Bionic vs. Nexus: My Thoughts

Discussion in 'Motorola Droid Bionic' started by locofocos, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. locofocos
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    locofocos New Member

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    Every time the Bionic or Nexus is mentioned, it seems we only have a bunch of fanboys for each phone. I really wanted to get an honest comparison of the two phones- not by some tech site that gives no specs on the CPU besides clock speed and considers more megapixels an improvement in phone cameras. So let me give my background.

    I've been the proud owner of the Bionic since its release last fall. I jumped ship on one of the leaked updates (was it 5.7.893?) and got stuck there for a while. I spent countless hours trying different gingerbread and ICS roms. Coming from an OG droid, it was a little tedious because of the locked bootloader, but between Theory Rom, Eclipse, Liberty, and all the beta ICS roms, I can say I honestly enjoyed it. The phone makes every 3D game I tried look beautiful- coming from a PC gamer, too. But, the lack of ICS, proper hardware acceleration, and kernels was really bugging me. After my brother got a Galaxy Nexus, I decided I would get one too with a family member's upgrade (who still insists on using a flip phone) since this would be my last one with unilimited data. I've had a chance to test out all my usual apps, 2 or 3 roms, kernels, etc, so I've got a good taste of both phones.

    Software-
    It might seem silly that we complain when manufacturers skin a phone, buy a Nexus device, then install a rom with some heavily modded theme, but at least you have the choice that way. This was my biggest grip with the Bionic. Blur does have a very consistent look throughout, but I've been a high framerate enthusiast because of my PC gaming background, so Blur really bothered me. Some roms deal with this well without being too invasive, so there are definitely options for Bionic users. On the Nexus, stock ICS looks and feels beautiful. There have always been a few little rough edges in Android and in custom roms, but these seem to be almost completely ironed out in the Nexus. I feel comfortable letting iPhone users compare my Nexus' UI to theirs, which is something I couldn't completely say with any rom on the Bionic. Since they both can run custom roms (albeit with much more difficulty on the Bionic), you can get around some of these issues.

    Performance-
    This is were Bionic users will be happy. Both phones use the SGX 540. However, the Bionic is using a 480 screen where the Nexus is running a 720 screen. Crunch the numbers, and the Bionic has around 500k pixels, the Nexus around 900k pixels. Less pixels equals much better framerates in 3D applications, assuming everything else is equal. This was noticeable in games like Modern Combat 3, ShadowGun, and Wind-up Knight.. They're still playable, running at 30+ FPS or more as I can see. Considering movie theaters only give us 24 FPS, this isn't a huge problem for most people, but still a big victory for the Bionic. Why almost every Android manufacturers picks a GPU worse than the latest iPhone, I don't know, but they do. But, how much do you really play 3D games? I use 2D applications MUCH more often- and this is where the Nexus shines out. Since ICS has hardware acceleration, and every game I tried utilized it without being forced (which broke other important apps for me like Ultimate Guitar Tabs), games like Angry Birds, The Impossible Game, Glow Hockey, Abduction, World of Goo, and Cut the Rope run at a perfect 60 FPS even on stock system software. Emulators seem to work equally well. MarioKart in N64oid runs at full speed, so I'm happy. Temple Run also keeps up at a full 60 FPS (diving a bit if you get a system popup like adjusting volume, but this is expected). The near-system-wide GPU acceleration on the Nexus is really nice. Web browsing (though they cheated at rasterized the web page like the iPhone), Facebook, Settings, Launcher, everything is butter smooth. For all practical purposes, it exceeds expectations, and still keeps up decently with 3D tasks.

    Camera-
    The Bionic has an 8 megapixel rear, compared to the 5 megapixel on the Nexus. The Nexus takes better pictures, and there is seriously no shutter lag. Give it time to focus, of course, but you can manually focus then snap away. They both do 1080p video, but the Nexus can take snapshots during the video (which matters because.... I'm sure it's important to somebody out there...). The front facing cameras are both similar enough I'm not bothered to pull up the specs. They both let you Skype. They both let annoying girls who borrow your phone take facebook profile pics and check their hair in your $700 electronic mirror. And you know they can't tell the difference between 1 and 1.3 megapixels. If your Bionic's camera speed is bothering you, get the app Fastburst Camera Lite, which takes pictures literally as fast as you tap the button at the expense of less resolution (or something like that). The Nexus wins, but the Bionic still does well enough I could overlook it.

