Sprint Smartphone Standoff! Nexus S vs. Motorola Atrix vs. HTC EVO 3D

April 22, 2011
34 13

    Today, i’ll be comparing the Google Nexus S 4G vs Motorola Atrix 4G vs the HTC EVO 3D. This started out as a Pros and Cons for my own personal reference being that I’m now eligible for my 2 year upgrade pricing on my Sprint line. So take this Pros and Cons list knowing that its my opinion, and subjected to my taste in phones. But I thought you guys might like the spec and feature comparison. Also there has to be a little feature speculation in my comparison because the HTC EVO 3D’s full specs and design haven’t been fully leaked – yet. I’m leaving the newly released Kyocera Echo out of this comparison because I’m looking for a high end device that works great out of the box. The reviews of the Kyocera Echo have really shown that while it has a great design innovation, it has bugs, and is the first of its kind. Android does not run smoothly on all test units, as well as the dual screens “Simul-task” are not supported by most applications. Once you start comparing the Echos 1GHz first generation Snapdragon processor, lack of 4G WiMAX, 3.5″ non SAMOLED / SLCD screens, lack of enabled multitouch in the stock Android browser and Google maps, as well as its 0.68″ / 17.2 mm thickness, made it drop out of this particular running as a premium handset for me. Also, please note that I am an Android user who carries two Smartphones around on me at all times so size does play into this comparison, and with all this said I have included the dimensions and weights of the handsets side by side for easy reference.

    Dimensions:

    Google Nexus S 4G – 4.88″ x 2.48″ x 0.43″ (123.9 x 63 x 10.88 mm), 4.55 oz (129 g)

    Motorola Atrix 4G – 4.64″ x 2.50″ x 0.43″ (117.75 x 63.5 x 10.95 mm), 4.76 oz (135 g)

    HTC EVO 3D – 5.00″ x 2.60″ x 0.47″ (127 x 66 x 12 mm), 6.00 oz (170 g)

    Handset Specs:

    Google Nexus S 4G

    Screen: 4.0″ Super AMOLED WVGA 800×480 Contoured Display
    Processor & GPU: 1GHz Hummingbird Cortex A8 Single Core
    RAM: 512MB
    Storage: 16GB Internal, no Micro SD card slot
    Dimensions & Weight: 4.88″ x 2.48″ x 0.43″ (123.9 x 63 x 10.88 mm), 4.55 oz (129 g)
    Battery Size: 1500 mAh
    Connectivity: EVDO, WiMAX, Wifi b/g/n, Bluetooth, NFC, DLNA, VOIP
    Camera: 5.0MP Single LED flash autofocus, .3 VGA front facing camera, 720×480 video recordin
    Buttons: Capacitive Buttons in odd layout, physical power and volume controls
    OS: Stock Android 2.3 Gingerbread no modifications

    PROS

    • Pure Google Android 2.3 Gingerbread
    • Second true Google branded phone
    • Nexus S 4G most likely will get all the newest versions of Android before other handsets
    • Comes with newest Android version out of the box
    • SAMOLED screen, very vibrant and bright
    • Has new contoured display
    • 1500 mAh battery, supporting a SAMOLED which is known for its battery saving ability should make for good battery life
    • 16GB of Internal memory built in
    • Near Field Communication
    • Volume Buttons on Left Side, something I prefer but other might not care about
    • Micro USB Charger port on bottom, good for universal dash phone mounts
    • Most wireless connectivity options out of all offerings

    CONS

    • Has a single core 1 GHz Hummingbird processor instead of a newer dual core
    • 512MB RAM
    • 4″ screen instead of a 4.3″
    • 800×480 WVGA instead of the new 960×540 qHD resolution
    • No Micro SD card slot
    • 720×480 video recording, not HD
    • Capacitive Android buttons in odd configuration
    • 0.3MP VGA Front Facing Camera
    • No Touch Focus on camera
    • Single LED Flash
    • No HDMI Output
    • Power button on right of phone towards the top
    • No LED notification light
    • Samsungs all plastic build quality

