Samsung Nexus S Review

Recently I got my hands on Samsung and Google’s latest phone the Nexus S.  This phone is unique in it is the first phone running the latest version of Google OS Gingerbread (2.3).  However with so many companies cranking out fantastic Android devices Samsung would have to do more than just give us the latest OS release in order for a lot of people to purchase this phone.  Did they do more than just give us a slight upgrade and a look at things to come with Android phones?  Let’s take a look and see.

What I see very different with this phone is that it is not being sold through an official mobile phone store.  Instead it is being sold through Best Buy.  While that doesn’t really bother me some people will be going to their local T-Mobile store asking for this phone and being told to go to Best Buy or purchase it online.  Too many steps in my eyes to get a phone.

The next thing that differs this phone from the others is what is inside and what is on the outside.  While it may look plasticy and lack and really form design it’s sleekness and simple beauty is not lost.  Also the front face is curved slightly not like a boomerang or anything just a simple curve.  It really feels like the phone conforms to your face while you talk on it.  Inside the Nexus S it is running 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.  Like I said before the Nexus S is running Gingerbread (Android OS 2.3) and comes with a slew of upgrades in the UI department and it shows Google is really focusing in on mobile phone operations.

 

 

 

 

Design

As I mentioned before and you can see in the photos and video that the front of the camera is very basic, nothing flashing out at you to distract you from its simplicity.  The bottom of the camera doesn’t have any keys to press everything is housed under that slight concave glass.  A very nice touch screen, which is very responsive, and on the bottom of the phone holds the charging station and earpiece jack.

Along the sides of the phone is the Volume Keys and on the other side is the Power button.  My favorite feature of the phone is the old school TV shutoff screen.  What I mean by that is when you hit the power button to go into sleep mode the screen shuts off like an old school TV did back in the day.

The back of the phone is simple as well.  It has the rear facing camera, LED light and the Samsung and Google logos.  That is it can’t get much simpler than that.

Internals

For how small the phone is it really does pack a punch into such a tiny frame (2.48 inches by 4.87 inches, and 0.42 inches thick, in case you were wondering).  You have a phone running a 1GHz Hummingbird CPU which will get everyone’s attention.  The performance of the phone itself is nothing short of awe inspiring.  In all my dealings since this is the first phone that I didn’t go crazy and customizing it to myself (maybe Samsung will be nice and send me a copy for myself) but I never had an issue with performance at all.  You have 16GB of onboard storage and the lack of microSD is a pain in the butt.  However Gingerbread utilizes the installed flash memory fantastically.  I can see those who enjoy the expansive memory slot missing might be a little upset.

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 its 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.

Speakerphone / earpiece / call quality / network
So I decided to test the phone making simple phone calls on the T-Mobile network and the call qualities on them were all excellent.  Just for fun I decided to call my regular phone and talk with myself  and found that this very funny echo started to happen if the phones were within feet of each other and a rather annoying hum as well.  So unless you decide to talk to someone in the same room as you on speakerphone you won’t run into a problem at all.

Battery life

The Nexus S’ 1500mAh battery showed fantastic battery life after I fully charged it and let it sit for a couple of days it barely registered a ding in the battery.  During heavy usage I got around 20 hours of total time.  That time will vary greatly if you are a heavy gamer or talker.

Camera

Now I was quite impressed with the camera quality on this phone.  However at times you get those photos that make you remember it is still a cellphone camera.  Sometimes the images would look washed out and somewhat grainy even with outside shots.  Possibly a software malfunction or some of the settings just don’t adjust properly.  I was able to take the same photos but get much better quality with another phone.

The opposite is true in this situation in low level light this camera gathered amazing detail and image quality.  Quite impressed and haven’t seen that kind of detail in any other phone.

On the video end of things the Nexus S fails to impress.  The lack of HD recording makes this phone really fall behind other phones in terms of video quality.  The best you will get recording is 720×480 and with this phone supposedly being the next best thing that Google gives you the lack of HD recording leaves this phone sadly lacking.

