After letting out some anger at a certain Australian Postage company, I finally received the Google Nexus S from Vodafone last Friday and have been putting it through its paces ever since. There’ll be a bit of a more in-depth write-up later on, but I thought I’d fill you in on the important details now. Enjoy.

Looks..

As I first lifted it out of the box, that is almost exactly the same as that of the original Nexus One, I thought that the Nexus S looked both ugly yet appealing at the same time. The front of the device is dark and at some angles it’s impossible to see where the display is situated under the glass, a look that I enjoy. Then you get to the rear of the device and it’s all plastic and cheap feeling, a look I don’t enjoy. The front glass that is slightly curved is a nice touch – very niche – but nice none the less. Everywhere you lay a finger on the device you’ll leave a wonderful oily pattern, which is a shame considering how amazing the front of the device looks when clean. The physical buttons are in about the same spots as the Galaxy S (power on the right, volume on the left) which is either because little design effort was put in, or they were sticking with a winning formula. There is also no notifications LED which drives me up the wall. If you get a text message, email or any form of notification, you’ll only know if you’re close enough to the device to hear it make a noise or if you turn on the display to check the notifications bar. Fail. There’s also currently no use for the NFC chip, so I can’t really say that it’s an amazing feature, for now.

Performance..

The Nexus S is Google’s flagship device for Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ and in saying that you’ll know that Google has put a shit-tonne of work in to making this work perfect on the device. The software is exceptionally fluid, with animations as smooth as butter and applications load up instantly which is always nice. The browser is where most users will spend a fair amount of time, and I can tell you that it’s very fast though zooming can induce a little bit of lag though it won’t put you off using it. The only other beef I had with the software was with the keyboard, it seems to register touches just above where you press, which did get annoying and lead me to switch keyboards after a couple of days using the Nexus S. The camera works quite well and I’ll have a few shots up soon. The loud-speaker almost sounds like it’s inside a tin can, with hardly any bass at all, though it’s not as bad as the Xperia X10.

There’s no carrier branding whatsoever on the device leading me to believe this is a generic ROM with no carrier mods at all, which will hopefully lead to a quicker update path to Android 2.4+ and all the incremental updates in between. We trust that Vodafone is capable of doing this in a timely manner.

Finishing thoughts..

I think what most people want to know is ‘Is this device worth upgrading to from my current device?’. In the case of the Nexus S it’s hard to tell. The hardware isn’t pushing ahead of any of the leading devices on the market at the moment and the software will be coming to these other devices as well. So it really depends on what you currently own, if you own anything above an HTC Desire, don’t bother. If it’s anything else, then by all means head into your local Vodafone store and try one out.

I’m a little ashamed that the Nexus S isn’t really pushing any boundaries like the Nexus One did. I just see it as Samsung quickly making changes (they’ve shown they can do it) to the Galaxy S and hoping for the best. I personally wouldn’t go out and purchase a Nexus S as it seems to be just a novelty device with nothing giving it power and presence above anything else in the market.

  • Ali Dc

    I just got my Nexus S yesterday, its perfect in speed, performance and camera.Internet is much faster and better i love it

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasonmurray.au Jason Murray

    I’ve had a Nexus S since January, so here’s a few more thoughts. In general, I disagree with the “nothing special” assessment, but I do think it’s a difficult purchase to justify if you already have a superphone.

    Packaging? I wish they’d added the soft pouch in the box like the Nexus One – it was really hard to find one for the S but I eventually managed it. Everything else is virtually identical to the Nexus One packaging which I think is more Google than Samsung.

    On the hardware, while I agree that the plastic feels a bit cheap, I also think for the size of the device the plastic body gives it the right heft – you’ll get used to it. The back cover plastic seems especially indestructible too. Regarding the power/volume button location – it’s great because the buttons are where your fingers rest when you’re holding the phone. The Nexus One had the power button at the top, seemingly because it had been ‘the standard’ since the days of the Nokia 5110. I liked seeing some thought put into its location. My Nexus One’s volume up button seems to have died too – the volume rocker on the S seems more likely to stand up to sustained use.

    While the lack of a notification light is hugely annoying, I’ve gotten used to it. It’s easy to pick the phone up, hit the power button, glance at the screen and hit it again. I do miss the trackball though (digital or optical) – I don’t think Gingerbread’s carat/textselector is quite where it needs to be yet – a long press to select a single word doesn’t work well and for some reason Swype isn’t playing very well with the text selection tools in the latest revision (when I double-tap a word to replace it, the word-selected menu pops up instead of Swype’s replacement word popup – this could be a Handcent issue but I think it’s more widespread).

