Hands-on with Google’s Nexus S

Google’s Android operating system may appear on handsets from almost every major mobile manufacturer, but Google also has its own Android phone, and it’s been released in Australia.

Named the “Nexus S”, this new handset is actually a follow-up to last year’s “Nexus” phone, the first true “Google phone” that showed off Android without extra fiddling from manufacturers. The original Nexus was manufactured by HTC and featured a touchscreen, trackball, and was practically the blueprint for the HTC Desire.

This time around, Google has used Samsung for its hardware – hence the “S” in the name – coming up with a new phone that not only borrows the sleek look of Samsung mobile phones, but also provides new technology that no other device has.

Out of the box, we can tell you that this is one of the fastest phones we’ve ever seen. To say it “just works” is an understatement: it really works. There’s no delay or lagging between operations and the phone feels generally fast, even though this uses the same processor and graphics chip as the original Galaxy S.

The Nexus S shares more than just speed and graphics with last year’s Samsung Galaxy S. It also uses a 4 inch Super AMOLED screen, although the Nexus S gets a curved glass screen designed to fit your face better when pressed against it. DLNA is also here, as is a 5 megapixel rear camera, VGA front-facing camera, GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi.

Google and Samsung have made some upgrades, however, as the Nexus S is the first handset in Australia to officially support Android 2.3, also known as Gingerbread. The latest version is faster, has better voice-to-text support, and features a much more “black” look that saves battery power.

The heavy use of black in Gingerbread is to save your battery.
More importantly, the Nexus S feels faster because there’s no bloatware. While every other manufacturer puts their own spin on how Android should look and perform, the Nexus S is Android the way Google designed it. This means there’s no waiting for updates or upgrades, and you get to see the stuff Google is working on ahead of most Android users.