Google’s Android operating system has unleashed a smartphone revolution. Yet the company rarely steps into the hardware side of things. The original Nexus One is now over a year old, and the company is only just dipping its toe into the water again with the Nexus S.
The Nexus S runs Android version 2.3, code-named ‘Gingerbread’, which puts it ahead of the competition as we write. That advantage won’t last long, though, as there are plenty of new launches coming along that will run this updated version of Android.
A great selling point of the Nexus S is that Android is unskinned. With hardware manufacturers keen to stamp their mark on Android, ‘skinned’ versions featuring the manufacturer’s proprietary user interface are far more widespread. If you like the vanilla idea, the Nexus S could appeal.
The handset could also appeal if you have an eye on near-field communications, as the Nexus S supports it. This new technology will start to come into its own during this year, as near-field data exchange – including for contactless payments for goods – begin to be supported by more handset manufacturers and high street shops. Orange is one operator to have already expressed its interest with a handset launch.
What it looks like
The Nexus S is manufactured by Samsung, whose branding appears alongside Google’s on the back of the handset. The front, when the phone is switched off, is a sleek, stark unmarked black. The buttons below the screen of the Nexus S are touch-sensitive, and only light up when you are actually using the phone.
These, along with a hump’ at the bottom of the back that is very reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S, are the handset’s only distinguishing marks. The front of the chassis is curved – but it’s so slight that you’ll barely notice it. It’s a feature that was no doubt expensive to manufacture, but the value of it is not particularly discernable.
Packed with features
The Nexus S has a 4-inch screen, delivering what is now the most popular resolution for a smartphone – 480×800 pixels. The Super AMOLED technology makes the screen superbly sharp and bright. It’s particularly great for video watching and web browsing.
One of the benefits of Android 2.3 is support for two cameras, and the Nexus S has one on the back and one on the front. There are also some tweaks included for app management, so you can shut down ones that are consuming a lot of power. There’s also support for SIP-based Voice over IP (VoIP) internet telephony, which may appeal to third-party developers.
Add in Wi-Fi wireless networking, GPS, 1GHz processor, HSDPA and a generous 16GB of built-in storage, and the Google Nexus S is a state-of-the-art smartphone – though it does lack a microSD card slot for you to add extra storage.
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