Google Nexus S Review

Less than a year since its introduction, Google's ambitious nature in the mobile space has changed somewhat after they unleashed the Google Nexus One. Back when that device was first unveiled, the mobile community gasped out many wonderful words seeing that it was a truly iterative device that seemingly continued Android's reach to the masses. Looking back at it now, the Nexus One was the epitome of a top shelf device thanks to its strikingly beautiful design and flare with Android 2.1 Eclair. But rather than following the tried and true process, Google decided to buck the trend and sell the high-end smartphone directly to the consumer – and without the aid of carriers!

Depending on who you talk to, the Nexus One was considered to be a landmark and polarizing device, while others simply saw it as a giant big flop for Google. Naturally, the company learned from their experience in that they really need to consider other venues to promote or sell future devices. However, there was a point when it seemed as though we'd never see another Google branded device – especially after the less than impressive sales of the first. Yet, it was widely panned as an underground success by developers and hardcore programmers all around. 

Knowing that Google would only learn from its mistakes, it's come back strong in announcing the Google Nexus S which is being manufactured by Samsung. Sporting a new maker and sales process, the Google Nexus S employs some new technology under the hood and a stock Android experience that's untainted, virgin, and unadulterated to truly showboat the open platform. Arriving just in time for the busy holiday season, it'll be interesting to see whether or not it has the staying power to attract the attention of smartphone users who are hungry for the next big thing.

The package contains:

  • Google Nexus S
  • Wall Charger
  • microUSB cable
  • Stereo Headphones
  • 1,500 mAh battery
  • Terms & Conditions
  • Health & Safety and Warranty Guide


Instead of finding a device that's undeniably different in design from everything else out on the market, we're treated to yet another Samsung Galaxy S lookalike – not to mention some common hardware as well. Needless to say that it doesn't necessarily come off as awe-inspiring, but rather, it looks as though Samsung refined their successful smartphone. In fact, this slate device is a bit more rounded in the corners and sports a completely clean facade. And looking at it from the side, it bears a slight curve to its profile. Its all plastic body does well in keeping it extremely light (4.55 oz) and streamlined (0.43”), but it does have a constant attraction to the usual set of smudges, fingerprints, and scratches. It's not to say we're not pleased with the design, but when we've seen this constantly used, we were expecting to see something a bit more innovative to truly make it a standout.

You can compare the Google Nexus S with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Meanwhile, its 4” Super AMOLED display with WVGA (480 x 800) resolution and support for 16.7 million colors will undoubtedly be a head turner. However, Samsung has approached the Nexus S with a slight modification with it's now dubbed “Contour Display.” Even though you don't notice it looking at the display up front, you can view the subtle distinction towards the top and bottom portions. However, it's only a cosmetic thing which provides an alluring appeal to the handset, but doesn't prove in any way to be advantageous over other displays. Again, its high resolution screen is super sharp and is complemented well with some deep and galvanizing looking colors to make your eyes melt. As always, it's also very responsive to the touch, offers good viewing angles, and emits some serious luminance to light up a room.

Directly above the display and next to the earpiece is a 0.3-megapixel front-facing camera which can be used for self-portraits or video chat. 

Even though we adore the clean look of its surface, attempting to figure out the placement of its capacitive buttons is a nightmare. Again, the layout is different as we're presented with the following buttons from left to right – back, menu, search, and home. We constantly find ourselves struggling to figure out where they are because the back lighting is so dim – and not to mention the occasional accidental presses that accompany it.

Luckily, Samsung improved the feel of its volume rocker and dedicated power button, which are located on the left and right sides respectively, seeing that they're more distinguishable to the finger and offer a better tactile response when pressed. However, Samsung flip-flopped the placement of the 3.5mm headset jack and microUSB port as they're now located in the bottom edge of the phone. Still, it works well there since they are spaced far enough from one another to not feel too cramped.

On the rear, we see the 5-megapixel auto-focus camera which is surrounded with a silver colored border and the LED flash sitting close by. Furthermore, there are two notches close at hand which are for the speakerphone. Moreover, removing the back cover will provide you access to its battery and SIM card slot, but more importantly, we find the NFC chip embedded into the cover as well. 

Google Nexus S 360-degree View:



1. Awesome14Axel

Posts: 3; Member since: Dec 10, 2010

they forgot to put no HSPA+ No SD card slot no camera button no HD video recording and isn't revolutionary

2. gomets15217

Posts: 38; Member since: Jul 13, 2008

-nobody cares about HSPA+ -they mentioned no sd card -thats relatively unimportant. -they mentioned that as well -and it is, just not a game changer. they ignored the fact that the curved glass screen was implemented because 'research' showed that it made the phone easier to use. it wasnt for aesthetics or to make it look pretty. they ignored the new gyroscope sensors. they didnt discuss the nfc chip at all besides the fact that, well its there. basically, they talked about it from the point of view of someone who just wants the newest, most 'high end' phone so they can shoot of tech stats to their friends who dont know what the words mean either. these reviews are really getting pathetic. =/

3. kristoferallen

Posts: 99; Member since: Jun 23, 2010

There were many reasons they went with a curved display but it definitely wasn't for looks like you said. It also keeps the screen from getting scratched when placed on its face. I actually like the fact that there isn't an sd card and its all just internal. I have always hated sd cards although I guess there are a few who need more then 16 gb, I have no idea who. The biggest thing I am excited about with this phone is the development. That makes the opportunity for games a lot more exciting. I think 2011 is going to be where Android sets itself as a competitor in the handheld gaming and this phone is going to help.

