Nexus S: Using The Best Google Android Phone

Android has never felt more alive than it does on the Nexus S. It's fast. It's cocksure. It's, well, really good.

Here's our quick impressions after an hour or so of dicking around with the Nexus S and Gingerbread.

Likey

• It's so fast. This is largely thanks to the software - after all, the processing guts are basically identical to the millions of Galaxy S phone already out there. It's the first time Android's felt as fast as the iPhone on modern hardware. There is no stuttering, no lag - just pure, nimble response, whether it's popping open an app or reacting to a touch. It's how Android should feel.

• That details matter. The orange glow when you hit the end of a list. The old school TV-style power down animation whenever the screen goes off. It's the details that make Mactards love Apple; it makes the experience feel complete and fuzzy, like wrapping yourself in a blanket of dead animal fur.

• The new UI. Google's famous for user testing a billion shades of blue. All brain, no vision. The new UI - with lots of orange and green on black, a flattened, more two-dimensional aesthetic that feels very '80s cyberpunk—feels like it was designed by a human being or two, not debated by a committee. It's a little gutsy. Some people will hate it. And it's still not fully wrapped around the entire Android experience. But I dig it, and what it's going for.

• It's the first time I haven't loathed typing on the stock Android keyboard.

A note about NFC: You don't have to be inside of the tags app to read a NFC chip - the screen just needs to be on. Then you can go into tags later to see ones you've collected.

No Likey

• Why does the Nexus S feel so cheap? It's better than the average Samsung phone - the curve is nice and natural - but like most of the other Galaxy S phones, the look, feel and build quality just don't measure up to the parts or software inside. Glossy, chintzy plastic is just not appropriate here. Even the year-old Nexus One feels markedly more expensive and future-y, like a quality, crafted piece of technology. Put another way in terms of feel and build quality: iPhone 4 > Nexus One > Nexus S. (Though the gap between the N1 and NS is much bigger than between the iPhone 4 and Nexus One.)

• The Contour Display is verrrry subtle. This isn't a dislike, it's more like a hype-buster. It's a fine screen, though it gets rather yellow with power saving turned.

• Some aspects of Android could still use a little more love and care to feel less like a PC and more like a phone for humans. For instance! It's nice that the app manager shortcut is built into the main menu pop-up. But it's still a kind of weirdly incomprehensible list of stuff. Oh, and the music player still sucks!

No built-in video chat. There's a front-facing camera, but you can't video chat using a native Google app. Speaking of which, there's no dedicated camera button.

A nitpick, but Samsung's stubbornness placing the lock button on the right side of the phone - instead of the top, like most phones - continues to annoy. The new arrangement of the four main Android buttons isn't optimal, either.

Not enough Gs. Unlike the G2, it's not using T-Mobile's new HSPA+ network.

Awesome music by Killabite, used with permission.

WATCH MORE: Tech News


Comments

    So from what I'm seeing, most of the stuff that was likey was more from Android 2.3 than the phone itself, provided you've got a phone capable of handling it?

    I'm not sure how close this is to a Samsung Focus (which I have played with), but i love smooth plastic. It's light, thin and unobtrusive.

    Plastic doesn't equate to lower quality, at least not to me. In fact, one of the most annoying things about my iPhone 4 is the little corner between the glass panels and the metal border where gunk can collect and it gets icky with constant handling.

    With a smooth, flush surface and curved plastic, I think will be perfect.

      also, it won't crack with the slightest of falls...

      seriously, whats the definition of build quality again?

      +1, although I'm a slightly biased Galaxy S owner :)

    to me, the biggest "No Likey" is the absence of a memorycard expansion slot, like micro-sd...

    the lack of memory expansion when the internal memory is so small to begin with... to me thats a fail. very disapointing...

    Too little too late rings a bell...

    Loads of us have been put off Samsung devices for ever based on our experiences with the Galaxy S. Samsung are still yet to "de-lag" this device even after being on sale for 5 months.

    If Samsung provided a "swap" system where you could replace your Galaxy S for the Nexus S, then it could be worth it.. After all, the Galaxy S 16gb retails for near enough to $800 outright, and the Nexus S is destined for $529 right? So how about it Samsung/Google?

    I'm sure the Nexus S is fast. Samsung have had time to learn from the fcuk ups of the Galaxy S. The fact of the matter is that the Nexus S is not a Nexus One. The S is fat, its not teflon coated, rugged and strong. Its a glossy fingerprint magnet bling bling, thats easily scratched and with 6-7 month old internals. Oh wow! its got a curved screen.! Imagine accidently sitting on that! oh SNAP! I put my Nexus One thru hell, and it kept on kicking every time.

    For those out there with an iPhone 4, or a Galaxy S, I wouldnt bother. This is not an "upgrade" path you want to go on. Wait for all of the dual core tegra 2 handsets coming (LG has one to be released early 2011).

    So go on, pony up for that $$ for the Nexus S, and remember to bring your cotton gloves, and loose a few kg just incase you (God forbid) accidently sit on it...

      Agreed. I've got a Galaxy S that just sits around gathering dust. Disappointed just doesn't cover how I feel about this phone.

      Admittedly, I've never been a big fan of Samsung's products - they often have a feature list that ticks all the important boxes, but the product lacks the attention-to-detail of a high-end device.

      What has surprised me is the vast array of positive reviews covering this phone. The phone feels cheap and nasty in the hand. The lag is attrocious. Samsung's additions are woeful, and the screen is terrible. This last point is a big one for me - I've seen so many positive reviews about the AMOLED screens, and I can't understand it. The colours are oversaturated, and the sub-pixel arrangement makes viewing high-contrast text attrocious. Viewing it in bright sun-light is a no-go. I'm sure that in a few years it'll be great, but it's definitely not there now. I've got an iPhone 4 and Motorola Droid 2 here - both of their screens are miles ahead.

      Not trying to be a pot-stirrer, just trying to provide some feedback from "the other side", for potential Galaxy S customers.

        I have an iPhone 3G coming out of contract in 3 weeks. I'm finally decided: I'm skipping the iPhone 4, the Galaxy S and the Nexus S, and hanging out six months for the next generation.

        12 months ago I would absolutely have taken the next iPhone as soon as I came out of contract. 6 months ago, with my iPhone all but bricked by Apple's terrible OS "upgrade", I was all set to get a Galaxy S as soon as I came out of contract. As my iPhone 3G is now working again, I can afford to wait AND if Apple is very good until I upgrade I will still consider the Apple option when upgrading...

        @ RK

        I wouldn't bother with the Galaxy S or Nexus S IMO. If I had a 2nd time round, I would have waited a little then bought the HTC Desire HD.

        The only real reason I jumped in and got the Galaxy S was for the native Divx support. But, even now we can all experience Divx on any Android handset by downloading Rockplayer :-)

        @ Tim, I totally agree with you.

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