My review of the Nexus S

So I got my hands on a loaner Nexus S from Samsung last Saturday for a few days and I was about to give it back when I figured it was time to write my first blog. Can’t give a review of this unit in a tweet (but I’m sure I’ll advertise this on ye olde twitter machine).

So a bit of background is needed to set the scene. I love smartphones. They used to be called PDAs many years ago when I got my first Palm Tungsten. One Christmas (many moons ago) I got tired of transferring my important notes into the next year’s diary (although a few rounds of filofaxes did delay the inevitable). So with the PDA the address book has grown over time. Usually eyebrows raised when I mention I’ve a few thousand contacts……but they have been building up for over 10 years.


I won’t go through all the technical specs so I’ll link to the recently departed editor of Engadget Joel Topolskys review for that;

“And what a device it is — the Nexus S boasts a 1GHz Hummingbird CPU, 512MB of RAM, a 4-inch, 800 x 480 curved Super AMOLED display (dubbed the Contour Display), 16GB of storage, a 5 megapixel rear and VGA front-facing camera, and near field communication capabilities.

Besides the storage and CPU, the device sports a Super AMOLED display at 800 x 480 (235 ppi) which looks gorgeous (if slightly yellowish) to our eyes. The device also has its fair share of wireless radios, including tri-band HSPA (900, 2100, and 1700MHz), and quad-band GSM / EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900MHz), WiFi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, A-GPS, and that NFC chip you’ve been hearing all about. There’s also a gyroscope, accelerometer, and digital compass inside.”


Mine is a more personal review of the device & why as much as I like it I won’t be buying it.

Back to the history. I started as a Palm fan with a Tungsten, moved to Treo (from 600 to 750) always on Palm OS. Then the move to MS Mobile with the Palm Pro and most recently the move to Android with the HTC Tattoo. This latest move drives a lot of my interest with the Nexus S as it is on Android V2.3 whereas due to HTC & Vodafone ignoring the lowly Tattoo it is is still on an ancient version of Android V1.6

Even though I only had the device for a few days…

As an aside I think a trial period should be standard fare for any SmartPhone purchase. Give it to the customer for a week (use credit card as security), no-quibble return if unhappy as it’s easy to reset the device to factory settings.

….the device did impress.

Must have” applications for me in alphabetical order;

  • Al Jazeera LIVE (real news not the Murdoch stuff)
  • Andricious (to let me share my bookmarks in all browsers and devices)
  • BatteryTime (reason to be explained later)
  • Evernote (indispensable for note taking that synch across devices & desktop)
  • Google Reader (to feed my RSS habits)
  • Handcent (decent messaging app)
  • Lookout (virus scanning of all downloads + remote find & wipe)
  • GoogleMaps (don’t bother with your Foursquare shenanigans…..this is all you need for check-in, mapping and location sharing)
  • Next Train Ireland Free (realtime update for the train commute)
  • Qik (realtime video sharing [for the next aircraft that crash lands beside me])
  • RTE News Now (decent news & studio webcam feed)
  • Seesmic (to feed my twitter habit)
  • Siproid (for all you with VOIP phone service)
  • SpeedTest (to see how fast the Wifi is on the Nexus)
  • TheFuelApp (geo aware app for….as oil prices head for the sky)
  • WinAmp (nifty syncing to winamp on the desktop over wifi)

Impressions of the Nexus. It is blindingly fast. The 1Ghz hummingbird CPU is fab & the wifi is blazing fast. I got a 12Mg download rate on it at one point. Screen response is crisp. The voice recording feature which I used in the nifty “Car Home” application (which brings the assault of Google on the SatNav market a step closer) works well (but there are a few road names around my area that it struggled with).

I tried the new Firefox V4RC but it didn’t have flash support and I was impressed with the native browser on the phone.

Gripes; I can’t get my head around a phone without a D-control or wheel or multipad control. Call it what you want but I am used to operating the phone with one hand and without that control you end up pawing the screen unnecessarily with both hands.

The screen is great and the trend is for larger screens to give more immersive video viewing. It just feels too big in the palm of my hand. It’s almost at Sony PSP size.

Finally, it is severe on battery…if you push it hard you won’t get a full day out of it & it takes a shocking 3 hours to fully charge off AC.

All in all a great smart phone, but maybe if you are coming from an iphone background you’ll find the transition easier. Whatever phone I choose next, the speed of CPU has gone higher up the criteria list after seeing the way the Nexus S responds.

So that’s it for my personal opinion on the device & that’s what a blog is all about (so I’m told). Feel free to comment.


About imurphy
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2 Responses to My review of the Nexus S

  1. Boon says:

    Just wondering… what is BatteryTime showing to you the web surfing time left when your battery is fully charged?

    I’ve had my Nexus S for two months now and think there might be something wrong with my battery. Just barely lasts a full day with some moderate web surfing during the day. My BatteryTime shows approx 3 hours and 50 minutes of web surfing at 100% charge…..

    • imurphy says:

      I only had the device for a week so I can’t confirm the BatteryTime figure you requested but I was surprised at the speed the battery discharges. I would say your battery is not faulty and that your experience is shared by many Nexus S owners.

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