    Storage-
    The bionic has 4 GB for apps, 4 GB for System/webtop, and 8 GB for data, plus a 16 gig sd card I believe? The Nexus has 32 gigs, and it's split however you need it to be. The Bionic has an SD card slot, but my Nexus has 21 gigs available once set up. How much do you reasonably need? Both have ample space for whatever you want. On a plus note, the Nexus has a single /sdcard folder in the file system. SOOOOO many apps gave me trouble about a separate /sdcard and /sd-ext. This problem is nonexistant in the Nexus. It uses an odd way of mounting that doesn't work with my SyncToy tool in Windows, but everything else is just like a native mount. There is a Nexus toolkit for complete backups, plus cloud/FTP over wifi options for backup, so again, I've got many options. I don't notice any real world lag, so I'll call it a toss up.

    Form Factor-
    Meh. I'm a guy with man-size pockets, so they both fit fine. The Bionic is a little bulkier. It's a little heavier. But it's easier to hold onto. I've found the Nexus almost slipping out of my hand because it's a little slick, and the Bionic has a somewhat rubbery back to grip easier. The Nexus is curvy, which is sorta ergonomic I guess. It feels very nice and lightweight with no case. I really like the Nexus here, but the Bionic feels like I could take it camping naked with no worries. Both are similar in size, so don't worry too much here.

    Strength-
    I've seen Nexus drop tests showing little nicks on the back and corners, but screen shattering when dropped face down. The Bionic has an annoying lip that might protect it, so who knows. Get an otterbox if you need protection over form factor. I never used a screen protector on the Bionic, and there's not a single scratch on the screen. The corner lip is very slightly dented when it feel off my leg onto hard cement in a theater, so I would say it deals with minor falls well. Wood and carpet will be much easier than carpet, and I've had numerous similar drops onto these surfaces with no signs of damage. I've been babying the Nexus with a screen protector, since it has some tempered glass besides Corning Gorilla Glass (obviously a fan here). Some people say they go naked with no scratches, but I've seen just as many claim they've got some. If you need a screen protector, don't get the Verizon anti-glare if there's anything else available. It turns the glares into a poop smear and covers anything on the screen with tiny rainbow dots. I was going camping around some sand, which is known to scratch all glass, so I took no chances. So, I guess the Bionic is a little sturdier, but I have good faith in the Nexus assuming it's taken care of.

    Screen-
    4.3" on the Bionic, vs. 4.65" on the Nexus. The on-screen buttons use a little bit unless you're watching a video, so it's a little smaller and slightly more standard aspect-ratio-wise. I thought I would be very opinionated about on screen buttons, but I'm pretty indifferent. They work just like capacitive counterparts. One nice thing is that their brightness obviously follows the screen, which is a nice touch in the dark. The Bionic does better outside, and consumes less power being a pentile matrix. It's really bright with beautiful color balance and whites, even on low power settings. However, the scan lines are horrible. After 6+ months with the Bionic, my eyes were all but completely accustomed to it. It was like the guy on the matrix explaining how he doesn't see green characters, but actual people and buildings. The diagonal lines just went away- until I looked at my brother's Nexus and came back. The Nexus' super AMOLED produces nice colors. It gets a little blue if you go down to super-low root only access levels like 1-2. For reference, 20 is standard lowest brightness even in custom roms. I left it on 1 in a theater, went outside, and couldn't see anything until I went in my car. Other than that, the screen is beautiful. And I mean really nice. The colors are so crisp after looking at horizontal lines. However, it does use more battery than the Bionic's, so take your pick. The size is fine either way. I don't appreciate the higher DPI of the Nexus except in very close situations. My eyes are a little near sighted (+2.25 and +1.25 contacts), but I'm typing this on a 1920X1080 monitor with no lenses in complete comfort, so I would guess I'm about average. The notification LED is very large and visible on the Nexus, unlike the Bionic. The blink rate is easily changeable, which is almost impossible on the Bionic (locked to about every 4 seconds).