    Motorola Atrix 4G

    Screen: 4.0″ TFT qHD 960×540
    Processor & GPU: 1GHz dual core Nvidia Tegra2
    RAM: 1024MB
    Storage: 16GB Internal, Micro SD card slot however there is no Micro SD Card included
    Dimensions & Weight: 4.64″ x 2.50″ x 0.43″ (117.75 x 63.5 x 10.95 mm), 4.76 oz (135 g)
    Battery Size: 1930mAh
    Connectivity: EVDO, WiMAX, Wifi b/g/n, Bluetooth, DLNA, HDMI
    Camera: 5.0MP Dual LED flash autofocus, 0.3 VGA front facing camera, 1280×720 video recording
    Buttons: Capacitive Buttons in common layout, physical power and volume controls
    OS: Android 2.2 with Motoblur Skin

    PROS

    • 960×540 qHD resolution on a 4″ screen
    • Tegra2 dual core 1 GHz processor, but not as fast as the EVO 3D’s dual 1.2GHz
    • 1024 MB of RAM
    • Dual LED Flash
    • 1280×720 video recording
    • 16 GB + Micro SD card slot
    • DLNA
    • Noise cancelling second mic
    • HDMI Output
    • Finger Print Recognition
    • Stock Android button layout
    • Overall the smallest physical dimensions
    • Multi colored LED notification light
    • 1930mAh battery
    • Lots of optional docks, laptop, mulitimedia, and PC dock

    CONS

    • Skinned Motoblur Android 2.2 without planned upgrade path, skin also makes for slower software
    • 4″ screen instead of a 4.3″
    • Standard TFT screen, not SAMOLED, or SLCD, but still very vibrant for a TFT
    • No Touch Focus on camera
    • 0.3MP VGA Front Facing Camera
    • Micro USB Charger port on left side, interferes with some universal phone mounts
    • Oddly placed power button, angled in top center toward the rear of phone
    • Volume Buttons on the right side

    HTC EVO 3D

    Screen: 4.3″ Super LCD Parallax 3D qHD 960×540
    Processor & GPU: 1200Mhz Dual Core Snapdragon, Adreno 220
    RAM: 1024MB
    Storage: 4GB, MicroSD card slot, unknown capacity of included MicroSD card
    Dimensions & Weight: 5.00″ x 2.60″ x 0.47″ (127 x 66 x 12 mm), 6.00 oz (170 g)
    Battery Size: 1730mAh
    Connectivity: EVDO, WiMAX, Wifi b/g/n, Bluetooth, DLNA, HDMI
    Camera: 5.0MP Dual LED flash Autofocus, 1.2MP front facing camera, 1920×1080 Full HD 2D Video Recording, 1280×720 3D Video Recording
    Buttons: Capacitive Buttons in HTC layout, physical power, volume, camera buttons, and 2D – 3D camera switch
    OS: Android 2.3 with HTC’s Sense UI v 3.0 skin

    PROS

    • 4.3″ SLCD qHD 960×540 display, 3D with no glasses
    • Dual Core Snapdragon 1.2GHz
    • 1024MB RAM
    • New Adreno 220 GPU
    • Android 2.3 out of the box
    • Dual LED Flash
    • 1920×1080 Full HD Video Recording, 1280×720 3D Video Recording
    • Most likely to have Touch Focus
    • 5.0MP 3D Still Pictures
    • 1.3 MP Front Facing Camera
    • HDMI Output
    • Physical Camera Button
    • HTCs button layout, I prefer HTCs Android button layout
    • Power button in predictable top right
    • Most likely will have LED notification light
    • HTCs awesome build quality

    CONS

    • Only 4GB Built in internal memory
    • Largest physical dimensions
    • Volume Buttons on the right side
    • Relatively small 1730 mAh compared to the Atrix 4G’s 1930mAh battery, plus 1730mAh is supporting a 4.3″ SLCD, possibly bad battery life
    • Unknown location of charging port
    • Skinned HTC Sense UI Android 2.3 makes for slower software

    My thoughts

    Once you look over all the Pros and Cons of these three future handsets that are soon to be released by Sprint in the next couple months, you start to notice that my amount of Pros and lack of Cons start to lean in the HTC EVO 3D’s favor with the Motorola Atrix 4G coming in second place. What is funny though is once you put all of this in relative context as being weighed for purchase by a phone reviewer, the amount of Cons and the lack of Pros in the situation of the Google Nexus S 4G starts to take a different shape. The fact that the Nexus S is a true Google branded phone with the potential of being the first one with all the newest versions of Android, makes it, in my books, the best one to get. I can see that the HTC EVO 3D and the Motorola Atrix both have their positives and are VERY tempting.

