Nexus S takes on iPhone

2011-07-12 22:21

Cape Town - The Google Nexus S smartphone from Samsung has been touted as an Android answer to the iPhone from Apple.

Tastes may vary, but it is a pretty device running the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) operating system. It seems to fit well in a (large) hand and the "buttons" on the touch screen fall conveniently below the thumb.

Samsung is currently the biggest handset provider in the US according to research firm comScore and Android is the most popular operating system on smartphones according to a Pew Research Centre study.

It would appear then, that this device should be an easy slam dunk for the company in a developing market like SA.

The device is fast with a 1GHz processor. One never feels that an instruction manual is required to operate even some of the more advanced functionalities.


The built in GPS receiver makes it incredibility useful for finding your way around your home town, or if you find yourself on unfamiliar turf.

The Google feature that finds restaurants, ATMs and garages close to your location proved helpful, but was a bit of a letdown outside major metropolitan areas.

Still, as more small retailers list their businesses, the database will grow to become more accurate.

The phone also features the popular Google Voice Search feature which scores a plus for understanding search queries - even when the user slurs his speech.

The Nexus S has two cameras (5 megapixel and VGA) and the pictures are decent - especially when viewed on the 10cm display, which is slightly bigger than the iPhone.

Even in direct sunlight, using the device was easy and the touch screen feels solid, even though we couldn't bear to test it to destruction in the News24 offices. The phone weighs in at about 130g.

The display has a built-in curve to make viewing easier and the back cover has been designed to fit snugly in the hand.


All that display, however, does take significant battery power and the Nexus S required a charge more often than one would like for a mobile device.

The lovely display encourages you to watch video, but the battery struggles with the demands of YouTube over extended periods.

In a bit of a contradiction, external memory is built-in and you get about 16GB, but no micro-SD card slot. Moving content onto the device is a quick USB plug-in to a computer and you can transfer files immediately. There is no third party application that needs to be installed.

The biggest disappointment for this device that has been on sale worldwide since December 2010 is the price. It was difficult to swallow the R6 000 plus asking price on prepaid, and most users would probably opt to upgrade on contract packages.

In contrast to the iPhone, the Nexus' plastic cover seems to have a somewhat cheaper feel than the iPhone 4 and BlackBerry.

In that price range, it's cheaper than the iPhone 4, but more pricey than the BlackBerry Torch.

Also, Samsung has launched the upgraded Galaxy Gio and S II in SA and this makes the Nexus S look a bit dated, even though it still has bragging rights as quite an addictive smartphone.


In the US, smartphones make up 35% of the market according to the Pew Research Centre, and Africa is poised to accelerate the adoption of smartphones as manufactures race to bring their products to a new eager audience wanting to connect to the internet.

As to the question of its threat to the almighty iPhone, one must accept that the Nexus S does look better than the previous generation device from Apple, and the added touches like the ergonomic cover and curved glass screen make it quite attractive.

But in the stratosphere of smartphone devices, the iPhone remains king - for now.

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  • John Wilson - 2011-07-12 22:44

    Iphone is the best smartphone on the market. Period.

      The Spear - 2011-07-13 07:23

      Why are they comparing this with the Iphone? The Samsung galaxy S2 is a much better phone than this or the Iphone 4 with a dual core 1.2Ghz processor, HD video. 8MB camera and it also runs Gingerbread and has the best screen of any phone ever made in the history of phones. Maybe it hasn't been released yet in SA? I recently got the Galaxy S2here in the UAE and I will never look back. Apple is bumping up their specs later this year with a new Iphone just to stay competitive and "bring something new" but it would pretty much be around the same specs as the current Galaxy S2.

      The Spear - 2011-07-13 07:30

      @John Wilson - Why? What makes it better than the HTC Desire or galaxy S2?

