Product Type: Samsung Smartphone
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Nexus S - Google is your Friend!
Samsung GT i9023 Nexus S
Member Name: NinjaBaz
Samsung GT i9023 Nexus S
Date: 02/02/12, updated on 03/02/12 (60 review reads)
Advantages: 4" AMOLED screen, Android, 16gb storage built-in, NFC chip, Great value @ £200
Disadvantages: ICS not ready yet, Slippy casing, Scratches easily, Feels cheaper than it should
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!
Summary: A very good phone but needs Ice Cream Sandwich to excel