Review: 10 Reasons the Galaxy Nexus is Better Than the iPhone 4S

The best Android phones are arguably the Nexus devices which get special treatment from Google. These phones have the latest software, the best features and often the best looks.

The Galaxy Nexus continues this tradition on Verizon’s fast 4G LTE network, bringing an HD display and Android 4.0 to the table.

Read: Galaxy Nexus Review

While the iPhone 4S has a number of nice features, the Galaxy Nexus bests Apple’s latest iPhone in a number of ways.

Galaxy Nexus Better than the iPhone 4S

4G LTE

The Galaxy Nexus on Verizon comes complete with 4G LTE connectivity for blazing fast download an upload speeds, up to 10 times faster than 3G on the iPhone 4S. These speeds range between 5-12 Mbps down and 2-5Mbps up.

This is fast enough to play Onlive games, download huge apps like Grand Theft Auto III, stream Hulu Plus, Netflix and much more. Connect your laptop to the Galaxy Nexus with a personal hotspot and you’ll be able to work almost anywhere.

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Below you can see a video of 4G LTE vs. 3G on the iPhone 4S. While the phone shown is not the Galaxy Nexus, you can expect similar speeds.

Large HD Widescreen Display

Galaxy Nexus HD Widescreen Display

The Galaxy Nexus adds an inch of screen size to your mobile phone, and brings a 720P HD resolution that makes watching HD videos or gaming a real treat.

Even browsing the web, reading email and reading eBooks is a nicer on the large screen. The higher resolution means you can see more on the screen without constantly scrolling.

The software buttons at the bottom of the display will disappear in compatible apps, giving you a larger widescreen viewing experience.

Google Voice Integration

Google Voice is the best way to manage your phone calls, texts and voicemail. I love the service because I use multiple phones, but even if you have one phone it is worth using. You can block callers just like you block spam emails, and you can set do not disturb hours so that calls don’t wake you up late at night or interrupt you.

Google Voice is ten times better on Android than on the iPhone. After installing the free Google Voice app, you can set the phone up so that every call is routed through your Google Voice account, or if you prefer you can se it only for international calls.

On the iPhone, you have to open up the Google Voice app to use the service, which means extra taps and no easy way to return calls from the history section of your iPhone.

Google Maps Navigation

Once again, Android beats the iPhone when it comes to using a Google service. This time it is Google Maps. Unlike the iPhone 4S, you don’t need to find an app to get turn by turn directions with spoken street names on your Galaxy Nexus.

Having the built-in Google Maps Navigation makes it easy to get where you are going, and it is simple to open up addresses from the browser or your contacts into Google Maps so you don’t waste time typing an address.

NFC for Sharing and Paying

The Galaxy Nexus also includes NFC, or NEar Field Communication, which allows you to use the phone to share information and files with other Galaxy Nexus owners using Android Beam. This tool is pretty cool, but the real promise is in the form of making payments.

Google Wallet is not officially supported, but you can install Google Wallet on your Galaxy Nexus and get $10 to try out the service. With NFC and Google Wallet, you can make payments at PayPass locations by holding your phone up to the card reader.

The closest you can get on the iPhone is using a special case that adds NFC abilities, and those aren’t available for the average user.

Open Platform

The Android platform is more open than the iPhone, and this is very evident on the Galaxy Nexus running Ice Cream Sandwich.

At a high level, this phone can be unlocked, rooted and customized with a new ROM to completely change the user experience. Unlike the iPhone and some locked down Android devices this is relatively easy to do.

The other great thing about this open platform is the ability to sideload apps that aren’t purchased from the official Android Market. This means you can find apps on the GetJar or Amazon app stores at lower prices.

Additionally, Google is more open to letting apps on to the Android Market. While Apple rejects many apps, Google allows almost any app on the Market. The downside is that you can run into malware, but if you exercise smart downloading and installing this isn’t a major issue.

Choose Your Own Keyboard

If you don’t like the iPhone 4S keyboard you don’t have any other options, but if you don’t like the default Android 4.0 keyboard, you have te freedom to choose your own keyboard.

