Samsung Google Nexus S review: Royal droid

GSMArena team, 11 February, 2011.
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Introduction

Another year, another heir to the Droid throne – and Google are trying to be democratic about it. Which is a roundabout way of saying they’re not monogamous. For the Nexus One, Google teamed up with HTC. This time around, they trusted Samsung to do the job, using the Galaxy S as a base.


Google Nexus S official photos

It’s only their second try and users are given a second chance to like the Royal Droid. A tall task it is – the very concept is fundamentally incompatible with the free and open source Android system. Royal blood is not a benefit in a free democracy. Google did learn it the hard way with the Nexus One.

Google’s second smartphone child has more than just an image problem to tackle. The Samsung Google Nexus S has to keep pace with the evolution of the platform. The “S” in the name may stand for many things – from second to superior. But with Android 2.3 Gingerbread inside, speed is not far from the truth either. Here’s what else the Nexus S has to offer in a nutshell.

Key features:

  • Quad-band GSM and tri-band 3G support
  • HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps
  • 4.0" WVGA (480x800) Super AMOLED Contour Display with curved glass screen
  • Android OS, v2.3 Gingerbread
  • 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 (Hummingbird) processor
  • 16GB storage, 512 MB RAM
  • 5 MP autofocus camera with LED flash and geotagging
  • Front-facing VGA camera
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n with DLNA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Portable Wi-Fi hotspot and stereo Bluetooth v2.1
  • Near Field Communication chip
  • Accelerometer, proximity and light sensors
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • microUSB port (charging)
  • Adobe Flash support out of the box
  • Latest Google Mobile apps

Main disadvantages:

  • No microSD slot
  • No 720p video recording
  • All-plastic body, fingerprint magnet
  • No DivX and XviD support (no actual video player) out of the box
  • No dedicated camera key and no lens cover
  • No FM radio
  • No smart dialing
  • Overly expensive for its feature set

As you can see, the Nexus S shares a lot of the Samsung Galaxy S components. Powered by the very same 1Ghz Hummingbird processor and having the same 512MB of RAM, it feels a bit quicker probably thanks to Gingerbread.

The fact aside that our review isn’t exactly on time, this hardware is so 2010, while the imaging department is surely from 2009. We wouldn’t fuss about it was it not for the Tegra 2 SoC and its 1080p video recording, which has the power to be the next big thing in the industry. The emphasis here being on next. Maybe Google should’ve thought of that and instead of rushing to release the Nexus S.

If they chose to wait a couple of months, a dual-core CPU could’ve made a lot of difference – especially with Gingerbread. The Nexus S would have been a beast just like its predecessor was, with the first droid powered by a 1Ghz processor on the market. With this hardware, the Nexus S is no more than an overclocked Nexus One.

Google Nexus S Google Nexus S Google Nexus S
Google Nexus S live shots

But wait a minute – maybe not all is lost and the Nexus S will be salvaged by the software. Not only is it the first Gingerbread-powered phone to the market – it can also count on special treatment in terms of getting updates on time.

Anyway, when you have a second try at something the results are supposed to be better. Just like when parents raise a second child differently having learned from their past experience. Stick around to find out if the Google Nexus S is the definitive, all-muscle replacement of the Nexus One we’ve all been waiting for.

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