Google Nexus S: Hot and not

Google is back in the phone game with the Nexus S -- here're are some pros and cons to the carrier-independent Android phone.

Just when you thought Google had given up and given in to the whims of wireless carriers, the Google Phone is back. The new Google Phone, which is designed by Samsung and dubbed the "Nexus S," resembles Samsung's Galaxy S line of smartphones, but with souped up specs and another stab at the carrier-independent business model. Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of the Nexus S:

Hot: Stock Android on a Google Phone

Android phones that don't run manufacturer's custom user interfaces are few and far between, which makes the Nexus S all the more special. Stock Android is easier to update, and Google tends to keep its own phones fresh with the latest OS versions. Case in point: Android 2.3 is reportedly rolling out to Nexus One users now.

Not: T-Mobile or Bust

As with the Nexus One, T-Mobile will throw its support behind the Nexus S with a subsidized price of $199 on-contract. If you want to use AT&T, you'll have to buy the phone off-contract for $529. The term "unlocked and carrier independent" is a bit misleading in the United States because you can't use the Nexus S on Verizon or Sprint's networks. It doesn't have the necessary antennas.

Hot: Front-facing camera

The Nexus S won't be the first Android phone with a front-facing camera -- that distinction goes to HTC's Evo 4G -- but it's arguably the most important. With Google's own phone supporting video chat, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an official video conferencing app in the future, along with more phones following Google's lead.

Not: No 4G or 3G+

The next generation of wireless is going to get big in 2011, but the Nexus S isn't future-proof. If you want 4G or 3G+ in an Android phone, your options are still T-Mobile's G2 and MyTouch 4G or Sprint's HTC Evo and Samsung Epic.

Hot: Near-Field and Gyroscope With Gingerbread

Android 2.3 allows for a couple new hardware features, which are found in the Nexus S. The first is near-field communications, which allows the phone to act as a credit card or pull in information by reading nearby RFID tags. The second is a gyroscope, which should lead to more precise gaming.

Not: Missing MicroSD storage

Google's Nexus S has 16 GB of internal capacity, but that's it. The phone doesn't have a slot for expandable storage. Better stream all that music and video instead.

Hot: Try Before You Buy

One of the Nexus One's major stumbling blocks was online-only availability. This time around, Best Buy will carry the Nexus S in the Untied States, so you can decide for yourself whether the phone is worth a commitment to T-Mobile or the higher unlocked price tag.

Jared loves getting flamed for pointing out your favorite phone's flaws. Why not mock him directly on Twitter ?

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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