The Samsung Nexus S Versus the Apple iPhone 4—Intial Comparisons

Comparison picture of the iPhone 4 versus the Nexus S

Now that the highly anticipated Nexus S from Google and Samsung has been officially announced and has its launch date, it’s time to compare it to Apple’s iPhone 4. C’mon, you just knew the comparisons would start already. Don’t worry. I’ll be as objective as possible.


The Nexus S comes with a 4-inch Super AMOLED display at 800×480 pixel resolution. The iPhone 4 has a 3.5-inch Retina Display at 960×640. With the resolutions both very high, this really comes down to which screen you prefer—Super AMOLED or Retina Display. Both are at the very top of the smart phone screen pile. Both screens are also fingerprint resistant.


Apple’s ARM Cortex-A8 ‘Apple A4’ processor runs at approximately 800 MHz in the iPhone 4 (compared to 1 GHz in the iPad) while Samsung’s ‘Hummingbird’ processor is also an ARM Cortex-A8 but clocks in at 1 GHz. It’s not really fair to compare processors on megahertz or gigahertz but with the 200 MHz difference between these two and Apple’s usual tweaking to processor cores to reduce heat and power consumption, I’m calling this a tie. We’ll have to see some actual bench marks to say for certain which processor is faster but these two are nearly identical.

RAM and storage:

Both Apple and Samsung’s smart phones pack 512 MB of RAM. The Nexus S has 16 GB of internal storage and the iPhone 4 comes in both 16 GB and 32 GB storage capacity models. Surprisingly, Google and Samsung decided to not put a microSD card in the Nexus S. Is that going to be a deal killer?


5 megapixel rear-facing cameras all around here. Even the front-facing cameras in both have identical resolutions—0.3 megapixels (VGA). However, Apple’s rear-facing camera in the iPhone 4 is capable of recording in 720p (1280×720) while the camera Samsung chose for the Nexus S is only able to record at 720×480. That’s a fairly big drop and I’m shocked Samsung didn’t put 720p HD recording inside.

Operating systems:

The iPhone 4 runs Apple’s iOS 4.x operating system (version 4.3 is expected to show up sometime near the end of December) while the Nexus S is launching with Google’s Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ operating system. Gingerbread brings a lot of new features like NFC support, a tweaked and improved user interface and speed improvements. This is going to come down to your personal preference of iOS versus Android. Both have the latest and greatest.

Additional features:

The Nexus S features an NFC (near field communication) chipset to allow it to function like a wireless wallet. However, in the US, the feature is not yet supported at any stores. Don’t worry, the coming ‘Isis’ network should change that pretty soon. Of course, by the time mobile payment through NFC really catches on, you will probably have already upgraded to a newer smart phone anyway…

The iPhone 4 doesn’t have any really new features in it like the Nexus S’s NFC support but it does have the benefit of access to Apple’s huge iTunes library—books, videos and music are all there.

Both smartphones have gyroscopes and accelerometers to function like game control devices.

So which phone wins this battle? That’s impossible to say. T-Mobile is the carrier for the Nexus S but an unlocked version can be purchased through Google’s website. The iPhone 4 on the other hand is locked into AT&T’s network and even if you jailbreak and unlock it yourself, it cannot use T-Mobile’s 3G network due to frequency incompatibilities.  Of course, the Verizon iPhone 4 rumors keep pointing to early 2011.

Which smart phone do you prefer? Did Samsung make a mistake when it pulled microSD card support? What do you think of the lack of 720p HD video recording in the Nexus S? Do you like Retina Display or Super AMOLED screens more? That’s what the comments below are for—let me know your opinion!

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