* Prices may differ from that shown
Having now used the Samsung Nexus S for well over a year I can feel confident in giving a complete review of it. As my headline said, it is the most satisfying phone I've ever owned. The touchscreen is very responsive, the ergonomics are ideally designed to hold it in your hand, especially when compared to more angular phones like the iPhone 4 or 4s or the Galaxy SII. The main advantage of the phone is that it's using pure, unadulterated Android as Google intended it, so you don't have to contend with the bloatware often added on by phone manufacturers and networks. It also means that it's the first to receive updates as soon as Google releases them to the public, so it was one of the first phones to receive Ice Cream Sandwich and it should be receiving Jelly Bean in mid July. The screen, while not HD is pretty high quality and the sound is very good, so movie and video playback is excellent.
When it comes to the downsides, the camera isn't the best and the flash can be incredibly blinding if someone is close by. I can also confirm that the screen is very vulnerable to a drop of five feet. There can also be a delay between someone phoning you and the stock phone book finding your contact's details. In fact, I would say that the stock browser, keyboard and SMS app are pretty limited, but fortunately there are cheap or free apps available for the Google Play market that work incredibly well. I would also recommend replacing the battery with a higher capacity one unless you are happy with charging it every day.
Overall I am very happy with the phone and would highly recommend it to others.
Nexus S Review (Feb 2012)
This phone is available sim free from Carphone Warehouse for £199.
Dimensions - 123.9 x 63 x 10.9 mm
Weight - 129g
Screen Type - Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen (16M colors)
Screen Size - 480 x 800 pixels - 4.0 inches (233 ppi pixel density)
Internal Memory - 16GB storage, 512 MB RAM
Camera - 5MP, 2560x1920 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
CPU - 1GHz Cortex-A8 (Single Core)
GPU - PowerVR SGX540
*In the Box/About the Phone*
The Nexus S box is very compact and includes the phone, battery, PC-USB cable, AC charging adaptor and a set of headphones.
This phone has the full title of 'Google Nexus S', not to be confused with the 'Samsung Galaxy Nexus'. Although the Nexus S is also made by Samsung, the 2 phones are very different. The Galaxy Nexus is like the big brother of the Nexus S, having very similar styling but with a larger, higher resolution screen (4.65"), more powerful 1.2ghz dual core processor and the Android 4.0.1 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system as standard. This Galaxy Nexus however is more than double the price for all those extra goodies!
The Nexus S was first released back in December 2010, so as of writing is 14 month old technology. I bought this phone to replace my HTC Desire that I've had for the past 2 years on a contract. My plan is to use it for the next 12 months on my existing tariff which has been reduced in price to £6.21/month.
The phone is very similar in size to the HTC Desire but a larger screen dominates the face. The styling looks very smart indeed, looking similar to the Nokia 5800 with the pebble like Black plastic casing and a slightly curved screen (which protects the screen from scratches when placed face down!).
The camera and LED flash are situated in the usual place at the top of the back cover, with the power button placed at the top of the right hand edge. The volume rocker switch is found on the opposite side with the headphone jack and micro USB socket on the bottom edge. The back cover can be removed by pulling the casing away using a small indent at the top edge, revealing the battery and SIM compartment as per most mobiles.
The Nexus S has a quality AMOLED 4" screen, capable of rich deep colours and bright whites. It's a pleasure to use, especially in conjunction with the dedicated Graphics Processing Chip that gives the display that extra bit of zip when flicking between screens, browsing the net or playing a game.
Although the phone offers no provision for external storage such as a Micro SD card, it does offer 16gb of internal storage. It appears 1gb of this is dedicated to applications storage which should be plenty, and around 15gb is free for you to do as you please, be it photos, music or videos. I had only used 5gb of an 8gb Micro SD card on my old phone so lack of additional storage shouldn't be a problem for me.
NFC, which stands for Near-Field Communication is present in this phone, and Nexus S was one of the first phones to provide this facility. It is a new standard of exchanging information (in a simialr way to Bluetooth and wireless technology), but in the future it's likely to be used more and more to pay for goods by contactless payment amongst other things. The idea is you'll have a Google wallet or other financial payment setup within your phone and you will use the NFC technology to swipe or 'bump' your phone in close proximity to a contactless paypoint. This gives an element of futureproofing in regards to having the technology there already compared to most other current phones that don't.
The curved screen helps to minimise scratches if you were to lay the phone on its face. I don't tend to do this anyway, but it is a nice touch that doesn't affect the way the screen works and also gives it a look unlike most other phones.