Going back and forth between the two devices I find that the ability to use SwiftKey X on the Galaxy Nexus is much nicer than the iPhone 4S keyboard, even with the autocorrection.

With SwiftKey X, you can do many things not possible on the iPhone including

  • Long press for a symbol.
  • Swipe right to left to delete a full word.
  • Predictions from Gmail, Facebook, text messages and Twitter.
  • Prediction that knows what you plan to type next.
  • Swipe down to hide the keyboard.

There are many other keyboards available such as Swype, SlideIT and TouchPal.

Flash Support

Flash on Galaxy NexusWhile you may not love Flash, there are still a number of websites that rely on Flash. When it comes down to it, the ability to watch a video or load a website beats getting a “please download the latest flash player.” message on the iPhone.

On some sites, you can stream network TV shows and in others you can watch clips that wouldn’t be available on the iPhone without a dedicated app and a cable subscription with a participating .

Better Gmail

Android phones have always handled Gmail better than the iPhone competition, but with the Android 4.0 update that comes standard on the Galaxy Nexus, the iPhone is left int eh dust. The new Gmail app is designed to handle multiple accounts with ease, and makes great use of the large screen.

Gmail Ice Cream Sandwich

Some of my favorite features of Gmail on the Galaxy Nexus include;

  • Great handling of multiple accounts.
  • Priority Inbox support.
  • 2-line preview shows first line of your message
  • Support for Priority Inbox notifications
  • and more.

If you rely on Gmail, and want the best experience around, Android is still the best game in town. With Android 4.0 on the Galaxy Nexus it’s even better.

Home Screen

The Galaxy nexus also wins out in home screen layout and customization. Two features standout to me on the Galaxy Nexus — Widgets and Folders on the Favorites Tray.

Android still has a leg up on the iPhone when it comes to widgets, and the Galaxy Nexus takes advantage of new Ice Cream Sandwich features to make widgets even better. In addition to smarter built-in Gmail and Calendar widgets, you can customize the layout of most widgets with a drag and drop to fit the way you want your home screen to look. This is much nicer than looking for the right 4×1 widget in settings. Widgets provide fast access to information like weather, traffic, your inbox and much more.

The new Favorites Tray may look like the iPhone’s dock, but it is much nicer in my opinion. In addition to your four favorite apps, that can include a folder, you have one touch access to your app screen.

Conclusion

While the Galaxy Nexus is a great phone, and does many things better than the iPhone 4S, it isn’t perfect. There are still a number of things the iPhone 4S does better than the Galaxy Nexus. Stay tuned for a followup of reasons I think the iPhone 4S is better than the Galaxy Nexus and still earns a spot in my pocket when I leave the house.

Right now I carry both an iPhone and a Galaxy Nexus when I leave the house, but sooner or later I’ll choose one phone as my primary device. Android 4.0 and the Galaxy Nexus are giving the iPhone 4S a run for its money.

Comments

  1. Michael Anderson says

    Very nicely done – I don’t agree with all of them (I am a QWERTY junkie on a Droid Pro waiting (im)patiently for the Droid 4 so I don’t have either) … isn’t that the point?  Get the conversation going?

  2. Chris says

    You work for Google Josh! Jokes aside, i am an iPhone user and starting to get a little soft spot for the Nexus!

    • Maro says

      I switched from iphone to nexus and never going back.  iPhone boast too much about their product but simplicity comes at a price of limitations.  There are limitations on the iPhone and none that I see so far on my Nexus.  Once you go to the dark side you never go back!!!

      • fake gramita says

         I am looking forward to finding out how true this is, since I’m making the switch today :)  Have tried out my friend’s nexus, but haven’t used it extensively myself yet.  On quick use, I do find myself missing the slicker/smoother UI, and even the little touches, like page content softly ‘bouncing’ back up when you scroll to the bottom- but I think that’s just because I’ve gotten so used to it… I don’t think those things will be worth the trade off of having so many more restrictions, especially with the progress that has been made with ICS.

