For current or potential Sprint customers, the Motorola Photon 4G and Samsung Nexus S 4G present two somewhat similar, but different, takes on the keyboard-less Android smartphone. We’ll examine how each model will serve the needs of their would-be buyers.
On the surface, there are a number of commonalities between the two phones. Both, for instance, support Sprint’s 4G WiMAX network, providing broadband internet speeds on the go. Both have 16GB of internal memory, and sport a very up-to-date version of Google Android.
The differences are as obvious as they are skin-deep, though. The Nexus is a slightly smaller device with a sleek casing, while the Photon practically bristles with ports and design elements. And far from being just a visual change, this has a real-world effect on the smartphone’s use.
The Nexus S 4G, unlike most Android phones, doesn’t have a microSD card slot. That means the 16GB of memory it comes with is all it will ever have, whereas the Photon can take an additional 32GB on a card. Similarly, the Photon has an HDMI-out to connect to a TV, which the Nexus does not have; and even overseas roaming capability.
That said, the Nexus is the better looking option, with its rounded edges and slightly curved display. The Photon, on the other hand, is much more angular..
The fact of the matter is, the more you demand out of your smartphone, the more the Photon is clearly the choice for you. Whether it’s a dual-core processor, HDMI, removable memory, or just a battery that you could practically jump a car off of, the Photon has all the little things to make a high-end smartphone user drool.
Add to that Motorola’s system of docks and accessories, and it’s clearly got both the most potential and the most future proofing; these are things that’re usually most important to the people who want their phones to still impress and dazzle even at the end of a two-year contract. But as much as the smartphone market loves those high-end, “alpha consumer” types who are wiring their phones into their home entertainment system and such, not everyone is looking for a TV output and 48GB of memory. The Nexus S 4G may be about six months older than the Photon, but it has aged quite gracefully. It’s still a very capable Android device and, due to its slightly greater age, can probably be found at a fairly cheap price. Even so, the Nexus S will considerably outpace any of the newer “entry level” Android phones available on Sprint, making it a good choice for someone who wants a phone that’s capable, but not overly expensive.
The Motorola Photon outmatches the Samsung Nexus S 4G in just about every specs category, from memory to speed to screen, making it the clear and unequivocal choice for power users. But the Nexus S is still a very nice phone, and its simple design along with still more than serviceable specs make it a great choice for entry-level or mid-range users who don’t need all the bells and whistles that the Photon can provide.