare*.

1.0MP – 1280 x 960 pixels
2.0MP – 1600 x 1200 pixels
3.1MP – 2048 x 1536 pixels
5.0MP – 2592 x 1944 pixels
8.0MP – 3264 x 2448 pixels
10.0MP – 3872 x 2592 pixels
12.0MP – 4290 x 2800 pixels
16.0MP – 4920 x 3264 pixels

*These are typical resolutions. Actual resolutions may vary


Headlining the Google Nexus S is a 4.0-inch touch-sensitive Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. It has 384000 pixels onscreen overall, which works out at 233.25 pixels per inch. It’s also ever-so-slightly curved, to enable easier usage and reading. Apparently.

In contrast, the 3.5-inch touch-sensitive Retina Display on Apple’s phone is smaller. But it boasts the higher resolution of the two – 960 x 640 pixels and an unbeatable PPI of 329.714. (1-2)



In terms of raw speediness, the iPhone 4 packs a 1GHz Apple A4 processor. The Nexus S relies on an ARM Cortex A8 ‘Hummingbird’ chip, also rated at 1GHz. In fact, Apple’s A4 silicon is a version of the ARM A8 core. (1-2)


The Nexus S runs a pure-blood build of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), unmolested by manufacturer skins like HTC Sense. The iPhone 4 rocks Apple’s iOS4 software. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. But it’s tough to say that one OS is ‘better’ than the other. (1-2)

Downloadable apps


The 32GB in the top-of-the-line iPhone 4 trumps the 16GB capacity of the Nexus S. But the two are evenly matched when you pit the 16GB iPhone 4 against this Google phone.

Without an expansion slot on the Nexus S, 16GB is the maximum amount of storage. Apple didn’t build an expansion slot into the iPhone 4 either, so 16GB/32GB is the maximum capacity. (1-2)

Battery life:

As far as battery usage is concerned, Google claims 6.7 hours of talktime for the Nexus S, compared to 7.0 hours for the iPhone 4. Standby times are 427 hours and 300 hours respectively. A victory, however slight, for the Nexus S. (2-2)

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.



The Nexus S also includes GPS/A-GPS, a dedicated GPU for faster gaming, haptic feedback vibration, a game-orientated 3-axis gyroscope, digital compass, that curvy Contour Display and is also sold unlocked, so it will work with any GSM carrier.

Google’s handset also features built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for future digital payments and short-range wireless data connectivity. Expect to see more of this in 2011.

The iPhone 4, meanwhile, also features GPS/A-GPS, a digital compass and a 3-axis gyroscope. On balance, we have to give the nod to the Nexus S in this round… (3-2)

The Google Nexus S wins!

Nexus S Google Nexus S vs. Apple iPhone 4   ReviewThe two phones are fairly well matched, but if you compare the 16GB models, the Nexus S just edges it. While the iPhone 4 has a better screen, the second-gen Nexus has a roomier one. While iOS has more apps, Android has VoIP and wireless hotspot functionality.

While the inclusion of NFC has been a big talking point, it’s perhaps not much of a selling point so far. The debut of Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) makes more waves. Find out more about its features here.

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