December 13, 2010, 8:57 AM — The first phone to ship with Android 2.3 (also known as "Gingerbread") as the well as the follow-up to last January's Nexus One, the Nexus S (available unlocked for $530 or for $200 with a two-year plan from T-Mobile) is a joint effort between Samsung and Google with some impressive features. The hardware is gorgeous, and Android 2.3 delivers some useful enhancements; but with no support for HSPA+ or expandable memory, the Nexus S falls short of its potential.
Hardware and Design
The Nexus S isn't exactly leaps and bounds ahead of the Nexus One in its hardware. Like the Nexus One, it has a 5-megapixel camera and is powered by a 1GHz processor. It has a few key differences, however. For one, the Nexus S has an NFC chip built into it. Essentially, NFC chips can turn your phone into a sort of credit card. Ideally, when you wave your phone in front of a retailer's sensor, your purchase will immediately be placed on your account. For a detailed explanation of all that NFC can do, check out this primer.
The Nexus S's design unquestionably bears the Samsung aesthetic as much as the Nexus One does HTC's. That is both good and bad. In appearance, I think the glossy, all-black Nexus S is a lot more attractive than the Nexus One. In construction, it feels a lot flimsier and more plasticky than its HTC counterpart. Measuring 4.9-by-2.5-by-0.43 inches thick, the phone is a bit larger than the Nexus One. Weighing 4.5 ounces, the Nexus S is lighter than its sibling.
Like the Samsung Galaxy phones (the Vibrant or the Epic 4G), the Nexus S sports a 4-inch Super AMOLED display. The display is also curved (what Google and Samsung are calling a "Contour Display") so as to fit more comfortably next to your face. The curve is subtle, however.
Android 2.3, aka 'Gingerbread'