    However, for me, I believe I’ll be picking up a Google Nexus S once it is released and will have to pass on the other offerings. I’d like to be able to experience the newest versions of Android and not have to wait till the companies finally get around to adding their skin on top of the newest release.  The fact that I also have owned a Samsung Galaxy S phone in the past (T-Mobile Samsung Vibrant) and loved it, this also plays into my decision. The only things I didn’t like about the Vibrant were a lack of certain features, namely the lack of a front facing camera, and the old version of Android, at the time it had only Android 2.1.

    Note to all buyers there is one annoying issue with Sprint’s 4G service, unlike T-Mobile’s HSPA+ or Verizon’s LTE network you have to toggle the 4G WiMAX antennae on to get 4G speeds. You don’t have to do this on T-Mobile’s network as their HSPA+ antennae is the antennae that is on all the time, yet it does not kill the battery quickly. Verizon’s LTE network has been known to kill the HTC Thunderbolt 4G’s battery excessively fast leading the modding community to find a way to toggle its LTE radio on and off to conserve battery power. So in some ways the Sprint WiMAX based 4G toggle system does have its benefits. But if you were considering the T-Mobile Nexus S vs Sprints Nexus S 4G, just know that is a feature you would not have to deal with on T-Mobile’s unit.

    What would you pick if it were you? Did I overlook anything in my analysis of the specs and potential Pros and Cons? Let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks everybody.

    Nexus S vs. Motorola Atrix vs. HTC EVO 3D - Who Wins?

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    Comments

    • sU2lly

      Great break down. Frankly the choices make my head hurt. While I need a bigger screen (is anybody elses eyes getting older?) I don’t think I want a 4.3 inch screen. That’s what makes the Nexus S and Atrix very tempting for me. I have to admit that a 3D screen at first seemed like a novalty but I’m starting to warm to the idea. What ever I do I know it’s probably time to part ways from VZW so this was very helpful. Thanks Darryl.

      • Darryl Doak

        Hah, thats funny you say it gave you a headache, cus going over the specs started to make my head spin.

        When it comes to screen size this is a matter of personal preference. I’ve owned a 4″ Galaxy S with its Super AMOLED screen, and there really is no comparison. In December a month after the myTouch 4G came out I decided that I wanted to have a front facing video camera so bad that I would give up my Vibrant. The myTouch 4G has a 3.8″ Super LCD which is very good, but really isn’t in the same class as the SAMOLED panels. The SLCD is great, I love the brightness & colors and can totally see the difference when its next to other normal LCD phones. But on a daily basis I would look at the SAMOLED panel and would think “WOW, THATS SO VIBRANT!” So the technology behind the panels comes into play while screen size is also important. It funny how much smaller the screen feels on the myTouch 4G at 3.8″ vs the 4.0″ on the Galaxy S series and how it effects daily viewing and text input on the OSK. Also I’ve been able to play with my wifes 4.3″ Evo 4G which felt absolutely monstrous in comparison to my Vibrants 4.0″ screen. I think the perfect screen size is 4.0″ myself, but its totally up to the user.

        If you’re thinking of jumping ship off Verizon to Sprint, keep an eye out on Android Authority. I plan on doing a price break down comparison between the major carriers, that way you can see what you’d be saving. I’m glad you enjoyed the break down.

    • sandor3

      Thanks for going through all the phones, I need to start looking into a new phone myself and this was very helpful. One thought though. It seems that dual-core processors are becoming very popular in smartphones, so it seems to me, while the Nexus S will get updates first, its’ update lifecycle is much shorter than that of dual-core phones.