      Kikmi - 2011-07-13 08:32

      @The Spear - check your facts, the modified tegra 2 cpu wont stand up against the arm a5, and the dpi range on the iphone 4 is STILL better than your current s2 at 326 compared to a measley 244. So no. Your fanboyisms will be heartily disregarded, thanks come again!

      The Spear - 2011-07-13 08:33

      Nope. Just stating fact.Ignorance bothers me.

      The Spear - 2011-07-13 08:52

      Then Kimi - Iphone 4 has a 1.0 GHz Apple A4 processor and the galaxy S2 has a 1.2 GHz dual core Application Processor which outpaces the Iphone4 in every aspect when it come to head to head browsing and performance. You are speaking about a processor that might possibly included in a future not yet released Iphone. Today the S2 is faster than the Iphone, heads down. See for yourself.

      The Spear - 2011-07-13 08:53

      PS, I can download a movie with the Galaxy S2 and the Iphone would still be starting up.

      Lawence - 2011-07-13 23:25

      Samsung galaxy S2 released in SA a week ago. I got one. Who needs Apple trying to control your life

  • David van Wyk - 2011-07-12 22:59

    The Nexus S has been out overseas for ages. The new Nexus, running the next version of Android, Icecream Sandwich, is due soon. In terms of pure hardware, the current generation of Android phones (Desire, Galaxy S) easily surpass the Iphone, and the next generation (Sensation, Galaxy S2) make the Iphone 4 look like the 2 year old technology that it is. The one edge Apple has is the App Market, but Android is growing faster and will soon match and then exceed Apple's store. Comparing UI's, Apple's interface has barely changed since the original Iphone, and is hardly customisable, unless you jailbreak it. Android is flexible, and offers more in the way personalisation and the ability to set it up just how you want. Apple has done well, making the smartphone sector what it is today - they are now playing catch up though, in hardware and software. They will still dominate for some time, given their current lead, but in time I doubt they will be able to control it like they have. Whatever happens, there are some awesome phones coming out.

      ActionJacksonZA - 2011-07-12 23:33

      Android phone manufacturers should focus less on 'on paper' specs and more on better battery life.

  • Ralph Long - 2011-07-12 23:53

    Interesting. I live in South Korea, the home of Samsung, and just about everyone here has Iphones. It is weird because Koreans in general prefer homegrown products, so I find their facination with Iphones so out of character.

      FulcanWorks Productions - 2011-07-13 01:06

      Why? Asians like anything from America. You're a couple of centuries behind.

      The Spear - 2011-07-13 07:24

      Well half the Iphone is made by Samsung so it is understandable.

      karl.wortmann - 2011-07-13 07:44

      Ralph, I know what you mean - I worked with Koreans for over 2 years... they're the most patriotic people I have ever met! They got excited that I had a Samsung phone at the time. Strange that they like iPhones and iPads as much as they do...

  • Paul - 2011-07-13 00:06

    lol...Im an Android user but how does it make sense to compare the Nexus S to the iPhone when there are better Android phones out there? The Samsung Galaxy S2 and HTC Sensation blow the Nexus S and iPhone out of the water...but at the end of the day, its about your operating system preference. New and better phones will always be released...xus S to the iPhone when there are better Android phones out there? The Samsung Galaxy S2 and HTC Sensation blow the Nexus S and iPhone out of the water...but at the end of the day, its about your operating system preference. New and better phones will always be released...

      The Spear - 2011-07-13 07:25

      100% correct. It should be compared to the Galaxy S2 or HTC Desire/ Sensation.

  • FulcanWorks Productions - 2011-07-13 01:05

    Bought one from Amazon a long time ago, it is not a new phone. It is about R1995 for one from the States. Cell C/MTN/Vodacom just rips people off with their 200-500% mark-ups on handsets.

      Ralph Long - 2011-07-13 05:18

      May I ask, do you or have you lived in Asia? What you say about Asians preferring US products is absolute bull. Koreans especially are patriotic when it comes to consumer products and will almost always buy something made in Korea way before any other product. This is why I made that comment. It is based on experience of living here for 3 years.

