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Samsung/Google Nexus S Review

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DSC_3851Google’s Nexus phone program aims to combine top-end hardware and the latest Android software to create a flagship Android smartphone (and arguably, a developer phone). The first phone from the Nexus program was the Nexus One (HTC). Just recently Google has partnered with Samsung to bring the intuitively not intuitively named Nexus Two Nexus S to market. Does Google + Samsung = Success, or is the Nexus S being quickly superseded by other devices, even if they aren’t yet running the latest Android built? Step inside to find out.

All About Updates

gingerbreadThere’s one thing we should talk about up front. Google’s Nexus phones offer updates to the very latest Android built right as it’s released regardless of the carrier or manufacturer. On pretty much every other Android phone/device, updates are pushed through the carrier or OEM. This means that if users want the latest enhancements for Android (and who doesn’t?) they have to wait for a middle-man to get around to setting everything straight before they get the update. Unfortunately promised updates have failed to come to fruition in a number of cases, leaving users without important feature updates and performance improvements. And even when promised updates do eventually come through, they aren’t always as simple as upgrading right on your phone, making updates unobtainable for those less versed in the computer world.

With the Nexus program, Google provides access to the very latest Android software. Updates always come as soon as they’re released from Google, and they install straight through the phone. This gives any of the Nexus devices an advantage over most other phones. The Nexus S is one of the only [perhaps the only] devices on the market today that comes out of the box with Android 2.3 installed. And, even then after powering it on, the phone will ask to install several incremental upgrades that have been made since the initial Android 2.3 release.

And now back to our regularly scheduled reviewing!

Hardware

DSC_3812Let’s has a quick look at the specs of the phone and a tour around the device. As usual, you can see detailed specs, links, photos, and even compare devices with the Nexus S at it’s tracking page in our device database.

Briefly, before we get to the aforementioned, you might be interested in having a look at our Nexus S overview video:

Specs:

  • Android 2.3
  • Cortex A8 (Hummingbird) CPU @ 1GHz
  • 4 inch curved Super-AMOLED capacitive touchscreen @ 800×480 (1.67:1 aspect ratio [non-standard])
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 5MP rear camera (only capable of 720×480 [DVD quality] video recording) with single-LED flash
  • 0.3MP front camera (640×480)
  • 16GB of internal memory
  • WiFi b/g/n & Bluetooth 2.1
  • GPS & digital compass
  • 129g (0.284 pounds)
  • NFC (near-field-comm) chip, acelleomoeter, light sensor, proximity sensor, 3-axis gyro

Hardware Tour:

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And that’s all! Yup, it’s a pretty simple phone.

Nexus S Gallery

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We’ve had our hands on the Samsung/Google Nexus S [tracking page] for a few days now and are putting the phone and the OS (Android 2.3) to the test. You may have caught the overview video already, and now we’ve got a bit more to tide you over until the full review, a full gallery! A few choice photos are below, but be sure to swing by the gallery itself if you’re interested in the Nexus S. And while you’re here, let us know in the comments if there’s anything specific that you’d like to see covered in the review.

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Nexus S Video Overview

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nexus sWe’ve got the Nexus S [tracking page] on hand for some testing and it’s certainly doing some impressing! In addition to a beautiful display with an amazing contrast ratio, the Nexus S is topping the Quadrant benchmark charts over all other Android devices. Then there’s that whole Android 2.3 thing it’s got going on that has some great tweaks to the OS. There’s a full review in the works, but in the mean time we’ve prepared an overview video for your viewing pleasure:

Samsung Nexus S Now Available in the US; Google Confirms That it Doesn’t Record HD Video

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As was forecasted. the Samsung Nexus S is available in the US starting today, just in time for the holidays. Those in the UK will have to wait until the 20th of this month before being able to waltz into a UK Best Buy or Carphone Warehouse to sang one.

Nexus S Tracking Page – Specs, Details, Links, and More

If you’re in the US you’ve got two options You can buy the phone unlocked for use with any old GSM carrier for $530. If you are opening a new T-Mobile account, or are eligible for an upgrade, you can nab the Nexus S for $199. The phone is available through Best Buy exclusively, though it looks like for the time being, the unlocked option is only available in-store, while the subsided version can be purchased in-store or online. Definitely check with your local Best Buy before heading on over though, there’s no telling how many each store has to sell initially, or if they allocate a maximum number that can be sold as unlocked.

No HD Video Recording (Sadly)

nexus faceAs we mentioned in our earlier story on the Nexus S, the device doesn’t record HD video. This is a strange omission which I thought might have simply been a mistake as there was conflicting information on Google’s Official Nexus S page. After getting in touch with Google, we’ve confirmed that the Nexus S only records 480p video (720×480). They’ve also amended their official Nexus S page to reflect this.

This is a surprise to me considering that the last two Samsung Android smartphones that I’ve tested have both been capable of 720p HD recording. Perhaps this could be changed with a software update, but it looks like out of the box, the Nexus S’s recording capabilities will be inferior to most modern smartphones.

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