The dramatic saga (at least according to phone geeks) of the Verizon Galaxy Nexus ends today as the device appears in stores for $299.99 with a 2-year contract. There has been loads of hype surrounding the device, but before you get too swept up on the moment I wanted to offer up ten reasons that I am sticking with my Apple iPhone 4S on Verizon. As regular readers know I have now had my own HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus for two weeks and can speak from experience with both devices.
There are a number of new Android devices on Verizon, but the only one that really impresses me is the Galaxy Nexus from Samsung with the latest Android operating system and outstanding specifications. Verizon also has the Apple iPhone 4S and I found the device and iOS 5 attractive enough to bring me back to iOS from Android. As a writer who focuses on mobile technology, I also am blessed (often it feels like cursed) to have a couple of wireless service providers so I have the Galaxy Nexus running on T-Mobile. I considered picking up the Verizon model to replace my iPhone 4S so I could then get a Windows Phone 7 device on T-Mobile.
Ten reasons to select the iPhone 4S
After sitting down and listing out pros and cons, here are ten reasons I have for choosing the iPhone 4S over the Galaxy Nexus. Keep in mind that some of these are subjective and my personal opinion, but I just wanted you to have some information to make an intelligent purchase decision and think before you leap. The Galaxy Nexus is priced the same as the 32GB iPhone 4S so I don't consider cost as a factor.
Applications and services: The selection, quality, and design of applications is better on iOS devices. It seems that just about every day I find some fantastic apps for iOS that appear first on this platform and honestly if it wasn't for all the apps and services I would likely get bored of iOS and move to another platform.
iPhone 4S quality is better: The iPhone 4S is an extremely well built phone with glass, plastic, and metal components. I have gotten used to my Galaxy Nexus, but it still feels a bit cheaper (Samsung Android phones are known for using thin plastics) and side-by-side you can feel the difference.
Apple has Siri and she is good: I am testing out a number of personal assistant applications on my Galaxy Nexus, but nothing can currently compare with the conversational nature of Siri. The ease with which I create reminders and appointments, call and text people, check weather for the places I travel, set alarms, create notes, and search the web has changed dramatically thanks to Siri's advanced features.
iPhone 4S camera is better: I posted a basic comparison of several shots I took in "typical situations" with the iPhone 4S and Galaxy Nexus and while the Galaxy Nexus was not as bad as I was led to believe by reading some other sites, the iPhone 4S still performs much better. If taking photos and leaving your point and shoot camera behind is your plan then you will be MUCH happier with the iPhone 4S. I wish Samsung would have used a better camera module, even one just like their Galaxy S II would have been fine.
Galaxy Nexus speaker blows: The speaker on the Galaxy Nexus is basically useless and one of the worst speakers I have ever used on a phone. It is nearly impossible to use it as a speakerphone and forget about listening to music and podcasts without a headset or external speaker. Some have suggested it might be a software issue and I can only hope so since I can't even use it with such low volume. The speakers on the iPhone 4S are much better and I have no complaints at all.
Galaxy Nexus display is too big: I have medium to large sized hands and even then I can only reach about 50% - 60% of the display with my thumb while holding the device in one hand. With the iPhone 4S I can cover 95% of the display so the Galaxy Nexus is definitely a two-handed device. My buddy Mickey Papillon was quite bothered by this and ended up getting rid of his Galaxy Nexus after about a week.
Android is still complicated: Ice Cream Sandwich is clearly the best version of the Android operating system. It is not perfect and lacks some polish, but there is more cohesiveness than before and more standardization. That said, it is still a rather complex and non-intuitive OS that can be overwhelming for some. I think it is way too much for someone like my mother-in-law and I actually just helped her order her first smartphone, the Apple iPhone 4S.
iPhone 4S is world phone: Unlike the CDMA/LTE only Galaxy Nexus, the iPhone 4S is a CDMA and quad-band GSM/UMTS device. As I detailed before my trip to London it is easy to use the iPhone 4S with an international microSIM card or here on the expansive CDMA Verizon network. The Galaxy Nexus from Verizon is limited to just Verizon here in the U.S. If you are a world traveler, then do what I did and consider the penta-band HSPA+ Galaxy Nexus.
Malware is growing on Android: Last weekend I had a conversation with a woman who owns an Android device and was extremely upset that "the little green man ate all my contacts" and all the data on her phone was wiped. Now, she was drunk at the time so I am not clear if a real green Android character appeared on her phone, but malware is definitely a growing concern (as reported by CNET) on the Android platform.
iOS web browser is better: The web browser in ICS is good and I appreciate the large display for surfing. However, there are some issues with how it handles text on many websites (no changing of settings cures the issue) and there are still some sites that do not render nearly as well as they do on iOS. ICS is also not as smooth as iOS and this is apparent when doing things like surfing the web.
Six reasons to consider the Galaxy Nexus on Verizon
Now, there are definitely reasons to also consider the Galaxy Nexus over the iPhone 4S and if you just can't stand Apple products the decision is easy. Also, the Galaxy Nexus does let the serious phone geek do a lot more due to the open nature and those phone enthusiasts reading this blog will likely be happier with the Galaxy Nexus. Some obvious benefits of the Galaxy Nexus are:
Fast LTE data network support
Large, beautiful display (if you don't care about one or two handed operation)
Ice Cream Sandwich operating system (refreshing if you are a current Android user)
I was always under the impression that the intent of Nexus devices for Google was to offer up the purest Android experience and be as open as possible with very little carrier impact and have an easily unlockable bootloader so developers could push the limits of the platform. As I wrote a couple of days ago, the world GSM/HSPA+ version of the Galaxy Nexus lets you unlock the bootloader and get Google Wallet installed with straightforward instructions. It remains to be seen if the Verizon Galaxy Nexus allows this, but I am sure we will soon see developers and enthusiasts making attempts this weekend.
There has also been a lot written and said about bloatware on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, but honestly having a couple of Verizon utilities that help you manage your account (and from what I understand can be disabled) hardly counts as bloatware. If they had a bunch of V CAST crap on there then I would be concerned, but the device still appears to be a pure Android smartphone.