      • Darryl Doak

        The fact that the Nexus S has an old single core Hummingbird processor did play into my thoughts, the only consolation that I have is that a vanilla Android build has less complex running processes and would make for a smoother experience on a single core processor vs a single core with a skinned UI. Most likely the Nexus S wont get the 2.4 update with a skin on it unless the 2.4 update brings in more Honeycomb UI elements which would be more GPU intensive.

        But you’re right in the way the technology is going. If Sprint had an offering like the T-Mobile G2x coming out which had a vanilla built on a dual core phone there would be no question in my head, I’d go after the dual core phone hoping the manufacturer kept up with updates due to the ease of making the update work. Looking at the video of the G2x it runs butter smooth with its vanilla 2.2 OS all the time and I’ve yet to see it hiccup.

        Looking at how Google / Samsung put in something like an NFC chip into this phone shows how were trying to “future proof” the handset, most likely the upcoming builds of Android are going to be geared towards working well on what they consider their Dev 4 phone. So I’m pretty sure that 2.4 and 2.5 would be geared towards working on this specific handset. Also the idea of “update life-cycle” becomes another issue that is worth considering, while most handsets these days will see one update over their lifecycle before they are considered End of Life, the Nexus series being Googles own Dev phones opens them up to indefinite updates until the OS wont fit on it anymore or the phone is viewed as such old hardware that it cant provide features needed for the applications for newer OS versions. The Nexus One which started with 2.1 received the 2.2 updates as well as the 2.3 updates, and I would imagine would still receive the 2.4 update although it might run slower than a new dual core phone.

        I think overall the Evo 3D might be a better phone for a consumer to purchase and would give the best overall satisfaction, with the Atrix running second. However for my specific case I’m leaning Nexus S. Thanks for commenting and bringing more thought into my decision making process.

    • Sue

      Thanks so much for this. I did not realize the Atrix was going to be available from Sprint. I have the HTC Hero, and have been struggling with lack of space and no Froyo, so any upgrade will be a much needed upgrade. I like HTC phones, so was considering the Evo 3d, but I don’t think it will be out soon enough, so I’m with you on the Google phone. It will be nice not to have Nascar and the other Sprint apps forced upon me. Good write up.

    • Marky

      I would love an Atrix, but the signed/locked bootloader almost kills it for me. If I wanted a locked down phone I’d buy an apple. Not real big on the novelty of 3D, so not really even considering the EVO. Would like to get the Nexus S but the fact that it’s $99 on T-Mobile and $199 on Sprint irks more than just a little bit. No easy choice that is for sure

    • Truman Bogle

      I have read many reviews on many different phones from Sprint. I have to say I am going to go with the Evo 3D. Just for the simple reason it looks bad as heck and the spec. I feel that you have hit a lot of good pros and cons on all of the great phones. I feel that a lot of people don’t look at what the phone is made up of but what it looks like. I would have to say I am happy with reading what you had to say and the way you did the pros and cons.

      • Darryl Doak

        Thanks Truman! Your timing is perfect, I’m getting ready to post my review for the Nexus S 4G. Which owning this handset really put a lot into perspective for me. There’s a lot more to a likeable phone than hardware specs and OS version. The whole package really makes a difference and the amount of bugs really is a deal breaker. Stay tuned.

    • Joseph

      Hey so did u get the Nexus S 4g? if u did how is it, i’m going crazy trying to decide between the Nexus S and htc evo 3g

      • Darryl Doak

        I DID! I’m not that great of a fan of the Nexus S 4G on Sprint. I have a full review going up probably tonight. Keep your eyes peeled, its got more info than I can share in a comment. :)

        • LaVonne

          EXTREMELY interested in your post-ownership review of the Nexus S. I did my research, decided I was going to wait for it’s release, got on the list and waited. I was so excited to finally get the email, that Sprint had the phone in the store. I immediately went to upgrade from my HTC Hero and I have been nothing but annoyed, frustrated and angry with the phone since I got it. I am looking to work the heck out of optimizing/modifying to see if I can get it to be the phone I thought I was getting before my 30 days is up. If not, I would take whatever phone come free with the upgrade…..

    • John A

      I think I’ll go with the EVO 3D….. Powered by Cyanogen MOD!!!

    • http://www.mobile88.com M88 Webmaster

      Evo 3D is a clear winner. More, powerful processor, more standby time.

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