Google Nexus S vs Samsung Galaxy S

Two top Android phones go head-to-head

Google's Nexus One follow-up goes head-to-head with Samsung's reigning AMOLED beauty. Which of the two flagship Android handsets has what it takes to part you of your cash?

With the exception of Apple's iPhone, nothing has ever caused quite such a stir in the world of smartphones as the announcement of the original Google Phone: the Google Nexus One. We liked it quite a bit, although some unfortunate customer service and initial touchscreen issues kept it off the top spot, both on our best mobile phones chart and in sales.

Now Google is back for round two, with the markedly improved Google Nexus S (designed and built by Samsung). Up against it in this feature is Samsung's own-brand, five-million-selling Android blower, the Samsung Galaxy S. But which Sammy offering pays out the most for your hard-earned? We got them in the ring together for an answer.

Build and Design:
To anyone who's familiar with the Samsung Galaxy S, the Google Nexus S is comfortingly familiar, although the case, while plasticky on both, is noticeably less shiny on the Nexus S. The Nexus S also packs what Samsung call 'Contour Display', a special curve in the body designed to fit the user's face more comfortably, rather than the standard candy bar design of the Galaxy S.

Operating System:
Both handsets run Google's Android operating system, with the Nexus S running the slightly more modern 2.3 Gingerbread version. The Galaxy S, which currently runs the 2.2 FroYo version of Android, has been promised an upgrade to 2.3 by Samsung, although no date for when this is going to happen has been announced as yet.

Both the Galaxy S and the Nexus S rock 5MP back-facing cameras and a front-facing VGA camera for video calling. However, the Nexus S edges into the lead over the Galaxy S with the inclusion of a flash, which the Galaxy S inexplicably lacks. Both shoot 720p video at 30fps, though, so if shots of blurry nights out aren't your cup of tea then they're neck and neck..

While both handsets boast multi-touch 4-inch Super AMOLED screens, The Nexus S comes out on top here with some of the deepest blacks we've ever seen on a handset, to the point where the screen seems to blend into the casing (something that doesn't happen with the Galaxy S's glossy frame). When we fist looked at the Galaxy S, we said that for our money it was the best phone on the market for watching video, and the experience is certainly no worse on the Nexus S, with crisp, sharp colours to compliment the large range of playable formats on offer.

Data Storage:
The Galaxy S and the Nexus S are both available with either 8GB or 16GB of storage space, although crucially the Galaxy S comes with an SD card slot which can expand this by a further 32GB. Expandable storage is conspicuously absent on the Nexus S, nudging the Galaxy S ahead in the stakes for those looking to make the most of that gorgeous AMOLED screen.

Both the Galaxy S and the Nexus S pack 1GHz Hummingbird processors, making them equally nippier than the original Nexus One.

Battery Life:
As you'd expect from such content-rich handsets, batteries on both phones will need nightly charging. On paper the Galaxy S squeezes out a little more juice than the newer Nexus S, but when we tested the Galaxy S back in July we found the battery life day-to-day varied considerably. As always, turning off 3G and push updates makes a big difference, if battery life matters more to you than browsing speed.

Check out our full Samsung Galaxy S review and Google Nexus S review for the full breakdown of each handset.