Then we are hit with the front facing camera and it is the standard VGA camera.  Low-res, grainy, and artifacted is what you can expect with this simple little camera.  The lack of integrated video conferencing and having to rely on third party apps is disappointing.

Software

This phone isn’t really about the software.  Sure there are some changes but they are really behind the scenes.  This phone doesn’t make it or break it with the software.  The software isn’t a huge step in evolution, it kind of reminds us of Froyo but doesn’t take this phone to a whole new level.

User interface
A big difference in this phone and OS is that Google is starting to move away from a cartoony style look and starting to transition into a more adult grown up feel, bright colors making way to more subdued shades and hues.  Google is also learning that people want to see more of the camera and less of the interface.  Simple discrete buttons show up on the bottom row of the camera and not blocks on the side.

You will notice a new orange burst of color which happens at the end of a long list and a sense of transparency in menus which gives the OS a more sophisticated feel.  Task Manager and battery use get new views  to better represent usage on the phone.

The keyboard is the biggest change you will notice as the company really refined the look and feel of the QWERTY and added new functionality for word suggestions, copy, paste and selection.  The one thing that was left out is when you go and add a punctuation mark you have to select the punctuation key, select your punctuation and instead of going back to the QWERTY it stays on the punctuation tab.  Not a huge thing but you would think Google or Samsung would look at the way Apple has done their keyboard and try to emulate it.

Like I said earlier the big improvements in word suggestion and selection includes new markers which you can use to grab bits of text.  The truth is that Google has a constant problem in selecting text on devices.  Take a look at how it works in a browser you long press on text to bring up your anchors, drag and tap the center of your selection and viola copied text.   However in texting fields in order to select a word you must long press on the word, wait….finally a menu appears and you “select word”.  You already found the word you wanted to copy and you are then asked if you really want to copy it?  Then after you get past that there are different ways to copy text in Google reader then in Gmail it is even different still.  Too many discrepancies to make it useful.

Under the hood

It seems to me that Google is really focusing on making Android a true gaming platform.  The company has boosted the OS with some new API’s and dev tools which improve native code support and set the stage for faster, better looking games.  It will be fun to see what developers will take advantage of the hardware inside and see what kind of games they can produce.  I don’t know if the Nexus S is utilizing the new tools however the OS is wicked fast and very smooth when it comes to animations and transitions.

Wrap-up

The Nexus S doesn’t fall in line with everyone saying that the latest Android smartphone is truly the best Android smartphone out there.  Simply put the Nexus S is the one of greatest Android smartphone on the market at the moment.  There are some issues with the phone that do detract from the good bits but there are also a lot of good things too.

Finally we got a Samsung phone that isn’t bogged down with the very clunky TouchWiz and with them teaming up with Google we finally got that.  In wrapping up the Samsung Nexus S is a fantastic phone with a lot of great features and innovations that makes this phone worth purchasing where ever you can.

And now it is time to bring out the super scientific and military grade Scale-o-rama and after much consideration and testing it is time to hand out it’s grade.  Again on a scale of 0-10 with 0 being as toxic as the Japanese Water or 10 being “steal your grandmothers jewelry” good we now go and check the official Kyle Scientific Scale-o-Rama and the Nexus S gets a solid 8.8 out of 10.

Pros: Very innova

tive and nice touch screen lots of new things to look out for in the future of Android, great graphics

Cons: Poor camera quality, no indication light, awful copy feature, lack of HSPA+ compatibility

Retail Price – $199.99 with 2 year contract or you can purchase it contract free for $529.99

Find More information at www.google.com/nexus

Hopefully in the coming weeks I hope to be getting some help from some Tech Companies and attempting to build my own computer for a series of articles on that.  Hopefully getting some Q&A’s with some people in the tech community who have come from the local Philadelphia and surrounding areas.

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