Samsung Google Nexus S review: Royal droid

GSMArena team, 11 February, 2011.
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Organizer and apps

There’s not much preinstalled on the Google Nexus S, concerning organizing. There is the Calendar app, which syncs with the online Google Calendar.

Creating an event is easy. Just hold your finger on a date, or go to a specific time of a day and touch. You can then insert the usual things - Name, Hour, Notification, Place, etc.

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The Calendar view • Creating an event

There is also a calculator aboard. It is nicely touch optimized - the buttons are really big and easy to hit.

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Regular Calculator • Scientific Calculator

The alarm clock app is descent and allows a huge number of alarms to be set, each with its own start time and repeat pattern. But, unlike the Galaxy SL, you don’t have the Stopwatch, the Timer and World Clock options. Also you don’t get a Voice Recorder.

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The Clock • Creating alarm

But all of the applications missing on the Nexus S can be downloaded for free via the Android Market in a matter of minutes, so it’s really not a big deal.

GPS and navigation

The Google Nexus S comes with a GPS receiver, which locked onto satellites in about 2 minutes with A-GPS turned off.

Google Maps is the main application and its Street View mode is probably the best part of the deal in places where turn-by-turn voice navigation isn’t yet offered. If the Street View is available in the area you're interested in, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the area. Zoom is supported through pinch and double tap gestures. When the digital compass is turned on it feels like making a virtual tour of the surroundings!

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Google Maps 5.0 • Vector 3D maps

Voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation using Google Maps Navigation is only available in select countries and unless you live in any of them the best you can do is plan a route in advance and keep an eye on your current location during travel.

Our Nexus S came with Maps 5 out of the box, which gives you access to some great features. Offline rerouting is one – if you stray off your course, Maps will recalculate the route without the need for an Internet connection. You can’t change the destination without connection though. There are also 3D buildings (where available), two finger rotation, tilting and so on.

Google Earth is another option to look at the World. But instead of maps you can focus on the landscape itself. It offers the same principle of navigating- the two finger gestures move the horizon and left and right view, while with one finger you can move about the area you have selected. You can see mountains and coastlines with the same 3D graphics, which makes the app really cool.

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Different types of view in Google Earth

Android Market is where the fun starts

The Nexus S is the first device to run the latest version of Android and has a WVGA screen, giving you access to the whole Android Market (some apps won’t run on older versions or low-res screens).

The structure of the Android Market is quite simple – featured apps on top and above them, three sections (Applications, Games and Downloads). There is also a shortcut up there for initiating a search.

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The Android Market • Market categories

The Applications and Games sections are divided into subsections (e.g. Communication, Entertainment etc.) so you can filter the apps that are relevant to you. Of course, there is also an option of displaying them all in bulk, but you’ll probably need days to browse them all that way.

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App description • Category

There are all kinds of apps in the Android market and the most important ones are covered (file managers, navigation apps, document readers etc.).

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