For its third foray into the handset market, Google has finally moved away from HTC. Samsung is the search giant’s new best buddy, and the resulting Nexus S is the first handset to sport Android 2.3 (aka Gingerbread) – one of the first phones to do so.
We’re not blown away by the changes elsewhere. The improved task manager is the highlight, as it allows you to monitor memory usage and kill apps more easily. Elsewhere some UI elements have been darkened to save battery life and the onscreen keyboard has also been improved. Plus, there’s now native support for SIP VoIP calls and NFC (near field communications). The latter allows data transfer with a swipe, but we can’t see it being of any practical benefit here in the foreseeable future.
We do like the hardware: the Nexus S is, after all, a Samsung Galaxy S in a slightly different chassis, and an LED flash added to the 5-megapixel camera. The 480 x 800 Super AMOLED screen is lovely – highly sensitive, colourful and very bright indeed. We’re dubious about the benefits of its slightly concave screen, though – Google says it’s more comfortable to hold to your face, but that’s a stretch, in our opinion. And we were surprised to discover no facility to shoot 720p video; 720 x 480 is as far as the Nexus S goes.
Battery life is merely average, with 50% remaining on the gauge after our 24-hour test – on a par with the Samsung Galaxy S, which isn’t a surprise.
Despite this, and other shortcomings, we like the Nexus S. It’s light, quick, has a lovely screen, and Google’s backing ensures you’ll always be ahead of the curve when it comes to Android OS updates. It’s undoubtedly expensive, but it should have plenty of appeal to early adopters with deep pockets.
Want to know more? You can read a more in-depth overview here.