Google Nexus S review: Verdict

Google nexus s review

We've always been impressed by the trajectory of Android, and with each passing iteration it's got closer to being a bit less for the hackers and more for the mainstream (although its open source ethos has remained).

The Google Nexus S is designed to be the device that showcases the power of Android 2.3 and comes without the constraints of network upgrade delays – if Google updates something, the Nexus S community will be the first to know.

Don't be fooled by all the hype, though: the Nexus S is pretty much just a hopped-up Galaxy S. Sure, it's got the fancy screen and NFC chip inside, but once the Samsung model gets beefed up to Android 2.3, there won't be a huge amount to choose between the two (as long as the terrible lag is fixed).

We liked

Android is an OS that's going places, there's no doubt about that. It bridges the gap between iPhone and Symbian^3 phones such as the Nokia N8 very well, giving open source opportunities with a very well-done UI.

The operation is virtually judder-free, the GPU under the hood pushed the animations along at a wicked rate, and the burgeoning Android Market app store makes the Google Nexus S a very well-specified phone.

The Google Maps and Navigations offerings are still superb, with easy to use software and a dedicated Car Mode making locating yourself a very simple task.

Things like the beautiful screen are obviously a stand-out joy to use, and we're of the opinion that the bulging bottom and plastic cover is nice to hold rather than a poor version of the metallic phones out there.

We disliked

The lack of a comma on the keyboard might sound like a little issue, but to us, it's massive and could quickly get annoying. Sure, you can download another keyboard to solve the issue, or tinker with the settings, but that's not what you should have to do out the box to make the phone a decent proposition.

The text wrapping on the internet browser was hard to get right too, and sadly hasn't got better with time – is it too much to ask for that we get a phone with the ability to zoom in and out of text and show it all at once?

Google nexus s review

The lack of microSD slot is terrible as well. Samsung prides itself on being a media-centric company, so we think it must have been removed at Google's request, although for the life of us we can't think why.

The price of the Nexus S is ridiculously high for the average gadget lover. Sure, it has some neat features but we reckon that slightly curved display added a few quid to the cost of manufacturing, and had it been flat the world wouldn't have simultaneously wept and cursed the ground the Android development team walked on.

UPDATE: Google has slashed the price of the phone just before launch, making it a lot more palatable at a little over £400 - much better, and just in time.

The constant restarting is an issue as well, plus that double letter thing from the keyboard is insanely annoying.

Verdict

It's a tricky one to rate, the Google Nexus S. A good place to start would be the obvious: it's a cracking phone, with a lot to be excited about.

For instance, the NFC chip is going to be a real boon in the future we reckon – Google's got plans for that tech, and that's partly why the Google Nexus S was created, to highlight what can be done on a handset.

From the moment you pick up the phone (assuming you don't hate the plastic feeling) and turn it on, you know you're getting something special – even the booting screen looks amazingly sharp.

The stuff Android gets right is all here on this phone – widgets, an easy-to-access notifications bar, easy-to-use applications and a dearth of openness about the underlying system make this attractive to both the man on the street who wants the latest phone and the modder who wants to root and play and customise to his or her heart's content.

Android is certainly maturing at a fantastic rate – you can do so much now, and the incremental improvements to features such as the keyboard show that there's a lot of potential with this OS to iron out any bugs.

But it's not a five -star experience on the Google Nexus S for a number of reasons: the ever so slight jumpiness and lagging, while very much not a big issue, take the gloss off the Android effect.

The sub-par media player needs updating badly, and the lack of a microSD slot is bound to irk some.

Google nexus s review

You've also got the benefit of being the first to receive the updates to Android version xx whenever it arrives – no more kicking your heels and waiting for your network to service your needs.

In short, there's nothing wrong with the Google Nexus S. In areas, such as the internet browser and improved battery life, it shines, and the overall feeling is one of a great phone that's going to grow with you as you discover little tweaks, tricks and the best new apps.

But while there's nothing to anger you about this phone, there will be times when it irritates you slightly, when the screen freezes momentarily or when a call scrambles its brain.

If you love Android in its purest form, then the Google Nexus S is the phone for you. If you like it a little more feature rich, check out the HTC range. And (whisper it) if you're agnostic and can afford it, the Nexus S is still not an iPhone beater, so make sure you check out all your options first.