Hosting and bandwidth provided by MacAce.net.
If you find this page useful, please
Bookmark & Share
What are the differences between the iPhone 3GS and the Google/HTC Nexus One?
Please note that this Q&A compares the iPhone 3GS and Nexus One as introduced. Both devices have been discontinued.
On January 5, 2010, Google unveiled the Nexus One, which the company designed in collaboration with HTC and declared to be a "superphone" primarily due to its 1 GHz processor.
Photo Credit: Apple Inc. (Left), Google (Right) -- Not to Scale
Externally, the Nexus One is slightly taller, narrower, and thinner than the iPhone 3GS, with a gray, two-tone, lightly textured surface compared to a glossy black front with polished metal trim and glossy black or white plastic back for the iPhone 3GS.
On a straight "specs to specs" basis, the Nexus One largely trounces the iPhone 3GS, as one typically would expect when comparing a brand new product with one released the previous summer.
The Nexus One is powered by a 1 GHz Qualcomm QSO 8250 "Snapdragon" processor and 512 MB of RAM compared to an 800 MHz (downclocked to 600 MHz) Samsung ARM Cortex A8 processor and 256 MB of RAM for the iPhone 3GS.
The Nexus One has a 3.7-Inch, 800x480 WVGA AMOLED touchscreen that is considerably higher-resolution compared to the 3.5" 320x480 (163 ppi) display in the iPhone 3GS. Unlike the iPhone 3GS, the Nexus One display does not support "multitouch", and navigation is performed with single touch gestures (likely to avoid getting sued by Apple) and has four main buttons under the display (back, menu, home, search) as well as a small trackball that also serves as a "glowing" status indicator for a number of functions.
The Nexus One additionally has a higher-resolution 5 megapixel camera with flash that is capable of shooting video at 720x480 at 20 FPS. The iPhone 3GS, on the other hand, has a 3 megapixel camera without a flash that shoots video at a lower VGA resolution (640x480) but at a higher 30 FPS. The iPhone 3GS also has basic "in camera" video editing (the ability to trim the beginning and ending of clips) as well as clever "tap to focus" support.
Major points of hardware design differentiation also include that the iPhone 3GS has 16 GB or 32 GB of built-in storage, whereas the Nexus One merely has 4 GB by default on a MicroSD card, but it can be upgraded to 32 GB by purchasing and installing a larger card. Likewise, the battery on the iPhone 3GS is not designed to be replaced, but the battery on the Nexus One can be swapped out easily by sliding the back panel (and it has to be removed to access the MicroSD and SIM card slots). Battery life is an estimated 7 hours of 3G talk time for the Nexus One compared to 5 hours for the iPhone 3GS.
Both the Nexus One and iPhone 3GS are "quad band" mobiles and have an accelerometer, proximity sensor, Bluetooth, 3G, Wi-Fi, digital compass, and GPS support. Officially, the iPhone 3GS and Nexus One both support 802.11b/g, but third-party teardowns indicate that the Nexus One uses the Broadcom BCM4329 chip -- the same as is used in the iPod touch 3G (Late 2009) -- so unofficially it is capable of 802.11n as well.
In general, the iPhone 3GS has the edge in software -- the operating system and default applications tend to be more polished -- and the iPhone 3GS has many times more applications, as one would expect for a more mature platform. However, the Nexus One provides true multitasking -- running multiple third-party and company-produced applications simultaneously (not just some Apple applications in the background) -- offers more customization, and perhaps most notably, has a "voice-to-text" feature built-into the operating system that endeavors to translate spoken voice into text.
In the US, unfortunately, the iPhone 3GS was "locked" to AT&T (even if purchased without a contract), but the Nexus One was available unlocked and unsubsidized for US$529 or tied to a two-year T-Mobile contract for US$179 with US$79.99 per month for the minimum wireless plan.
For your convenience, the major differences between the iPhone 3GS and Nexus One have been summarized below:
|iPhone 3GS||Nexus One|
|Processor Speed:||600 MHz*||1 GHz|
|RAM:||256 MB||512 MB|
|Storage:||16, 32 GB||4 GB (32 GB**)|
|OS:||iPhone OS (OS X)||Android 2.1 (Eclair)|
|Default Carrier (US):
|Bluetooth:||2.1+EDR A2DP||2.1+EDR A2DP|
|Still Camera:||3.0 MP||5.0 MP|
|Video Capability:||640x480 (30 FPS)||720x480 (20 FPS)|
|In Camera Editing:||Yes||No|
|Talk Time (3G):||5 Hours||7 Hours|
|Standby Time:||300 Hours||250 Hours|
|Height x Width:||4.5 x 2.4 in.||4.68 x 2.35 in.|
|Depth:||0.48 in.||0.45 in.|
|Weight:||4.8 oz.||4.58 oz.|
|No Contract Price:||US$599, $699§||US$529|
|Subsidized Price:||US$199, $299§||US$179§§|
*Apple provides no information regarding the iPhone 3GS processor, simply that it is a "closed system", but it is believed to use an ARM Cortex A8 running at 600 MHz (downclocked from 800 MHz). For graphics, it uses a PowerVR SGX graphics processor. For more details, please refer to analysis from the always excellent AnandTech.
** By default, the Nexus One has a 4 GB MicroSD card, upgradable (at additional cost) up to 32 GB.
*** Some Apple applications do run simultaneously, but the company does not allow multitasking for all applications.
† Although Google does not officially report such capability, the underlying hardware is capable of 802.11n.
†† Voice-to-text capability can be added to the iPhone 3GS with third-party applications.
§ These prices are for new AT&T Wireless customers. For "non-qualified" customers, the price with a new two-year agreement is US$599 or US$699.
§§ This price requires a two-year agreement with T-Mobile with a minimum US$79.99/month wireless/data plan.
You might also find this iPhone 3GS vs. Nexus One "matchup" video from GadgetVideoReviews useful:
Ultimately, whether the iPhone 3GS or Nexus One is the best smartphone -- or "superphone" if you prefer -- for your needs, is a decision that only you can make, but it is clear that the Nexus One is a formidable competitor to the iPhone 3GS. This increased competition should be a positive development for consumers as Apple and every other mobile device manufacturer is spurred continuously to increase innovation.