The battle of the smartphones

Apple’s iPhone 4S or the Samsung Galaxy Nexus – which smartphone is smarter?

The two most hyped phones of 2011 are about to enter the Indian market. There’s the iPhone 4S with its magical personal assistant Siri, who listens to you and finds what you are looking for as soon as you ask for it. Then there is the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first smartphone running Android 4, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS). While the iPhone 4S is scheduled to be launched on 25 November, the Nexus will be launched early next month. As the Indian smartphone market readies for the launch of these phones, we send them out into the battlefield to find the smartest choice.

The contenders

iPhone 4S

iPhone 4S: It comes with a personal assistant, Siri

iPhone 4S: It comes with a personal assistant, Siri

An update to the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S comes loaded with a powerful A5 processor, iOS 5, Siri and a whopping 8-megapixel camera. When it launched in the US last month, sales within a month broke all records at four million handsets and saw long lines of customers waiting to get their hands on one. The phone is already out for pre-order with a tie-up with Aircel and will launch in India later this month.

Price: 16 GB at Rs. 44,500 and the 32 GB variant at Rs. 50,900. No information available on the 64 GB variant.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Galaxy Nexus: Samsung’s latest Android flagship

Galaxy Nexus: Samsung’s latest Android flagship

The latest Android flagship, the Galaxy Nexus combines Samsung’s ever-improving hardware in a massive high-resolution, 4.65-inch screen with the latest Android 4.0. It hasn’t reached any customer yet, but is raking up a storm of anticipation. The phone is up for pre-order in countries like the US and UK and will be coming to India soon.

Price: The company has not released any information on price, though industry sources claim that it will be in the Rs. 35,000-40,000 price band.

Let the battle begin

Round 1: Display

The Galaxy Nexus comes with a whopping 4.65-inch of Samsung Super AMOLED HD curved display. With such a huge size for a screen, it walks a thin line between a tablet and smartphone and does it well (if you have rather large hands, that is). To pack a punch, it has a tempting 1280×720 resolution, which is the highest ever in a smartphone. It gives a new meaning to clarity and makes Web browsing, movie watching and gaming experience a breeze. It also eats up battery life.

The iPhone 4S, on the other hand, plays it safe with the same design and the same 3.5-inch display which has worked in its earlier models. At 9.3mm, it’s also bulkier than its competitor. The screen has the same display like its predecessors—a multi-touch with the same 960×640 resolution. It does have a higher pixel density at 330 ppi than the Nexus which is at 316 ppi.

Round 2: Internal muscle

Like its competitor, the new Nexus is powered by the latest dual-core processors, a 1.2 GHz dual-core, while the iPhone 4S comes with 1 GHz of power. Samsung has also added a whopping 1 GB RAM to its superphone unlike its contender which only packs half its punch at 512 MB. Storage wise, both of them have options of in-built 16 GB and 32 GB, whereas a high-end option for iPhone 4S also comes with a 64 GB storage capacity. Neither, unfortunately, comes with extendable storage.

Round 3: Operating system

Ice Cream Sandwich brings a lot of change to Android—face recognition and voice recognition are a start, but the update also does away with physical keys. Instead, the phone can now remove the on-screen keys when running apps to make full use of the screen.

The OS also allows you to resize widgets, a big plus, and has tight integration with Google+. At the same time, it remains easy to tinker with the settings, and checking apps for battery and data usage is a boon for power users.

iOS 5 on the other hand brings most of its changes behind the scenes. Most visible in the new changes is the addition of iCloud—a free personal cloud for each user, so your contacts, photos, music and apps are all always available. Another big change is wireless syncing—you no longer need to plug your phone into the computer to update it from iTunes.

Round 4: Accessibility

ICS remains focused on only visual accessibility and comes with an explore-by-touch mode that tells you what widget you might be pressing by audible feedback every time you touch the screen once. iOS 5 comes with the feature for visual accessibility as well as additional ones like Rotor options for people with mobility, hearing, and cognitive disabilities. Hearing Aid Mode makes the phone more compatible with hearing aids. Then there are other useful customizations like specific vibrations for a specific contact, LED flash for alerts and mono audio, making it as comfortable as a touch screen might be for a different ability user.

Round 5: Entertainment

Both phones have updated the camera and made photo taking faster and easier than ever. The Samsung has a 5 MP camera compared to iPhone’s 8 MP camera. The iOS 5 update also adds some much needed functionality to the iPhone camera, adding support for a hardware button for the shutter, anti-shake technology and live photo editing.

The bigger screen of the Nexus is great for playing games and videos and also for looking at content online. The iPhone 4S, however, has a better GPU, and so renders 3D graphics faster. And of course, it has the App Store and a far wider range of apps to draw from than the Galaxy Nexus.

Round 6: Extra tricks

So what’s one thing you get to show off to your friends in either of these phones? The Nexus comes with a rather ho-hum but useful Android Beam, which is a Near Field Communication mode that can make it possible for you to share Web pages, videos, maps, directions and apps across two phones by merely tapping them to each other as well as allow you to make wireless payments to retailers in the future. In iPhone 4S, it’s the cool personal assistant Siri, iPhone’s beta attempt at employing artificial intelligence, that can help you do anything by asking it a question. It’s way better and way advanced than any voice recognition app out there. Siri can make calls, search the Internet, send messages, schedule meetings or set reminders for you. It thinks on how to act even with somewhat indirect orders like, “Tell Vivek that his red shirt looks good”. It will figure out “Vivek” in your contact list and send him an SMS telling him that his shirt looks great.

Write to us at