Google Nexus S review

£6
Price when reviewed

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 result is the sensually curvaceous Google Nexus S. In fact, Google’s new baby is based on the Samsung’s Galaxy S, which is why the phone might have a familiar ring to it.

This is generally a good thing: the 4in 480 x 800 screen uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology, which means it’s eyeball-searing in its brightness and amazingly colourful, and the touchscreen itself is sensitive and accurate. With a 1GHz processor under the hood, too, the Nexus S feels very responsive.

Google Nexus S

We have the same reservations about the phone’s build quality, though – the rear panel is made of glossy, insubstantial-feeling plastic, and the whole thing seems just a little cheap. It isn’t a patch on the iPhone 4, nor any of HTC’s high-end Android handsets.

There are subtle differences, though, and the headline here is the Nexus S’s curved screen. Look at it from the side and you’ll see that it’s very slightly concave, the idea being that it’s more comfortable to hold to your face than a standard, flat-screened phone. Alas, it isn’t; we asked four PC Pro staff members to blind test the Nexus S against an HTC Desire HD, and they all said the latter was more comfortable on the ear.

The phone’s much-trumpeted near field communications (NFC) chip is another red herring. Swipe the phone over an NFC tag and the phone can read data from it or write data to it. When Google demonstrated it to us at a press event, a spokesman used it to read a web address from a label, automatically launching the Android browser in the process. That’s very impressive, but it’s a technology in its infancy, and we can’t see many Nexus S owners (in the UK at least) finding much use for it.

In a more baffling move, Google has chosen to ship the Nexus S without a micro SD card slot. Instead, there’s 16GB of integrated storage; we’d expect 32GB for the sort of money Google is asking for this phone. And in another backward step, it’s only capable of shooting 720 x 480 video, which is double odd since the Galaxy S shoots 720p. In fact the only clear advantages the Nexus S has over its cousin is an LED flash for its camera and, matching the iPhone 4, a three-axis gyroscope to go with its accelerometer.

Android 2.3

The biggest advantage to any Google phone is that owners are always ahead of the curve when it comes to operating system updates, and that hasn’t changed with Nexus S. It’s the only smartphone on the market right now to sport Android 2.3 (aka Gingerbread), and when the next version rolls along owners won’t have to wait on their network.

The changes in this version, however, aren’t dramatic. Performance, for starters, is largely similar to other 2.2 phones. We timed the Nexus S at eight seconds to load the desktop BBC homepage and six seconds to complete the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark. The phone’s dedicated GPU should ensure that the most demanding games are delivered in a smooth and judder-free manner, though.

Details

Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £30.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider www.carphonewarehouse.co.uk

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 14hrs
Standby, quoted 29 days 17hrs

Physical

Dimensions 63 x 15 x 124mm (WDH)
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 512MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.0in
Resolution 480 x 800
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Android

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