    Video Out-
    The Bionic has a simple mini HDMI, which just works (after you install the webtop mod and aren't running an ICS build, or just stay stock, lol). The Nexus has an MHL port. The idea is that you charge it at the same time, which we need in the mobile world, especially when outputting video for long periods. Unfortunately, the standard hasn't been adopted yet, so you have to buy a 30 dollar adapter plus a 3 dollar mini HDMI cable. In the future, we can hopefully just run a cable straight from the tv, which will charge the phone and transfer video. It has support for crazy surround sound (for all the surround sound audio sources you have on your mono phone...) and no latency, according to the makers. It's a little cumbersome. The Bionic has the added plus of the webtop. It's a bit of a novelty. If you have money for a smartphone and HDTV, don't you have a computer? It's fun to play with, and the lapdock could make this a viable alternative to a laptop for some people. There are some real neat mods like a mostly full Ubuntu add-on, which I regrettably haven't had time to tinker with yet.

    Battery Life-
    Out of the Box, neither is terrible. The lack of custom kernels is holding back the Bionic in my opinion. I never had problems geting through any normal day on the Bionic. Playing with it for hours at home might drain it, but there are chargers everywhere in that instance. Using it out and about, I never ran into a problem. The stock Nexus seems a bit better. With a custom rom and kernel, plus tweaking things like automatic brightness and facebook sync, I've gotten though a whole day with 40% left on the Nexus. The Nexus beats the Bionic by a margin, but it really comes down to how you use the device.

    Signal Strength-
    I live in a 4G city, so I've never had problems with 4G. I've taken both devices camping, and never dropped a (painfully weak) 3G signal with either device. The 4G signal in town seems the same, comparing both devices with their current radios. I read about everyone's signal strength horror stories, but never ran into any issues myself. The devices perform close enough here I couldn't call it either way. I'm pulling 12 MB/s down, 8 MB/s up right now with the Nexus, which is equal to, maybe a little above what I saw on the Bionic in the same spot. Regardless, data speeds are SO dependent on signal strength, it's really hard to compare unless you hold the devices side by side everywhere. Youtube buffers a whole minute in a few seconds, so what more could you possibly want? This is better than my home internet.

    NFC-
    Nexus has it. Bionic doesn't. Do you have a credit card and the ability to text links to friends? Great! Your Bionic does everything NFC does right now, with a little less pizzazz.

    Misc/Closing thoughts-
    They're both big phones, with dual core CPUs, and 4G LTE. They both present weather, casual games, emails, forums, and social networks like a beast. Isn't that 90% of what we all do on smartphones? ICS has some nice GPU acceleration, which I love. The SGX 540 fares better with a lower resolution screen on the Bionic for 3D games- which I also love. But technology has progressed to the point where both devices are still relatively really good at every point where they seem to fall short. From a guy who's had each device for some time and gotten to know and use each one, I can honestly say these are both pretty good phones. Do you want crazy framerates in 2D or 3D content? Given the nature of the web and most apps, I opt for 2D on my phone. Do you really care about loading custom kernels? Many here would, but you've got custom roms either way. Please, Galaxy Nexus owners, stop trolling the comments on every Bionic related announcement. We both have good phones. I would recommend the Nexus, especially to techy people, but don't be disappointed by any means if you're locked into a Bionic on contract for another 18 months. Both phones can run essentially any app in the market, and we'll definitely all agree they can do more than any iPhone ever dreamed of.dancedroidDancingNexus
    6 people like this.
  2. DoctorV
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    DoctorV Member

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    Wow! What a great write up! I usually pass on long post because they're usually not worth the effort (yes I'm extremely lazy) but I read the whole thing. This comparison was so well done, honest and completely unbiased (minus the iphone slam at the end which I didn't disagree with ;) ). You really should write for a tech site like cnet; they could definitely use your help. I've got a couple of friends with Bionics and a couple of friends with Nexus's. Both are great phones each with their own minor advantages and disadvantages.
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  3. Al Neri
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    Al Neri New Member

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    Perfect write up for my current situation. Unfortunaltely it doesn't make my decision any easier.
  4. Bionic_Racer
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    Bionic_Racer New Member

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    The nexus is a nice phone. The bionic is even nicer.

    The galaxy s 3 however, will probably own all.
  5. tgyberg
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    tgyberg Well-Known Member

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    Good write up! Anyone could be plenty happy with either phone!
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  6. sweeeeet
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    sweeeeet Well-Known Member

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    I was thinking of switching to the nexus for the ease and selection of roms but the s3 looks brilliant and I have to see more about that first

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk
  7. locofocos
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    locofocos New Member

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    If anyone buys me a Verizon S3, I'll do all the write ups you want :D
  8. jroc
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    jroc Well-Known Member

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    Agree...very nice write up.