        And when I say ‘slicker’ UI, I’m really only talking about the more polished look and smoother animations.   Because when you’re talking about which one has the cooler or more functional UI, Android takes the cake on that one…  Maybe it’s ok on a phone to just have a screen full of nothing but Apps, but at LEAST when it comes to tablet, Apple needs to step their game up, because that is just such a waste of good screen space…  It was ok for a while for me, but even on a phone I’m getting sick of it.

        I hung around on the iPhone for longer than I should have since I was doing development for it and making good money, plus I do honestly think apple is great at creating a very smooth user experience.  But with Android giving you so much freedom, making so much progress with ICS, and apple stagnating more and more when it comes to innovation, I think it’s long past time for me to make the switch!

  3. Jesse says

    Some very fair points in this article, but most of your points are OS or App related and not strictly phone related. I understand that the OS and Apps are the major part of the phone experience, but if you’re going to included them on your list for comparison, you could really pit any high-end Android phone versus the iPhone 4S, and not strictly the Galaxy Nexus.

    • K5TRX says

      The iOS 5 ecosystem and the iPhone 4S are as intertwined as ICS is in the Nexus.

      Actually he left out many of the key hardware features in Androids…
      - Notification LED
      - HD Video Chat not Apple’s VGA Chat
      - DLNA for presentations or watch movies
      - Removeable/Upgradable Battery
      - Connect a Bluetooth Mouse, keyboard, PS3 game controller
      - microSD – The Nexus is missing it but almost all Androids have it.

      He also left out some software/ecosystem features.
      - 15-Minute free trial on apps
      - Full Notification control: how often to repeat, vibrate, LED, etc.
      - Live Wallpaper
      - True hands-free Voice Commands like Vlingo
      - Full Facebook Sync (photos pop up when they call)

  4. Anonymous says

    Long time Android user, recent iPhone user for work and I hate to say that you are totally biased and obviously haven’t spent time with an iPhone. I love both and both offer great services that the other doesn’t but, but this is just preaching to the Android choir, it’s not journalism, it’s evangelism.

    Also, the Nexus DOESN’T have the latest and greatest hardware which is why a lot of Android fans were upset. Weak camera, LCD screen, etc. This is a developer phone for building apps, not the super phone people think it is.

      • Anonymous says

        Wrong Again….it’s the 1st Super Amoled HD screen : made by Samsung in this order :
        1. Amoled – Nexus One
        2. Super Amoled – Galaxy S
        3. Super Amoled Plus – Galaxy S2
        4. Super Amoled HD – Nexus Galaxy

        Benefits of Amoled screens are less power consumption, deeper Blacks, Colors that ” Pop ” off the screen. SAHD on the Galaxy Nexus’ 4.65″ screen is 11pixels less than 3.5″ Retina Screen … i.e. 4″ Retina Screen = (+/-) Super Amoled Plus, 4.5″ Retina is closer to Super (S) Amoled. ( Discussions/Edits welcome as I’m no expert in screens…! )

    • Anonymous says

      Biased? Well, this IS an article stating the advantages of the Galaxy Nexus over the iPhone with him stating that he’ll write an article on the advantages of the iPhone to follow up. 

  5. Protel_nash says

    Force closed, extended battery required, gets hot enough to bother my face while on a call, gets hot just sitting in your pocket… That’s been my experience using the Nexus so far.

    In the end, Driod Does “Try”; however it’s not an iPhone.

    • Postal Jim says

      Thank God! If it was, it would be as useless as tits on a boar.   Unless u want an iPod that makes phone calls.

    • mike919 says

      That’d be great if it were a “DROID”… obviously you don’t understand branding. DROID DOES is a slogan for DROID branded devices. This is an Android developer device by Google. Not a “DROID”… stick to your iPhone. My device gets to about 105-106 degrees on the charger. Do you root and ROM? If you do check your Kernel. It may be whats overheating your device.

