I’ve been carrying the new thing around for a few weeks now, and had fun taking pictures of it.

It’s worth noting that I’m transitioning from a Nexus One; I haven’t really had any hands-on with the big new Evos and so on from HTC or Superdroids from Motorola; so I can’t compare it to any of those. The “S” in the name is I think a reference to Samsung’s Galaxy S line, which this shares a lot of tech and specs with.

Hardware · The new Nexus is sleek and graceful and manages not to look in the slightest like any Apple product. Glossy black top-to-bottom, front-to-back; the more I looked at it the more I thought “piano”, so I decided that was how I’d photograph it.

Nexus S phone with Yamaha piano

One of my gripes with the generally-excellent Samsung phones has been the lack of physical buttons; the rear illumination is lovely when it’s on, but too often it isn’t. On this Nexus, they’ve got this clever trick where the buttons are routinely half-lit whenever you’re doing anything, so you can always see them.

Nexus S phone with Yamaha piano

Also on the buttons; they’ve changed the order; from left to right it’s Back/Menu/Search/Home, which took me about 3½ seconds to get used to and am semi-convinced is cosmically correct.

Yep, it’s a little bit curved. A very little bit; obvious to the hand and eye but sort of hard to photograph. Here’s my best effort, with some more help from the family’s Yamaha upright.

Nexus S phone on piano keyboard

The screen is the lush Samsung AMOLED that will be familiar to a lot of Android users, usefully bigger than the Nexus One but with slightly lower density.

For me the biggest difference is the sound quality, which is outstanding; for telephony and music, this thing totally whomps my Nexus One.

I haven’t had a chance to give the two cameras or the NFC hardware a serious workout yet.

Gingerbread · It’s not that big a deal unless you’re a developer working close to the metal, which probably means you’re working on games. For those people it is a big deal, with useful NDK additions and better profiling tools.

As for the look and feel, I like the black backgrounds a whole lot; on the other hand, I haven’t 100% warmed up to the ubiquitous green. It’s got more design integrity, I think, than any previous Android release; but boy, it sure is green.

And the combination of Gingerbread and the Nexus S is really snappy; instantly obvious when you scroll a list or pop open a browser. I’m not sure what to conclude, though; as I learn more and more about Android’s insides, I’ve become aware how awesomely complex the issues are around mobile-device performance. CPU clock rate is just one factor, and often far from the biggest; many aspects of perceived performance are dominated by memory bandwidth and display adapter setup.

Gingerbread should be faster than Froyo, but a whole lot depends on the hardware implementation; this feels like a good one.

Happy · I think it’s really important that there be a first-rate unlocked pure-Google Android device out there in the market. I’m delighted that we built this thing and that Best Buy is going to sell it; those guys know more about getting consumer electronics to people than Google ever will. I suspect it’ll sell pretty well; having them out there is good for Android and its communities of users and developers.

Use of these photos of the Nexus S is licensed slightly differently from the rest of this site’s pictures; these are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, which means that commercial publications can feel free to re-use them (with attribution of course), no need to ask first.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Eapen (Dec 06 2010, at 09:11)

Does this phone have an LED for notifications? One of my biggest gripes with the Samsung Galaxy S (Vibrant) is that it doesnt have LED notifications for missed calls etc, and I use an app called NoLED Notifications to fill this feature but it probably consumes more battery than an LED would.


From: Emmanuel Morales (Dec 06 2010, at 11:59)

Do you know if the Nexus S is compatible with AT&T's 3G frequencies?

I find that to be such a beautiful phone. I never thought about it, but it really does look like it fits with a piano.


From: Dave (Dec 06 2010, at 12:00)

Thanks for the great info and pictures. I totally agree with your conclusion about the importance of a first-rate, unlocked vanilla Android device. It's very encouraging to see that Google agrees, too.

So, for the sake of argument, let's say your employer didn't generously supply you with a Nexus S...would you spring for it yourself, or would you just stick with your Nexus One for now?


From: Fira (Dec 06 2010, at 13:15)

I think the jump from g1 to a nexus one was much more significant in terms of hardware/os capabilities than the jump from nexus one to nexus s. As a user I will miss the front facing camera the most. The gyroscope and nfc are good to have though not too many apps are expected to utilize them in the near future. I will probably keep my nexus one for the time being and buy the next Google phone :)


From: Fira (Dec 06 2010, at 13:20)

>>the biggest difference is the sound quality, which is outstanding; for telephony and music, this thing totally whomps my Nexus One.

Is this because of the Nexus S hardware or due to enhancements in Android 2.3?


From: john b (Dec 06 2010, at 13:38)

Same question as Eapen, does it have an LED for notifications? Although I'm currently using BackLightNotification (BLN) from XDA developers on my Galaxy S.

Also, do you have spec's on the screen size (I guess it would be the same as the Galaxy s's 4.0 inch)?

I second the vote of confidence for Samsung sound quality, field leaders IMO.

Blog is great BTW, thanks :)


From: Stewart Smith (Dec 08 2010, at 02:26)

How's the battery life?

On my Nexus One while reading this and it died :(


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