The Google Nexus S Android phone is just the second Google-branded smartphone to hit the market (succeeding the Google Nexus One), and is also the first mobile to natively run the 2.3 version of the Android platform. While the 2.3 "Gingerbread" version of Android is smoother than ever, the Google Nexus S doesn't bring anything new or revolutionary to the table, even if it remains an excellent smartphone.
Read our reviews of other top Android phones.
UPDATE: The Google Nexus S Android phone is exclusive to Vodafone in Australia, and is available on a number of Vodafone plans across 12 and 24 month contracts. It is free on Vodafone's $79 cap over 24 months, and on Vodafone's $85 'Infinity' plan over 24 months (offering unlimited calls, unlimited text and unlimited access to social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and Foursquare).
The Google Nexus S has an entirely plastic build. The gloss black finish gives it a sleek look and feel, and the slightly contoured display is responsive and sits comfortably on your cheek when making phone calls. Although it doesn't feel cheap or flimsy, the Google Nexus S Android phone does have a toy-like resemblance when compared with handsets like the Apple iPhone 4, the HTC Desire and even its predecessor, the Google Nexus One. The Nexus S design is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S, which makes sense given both phones are manufactured by Samsung.
At 4in, the Google Nexus S has a larger display than its predecessor, and the super AMOLED screen technology also makes it brighter, clearer and more vibrant than the original model. The Nexus S screen is one of the best on the market and is responsive to touch, as are the four touch-sensitive, backlit buttons below the screen.
The Google Nexus S runs the latest 2.3 or "Gingerbread" version of Google's OS. The new features are best described as refinement rather than revolution; a revamped keyboard, better copy and paste, improved power management, and a slicker user interface are all part of the package. Both text entry and text editing are much more efficient than previous Android iterations, and now almost on par with the slickness of the iPhone. Battery life is also much improved, as our review unit easily lasted over a full day — even with Wi-Fi and auto-sync switched on.
As with all Android-powered smartphones, the software is highly customisable via third-party apps which can be downloaded through the Android Market — Google's answer to Apple's App Store. In addition, the new Gingerbread interface is slick and smooth, and the darker colour menus and notifications give the Nexus S a much more professional look. The main menu has a cool scrolling 3D effect, and the new 'TV Off' screen-lock animation looks superb.
Unfortunately, we experienced a number of crashes during testing; our review unit inexplicably turned itself off on more than one occasion daily, suggesting that Google still has a few kinks to iron out in the Nexus S software. Thankfully these should come thick and fast in the form of software updates given Google's commitment to push them out to Nexus devices as soon as they are released.
The Google Nexus S comes with a hefty 16GB of internal storage but disappointingly no microSD card slot. The lack of digital zoom on the camera is also an annoyance, particularly as the Nexus S takes reasonably good quality photos. We were also disappointed with the quality of voice calls; audio quality often sounded distant and tinny.
The Google Nexus S is exclusively sold through Vodafone, but can be purchased at online store MobiCity outright and unlocked.