Nexus S 4G Review

Our Rating:
Franz Bicar - Franz has worked in telecoms and consumer electronics for over 10 years, working in quality control, allowing him to get his hands on the latest gadgets. He’s been writing reviews on these for over 5 years now, as well as news and blogging with a number of online publishers.


The Nexus S 4G is basically Google learning from its mistake. A few years ago, Google released the Nexus One, and depending on who you talked to, was either considered a breakthrough device that started the promise of providing software, for no cost, to the manufacturers or became Google’s big flop when the company decided to sell the phone directly to the consumer without the aid of carriers.

The Google Nexus S is Google’s redemption story. Manufactured by Samsung, the Google Nexus S is proof that Google has what it takes to provide an amazing user experience, a strikingly beautiful design, and a partnership with a carrier that gives it 4G capabilities.

As mentioned, the Nexus S 4G is manufactured by Samsung, so it’s not a surprise that it looks so much like the Galaxy S. With minor tweaks and modifications, the Nexus S 4G is a sleek and sexy device overall. Also, it is very light and thin enough that you’ll constantly forget that it’s even there. The only drawback here, of course, is that its light weight will make you wonder about its build quality and robustness.

The contour of the phone makes it comfortable both to hold and have it against your face. The front face has a contoured curve to it, which enhances its aesthetics and comfort.

The phone features a 4-inch Super AMOLED display with WVGA (480 x 800) resolution and support for 16.7 million colors. 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.

At the bottom, you have the back, menu, search, and home buttons, while the volume rocker and the dedicated power button are located on the left and right respectively. In addition, the 3.5mm headset jack and the microUSB port is located at the bottom edge of the phone.

Lastly, you can see the 5-megapixel auto-focus camera at the rear. This is surrounded by a silver colored border while 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 - which is responsible for its 4G capabilities - embedded into the cover as well.

The Nexus 4G features the stock Android user interface Vanilla. When you look at the different skins other manufacturers are wrapping around Android, Vanilla looks very simple and tame. Powered by a 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor and 512MB of RAM, the Nexus S 4G’s user interface is smooth without any hint of sluggishness - even with a live wallpaper loaded. Another advantage is that Vanilla will likely receive the latest Android updates faster than most others.

Generally, you can’t go wrong with picking up Google Nexus S 4G. It comes in with quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) and tri-band UMTS (850/1700/2100MHz) radios - perfect for the international traveler. But if you do happen to find yourself in a place with a less than stellar data speed, then you can always resort to switching on its 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi for faster speeds. And finally, the Nexus S boasts Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR to enable a variety of wireless devices to connect with it.

The Nexus S 4G is more of a mobile browsing tool than a smartphone. With its 4G capabilities, the device is perfect for this role. Of course, this won’t be possible without its excellent web browsing abilities. The phone’s browser can support full Flash 10.1 and is very very responsive when trying to open complex websites. Scrolling is smooth of course, while multi-touch pinch gestures will enable you to view specific portions of a web site more easily.

The lack of a dedicated shutter key is a bit disappointing. The stock Android camera interface made things worse. Sadly, there isn’t much in terms of settings or manual controls. It basically includes most basic elements to be modified - resolution, white balance, and focus. The picture quality is okay, but not as good as those taken from the Samsung Galaxy S.

In outdoor shots, it manages to capture a moderate amount of detail, but its cool looking output doesn’t accurately portray the colors it’s supposed to reproduce. During indoor shots with poor lighting, there is a distinguishable amount of noise evident in its shots. However, its LED flash somehow manages to illuminate the scenery decently, but the image still looks a bit overexposed. In addition, the flash produces a pinhole like effect in conditions where it’s completely dark – and it’s more evident when shooting something more than 5 feet away.

Videos have the same problem. The Nexus S 4G does not have the capability to shoot 720p videos. High definition video is out of the question. It can, however, shoot a maximum resolution of 720 x 480, which is DVD like quality. Videos look a bit blurry when things are captured up close and personal. It does manage to shoot at a frame rate of 29 fps which looks decently smooth. However, its output is reduced to a dismal 16 frames per second in low lighting environments which basically blurs any fast or abrupt movements.


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