With the upcoming March 17-21st release of the HTC Thunderbolt we decided to see how the Thunderbolt stacks up to the competition. The Google Nexus S released in December is one of the premier Android phones that is capable of giving the Thunderbolt a run for it’s money. Both phones are priced in the luxury category with price tags of $655 (Amazon) for the Nexus S and a rumored price of $749 for the Thunderbolt. Of course discounts are to be had by signing your life away to painful contracts, but that’s neither here or there.

The main difference between the two phones is their operating frequency, the Nexus S is a SIM based phone which can be used on any carrier while the Thunderbolt is a CDMA based phone and locked to Verizon. Verizon has the exclusive rights to the Thunderbolt and there has been no rumors of any other carriers carrying the phone. This is a major knock for the Thunderbolt, you can’t compete with the freedom that a SIM based phone like the Nexus S offers.

Off the bat, the Thunderbolt takes a nose dive, launching with only the Android 2.2 (Froyo) firmware. This makes absolutely no sense to me and already rubs me the wrong way, a major blow to the Thunderbolt who has to try and match up with the Nexus S which comes loaded with the 2.3 Gingerbread firmware.

Now let’s have a look at the meat of these phones, how fast are they? The Google Nexus S is loaded with a 1GHZ Hummingbird processor paired with 16GB of internal memory. While the Thunderbolt possesses a 1GHZ Snapdragon processor accompanied by 8GB + 768 RAM Memory card and a 32 GB microSD preinstalled. Both phones are loaded with somewhat equal processing power but the Thunderbolt wins in the memory department having more memory pre-installed and the ability to expand with the microSD Slot.


The Google Nexus S is a sleeker phone, weighing in at a featherlight 129grams while the Thunderbolt tilts in at 164grams. The Nexus S is also 2.1mm slimmer then the heavyweight Thunderbolt, not a lot on a ruler but in the palm of your hands those 2.1mm make a big difference in feel.


In the display category both phones possess fairly similar attributes, equal 480×800 pixels & 16M color touchscreens. The Thunderbolt has a larger screen size measuring in at 4.3 inches compared to the 4.0 inch Nexus S. The Nexus S makes up for the smaller screen size with it’s modern Super AMOLED touchscreen.


The Thunderbolt slaughters the Nexus S in the camera department, double packed with a fun 8.0 M.P on the rear and a 1.3 M.P camera on the front. The Nexus S has a hard time competing with a measly 5.0 Mega Pixels on the rear and a front-facing VGA camera only capable of shooting at (640×480). The Thunderbolt one ups the Nexus S one more time by possessing Dual LED Flash, while the Nexus S has just the single LED Flash.


Even though the Thunderbolt is a thicker heavier phone it fails in the battery comparison. The Nexus S possesses a 1500 mAh Lithium-Ion while the Thunderbolt stacks up with a 1400 mAh Li-Ion battery. Pretty disappointing for the Thunderbolt, which will only give you on average 10 hours of talk time compared with the 14 hours that the Nexus S offers.

The Verdict

Both phones battled hard going toe to toe in almost all the battles, this verdict will have to come down to personal preference. If you prefer a sleeker phone, packed with a top notch battery, Gingerbread and a better display then the Google Nexus S wins. We really have to knock the Nexus S for it’s weak camera and lack of expandable memory, on the flip side you do get the freedom that a SIM based phone offers. What really bugs me about the Thunderbolt is that it’s a CDMA phone that is locked down to Verizon and is being launched sans Gingerbread. I’m someone who likes freedom and knowing I’m stuck on a carrier sickens me. The Thunderbolt makes up for it’s enslavement by possessing an amazing camera and expandable memory, if you are someone who has a lot of music or likes to take lots of video then the Thunderbolt is for you.

I’m not going to cop out on my verdict though, and I award the victory to the Samsung Google Nexus S. You can’t put a price on freedom, and I’m not into taking pictures, I’ll admit 16gb memory does kind of suck, but it will force me to be more zen in my music selections.

We’d love to hear what you think of both phones and which one you think is superior, let the world know in the comments below and if you’d like to see a more detailed comparison of both phones checkout our comparison chart below.

Nexus S VS Thunderbolt

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