    Its hard to get unbiased, non fanboy posts about any of these phones. Ppl need to realizes every phone has pros n cons. Some, many can be debatable, thats fine. But no phone is as perfect or as bad as some make it. I dont even own a Bionic...but it was always on my radar for some of its pros. I really do miss my FM Radio....lol.
  9. natedogg11
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    natedogg11 New Member

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    If you buy a Bionic now, you are wasting your money. The fact that Verizon isn't charging for it shows their confidence level. Add in the newer phones out already and the ones coming out this summer and it is a no brainer. It is a phone that was changed too many times prerelease and had way too many bugs. I was so excited for the phone, only to be extremely let down. If you are in the market to get a new phone, I would definitely suggest the the Nexus over it, but if you don't mind the wait, go for the GIII. The write up above is solid, but I think it is written through rose colored Bionic glasses. Most Bionic owners feel the way I do. But you can always give it a try, Verizon gives you 2 weeks to bring it back.
  10. tgyberg
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    tgyberg Well-Known Member

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    FM Radio?! Get on the Sirius/XM train you cheapskate! :biggrin: :p
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  11. aaf709
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    aaf709 Nice Guy Premium Member

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    Or get the TuneIn Radio app.

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Droid Forums
  12. leonard
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    leonard New Member

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    Or install the MotoFMradio.apk, plug in your headset and use the FM tuner the Bionic has.
  13. leonard
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    leonard New Member

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    I bought a Bionic because my work issued Bionic has been trouble free, and I was tired of the issues with my X2. I found a brand new in the box one for $175. I don't think I wasted the money. I didn't want to wait because I wanted to lock in unlimited 4G.
  14. bens42608
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    bens42608 New Member

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    Nice job dude. One big thing that u didn't mention it's Thee bionic's extended battery.it it's a beast and a must-have. It eliminates the stress of 4g power consumption
    And still looks stylish and really cool/Badass. Nexus doesn't have a battery available that compares

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using DroidForums
  15. Bionic_Racer
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    Bionic_Racer New Member

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    Guys i know its not considered cool to unconditionally support your phone over other models. Call me a "fanboy", or whatever.. i think the bionic hands down beats the nexus, especially for its price.

    Dont fall for the nexus hype, its overrated and overpriced for what it is. The only thing i like about it is the screen.
  16. bens42608
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    bens42608 New Member

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    Ur absolutely right but the nexus fanboy population outnumbers the bionic so regardless of the truth, people are gonna say what they say. I completely agree with u tho. I am objective enough to admit that The one phone that might be better right now is the maxx just because it's cool but really it's the same hardware and even with that big battery id still kill it and be stuck so I'd definitely rather have my bionic with my awesome extended battery and my other ones along with my stand alone charger that always has a full battery ready for me to pop in. but the truth will never out weigh the hype and large fan boy population.at least we are fortunate enough to be in on the secret truth

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using DroidForums
  17. jroc
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    jroc Well-Known Member

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    lol. I think I''m going to have to....

    The Tune In app doesnt work too good anymore, doesnt have all the local stations I want. And 1 station I liked got taken off local air, used to be able to get it on Tune In...now its strictly on HD radio... The website used to be better, now its more like the app.

    I dont have a Bionic...lol. If I DID tho....I wouldnt be missing my FM Radio. I think that might be on my spec list for my next phone. I seriously was gonna get the Bionic....I forgot what I wanted when the RAZR came out. I think I assumed the RAZR had FM Radio or could use it.
  18. electricman58
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    electricman58 New Member

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    That was the best comparison write-up I've ever read. Nice job dude! Just makes me love my phone even more knowing I'm not missing out on something!!! :-D

    Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Droid Forums
  19. quadtronix
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    quadtronix New Member

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    I was looking at the Bionic and the Nexus a few months ago and I went with the Bionic because I have wanted it ever since it was announced... It was also only $100 after rebate. I'm very happy with the device as it does everything I need or want it to do. I have the extended battery and with web surfing, reading articles and ebooks and light youtube watching plus calls I still get at least three days on a charge. No exageration... Plus sometimes i play Shadowgun on it which runs smooth. Just wanted to say, GREAT write up to the OP! It was unbiased and reinforced my opinion that the Bionic was the right choice for me. :)
  20. TatDroid
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    TatDroid Active Member

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    I would love to see how many Bionic owners were in the survey sample you took. Please add me to your survey - and count me as one who does NOT agree with your conclusion.
    1 person likes this.
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