Ice Cream Sandwich (Android's latest version, 4.0.3) is a planned upgrade when bugs have been fixed. ICS 4 was actually released late last year for the Nexus S through an over the air update, before being pulled due to a number of performance issues. Some users that received the software patch have reported a significant improvement to battery life and general usage, others have experienced the various reported bugs. Either way, it looks like ICS is an eagerly awaited update that will help to extend the life of this particular model.
At just £200 for the SIM Free version of the phone, available from Carphone Warehouse, this provides a good option for those already on low contract tariffs that don't want to be tied into a long contract. As stated earlier, once I sell my HTC Desire, the phone cost plus my contract tariff will cost me roughly £190 over 12 months.
In call quality is perfectly acceptable and clear in the few calls I've made so far. Ringtones and notifications are also crystal clear.
No option for a micro SD card to be installed may put some users off. iPhone's have come in 8gb, 16gb and 32gb variants for years without any external storage and that doesn't appear to have been a problem. It won't be for me in this case, but is one thing to bear in mind when buying.
The phone feels very light in weight so doesn't have the 'pick up' or build quality of an iPhone or HTC device. Coupled with the glossy plastic finish, it by no means looks cheap, but does tend to 'feel' that way. Being light and glossy, I've already had a few occasions when I nearly dropped the phone! I'd definitely recommend buying a grippy gel or silicone case for it, not only to prevent a nasty accident but also for general day to day grease, grime and dust protection.
Scratches and Fingerprints are something that may blight this phone and I sometimes find myself not wanting to play with it in case I do some kind of irreversible damage! Again, a good protective case should help here.
Battery Life is never particularly impressive on modern smartphones and the usual advice is to switch off unused features such as wireless and GPS when not required in order to prolong the battery. Screen brightness and social media syncing should also be kept to a minimum as these are all power hungry resources/apps. I guess it depends how much you use the phone and what functions you use as to how long you'll make it last. I'd suggest you'll probably end up charging this most nights but it should last through the day without a problem. I've had mine on for about 18 hours sofar without a charge. Also think about installing a battery optimisation app from the Android Market to streamline the efficiency of your phone.
The Single Core 1ghz CPU is on a par with my 2 year old Desire which is disappointing. However, in real terms, it works well enough and I doubt you'd notice much difference when viewing a single core and dual core phone running identical programs side by side. For £200 you can't really expect dual core CPU's as the cheapest at the moment is probably the HTC Evo 3D currently being sold by ASDA for £250.
ICS (Android 4 OS) release had bugs so isn't fully ready to be run by the Nexus S. Hopefully this update will be available over the air soon, as by all accounts it transforms the phone and breathes extra life into a device and technology that is already over 1 year old.
As an original CPW (Carphone Warehouse) exclusive handset, it can be difficult to source on the highstreet. No other major retailer had even heard of it when I asked to see one! It is available from other online retailers but nowhere near as cheaply as this deal.
The Nexus S is designed to be a 'pure' Google experience. This basically means that it doesn't have Touchwiz (Samsung's own software) or Sense (HTC's own software) plastered over the top of the Android stock software. The positive of this is that there is no bloatware from the manufacturer or mobile provider and this helps to keep the phones performance high. However, this also means there are no pre-installed widgets and you only have access to 5 homepages on the Nexus S in which to display your favorite apps and widgets. This isn't too much of a problem for me as I had 7 separate screens on the Desire and got nowhere near filling them all.
Minor things to consider are the possibility of getting dust trapped between the screen and casing as there is a small gap there. I've already had to blow this out a few times and just hope there's no way it can get under the screen. Also, the phone to look at when the screen is off is literally Black, or at least very dark throughout. It's very hard to differentiate which is the correct way round when you pull it from your pocket! It's been fairly regular that I've had it upside down and been unable to find the power switch! Another issue for me is the lack of notification LED's. You find yourself having to turn the screen on every so often just incase you've missed an email or text.
I'd say that I've probably been overly harsh when reviewing this product and its human nature to pick faults with an expensive purchase. However, on balance I'd say this is a 3.5/5 phone and is very likely going to be a 4/5 phone when a stable, bug free Ice Cream Sandwich release is made available. For now I'm going to award it 3/5 due to the balance of positives and negatives but will update the review if/when ICS is available for download.
The screen is lush, the overall dimensions are very appealing and it is capable of plenty but you just feel you need to be careful with it all the time in case it scratches, slips from your hands or gets dust inside it. Hopefully a silicone case will stop me worrying quite so much and enable me to actually enjoy what is a pretty good phone for the price!
