Google Nexus S Review

Shake&Bake

Party Liaison
Joined
Jan 19, 2007
Messages
21,259
From Engadget and GSMArena.
Nexus S review

It can be difficult to review a phone like Google's Nexus S in a world already populated by so many outstanding Android devices. Not only does the manufacturer of this phone make a series of handsets that are all essentially the same (the Galaxy S line), but countless other OEMs are cranking away on hardware for the platform. Of course, the Nexus S is a decidedly different phone altogether. Picking up where the company's Nexus One left off, the S continues Google's legacy of creating standalone, "pure Android" phone experiences, seemingly aimed less at the mainstream and more towards developers. Unlike the failed experiment of the Nexus One, Google appears to be taking a more realistic approach to the S; the phone will be sold through Best Buy (and Carphone Warehouse across the pond), which suggests that the company has bigger plans for this device.

And what a device it is -- the Nexus S boasts a 1GHz Hummingbird CPU, 512MB of RAM, a 4-inch, 800 x 480 curved Super AMOLED display (dubbed the Contour Display), 16GB of storage, a 5 megapixel rear and VGA front-facing camera, and near field communication capabilities. But hardware is only half the story here -- the big news is that the Nexus S showcases the next major evolution of the Android OS, namely, Gingerbread (or version 2.3). The update comes with a slew of new features alongside some UI improvements that show Google isn't slowing down when it comes to pushing its mobile operating system forward. So is the Nexus S a real standout in the Android world, or is it more of the "me too" tech we've seen lately? Read on after the break for the full Engadget review to find out!

Hardware

As you can tell by the photos in the gallery, the Nexus S isn't a plain-Jane slab. Sure, it's got similar design leanings as the other devices in the Galaxy S line, but it's also slightly... freaky. For starters, the shape of the ultra-gloss, stipple-graphic black plastic housing curves and pops in all kinds of unusual ways, with a kind of reverse "chin" sprouting out of the lower half, and a very slight curvature to the front of the phone. You've probably heard the fuss over this, but yes, the screen and front glass of the device have a minor, concave curve which sits nicely when nuzzled against your face. It's not a dramatic difference, but it gives the phone a fairly unique look. In general, however, the design doesn't feel wildly different from other Galaxy S phones -- particularly when it comes to materials. Samsung seems focused on using light (and somewhat cheap feeling) plastic for its housings, though they deviated on the Captivate, which we felt was an improvement.

The front of the device is obviously all screen, save for the earpiece. You can see the proximity and light sensors peeking out from behind the glass, as well as that VGA camera. On the left side of the phone you've got a volume rocker, on the right is the power / sleep button, and along the the bottom is the Micro USB and headphone jack. The latter has been the cause of some concern amongst potential buyers, but we actually like having the headphone jack access down below. Overall, the design of the phone is sleek and frankly odd enough to make it stand out amongst contemporaries, but we wish that Samsung had utilized more inspiring materials on this model.

Internals

As we mentioned, the Nexus S packs in a formidable amount of tech into its small frame (2.48 inches by 4.87 inches, and 0.42 inches thick, in case you were wondering). Any device loaded up with a 1GHz Hummingbird CPU is sure to get our attention, and the performance we've been seeing with the S is nothing short of awesome. On a Neocore benchmark, we scored a terrific 55.6fps, and general use of the OS is lightning fast with nary a hiccup in sight. We also haven't run into any memory issues, and though having 16GB of storage onboard is nice, we would have liked to see a microSD option here as well. Still, the method which Gingerbread utilizes the installed flash memory is excellent, and for those of you who can live with a finite amount of space, this won't be an issue.

Besides the storage and CPU, the device sports a Super AMOLED display at 800 x 480 (235 ppi) which looks gorgeous (if slightly yellowish) to our eyes. The device also has it's fair share of wireless radios, including tri-band HSPA (900, 2100, and 1700MHz), and quad-band GSM / EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz), WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, A-GPS, and that NFC chip you've been hearing all about. There's also a gyroscope, accelerometer, and digital compass inside. We were a little disappointed to discover that Samsung didn't include a notification light on the device -- we like the reassuring blip telling us we've got an email waiting.

As far as that NFC chip is concerned (pictured above), right now there's not a lot to test it with, though Google is hoping that devs will find all kinds of uses for it. Right now it's read only, so you can't write to the device from a target -- that's a security measure right now. When we spoke to reps, they told us that there were three methods of using NFC: read, write, and exchange. Exchange sounds interesting, because it would (in theory) allow you to simply swipe your phone against or near another NFC device and swap contacts (or other info).

We did see some strange issues with the display -- while it does look handsome in most settings, we noticed some troubling inconsistencies in the panel against certain colors or tones. It was particularly pronounced on solid gray backgrounds (as you can see above). We're not sure the cause of the problem (or if it was simply an issue with the device we had), but it was somewhat troubling. One other thing of note -- we noticed a few missed or latent presses on the touchscreen which occasionally led to stuttery behavior or an opened item that we didn't mean to tap. It's hard to say if this was a software or hardware issue (and we know that sometimes Android devices can be particularly finicky when syncing). It wasn't a deal-breaker by any means, but we saw the issue rear its head a handful of times, and felt it was worth mentioning
.

More at the links above.
 

mcryan

Expert Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2008
Messages
1,303
Yep, read the Engadget review, I am sold. Though honestly, I was sold before I read the review as well :)
 

marine1

Honorary Master
Joined
Sep 4, 2006
Messages
48,277
Would you rather wait for this as opposed to the HTC HD
 
Top