Posted by: David Stewart | February 23, 2011

Nexus S – A great Android phone

I have been using the new Nexus S phone from Samsung and Google for the past two weeks and there are some things I really like about the phone. I am embarrassed to say that this is the first cell phone I have actually spent my own money on; previous phones have been work-related.

Google likes to have a "lead phone" for Android. The Nexus S is their current lead, previously it was the "Nexus One" and before that the Android G1.  There is no question that the Nexus S is the best of these, and I would argue is probably the best Android phone currently available. (But then, there are always more Android phones coming out).

Here’s what I like about the Nexus S:

  • To turn on the phone, you hold down the power button for about two seconds. Seems like a small thing, but the Nexus One would boot up immediately if you hit the power button. If you are on an airplane for example and you want to be sure your phone is turned off, the only way to do this on the Nexus One was to hit the power button, which turned the phone on.
  • Most functions seem much faster than on the Nexus One. In particular, camera-oriented apps like the Gallery start up right away.
  • The phone comes with the latest Android OS, version 2.3. This has some nice enhancements, but is quite similar to the previous versions.
  • Built-in ring tones and messaging tones are much more pleasant than on the Nexus One. I often heard people complain that the Nexus One was usually too loud and obnoxious when a message or call came in.
  • The phone comes with 16Gb of built-in phone memory. This solves a very obnoxious problem with the Nexus One: running out of phone memory. Although you could put a large SD card in the Nexus One, I still found that a number of apps needed to occupy phone memory, and would not allow me to move them to the SD memory card.
  • Switching from the Nexus One to the Nexus S was incredibly slick: The new phone remembered the WIFI passwords I had remembered on the old phone, which meant I didn’t need to reenter them. And apps I had installed on the old phone suddenly started downloading and installing themselves on the new phone. With Contacts and Gmail of course syncing up automatically, this was a really pleasant change over.
  • Call quality is very good, and battery life seems terrific. Much is made of the curved glass screen, but I think it’s a minor advantage.
  • Function in China with China Mobile is fine and in US with T-Mobile.
  • The screen is incredibly bright and sharp and seems particularly resistant to finger smudges. The whole package is light and slick looking.

There are a few downsides:

  • The back of the phone is nearly impossible to pry off with just fingernails. This is really annoying if you travel internationally and want to switch between your home phone company and a local one with a separate SIM card.
  • As slick as the phone is, it seems a little too slick. I find it slipping out of my shirt pocket a little too easily.
  • I wish there was a dedicated "camera" button on the case. Direct access to the camera function would be really nice, and it’s something I miss from my BlackBerry.
  • There is no 4G support, but since this is only available from Sprint in my area and I don’t care to subscribe to Sprint, I don’t miss it.
  • Previously, my Contacts would magically include all of my Facebook contacts. But I heard that due to a fight between Google and Facebook that this feature will disappear from my phone, because Facebook refuses to allow their data to be exported. A real pity.

I realize a lot of the advantages of the Nexus S are possibly due to it being from Samsung instead of HTC, the maker of the Nexus One. But I’m not sure how many of these design elements were suggested by Google.

The Nexus One is available unlocked at Best Buy in the US. "Unlocked" means you have total phone company portability and can switch to other carriers at will, and you are freed from the "two year contract" agreement with a cell provider. But you pay for this freedom by spending a lot more on the phone. )I bought my at a charity auction at an undisclosed price different from the retail price. But it was for a good cause!)

So if you want an unlocked Android phone with the latest features and newest software, the Nexus S is a good choice. I am very happy with it.


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