OK, you non-phone geeks, that doesn't mean you get a tasty holiday treat with your new phone. The Google Nexus S by Samsung runs Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread, and that makes it unique... at least for now and probably for a few months. Like that cult classic the Nexus One, the Nexus S is Google's concept and it runs pure Android with no carrier or manufacturer customizations. That means no TouchWiz, no bloatware-- just pure Gingerbread. And it runs on one of the faster CPU/GPU combos out there: Samsung's Hummingbird ARM Cortex-A8 CPU.
Since the Nexus S is made by Samsung with its roots in the Galaxy S series of Android smartphones, it's got a 4" Super AMOLED display and that piano black gloss plastic finish that Samsung loves but some Americans don't adore. There's no industrial, modern metal and plastic here as there was with HTC's Nexus One. Still, it's a very attractive phone and the blacked-out look is definitely cool.
The Nexus S is an unlocked phone with T-Mobile and international 3G (no AT&T 3G). Best Buy sells it in store and on their website and for now, that's the only place you can buy one. Google gave up on selling devices direct as they did with the Nexus One, and that's a good thing. The Nexus S is $199 with a new contract on T-Mobile, $249 for upgrades and $529 without contract. Again, you do not have to be a T-Mobile customer to buy one retail and it is unlocked for use with any GSM carrier.
Why choose the Nexus S over the Samsung Vibrant or myTouch 4G? Especially given that the Nexus S doesn't have HSPA+ like the myTouch 4G or a microSD card slot like the Vibrant? It boils down to getting the latest Android OS and getting it in pure form. For those of you who aren't interested in flashing custom ROMs and hacking your phone to get pure Android, the Nexus is the easy answer.
I have to say after using a Samsung Vibrant since July of this year (yes, I bought one and used it as a daily driver), the better software compatibility, stability and speed are making me very happy with the Nexus S. If I didn't have T-Mobile service (or service in Europe), I wouldn't be as likely to keep the Nexus S. AT&T folks, Android phones are much more enjoyable with 3G rather than EDGE service, so I wouldn't pick the Nexus S if I were using this phone on AT&T (get the Captivate).
Oh, and the Nexus S has already been rooted by the fine technical minds at XDA-Developers!
Here's our video review, and our full written review will follow in a few days.
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview