Taking the best of Samsung’s Galaxy S, namely its super vivid super AMOLED display, and combining it with the technical know-how of Google, the Nexus S is Google’s second ‘branded’ phone. Crammed with the latest version of Android, with an NFC chip capable of, well, we’re not sure just yet, this is the bleeding edge of Android phones.
What we like
You may not be able to tell from the front, but from its side, the phone is slightly curved across its display, and the base of the phone slightly sticks out behind. Mysteriously, the base really helps to keep the phone in your hand and not skidding down the pavement. The curved front also protects the screen if you put it face down. The screen is brilliant; literally. Websites are very readable, and videos look great, and there are some nice little touches like the screenlock, which ‘switches off’ the screen, as if it was your telly from 1992.
The on-screen keyboard is also a great improvement from the last Android, and it’s now on par with the iPhone’s.
The Nexus S comes with the latest version of Android, Gingerbread. And it doesn’t disappoint, though it doesn’t really stand out that much from the previous version, either…
The most noticeable difference is the speed. Apps load quickly, and even complex webpages (Adobe Flash is supported.) zip along. We found that Google Maps really benefited from the speed boost. We were able to try the latest Google Maps 5 on the Nexus S, and the new cached maps meant that we could check where we were heading from the train station even without reception. We had to install the new version ourselves, and the Android store remains simple and quick, and there’s no need to continually log in for purchases.
We found that the batterylife was able to withstand a day of heavy email checking, map use and occasional video-watching, though with moderate use the phone will last a few days. Call quality is good, and the Nexus S benefits from Google’s noise-cancelling technology, which often significantly improved our calls on busy roads and noisy offices.
What we don’t like
Aside from the screen, the rest of the phone feels slightly lightweight and cheap. The back of the phone is a single black shell; and for over £400, you’d be expecting some sort of high-end metal/glass/diamond backing.
We were a bit on edge when taking the back panel off to fit our sim card in. It took a bit of strength to lift off the
back, and it felt like it would snap in half. There’s no memory card slot, so this shouldn’t be a big problem. The phone is very stripped down, it’s THE Android phone, and so you’ll have to drag what you want from the phone’s menus onto the main page. Initially, there’s a bewildering amount to choose from, and feels like the phone is aimed towards the more hard-core user. Other phones come with the typical messaging and email icons visibly available from the start.
Like several other Android phones, there’s so much to dabble with, it’s often hard to find what you want. It was difficult to confirm which apps were using 3G and which were using wifi. After eventually finding the option to transfer phone numbers across from the sim card, we struggled to take our contacts across from a T-mobile sim, though it later worked fine with O2.
The camera was okay, but, again, at the high-end phone scale, we were expecting a respectable if not first-class camera. The Nexus S doesn’t offter HD video recording, but whatever you do record can be instantly shared on Youtube, Twitter and the rest.
There’s no doubting that this is the best Andoid phone available, and the screen looks great. Everything runs at a great speed, and crashes are very rare. Yet it’s not quite perfect, and the big question is whether people will choose this over the iPhone. It’s a bit complicated, and the camera isn’t as good as it should be. There’s no way we can try out the much-touted Near Field Communication (NFC) chip yet, but this phone shows off what is possible on Android. The Nexus S is one of the best phones available (for now), but it comes at a price.