Physically, the device in-hand doesn't feel that much of a greater difference. Though it is slightly better than the flimsy design of the Nexus One. The phone uses light plastic as it's main shell component, instead of metal. The screen is a super AMOLED screen and bright, the phone is light and when held, it fits perfectly in your hand. The back battery case is curved at a slight angle, thus making it a better feel when held.
The battery life on the Nexus S may run out fast if you have the screen on for extraneous amounts of time because of the super AMOLED screen (VERY BRIGHT AND CLEAR/CRISP). You may or may not need to carry a spare battery depending on personal usage and what not. Though I am pretty confident that the battery shipped with your Nexus S is in tip top shape for high usage time.
The camera is pretty decent, it comes with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with a better and renewed camera application/software. Features include auto focus and what not, but it does lack a feature of zoom out of third party applications in the App Market. It does have both a front and back camera, but the front camera sits at 2MP while the back at 5MP.
The keys on the bottom of the Nexus S from left to right are the back button, menu button, search button, and the home button. They aren't physical buttons but rather touch buttons (built into the screen's touchscreen itself, PRETTY NEAT). It's actually not quirky at all like one would think since it's not physically touchable, but there's no lag and it works like the screen's touchscreen. Quick, sensitive, and fast response time.
The device is defiantly faster than it's former part (Nexus One). First off, it has a faster processor and better specs in general. Also the Gingerbread OS is much faster than it's older counterparts as well with all the bug fixes Google has been throwing out constantly to all current devices.
Last but not least, compared to iOS devices being the iPhones, the Gingerbread OS compares pretty well. The Android OS' have more customization though in terms of making your own roms (the OS), customizing the rom completely removing and adding special self-made or community made features. The iPhone though can run themes in Winterboard and whatnot but that's about it.
This phone is great for using as a phone or for emails etc. all the things a phone should do today. Its typing, despite being touch screen is surprisingly good with quite large buttons and i find only the odd misstype (thats with a full onscreen qwerty keyboard).
Its and Android system, so you wont get any of the apple exclusive apps, but you get all the good ones on android anyway so its not really an issue. I tend to just get the free apps, and there a deffinately enough there on the android marketplace to keep me entertained. they also have plenty of usefull ones too, train time apps, weather etc.
Its a sleek looking phone, at least in black and came with 16gb memory. I have not really used it for music so i dont know how that features. its a little on the large side, but not more so than most smart phones of today.
The only bad i've found with this phone is the camera, it takes good pictures, but only if you stay still for long enough. it also takes a while between prssing the button and the actuall picture taking. people tend to move before it's done. If you take alot of pictures i would advise getting something else.
I have to confess; my purchase of the Samsung Nexus S was a completely impulsive and industry-buzz fuelled decision. I was eager to get rid of my BlackBerry and, being a bit of an anti-Apple kind of guy (don't hate!), I was eager to join the growing Android user base. The Nexus S was Google's own creation and so I figured that this would be the best choice of phone, seeing as Android is created by Google.
(If you're already an android buff you may want to skip this paragraph.) The software itself is fantastic, I really do love the android platform. Like all new platforms it takes some getting used to, but the usability is actually very simple. My favourite feature being the widgets which enable parts of applications to be directly integrated with the home screen. For example music controls and a streaming news feed. The system rarely crashes and is very reliable. The only struggle I've had with it were working out how to answer the phone! (You have to slide the screen to accept the call, whereas I though you had to tap it...)
Onto the hardware. The phone is 'ergonomically designed' with a curved screen so that it's more comfortable when you're making a call, however it honestly doesn't make a difference. The camera and video camera are both reasonably good (you have front and forward facing cameras), except there is no zoom functionality, which is actually annoying. The screen display is STUNNING. However, unless you want to charge the phone every three hours it's best that the brightness is turned to minimum, which ruins the beauty of it a little. Which brings me to battery life; it's not fantastic and heavy-usage will mean regular charges. That said, I stopped using the phone for music and the battery life has increased considerably. I'm not a very heavy user though, with the exception of my angry birds addiction.
The 'future-proof' part of my title refers to the phones built in NFC (near field communication) chip. It works via tapping onto other NFC receivers- however nothing exists at the moment to use this with so I have never had a chance to use it. Speed-wise I believe the phone is very fast and slick, however I'm not the best person when it comes to technical specifications.
To conclude; I am very satisfied with my Nexus S. However, were I to make my purchase decision again, I would opt for the BlackBerry Torch. My reason; I simply struggle to type on touch screens and have discovered that I most definitely need a keypad. Were this not an issue for me then I would be extremely satisfied with the phone. If you are considering purchasing this though, perhaps have a look at the new Samsung Galaxy S II first... my friend has one and I must admit it is definitely better!