  6. Eric says

     I’m a 4S user but i gotta say, Google is putting out some really cool features that make me rethink that purchase i made last month. I can say with 100% confidence though that the one thing the 4S has on all other androids right now is the camera.  This phone has replaced my point and shoot and i dont even carry it with me anymore.  Josh, hurry up with that article on why iphone is better…I’m coming down with a bad case of buyer’s remorse!

  7. Mike919 says

    While I agree that this article seems biased, and I’m an avid Android user I have to say the Nexus is better than the iPhone 4S. Loses in some categories sure, but the overall device is better. The features, the options, the customizations. I’m tired of people using “suri” as a reason the iPhone is better. Its just a lame comeback against people that say “my Nexus is 4G”. Apple didn’t even write Suri BTW. They bought it.

  8. Anonymous says

    As a current Galaxy Nexus owner and a prior iPhone 4S owner I really do agree with everything you said.  I really love this phone and ICS, but unfortunately there are two FATAL flaws with the Galaxy Nexus that will probably end with me returning it.

    1. The battery life is dismal, awful, terrible, etc.  If I get 8 hours of moderate usage on a charge I’m lucky.  In fact, the phone loses about a percent every 7 minutes with nothing running and simply sitting in my pocket.  Probably part of this is because it never has service and is constantly searching for service and lowering the battery life.  Which brings me to:

    2. This thing RARELY has reception.  Now I don’t care at all about bars of service, but when I’m out with my friends and there two friends who each have Razrs and BOTH have service around -70dB and mine has NONE (read: my dBs are not available as the phone indicates it is not even connected to a mobile network) that is a really fatal flaw.

    If a phone cannot get signal in most places and the battery doesn’t last you a day, what use is it?

      • Anonymous says

        I had to return it. I own a business and my clients couldn’t wait for VZW’s “fix” for the signal issues that may never come. Plus I couldn’t risk staying on past the 14 day grace period on Verizon with a phone that wouldn’t get signal. I went back to my unlimited data plan on AT&T and upgraded to a 4s and am happy with my decision.

    • Jennifer says

      You are 100% right, Pureburn. That is why I now have an Iphone 4S. First I had the Galaxy S2, then the Nexus. Both are HORRIBLE when it comes to battery life. The Nexus has very poor reception (which makes no sense). The Iphone is slow as h— compared to the Nexus, but, the reception, battery life, and camera make up for it.

      • Anonymous says

        I have a gnex as well, also on verizon, and fully understand the problems you faced, I had them too. A quick google would have pointed out a solution or 2.

        The battery issues are caused by a bug in 4.01 and 4.02 which keep the phone awake even though the screen is off. This is similar to the iphone 4s bug which still plagues my friends iphone. The solution on the nexus depends how much battery you need. For a typical user you can install juice defender, which turns off all but the phone radio when you are not using it. This temporary solution is good for about 12-14 hours standby.

        If you would like more then root using galaxy nexus root toolkit, install rom manager from the market, and tap codename droid from the list of roms, then search the market for “franco kernel” Both of these are community patches to allow deep sleep mode and will give you better battery life than ANY smartphone.

        If thats still not enough and you need 3+ days of battery. You can set voltage to the cpu of the phone lower, but I would assume most people are uncomfortable with that. My phone lasts days and days. I have experianced no other issues.

        The iphone 4s on the other hand you are kind of stuck with what you have. You can play eternal games with apple trying to brick your phone if you jailbreak. GOOGLE actually encourages users to root and fiddle with nexus branded hardware.

        FYI my phone has been off the juice for 14 hours 28 minutes and I have 76% battery remaining. The reception here is outstanding (perhaps due to the kernel fix by franco) the camera is as good as i need for a phone and I can take pictures as fast as I want. I couldn’t be happier. Well maybe an sd card slot but come on 32 gigs+picasa web store+google music+50 gigs of box.net I mean seriously how much space do you need when you don’t need to store your music on your phone? 

    • Jimmy Dean says

      I get 2 days battery life on my Nexus. This is my second Nexus however, my first one had a semi-common issue with the antenna hardware that caused constant drop signals and ruined the battery life. Try another Nexus, this new one is amazing.