    The big plus for me is the speed of the device – its the major win over other phones. The processor is just FAST. Scrolling through the app list is silky smooth without the jumps / slowdowns which plagued by Nexus One. Towards the end of my Nexus One’s time as my primary phone I would be infuriated by the random pauses and “this application is not responding” messages – I didn’t root my phone or install anything terribly demanding but it just felt like it couldn’t keep up with me. The S has no such problem.

    Related to the speed is the builtin storage. The non-removable 16GB storage is an issue for some, but I’d only just bought a 16GB card for my Nexus One so I don’t really notice any limitations on storage space. What I do notice however is the speed with which the phone can access stuff that’s stored on “the sd card” (which is actually now USB-mounted flash storage).

    The camera is ok, but it’s still a smartphone camera. Notably, it has a macro shooting mode and for some reason the camera app doesn’t have a digital zoom control. The front facing camera is pretty low quality, but there’s not many apps you’ll be using it with at the moment. Skype still notably has no video calling support on Android for some reason, which limits your options for apps and interoperability.

    I find Gingerbread a very pleasant overall experience and evolution for Android. The status icons work well and the general coat-of-paint given to basic OS things like menus and lists is quite welcome. I feel there’s been a general lifting of everyone’s game with respect to app design on the platform lately though, so it’s hard to tell if what I’m experiencing is Gingerbread or just application developers getting better at what they do.

    The best thing about Gingerbread on the Nexus S is getting software updates from Google insetad of Samsung (who seems to have, frankly, a terrible track record on updating their phones lately). This is also the reason I had a Nexus One.

    A note on battery life… I feel the ‘Nexus’ live wallpaper (which I used to use on the Nexus One in its old Eclair/Froyo incarnation) is a performance hog which sucks battery power. When I first started with the phone I was lucky to get a day out of it but with live wallpaper switched off I just managed to go nearly two days without a charge (I forgot to charge it last night). The battery in this phone isn’t actually very big so it’s surprising that it lasts this long.

    Would I recommend getting the phone? It’s a tough call. I feel there’s enough annoying aspects of the phone that you might do well to pass it on by, but consider that it’s the current flagship “annointed” phone – anything cool that happens in the Android (phone) space is going to happen on this phone first. If you have a superphone and you’re happy with it, there’s probably no reason to upgrade. If you’re not happy, you could do far worse than to give the Nexus S a look. It won’t disappoint you.

    • Anonymous

      Good comment, Jason.

  • http://www.mobigyaan.com Mashhood Ahmad

    Amazing…Very good….

  • Jinkyukang84

    In terms of design, the cheap plastic look back plate would be a result of engineering as they would need some cushionning point when it is dropped so the back plate typically will come off. If it was all metalic uni body like iphones, then all the pressure from the drop will goto the glass resulting in cracked glass or screen which has been happening to all the iphone owners i know. As for finger prints, it is a glass….with a glossy look…like all glossy look it is proned to fingerprints….thats why they sell matte finished screen protectors at the scrifice of clarity and sharpness. from future reviews, I would like to see a more technical review rather than pointless rant about design which obviously has been thought off and the result there after…
    Otherwise good review and was wondering if the file system is ext4 for all partitions???

    • Marc

      /cache & /efs are yaffs2 /system & /data are ext4. sdcard is vfat.

    • Anonymous

      Rant? What rant? I thought it was a good review…

  • http://www.facebook.com/drew.freyling Drew Freyling

    I’m still going to wait for the HTC Desire S!

  • Evan

    There are some annoying issues with a stock standard Galaxy S. Lag anyone?
    As long as they’ve improved a little on this, which they seem to have with putting gingerbread on there. They’ve added a flash but they’ve taken away the Microsd slot! Maybe this helps with the lag? To me, it’s just a rennovated Galaxy S. Which would be fine, if they’re the same price.

  • http://ausdroid.net Buzz Moody

    Just a note, these are things that stuck out for me in the first few days.

    There’s plenty of great stuff about the device I’ll get into in the review.

  • http://twitter.com/gfieldew geoff fieldew

    I recommended the Nexus S to a friend who had never used Android and was coming from a Nokia Qwerty. This person wanted something else to compare with the iPhone. I also suggested the Desire HD but the large screen & small battery put her off. I think the pure Google experience is the best introduction to Android and what it is capable of. Her current phone is stuffed and she needs a replacement ASAP. She likes it but hasn’t decided yet.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1332994767 Dylan Waghorne

      iPhone.. shit, i’d rather have a 99$ ideos

      • Anonymous

        Don’t feed the troll.

    • antzpantz

      HTC Desire Z! Keyboard + Android + good battery life. :-)

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, good tip and a great phone, but she doesn’t want a qwerty. The 5 row qwerty on my HTC Dream was awesome. A hardware qwerty requires two hands and makes the phone bulky, something most people don’t want these days. Desire Z otherwise is a great choice.