HTC Desire HD vs. Google Nexus S – Review

by Jerry D on December 9, 2010

While we were wowed by the arrival of the HTC Desire HD, we had the nagging feeling that it wasn’t quite the flagship Android handset we’d been hoping for. Cue the Google Nexus S, built by Samsung and rocking the freshly baked Gingerbread (Android 2.3) OS. Seconds away, round one…

HTC desire hd vs nexus s HTC Desire HD vs. Google Nexus S   Review


As far as wireless technology goes, most modern phones pack the same basic specification. Here, the Desire HD comes with 3G/HSDPA (7.2Mbps), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1. The Nexus S, meanwhile, boasts 3G/HSDPA (7.2Mbps), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1. (1-1)

See other big phone fights featuring these two handsets:

Size & Weight:

How big are these phones? Good question. The Desire HD measures 123.0 x 68.0 x 11.8mm, while the pure-blood, Android-powered Nexus S is 123.9 x 63.0 x 10.88mm in comparison. The Desire HD is the bigger phone. It’s also tubbier than the Nexus S, weighing in at 164g. The Nexus S is 35g lighter at 129g. (1-2)



The Desire HD is equipped with a 8.0 Megapixel camera (3264 x 2448 pixels) with autofocus, a dual LED flash, face detection capability, geotagging and 720p HD video recording.

The Nexus S’s 5.0 Megapixel camera (with autofocus, LED flash, geo-tagging, touch focus and 720p video recording) can’t match the raw megapixels of the Desire HD. But it does boast a second camera on the front, which can be used for video calling. A tie in this round is a fair result. (1-2)

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



The Desire HD features a big 4.3-inch touch-sensitive LCD display with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. The screen has 384000 pixels in total, giving it a rating of 216.977 pixels per inch.

The Nexus S fares well in comparison. Its touch-sensitive, slightly curved Super AMOLED screen is smaller at 4.0 inches and like the Desire HD, its has a 480 by 800 resolution. This gives it the same 384000 pixels as the HTC handset, but packed into a smaller screen size. So the pixel density is slightly better, rated at 233.25 pixels per inch. (1-3)



In terms of performance, the Desire HD boasts a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8255 processor. The Nexus S has an ARM Cortex A8 ‘Hummingbird’ chip, rated at 1GHz. (1-3)


The Desire HD uses Android 2.2 (Froyo) with the HTC Sense UI woven into the code. Google uses an indiluted version of Android 2.3 on the Nexus S, which has several new features and gives the Nexus S the edge in this round. (1-4)

Downloadable apps


The 16GB of memory in the Nexus S beats the 1.5GB internal capacity of the Desire HD. Obviously, the Desire HD also has a microSD interface, which can extend the overall capacity to 33.5GB. The 16GB on the Nexus S can’t be extended as the handset lacks a memory card slot. (2-4)

Battery life:

How long will the battery last? HTC claims 9.0 hours of talktime for its Desire HD, versus 6.7 hours for the Nexus S. The standby times are 420 hours for the Desire HD and 427 hours for the Nexus S. A gold star for the Desire HD here. (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 Desire HD also includes GPS/A-GPS, a g-sensor, digital compass, built-in FM radio, Dolby Mobile, DLNA wireless content sharing and integration.

The Nexus S features GPS/A-GPS, a dedicated GPU for faster gaming, haptic feedback vibration, a 3-axis gyroscope, digital compass and a curved Contour Display. It also boasts integrated Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for digital payments.

Last, but not least, the Nexus S is also sold unlocked, so it will work with any GSM carrier. (3-5)

The Google Nexus S wins!

Nexus S HTC Desire HD vs. Google Nexus S   ReviewThe Nexus S emerges as the winner of this fight (3-5). In terms of hardware, it has the most memory out of the box, it’s thinner and lighter than the HTC Desire HD, plus it has a sharper, curvier Super AMOLED display.

Crucially, The Google Nexus S runs the latest version of Android (Gingerbread), which adds new features, including: a new look UI, improved keyboard and support for larger displays. Like the original Nexus before it, the Nexus S runs an unmodified version of Android and will receive future software upgrades from Google first.

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