Starting off the year with both the Galaxy S II and the Galaxy Nexus in my hand, I thought I’d write a few thoughts on my experience and research into the ‘better’ phone. Ultimately, I believe it’ll come down to each person’s personal choice, but on some fronts you can definitely feel the difference! I’ll break it down into five areas that led me to ultimately choose the S II over the Galaxy Nexus.
Left: Galaxy Nexus, Right: Galaxy S II
If you’re looking for a phone with good specifications, runs on Android and has a decent camera then you really should be looking at these two phones! In terms of hardware the S II pips the Galaxy Nexus at the post. It has a 1.2 GHz dual-core “Exynos” system on a chip (SoC) processor, as well as, 1 GB of RAM and the WVGA Super AMOLED plus 4.3″ screen. Pretty good so far, the Galaxy Nexus on the other hand runs a dual-core 1.2 GHz TI OMAP 4460 processor (ARM Cortex-A9) with 1 GB of RAM and a 4.65-inch 1280×720-pixel HD Super AMOLED PenTile display. From the research I’ve done, this seems to be of slightly lower specifications than the 9 month old S II, so on this front having the S II running the better hardware made sense in the long term (though there are other arguments there with it being ‘older’ in general). The difference is not huge, but it is noticeable.
The other camera on the front differed as well between the two phones, the S II hosts a 2 mp front facing camera compared to the Galaxy Nexus with its 1.3 mp camera. For me this was a bit of a make or break feature as I tend to use the phone for a lot of face to face conversations on Skype. You can definitely notice the quality of the video and recipients of my calls have also noticed the definition and clarity is much sharper (this may not be so good if you don’t want everything on your face to show).
The cameras on these are different and sort of backwards, the S II has the 8 mp camera and the Galaxy Nexus the 5 mp camera, now, having worked in the past in the camera industry I know megapixels mean diddly squat generally and shouldn’t be the only aspect of a camera you should focus on. Between these phones the differences are slight and I really think this will be personal preferences on colour, saturation etc. From what I’ve seen the Galaxy Nexus supposedly does better low light shots, but this has been found by some and not by others. I chose to go with the SII 8 mp because I noticed the colours to me looked more natural generally and the clarity overall was quite good and the end of the day it’s a camera phone, it’s not suppose to replace your SLR. The S II also seemed to handle filming in HD much better probably due to the processor differences.
On a plus for the Galaxy Nexus, it is VERY snappy from switching to camera and taking a shot, so in this sense the lag free might be a clincher for you. I found it a bit annoying because it was so fast that I would take random shots by accident, but that’s just a matter of getting used to I’m sure.
* Pictures in Ant’s article about the Night Owls cinema were taken using the S II camera.
What’s a few grams? The S II is purported to weigh around 116g whilst the Galaxy Nexus a heavier 135g. Not exactly back breaking, but there is a difference when holding them and I’m definitely not a believer of heavier = expensive. Heavier to me just means more likely to be damaged on impact. Lighter means it has a better chance of getting away with a fall. Not that I drop my phones! I’ve read a lot of people find the S II ‘flimsy’ but I have to say, I don’t agree, perhaps again because I haven’t come from an iphone which is significantly heavier at 140g which is a substantial and noticeable difference.
Curvy form factor
The screen on the S II (4.3″) has a slightly green/bluish hue to it, not so on the Galaxy Nexus which was nice and fairly white. That is one plus to the Galaxy Nexus over the S II, but the Galaxy Nexus doesn’t have plus AMOLED screen the Galaxy S II hosts. The other major factor here for me was the size of the Galaxy Nexus screen at 4.65″ this is a little too big for my hands and received some jokes from Ant that I wouldn’t be able to see if a Tsunami was coming because the phone was so large. If you’re looking for a large screen then check out the Nexus, or better still check out the Galaxy Note (which isn’t as large as it seems) especially if you’re looking for a “phablet”. A colleague has one and it’s actually quite functional in size.
5. Expandable memory
If you come from an Apple phone, this probably won’t be a big deal for you. For me it wasn’t going to break the deal, but I definitely prefer having an SD card
that can corrupt that I can remove and expand in size. The S II was then the logical choice because the Galaxy Nexus was only available as a 16gb model (with a newer 32gb to come). So the limitation on available memory helped to push me towards the S II.
Overall, they are both nice phones the Galaxy Nexus has a really nice curvy form factor and an interesting tapered body, but considering you can get the S II for a lot less than the Galaxy Nexus, I would be inclined to pay less and still have the better specs and have the functions I like on the phone over the aesthetics and current OS. The lure of Ice Cream Sandwich isn’t a feature I felt compelled to have right away, as usually there will ultimately be some guinea pigs required to iron out bugs. Samsung has announced it would bring ICS to the S II likely by the first quarter of 2012, which only leaves a month a bit to wait.
If you can afford the costs/wait, the S III is rumoured to be on it’s way this year and apparently in the first quarter of 2012, of course that’s just the announcement, by the time the phone actually reaches consumers it’ll be much further down the track . So if you can, perhaps sit tight and wait it out, otherwise don’t look past the S II for the right price.
This wasn’t written as a full out comparison of the two, but just a few things I think stood out as considerations in keeping one phone over the other. If there are other factors you thought were crucial write a comment and let us know!