Review Index:

Samsung Nexus S 4G Review: Google Bliss.

Author: Ken Addison
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Samsung

Hardware Overview

The hardware of the Nexus S feels as polished as the operating system. One of the most striking features of the phone is the uniquely concave glass panel, which encloses the Super AMOLED multitouch display. In previous reviews, such as the HTC Droid Incredible, we looked at the original generation of AMOLED displays and were very impressed. Now, with the next generation of technology, “Super” AMOLED from Samsung, we are even more impressed. Using less power, while still providing greater screen brightness and less sunlight reflection, the Super AMOLED display in the Nexus S is one of the most vibrant displays I have seen in a phone.

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In the processing area, Samsung and Google haven’t done anything too Earth-shattering here. The Nexus S 4G features the now stalwart SoC in the Android space, a Qualcomm Snapdragon clocked at 1GHz. First introduced in America just last year with phones such as the HTC Evo 4G, this has been the ARM solution to launch Android into prominence.  With the introduction of multicore phones, such at the T-Mobile G2X and HTC Evo 3D, the original Snapdragon platform is starting to show it’s age a bit. However, when you look at the ultimate tradeoff in the smartphone of power vs. battery life, Snapdragon at this point has been tuned and optimized to be a spectacular option.

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The industrial design of the Nexus S is on par with the best of the handset world. The sleek design is a departure from the normal course of the modern, slate-style, touchscreen phone. The Nexus features a more curvaceous design, with the introduction of a curved glass display as well as a tapered battery cover design. While I have noticed that the glossy material the battery cover is made of has a tendency to attract dust and other particulates, it isn’t a big of enough issue to become a deal breaker. The teams at Samsung and Google have really teamed up here to provide a balanced design. Instead of going the impractical, but beautiful route and designing a phone made entirely of glass, or the drab and uninspiring route, the designers of this phone managed to reach a harmony between the two extremes.

Other hardware features of the Nexus S are standard affair for an Android device.

On the back of the device, we have a 5 Megapixel camera with LED flash. The Nexus S also features a complementary VGA front facing camera.


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On the left side of the Nexus S, we find a volume rocker switch.

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In standard Samsung affair, the lock button on the Nexus S is found on the right side of the device, instead of the standard top orientation.

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On the bottom of the device, Samsung has taken a cue from the iPod Touch and placed the headphone jack, and Mini USB port.

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June 27, 2011 | 09:34 PM - Posted by Anonymous_D (not verified)

I see you have the EVO 4G tested with 2.1 and 2.2. Three weeks ago Sprint/HTC released the Gingerbread update OTA. Any way to add that to the mix? From the few things I've read going from 2.2 to 2.3 is actually hurting the phone's performance.

June 27, 2011 | 11:16 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Ironically, I have been unable to update my personal HTC EVO 4G to the 2.3 software at all for some damn reason. :/

June 27, 2011 | 11:39 PM - Posted by Ken Addison

We are always looking into testing phones with the newest updates available. We are looking to do a lot with the benchmarking suite here very soon. Stay tuned!

July 13, 2011 | 10:43 AM - Posted by JR (not verified)

Wow...I'm surprised at the low Quadrant scores. On my Thunderbolt, running the stock HTC Sense ROM (Froyo, 2.2.1), I was able to get Quadrant scores in the 1750-1850 range, and that's with a single core, 1 GHz Snapdragon. Now that I've rooted and updated to Cyanogenmod 7, running Gingerbread (Android 2.3.4), my Quadrant scores are up in the 2500-2700 range. The only thing in your comparison that runs that fast is the Xoom tab with 1.5 GHz processor. My battery life has also almost doubled!

July 18, 2011 | 06:23 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

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July 18, 2011 | 06:25 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

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