  • Lekker Jan - 2011-07-13 02:28

    This is an old phone. Samsung themselves have a few better spec phones.

  • AmosMoledi - 2011-07-13 06:00

    What a poor piece of writting. You saying this phone is 7 months old. And a writting this article today. You mean you still don't know Apple iPhone does not have a competitor even today. Why would it take 7 months before this phone decides to take on iphone 4? What do you know about Nexus 4G???? Obviously nothing otherwise you would have not written this non sensical piece. Wake up dude. Do you research properly.

  • madras - 2011-07-13 06:38

    Nice, but it still is not an I phone, they are the best,

      The Spear - 2011-07-13 07:27

      What makes the Iphone 4 better than the Galaxy S2 or HTC desire? Please tell me? They are all great phones, there is very little between them.

      Kikmi - 2011-07-13 08:34

      @The Spear - TASTE!

      The Spear - 2011-07-13 08:55

      Why? because Steve Jobs tells you it is cool? Both the HTC and Galaxy S2 is even better looking. Can't give a real answer can you.

  • rono - 2011-07-13 08:24

    Iphone = Montblanc Nexus S = Bic pen

  • pkmvelashe - 2011-07-13 08:27

    Oh damn I lost my iPhone :( Samsung has never proved to be of quality so I would rather have a Nokia than it because it freezes and its sofware is fragile. No iPhone better Nokia or something else BUT not Samsung!

  • Observer - 2011-07-13 08:30

    Why are they even talking about this phone. The new king of smartphones is out.....drumroll ...SAMSUNG GALAXY S II

  • Driagnor - 2011-07-13 09:15

    At the end of the day, you look at which phone has the features that you're looking for. Both the iPhone and Android devices are good - it's really a matter of personal preference, and any "my phone is better than yours" arguments don't address this. I personally use Android because I like the ability to customize my interface, don't like the amount of control Apple exerts over what apps are allowed on the device (without jailbreaking and invalidating your warranty), and HATE iTunes for syncing music - let me mount my SD card as a USB drive and manually copy over the music any day of the week. This doesn't change the fact that I can appreciate iPhone 4 is a good piece of hardware - I just don't have this blind devotion to it which others do.

      The Spear - 2011-07-13 09:27

      I agree. That is why I get so extremely annoyed at this "Iphone is better mentality." Let's be honest, it revolutionized the smartphone industry but the competitors caught up quickly and the iphone 4 is just one of many good Smartphones out there. The best? Sure as hell no.

  • Horza - 2011-07-13 10:22

    This is an old phone. check out

  • Vent Smit - 2011-07-13 13:11

    @The Spear - Why are you going to every single comment and seeking answers to why the Iphone is the best? It is the best, by far. Specs is specs and sure other phones may be faster in so called "processing" but put the Iphone next to any other phone and it will OWN every single phone out there. It's not all about processing and how fast the damn thing is, it's how cool and easy it is to use, never mind the apps. I have worked with LOADS of phones and I will never look back. Don't be a "Jobs" hater. Take the Ipad for instance, there are so many tablets launched and everybody tries to copy it but it just isn't there, it's like buying Coke and buying Pick 'n Pay Coke, ain't the same. Just my 2 cents there...

      chrwl007 - 2011-07-13 21:11

      The Spear needs something tangible to substantiate the claims. You're approaching this like saying medical aid X is the best, but not providing evidence of payout percentages and cost/benefit comparisons, for example. Glass front, glass back, iTunes to do almost everything on the device (And before you say "just jailbreak it" - why does a consumer have to jump through hoops just to get things working that are included in cheaper competitors out of the box?)... no thanks, I'll stick to my all-aluminium Nokia N8. You're absolutely right, it's not just about the specs on paper. Battery life and call quality come to mind, both of which are problem areas in the iPhone.

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