Apple iPhone 4S vs. Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Which Performs Better?

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What happens when you take Apple’s latest flagship phone and pit it against Google’s? Well, you’re about to find out. In this review, we’ll compare the iPhone 4S to the Galaxy Nexus and test their web browsers, voice to text capabilities, app load up speeds, boot up times, and cameras to help you decide which smartphone is best for you. But before we get to the tests, lets take a quick look at each device’s specifications:

iPhone 4S Galaxy Nexus
Display 3.5 in Retina (960×640) 326 PPI 4.65 in Super AMOLED (1280×720) 316 PPI
Processor 800 MHz dual-core A5 1.2 GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4460
RAM 512 MB 1 GB
Camera 8.0 MP with 1080p video capture 5.0 MP with 1080p video capture
OS iOS 5 Android 4.0

Browser Speed: One of the most used features on a smartphone is its web browser. Needless to say, how well the browser performs is pretty important. When we ran the BrowserMark benchmark on the iPhone 4S, it scored a 86258. The Galaxy Nexus scored higher on this benchmark, tallying a score of 99109. Of course, this is just a benchmark and doesn’t always translate into real-world experience.

So we’ve been testing both devices extensively by going to a bunch of different websites trying to come up with a clear  real-world winner. The problem is, there isn’t one. On one site, the Galaxy Nexus loads up the page much faster than the iPhone 4S. On another, it’s the other way around.

Here are some of the results we got from websites we loaded on each device. As usual, we had both devices running on the same WiFi network with all other apps closed and history erased:

  • ProFootballTalk – Winner: Galaxy Nexus
  • Adobe – Winner: iPhone 4S
  • Gateway – Winner: Galaxy Nexus
  • PhoneBuff – Winner: iPhone 4S
  • Droid-Life – Winner: iPhone 4S
  • Fullerton – Winner: iPhone 4S
  • Xbox – Winner: Galaxy Nexus
  • Sony – Winner: Galaxy Nexus
  • Wikipedia – Winner: Galaxy Nexus
  • eBay  – Winner: Galaxy Nexus

Neither browser really separated itself from the other in our t. The results of our tests gave the slight nod to the Galaxy Nexus (just as the benchmark did), but of course your experience with the phones may be different depending on sites that you frequent. But with either of these phones, you’ll easily have one of the fastest browsers available on a smartphone today.

Voice To Text: One of the great features on both the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Nexus is their advanced voice to text capabilities. In iOS5, Apple has added the option to type a message with your voice with nothing but your voice. Of course, Android has had this feature for quite some time now, but it has been vastly improved with Ice Cream Sandwich. So the question everyone is asking is, which one works better? Watch the video below to find out:

As you can see, the iPhone 4S offers you a more accurate voice typing experience compared to the Galaxy Nexus. Of course, the Galaxy Nexus has the advantage of real-time processing so you could edit the mistakes it makes on the fly. But even with that great feature, we still have to give the edge to the iPhone 4S as it just seems to interpret natural speech better than the Galaxy Nexus does.

App Speed: In this test, we downloaded and installed 4 apps that were available on both the App Store and the Android Market. Even though we technically tested the same apps, its important to keep in mind that the way the apps were written (and the OS they were written for) are different.

As usual, we closed all the apps running in the background on both devices and have them both on the same WiFi network. Here are the list of apps we tested and which phone loaded it faster:

  • Flixster – Winner: Galaxy Nexus
  • Photoshop Express – Winner: iPhone 4S
  • Dictionary.com – Winner: It was a tie.
  • Google Earth – Winner: iPhone 4S

From our tests, the iPhone 4S seemed to be a little bit faster than the Galaxy Nexus was when it came to loading the same app. Of course, this could be do to the fact that the Galaxy Nexus is running Android Ice Cream Sandwich and some of the apps may not have been optimized for it just yet. But for now, the iPhone 4S is the winner in this category.

Boot Up Time: With any smartphone, there comes a time where you need to turn it off to fix a battery or to just save some juice. So the question is, which phone turns on faster? Well, just like with the browsers, there wasn’t a whole lot of separation between either of these devices.

But in the end the Galaxy Nexus had the slight edge over the iPhone 4S. Here are the boot times we got with each device:

  • 31 seconds for the Galaxy Nexus
  • 32 seconds for the iPhone 4S

Even when you consider the fact that the Galaxy Nexus turns off about 3 seconds faster than the iPhone 4S, the Galaxy Nexus’ full restart is only about 4 seconds faster than the iPhone 4S’. In other words, there isn’t a noticeable difference.

Camera: Overall, we’ve found that the iPhone 4S’ 8 MP camera outperformed the 5 MP camera on the Galaxy Nexus. There wasn’t too big of a difference between the two cameras outdoors (or in other well lit environments), but when it came to low light situations the iPhone 4S’ camera really shined. Check out the pics below to see side by side shots from each phone. The left column are pictures from the iPhone 4S while the right column are from the Galaxy Nexus.

   
   
   
   

You can’t really complain when it comes to video recording on either of these devices. You get 1080p capture on both of these guys with great picture and sound quality. But, just like with the camera, the iPhone 4S has the slight edge over the Galaxy Nexus in this department. Video samples from each device are below:

It’s really hard for us to pick a clear winner between these two devices. If the Galaxy Nexus is better in one category, the iPhone 4S is better in another. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference. We’re all different and our wants/needs in a smartphone are too. We’ve made a small list below of reasons why you’d purchase one phone over the other to help you determine which phone best suits your needs.

Reasons to get the iPhone 4S:

  • Better camera
  • Apps seem to run a little faster
  • Better voice to text and speech recognition (Siri)
  • Fits better in hand, easier one handed use (due to the smaller screen)
  • More user friendly

Reasons to get the Galaxy Nexus:

  • Faster web browser
  • Large 4.65 inch 720p screen
  • 4G data speeds
  • NFC (near field communication)
  • More customizable
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About Author

David Rahimi is the editor-in-chief at PhoneBuff.com. Ever since he got his first smartphone, he has been obsessed with mobile technology and all that it has to offer. Other interests include business, investing, and neuroscience.

  • hemen palani

    i dont know if I’m the only one, but my samsung galaxy nexus seems a bit slow when it comes to reaction, I mean the touch system, please reply and give me some advice of what I can do to fix it.

    • David Rahimi

      Have you gotten the update to 4.0.2 and/or do you have a live wallpaper running on the home screen? For whatever reason, live wallpapers make the phone lag a little.

  • Shahul

    Which smartphone to buy iphone 4s to Samsung SII?