Google Nexus S vs. Samsung Galaxy S – Review

by Jerry D on December 13, 2010

So what does the ‘S’ stand for? Is it Speed? Sexy? Or in the Samsung Galaxy’s case ‘Stupid phone doesn’t have a flash!?’ The Google Nexus S is also built in Samsung’s giant factories. Is this new Android 2.3 phone a worthy challenger to the much-liked Galaxy S? It’s Samsung vs. Samsung in another big phone fight…


There’s almost nothing between these two super-duper handsets. The futuristic Nexus S includes 3G/HSDPA (7.2Mbps), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR. Samsung’s Galaxy S comes with a slightly better connectivity combo – 3G/HSDPA (7.2Mbps), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP. (1-1)

See other big phone fights featuring these two handsets:

Size & Weight:

How do our two combatants measure up? Again, there’s not much of a visible difference between the two – the Nexus S is 123.9 x 63.0 x 10.88mm; Samsung’s Galaxy S phone is 122.4 x 64.2 x 9.9mm. Overall, the Galaxy S has a slightly smaller footprint. But neither the Nexus S or the Galaxy S is unwieldy. The former weighs 129g; the latter weighs a mere 119g. This round goes to the Galaxy. (1-2)



Google has built the Nexus S with a 5.0 Megapixel camera that boasts autofocus, a decent LED flash, geo-tagging, touch focus and 720p video recording. There’s also a front-facing camera for video calls.

The Galaxy S’s 5.0 Megapixel camera (with autofocus, geo-tagging, touch to focus functionality, face and smile detection and HD video recording) equals the one in the Nexus S. But while it DOES feature a second camera on the front for video calling, it DOESN’T have an LED flash. A criminal oversight. (2-2)

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


The Nexus S incorporates a touch-sensitive Super AMOLED display that’s a generous 4.0 inches in size and boasts a decent resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. Packing 384000 pixels into this screen size results in a pixel density of 233.25 pixels per inch (PPI).

In terms of size, the Galaxy S’s own touch-sensitive Super AMOLED screen is identical. The screen resolution also matches that of the Nexus S. With 384000 pixels onscreen, the pixel density is the same. The only difference? The screen on the Galaxy S hasn’t got Samsung’s Contour Display cleverness. (2-2)



As for performance, the Galaxy S uses a ARM Cortex A8 ‘Hummingbird’, rated at 1GHz (but that can be overclocked to 1.2GHz if you know what you’re doing. Ditto the Nexus S, which comes packing the same super-fast, polygon-flinging processor. (2-2)


The Google Nexus S runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) build, untouched by customised manufacturer skins, tweaks or extras. The Galaxy S launched with Android 2.1 (Eclair) and may eventually get an upgrade to 2.2 once the kinks have been ironed out… (3-2)

Downloadable apps


Google and Samsung have both included 16GB of memory in their handsets as standard. Without an expansion slot on the Nexus S, 16GB is the maximum amount of storage you’ll get. In contrast, you can expand the memory of the Galaxy S via its microSD slot. The maximum is 48GB. (3-3)

Battery life:

Now onto battery life… the Nexus S boasts 6.7 hours of talktime (3G) according to Google, while the Galaxy S is rated at 6.5 hours. Standby time is rated at 427 hours and 576 hours respectively. (3-4)

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 (SGX540) for faster gaming, haptic feedback vibration, 3-axis gyroscope, digital compass, curved Contour Display and integrated Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for digital payments. The Nexus S is also sold unlocked, so will work with any GSM carrier. But it’s going to cost you…

The Galaxy S features the same GPU, a Stereo FM radio with RDS, GPS/A-GPS and a digital compass. (4-4)

It’s a tie!

Nexus S Google Nexus S vs. Samsung Galaxy S   Review Ooh, this was a close one, so close in fact that neither phone could convincingly beat the other (4-4).

Throughout, there was very little in it and the Galaxy S stands up well to the second-generation Nexus. Or, you could look at it this way… The Nexus isn’t that much of an advance over a handset that was released 6 months ago… Hmm.

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