Galaxy Nexus vs. Samsung Galaxy S2

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Are you torn between the Galaxy Nexus and the Samsung Galaxy S2? So are we. So in this article, we’re going to pit these two super phones against one another to see which one comes out on top. We’re going to be testing the browsers, the apps, the boot up times, and the cameras. But before we get to that, lets take a quick look at the specs of each device:

  Galaxy Nexus Galaxy S2
Display 4.65 in Super AMOLED (1280×720) 316 PPI 4.3-4.5 in Super AMOLED Plus (800×480) 216 PPI (207 PPI for 4.5 inch display)
Processor 1.2 GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4460 1.2 GHz dual-core Exynos 4210
RAM 1 GB 1 GB
Camera 5.0 MP with 1080p video recording 8.0 MP with 1080p video recording
OS Version Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.2 Gingerbread 2.3.6

Browser Speed: The Galaxy Nexus achieved a BrowserMark score of 99109 while the Galaxy S2 scored a 52012. Just like the benchmark indicates, our tests showed that the browser on the Nexus was faster than the one on the SGS2. But we can assure you that it wasn’t 48% faster like the benchmark would have you think. In fact, the difference isn’t that big at all and we fully expect the SGS2’s browser to be as fast (if not faster) than the browser on the Galaxy Nexus once it gets its taste of Ice Cream Sandwich.

App Speed: The next test we ran was to see which device loaded up apps faster. We downloaded 4 of the same apps on each device and opened them up at the same time to see which one loaded faster. As always, we had both devices connected to the same WiFi network and closed all the apps on each phone before running the test. Here are our results:

  • Google Earth – Winner: Galaxy S2
  • Flixster – Winner: Tie
  • ESPN Score Center – Winner: Galaxy S2
  • YouTube – Winner: Galaxy S2

The Samsung Galaxy S2 loaded up these apps noticeably faster than the Galaxy Nexus did (with the exception of Flixster). We’re not sure if this was due to the apps not being optimized for ICS or if it was just due to the difference between the two processors.

Boot Up Speed: We found that the Samsung Galaxy S2 (in this case the Epic Touch 4G variant) booted up faster than the Galaxy Nexus. It’s worth mentioning that we are basing this off of when the lock screen first showed up and don’t know if the SGS2 was still loading things up in the background after we unlocked it (of course the same could be said of the Galaxy Nexus). With that said, here are the boot up times for each device:

  • 25 seconds for the Samsung Galaxy S2
  • 31 seconds for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

But that’s just looking at the boot up time from off to lock screen. When it comes to restarting the phone, the Galaxy S2 takes 10 seconds longer to turn off than the Nexus and therefore a full restart (from on to off back to on) is about 4 seconds faster on the Galaxy Nexus. In other words, there isn’t much of a difference between the two.

Camera Quality: We’re not the kind of people who believe that a camera with more megapixels automatically makes it better than one with less. But when it comes to the Galaxy Nexus and the SGS2, the higher megapixel count on the SGS2 seems to make a difference in the image quality.

When taking a picture of something stationary, the SGS2’s camera beats out the camera on the Galaxy Nexus with pictures looking much more clear and crisp. However, in situations where you’re taking a picture of something that is moving (like the our little white dog in the picture below) the fast shutter time on the Galaxy Nexus helps you capture a better picture.

We took the pictures below at the exact same time, with the two phones side by side. The pictures in left column are from the Galaxy Nexus and the pictures in the right column are from the Galaxy S2. Click on an image to get a larger version.

The 1080p video capture quality is really good on both devices, but we have to give the edge to the SGS2 here. Not only does the actual video quality seem to be a little clearer, the sound quality is much better. In the video’s below, you can hear the difference in sound quality as my voice comes in much louder on the SGS2 than it does on the Galaxy Nexus.

It’s really hard to pick one of these phones as the clear winner because they’re so similar to one another. They share about the same size and weight, screen size (not counting ICS touch buttons), manufacturer, and even the Galaxy name. Of course, there are some differences between the two and it’s in those differences where you’ll be able to make your decision.

But we can’t make that decision for you. Everyone’s different and what’s important to you may not be the same as what’s important to somebody else. Therefore, the best way decide on which phone you should get is by looking at the advantages that each phone has to offer. Then choose the phone that has the advantages that are most important to you.

Galaxy Nexus Advantages:

  • Screen: Higher resolution, better clarity, high definition 16:9 aspect ratio.
  • No Bloatware: No third party apps or UI overlay that may slow the device down.
  • Updates: Get the latest version of Android (with all its new features) 3-6 months before anyone else.

Samsung Galaxy S2 Advantages:

  • Camera: Higher megapixel count, better image quality, better video quality.
  • Speaker: Louder speaker.
  • Expandable Storage: Expand your storage space with the microSD card slot.
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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.

  • Sapoty

    The photos of the big dog are identical in position… obviously bullshit that they are taken by different phones.

    • David Rahimi

      Thanks for pointing this out. We had the same picture by mistake. It has been corrected.

    • mKomers

      No they’re not look at the crease in the table cloth. One is at the dog’s eye, the other is about an inch in front.

  • bob

    actually, it is not “(1280×720)” it should be 720×1280

    because… 720 is width, 1280 is length in the smartphones.

  • Jermaine Walker

    I think the claims that the SGS2 outperforms the GN are a little overblown. I purchased a Galaxy Nexus (after holding the SGS2 in a Verizon store and finding it uncomfortable to hold, among other things) a few weeks ago, and I do love it. It’s my first Android phone, and I don’t think I could have picked a better time to jump on the bandwagon. Ice Cream Sandwich is leaps and bounds and bounds ahead of Gingerbread in terms of fit and finish.

    For some reason, though (I suspect the specifications are misleading), people seem convinced that the SGS2 is the better performer. When I look at browser comparisons, the GN comes out on top (if ever so slightly). When I look at photo comparisons like these, I honestly prefer the GN’s overbright colors to the SGS2’s more “true” color reproduction.

    When I noodled around in the OS with the SGS2 (truly expecting to hand it over to the SGS2 after having heard about its fluidity), I was surprised to find it noticeably slower in flicking around and noodling than the GN. Perhaps apps open a bit more quickly, but it was nothing that really impressed me. In fairness, maybe my expectation were too high after all the ranting and raving, but for the sake of objectivity, I can readily admit that the iPhone 4S a few phones down was markedly faster than the GN and arguable produced better photos on a consistent basis. Not so with the SGS2.

    So, maybe the arguments will live on and be perpetuated, but I am calling this one the way I see it. The Galaxy Nexus is the premier Android handset for the time being, and the SGS2 is not even second best in my opinion.

    • Lloyd

      (after holding the SGS2 in a Verizon store and finding it uncomfortable to hold, among other things)
      Did you bring an S2 into the Verizon store with you? The reason I ask is because Verizon does not sell a version of the S2.