  9. SEO says

    I’m planning to buy a new phone and been comparing this 2 smartphones. I really love Apple apps  but the speed and screen resolution of Nexus really caught my attention.

  10. Jboe145 says

    Good article…but i get a few differences wifi connection not that great comparex to last phone the tmo g2…battery life was bad at first but seems to be getting better…and in my lte area i get between 5-20 down and as high as 12 up….thats with speedtest.net…but the ui is smooth nearing iphone…its all about what meats ur loaf…screen is great and why are people hating on the camera i think its pretty darn good…

  11. Anonymous says

    I went over all these reviews and they kind of make the GN sound pretty good (although I know it’s hard to compare the iphone to android since you’re basically trading user experience for features when you go android.) I actually the Nexus used it for the past 3 weeks though, and my conclusion was to return it. There were just too many things that a high end phone (like this was supposed to be) was lacking or didn’t do correctly. In summary, the speaker is horrible, battery life is lacking, and random crashes because of the OS are annoying. I wrote up a little summary where I go into more detail on my blog if anyone is interested:  http://www.brainlings.com/2012/01/hi-why-i-returned-my-verizon-galaxy-nexus/

    • Anonymous says

      This guy is posting thr same thing on tons of gnex blogs and attempting to gain page views for revenue.. if his post didnt scream troll his “random os crashes” should have
      … 4.0 has been the most solid os ive ever used and that includes ios5

  12. Nerdotechy says

    GNexus is a far superior device to the Apple IPhone which was successful based on hype like most techy stuff. In its day it was better than the others but now it isn’t. I can watch TV like on my widescreen on my GNexus and as for battery life, I don’t keep mine on all the time unless expecting an important call. A flick and a glance and I have my stuff. I respond and move on with my life. I don’t expect my phone to be with me 24-7 - I like my privacy and if you really think when placed side-by side that Iphone is better, I think you need to get some prescription lenses.  

    • Michael Anderson says

      Let’s see … 
      Which is faster? iPhone 4s
      Which has better battery life? iPhone 4s
      Which has a larger app library? iPhone 4s
      Which has a BETTER app library? iPhone 4s
      Which has a larger screen? Galaxy Nexus
      Which has a higher pixel density screen? iPhone 4s
      Which has a better touch-screen technology? iPhone 4s
      Which has a fragmented OS so that many apps don’t work (swype just became compatible today)? Galaxy Nexus
      Which has a better browser? Galaxy Nexus (Chrome rocks).
      Which one has a more consistent UI (buttons in same place app to app)? iPhone 4s
      Which is more flexible? Galaxy Nexus
      Which will still be up to date at end of contract? Both (unlike all other Android phones, Nexus is safe)

      Neither one is ‘far superior’ than the other, they are both excellent phones, and neither is a bad choice.  Android meets my needs so I just got a Droid 4 (I *require* a hardware keyboard), but the iPhone is awesome as well.

  13. Anim8me2 says

    I have the iPhone 4S, The GNex, The Galaxy SII (Epic 4G Touch), and the HTC Titan.
    I wanted to test all the current smartphones to see which would work best for me and had the best usability.
    Now I will freely admit that I am an avowed Apple fan and regardless of which other phone I carried I also had my iPhone.
    The Android phone always frustrate the hell out of me. Poor UI choices and multiple taps to do things just does not work for me. Also the screen lag makes me nuts (don’t tell me there is no lag, if you think that you have never used an iPhone or WP7 phone) to the point of having to just put the phone down.
    I actually like WP7 a lot on the Titan. If the phone were a tiiiiiny bit narrower it would be perfect.
    Still, the camera, battery life and usability on the iPhone make it the device I just can’t be without.
    Most of the features noted in the article just don’t do it for me… open platform scares the hell out of me, Flash discontinued, NFC payments are no easier than taking out a card, etc.

  14. 14yumj1 says

    For me, the perfect phone would have the system and capability of a nexus, and visual appearance of a iPhone. 

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