19. XrandomdroidX

Posts: 11; Member since: Jul 03, 2011

i reread this in 2011 right now and what u said was true :D the number of apps is slowly but surely going to beat the number of apps in ios furthermore, theres the nexus prime to look forward too...

20. eyad_996

Posts: 29; Member since: Jul 10, 2012

You were right about that NFC chip back in 2010, i don't think it had many uses back then, now, 2012, it's changing everything, you should become a reviewer man, you've got something!

13. Tucknoloji unregistered

Nexus S with Stock Gingerbread, does not have the Zoom option..... can anyone ported latest version of Android???

4. McFoster unregistered

This phone has down right pissed me the hell off. I was fine with the battery taking 8 hours to charge from nearly 0 to full. I was fine with the fact that it has no HD recording. I was fine with the fact that the call volume was pretty low. The straw that broke the camels back was that picture messaging on the phone isn't working at all and no one on any customer service end has a reason why. Samsung told me to piss off after being on hold for 45 minutes. Those god damn Indians at T-Mobile told me to piss off and call Samsung. Google really must have wanted this phone to fail in terms of sales if they went with Samsung.

5. kristoferallen

Posts: 99; Member since: Jun 23, 2010

Picture messaging works perfect. I have had 5 pictures since the phone came out. If picture messaging doesn't work though then have them email it to you. If they don't have a phone with email then its probably not that great of a picture lol, jk. But I haven't had any problems so reset your phone and make sure your data is on. It is not a phone issue so it must be something that isn't turned on or some other of the many things it could be.

11. johnConor unregistered

Somebody give dis guy a dumb kitchen sink phone..Nexus S is probably smarter than u,stop usin it..n i thought ignorance is bliss..apparently it ain't

15. HB unregistered

If the goddamn Indians told you to piss off they probably thought that you are as dumb as you look. No need to be racist simply cos your phone isnt working, which is most probably because you don't have the brains to use it

6. jomonsosjoseph

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 23, 2010

Hello all. The Google Nexus S has already received its first over the air upgrade - we'll break the news to you now: it's not Android Honeycomb. The new file from Google apparently updates bugs and upgrades to the latest version of maps - although we're not sure how much it changes if you already have the new fancy Google Maps for Android version 5 already downloaded. Looking through the internal changes over on EDA Developers Forum, it seems the only changes are to the framework and Maps programs, so this isn't going to be a massive overhaul - although early indications show a slight lag in the browser appears to have been fixed.

7. celldude unregistered

its better 2 have ne Galaxy S with 2.3 update

8. Oliver unregistered

Was the sample video taken at Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrenceville, NJ? If not, there's an imposter mall out there!

10. ThatHarlemKat

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 05, 2011

I lost my Nexus One in a cab while visiting family in NYC during the Christmas holiday (Engraved Garry J Murray on back) Anyway, I figured to make the most of my misfortune by replacing it with a Nexus S "upgrade" I went into Best Buy and had my first up close, hands on with the device and changed my mind. It is a light, plastic, cheap feeling phone. No HSPA+ (4G), NO SD memory, No deal!. It just reminded me of my sister's galaxy S. I instead went to T-mobile and picked up the finely designed, well crafted HTC G2. A beautiful phone that more closely resembles the Nexus One than the Nexus S does. Feature rich, wi-fi calling, mobile hotspot, 4G, physical keyboard, can expand to 32 GB. Best decision I could have made. I really WANTED to like the Nexus S, it just fell short in my opinion.

16. larry56 unregistered

Seems you really wanted something like N1 which a great phone. I returned my T-Mobile G2 back to T-Mobile after one month of pain. Yes, quality materials, beautiful gadget. Good to play with...but horrible as a phone. Loudspeaker i is terrible , people laugh when they hear it. It is almost completely not usable outside. Background abient noises, voices and static noise of most incoming calls are awful. Overexposed, static sound is very high and you can hear all kinds of noises coming from the earpiece, expecially when the connection is not very good and phone tries to compensate by increasing the background noises. Do not recommend for conference calls . I called HTC and they admitted the problem, received 2 replacement phones from T-Mobile but they have the same issue. On the other hand Nexus S has excellent call quality and loudspeaker but cheap plastic exterior. My Nexus S crashed because of incompatible applications with new Gingerbread. I had to return the phone to BestBuy for replacement because Samsung coudn't help me to fix it over the phone. It looks like all new models are released not fully tested just to get a grip over the competition and attract new customers by highly advertised new features and later on they try to fix them after months of complains ONLY if the model sells good. My advice , buy 1 or 2 old phone model and you wan't regret it. And read the complains before that....

17. ROB KEVIN unregistered

Hi Folks, Bought a brand new Google Nexus s a week ago and yesterday refunded it. With that price not recommended to buy this phone. Battery life is not good and every time you have to be worried about charging it. Sometimes battery doesn't like to charge up to 100 % and keeps on sitting at 97 % despite charging for even 8 hours. Not recommended till the time Google puts in some effort to make the battery life more. You have to turn off multiple features to save battery but whats the fun for buying this phone if you can not run / use the applications.

18. Sachin Dev unregistered

Apparently Google Nexus S is gone out of sale right now in India...??? Do yo ppl have any clue about it?
Nexus S
  • Display 4.0" 480 x 800 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 3, Single core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB
  • Battery 1500 mAh(6.00h 3G talk time)

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