HTC 1S vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus – What phone is right for you ?

HTC 1S vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus – Introduction :

More than 90% of people in Australia buying a postpaid mobile phone purchase one of the top 7 Smartphones. We show them all on our site, with detailed reviews and information, exploring every aspect of them to help you decide what phone is right for you.

However, even within those 7, there are some striking similarities. The specifications of the HTC 1X are very, very close to the specifications for both the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. These are the top end devices in market now.

‘Below’ them ( designed for users with lower expectations and usage patterns ) sit the Samsung Galaxy S2 and the HTC 1S – which, again, have very, very similar specifications.

The iPhone 4S is, obviously, a completely different kettle of fish – and has totally different specifications and a differentiated user interface !

HTC 1S vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus – Overview

As such, comparing the HTC 1s vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus is comparing a top end phone with a device designed for a completely different sort of user. Let’s take a look at the detailed device specifications and, more interestingly, the user experience that each generates and find what phone is right for you.

HTC 1S vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus – specification comparison – what’s different ?

The Nexus is a more plasticky device. It looks dull and bland next to the high quality aluminum of the 1S. The Nexus seems more military – partly because of the gun metal grey of the chassis but also because it’s such a practical device. There are no bells and whistles. It’s an engineer’s phone. The 1S on the other hand has panache – it’s the Mini Cooper of Smartphones. It’s compact, fun and seems well built.

  • Screen :
    Holding the two devices for the purposes of comparison, the first thing that strikes you is the difference in the size of the screens between the two smartphones. The HTC 1S has a 4.3 inch Super AMOLED display with 540 x 960 pixel resolution. Up until very recently, 4.3 inches was the largest you’d get on a smartphone. However, 2012 has seen an increase in the dimensions of screens on most of the top selling devices. The trend was actually started just before Christmas last year by the Samsung Galaxy Nexus which has a 4.65 inch HD Super AMOLED screen, which has the full 720 x 1280 resolution of a mobile capable of letting you watch every single pixel of a high definition film file. They’re very similar technologies but the implementation has been different. The 1S’s screen is brighter, clearer, seems to deliver better ( deeper ) colors than the Nexus. On top of that, the battery is not best in class on the Nexus which means that, to be sure you’re getting a full day out of it, you need to turn down the screen brightness. In order for this to be a fair ‘fight’ we’ve got to mention that. Your practical experience of either of these 2 products is that the 1S’s screen is better – even if, to the practiced observer, the pixels are a bit more obvious and ‘blocky’ on it than you’ll get on a Nexus.
  • Physical dimensions :
    There is not nearly the difference you’d expect in physical dimension given the difference in screen size. The Nexus is only half a centimetre longer and 3 mm wider than the 1S. The feel of the devices is the important thing of course and the sensation of the 1S is markedly different to the Samsung product. Like I said, it feels more fun – like a Mini Cooper.
  • Camera :
    The Nexus has a 5MP camera which does better than you’d think against the 8MP camera on the 1S. The shots taken on the 1S are clearer and I love how quickly ( sub 1 second ) it goes from snap to shutter blink. Against this competition, the 5MO of the Nexus lets it down. The current market norm is 8MP.
  • Battery :
    The Nexus’ is at the bottom end of the current market capability for battery life. As I’ve said already, it’s so sub optimal that users end up having to ‘work around’ the problem, lowering screen brightness and installing applications to extend the hours of juice you experience. The 1S’s battery is better. It’s still not best in class like it’s bigger brother the 1X but, especially since it’s aimed at a lower end user ( who probably won’t want push email, wireless running all the time and be checking the internet every 20 minutes, the battery is more than adequate.

HTC 1S vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus – specification comparison – what’s the same ?

Almost every other feature is either the same or very similar between the two devices.

  • Both have Dual core processors :
    The Nexus has Dual Core 1.2 GHz processors, the HTC 1S, Dual Core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processors. That sort of thing doesn’t mean much to most people. The browsing and navigation experience on both products is fantastic. Very little delay on either product in either circumstance ( we find the browser a bit glitch sometimes on the Nexus but we don’t think that’s the chip, we think it’s the browser ! ) The smaller screen and faster processors seem to offset the ‘bulk’ of processing that running HTC’s sense UI ( User Interface ) layer requires. The Nexus is slimmed down and running the standard, default, ICS ( Ice Cream Sandwich – Android 4.0 ) operating system.
  • Weight :
    The Nexus weighs more than the HTC 1S but, as we usually say, when you’re choosing what phone is right for you, the 19 gram difference is not going to be noticeable to you in your pocket.
  • Video :
    Both take 30 FPS High Definition video. We find that the Sense video camera software options are more extensive and the quality of the camera is better, as covered.
  • Both are 3 G devices.
  • Memory :
    Both devices come with a barely adequate 16GB of internal, non expandable memory installed. This, in my view, is a failing for both devices.
  • NB: The 1S takes a micro SIM, the Nexus takes a mini ( normal ) SIM.
  • It’s possible to take the back off the Nexus ( and therefore change the battery. If you like to have a spare or there’s a problem with the battery you have installed, this could be an important feature. )

HTC 1S vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus – other influences

  • Both the Nexus and HTC 1S are running ICS ( Ice Cream Sandwich. ) The Nexus has the default ICS User Interface. The 1S uses HTC Sense 4.0. In some ways, I prefer the simplicity of the Nexus’ interface and the knowledge that there’s not a bunch of stuff going on to animate things, give me a warm and sticky glow and slow everything down. However, the HTC Sense UI is more holistically considered. The extra apps installed at launch mean there’s less faffing in the Play store. The options on everything, including high use aspects of the device like the camera are better. I’ve come to rely on capabilities like the HTC Car application ( which I always mention. ) You’d have to give this one to HTC.

HTC 1S vs Samsung Galaxy Nexus – Summary

As I said at the start, these two devices are aimed at very different users. The Nexus is a top end device for the more technically minded. People who aren’t afraid of figuring out the best apps in the play store to address their video needs or about finding a way to extend battery life love the Nexus. It’s a great product.

The 1S is for a more low / mid tier product. It looks better, it has a better UI, camera and screen ( except it’s a bit smaller. )

Weirdly, I’m choosing the HTC 1S as the better device here. I think everyone wants to own a Mini at some stage of their lives.


Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.