After much rumour and speculation, Google has return to the mobile game with their second own-brand device, dubbed the Nexus S.
With Google leaving HTC’s warm OEM embrace for the Super AMOLED goodness of Samsung, the Nexus S immediately looks like a beefed up Galaxy S, albeit with some smart tweaks to give the first-party phone a unique twist.
Rocking a clean and uncompromising vision of the Android operating system, the Google Nexus S is a showcase of Gingerbread – the latest iteration of the search company’s mobile platform.
Whilst not the sweeping change that we are all eagerly expecting – 3.0 is due to land in the New Year – but Android 2.3 has a raft a smaller shifts to make the platform even more awesome to use. Attentive folks will spot the black notifications bar and slicker layout, but new adopters will warm to impressive and intuitive smartphone experience Android now offers out of the box.
Support for VoIP calling, a swankier keyboard and support for Near Field Communications technology on board (think Oyster Cards for London’s tubes, but by swiping a phone!) bolsters the sturdy frame of Android, with the Nexus S making it look all the more pretty on a curved 4″ capacitive WVGA display.
You read right, the glass screen of the Nexus S is made on an ever-so-slight wonk, with its Contour Display designed to fit ergonomically with both palm and face.
The slim plastic frame has a familiar ‘lip’ which also resides at the base of Samsung’s own flagship Android effort – the Galaxy S – making for an equally slender beast in the Nexus sequel.
It seems to address those few faults that we did level at the Galaxy S in adding a flash for the 5-megapixel snapper (with support for HD video), with the 1GHz Hummingbird processor making the uncut Android interface ever more swift and responsive to the touch.
16GB of flash memory storage means enough for those movies and music tracks, whilst the cream of Google apps have been given a revamp for the new OS. Youtube becomes far more mobile-friendly with in-page playback and a personalised homescreen, whilst additions include Voice Actions – an option allowing features across the device to be triggered by words alone (provided you have the correct twang in your accent).
Android mainstays like the Market, Maps and Gmail remain, making the Google Nexus S a bit of an all-rounder in the mobile stakes.
Having learned from their mistakes with the direct to consumer, online-only release of the Nexus One, this time Google are allowing the Nexus S is to be sold through retail stores from launch, with Best Buy and Carphone Warehouse garnering exclusivity of the device in the US and UK.
Priced from free on a pay monthly contract, it will also be available unlocked on our shores for £550, with Google Nexus S deals rolling out from the 20th of December.
The shrewd move to go with retailer rather than network exclusivity by shacking up with Carphone Warehouse means the Google Nexus S has a far wider availability to potential consumers this time around, whilst the freedom to opt for contract or SIM-free from launch is a refreshing option.
Google’s decision to take another swing at success with an own brand device rather than leveraging Samsung’s brand equity is an interesting one. With Microsoft and Apple both cooing over their proprietary platforms in Windows Phone 7 and iOS, perhaps Android’s voice has been lost in the litany of custom interfaces and disparate devices, a victim of its popularity and open-source nature.
If that’s the case, then the Google Nexus S is the rallying call, stripping all of the extraneous features and functions away to reveal a lithe and genuinely sexy device, yet one which is Android to the core, which they have dubbed “Pure Google”.
Already warmly received in early reviews, the Nexus S has the potential to sway those consumers unsure of Android’s potential, and could finally be that unifying flagship device that Google’s mobile platform has been desperately searching for.