Dec 11 AT 4:17 PM Taylor Wimberly 62 Comments

Nexus S review and unboxing roundup

The Nexus S doesn’t launch for another week, but Google loaned out several review units to all the non-Android sites this week. I was lucky enough to briefly hold the Nexus S recently and I was impressed with the build quality, but let’s check out what the other blogs who have spent more time with the device are saying. Check out almost a dozen reviews after the jump.

Here are some of the things people are saying about the Nexus S:

  • CNET: “The Samsung Nexus S gets points for its slick design, satisfying performance, and authentic Android user interface. But outside of the new Gingerbread OS and a faster processor, it doesn’t offer as many new features as we had hoped.”
  • TechRadar:  “Don’t be fooled by all the hype though, as the Nexus S is pretty much a hopped-up Galaxy S. Sure, it’s got the fancy screen and NFC chip inside, but once the Samsung model gets beefed up to Android 2.3, there won’t be a huge amount to choose between the two.”
  • Phonedog: “Points off for not being an HSPA+ device.  Given T-Mobile’s expansive 4G marketing campaign, one would think that Google and Samsung would want to take advantage of it.  Still, the HSPA connectivity has been good thus far, with download speeds in the 2-3.5 Mbps range.”
  • Gizmodo: “It’s so fast. This is largely thanks to the software–after all, the processing guts are basically identical to the millions of Galaxy S phone already out there. It’s the first time Android’s felt as fast as the iPhone on modern hardware. There is no stuttering, no lag–just pure, nimble response, whether it’s popping open an app or reacting to a touch.”
  • Engadget: “It seems like every couple of weeks we’re saying something along the lines of “x is the best Android smartphone on the market right now.” We’d like to tell you differently when it comes to the Nexus S, but the truth is, it really is the best Android device available right now.”
  • PCMag: “Running the Neocore and Softweg benchmarks on the phone, I found that Gingerbread doesn’t improve raw CPU or graphics performance the way 2.2 did. But the phone scored faster than Samsung Froyo devices on the memory and file-management tasks, which is intriguing and could lead to the phone feeling faster.”
  • TechCrunch: “The bottom line is this. If you are an iPhone user this isn’t going to make you switch. If you’re an Android user you will want this phone more than any other. If you’re currently neither, we recommend that you go with the Nexus S. It is better than the iPhone in most ways.”
  • Telegraph: “The much-touted “Near field communication”, so far, is a let down however. That’s because few people – in the UK at least – are yet using it. But as with so many Google features it could, in due course, be revolutionary: payments, transport tickets and more could — and should — all soon be based on this technology. For now, however, it’s simply a way of taking people to websites quickly.”
  • IntoMobile: “The Nexus One revolutionized Android phones, and while it may not be fair to expect the Nexus S to be just as revolutionary, we feel cheated that it isn’t any more exciting than the NFC feature and the new Android OS version.”
  • Slashgear: “Android 2.3 Gingerbread automatically pulled in our previously-downloaded apps and even restored our wallpaper when we logged in with our regular Google credentials, and we were quickly up and running. The smartphone feels speedy, certainly faster than a Galaxy S family device despite running on the same 1GHz Hummingbird processor.”
  • PCWorld: “Google and Samsung’s joint collaboration nicely showcases the latest version of Android, Gingerbread, but the Nexus S has a few hardware oversights.”
  • NY Times: “The most attractive aspect of the Nexus S may not be the hardware at all – it’s the software. Here is pure Android, the way Google intended it. No cellphone maker has tweaked, diluted or complicated it with its own redesigns. It doesn’t come with preinstalled junkware apps from Verizon or whomever. And it’s the first phone with Android 2.3.”

And here are a couple of unboxings and hands-on videos thrown in for good measure:

Aaron Baker from Phonedog:

Will Park from IntoMobile:

The artist formerly known as Phonedog Noah:

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

    Most Tweeted This Week

  • http://Website D.LaFleur

    I got my nexus 1 is it worth getting off this to the NS. Im debating like crazy. Last thing is best buy gonna have cases and acessories for the NS on the 16th. Thanks

    • Taylor Wimberly

      Best Buy posted on their Nexus S FAQ that they would have accessories available on day one.

  • http://Website Wasim

    i have an N1 and the only reason i got it was because it gets Android updates first…..N1 will get Gingerbread at the same time as this will be released, so whats the point of getting this?? had this been dual-core, hspa+ possible and an sd card slot, i would be on it soooo fast! however….not much different than my N1 so ill wait for the (according to you, Taylor) dual-core Nexus S!

    • http://Website Hans

      Just keep in mind that the Nexus One might be getting close to the end of its update lifespan. Most android phones get officially updated three times, tops. Depending on what honeycomb is for, gingerbread or ice cream(?) might be the N1′s last update.

      • http://Website Steffen

        I think that’s a really unfair assumption, considering the Nexus One is the first phone ever to actually be updated BY Google. With other devices, it’s up to the carriers/manufacturers to put out updates. And of course they aren’t going to update phones forever because they want you to buy another phone just before your 2 year agreement is up.

      • kyubinexus1

        dude ur a fukkin idiot…the N1 is a developer phone, not to mention they’ve already pushed out 3 updates to the N1…2.1 update 1, 2.2, 2.2 update 1, then soon 2.3. STFU if u dont know wut ur talking about. hell the myTouch 3G has had more than 3 official up

        • kyubinexus1

          updates. from 1.5 to 1.6, 1.6 to 2.1, 2.1 update 1, from that to 2.2. and i am afraid you are mistaken my friend, google pushes out the updates thru their update server, so you can manually install th update, or if you r lazy, u can wait for the carrier to push the update. i wish people didnt talk out the side of their necks when they have no clue what they are talking about.

  • http://Website Ben

    This phone is GORGEOUS. It just seems so well rounded.

    • http://Website Ben Johnson, GA

      I have a beautiful iPhone 4 and i am waiting for the incredible iPhone 5! Im not interested in this ancient phone from google.


      sent from my iPhone 4

      • http://Website ACR

        TechCrunch: “The bottom line is this. If you are an iPhone user this isn’t going to make you switch. If you’re an Android user you will want this phone more than any other. If you’re currently neither, we recommend that you go with the Nexus S. It is better than the iPhone in most ways.”

        Go read that review. You might learn a few things about Android.

      • kyubinexus1

        U must be curious about something android u fukkin fag if ur trolling an android site from an iPoop. stupid dyck.

  • http://Website Sammy McSamsuck

    I knew Nexus S was a fail

  • AndMac

    I would never buy another non-Google Experience Android phone, period.

    My experience with the Vibrant has been very disappointing: a bit closer to the WM5 and WM6 experience than I care for. I am sick of flashing and reflashing ROMs cobbled together by kind strangers, who are trying to compensate for Samsung’s failure to provide timely updates.

    So, yeah, I might give this a try, over my Vibrant.

    And I don’t care about dual-core and specs so much: in practice, my old iPhone 3GS is still a bit smoother than my Vibrant, even though the Vibrant hardware is much spiffier.

    The bottom line is, I’d rather have a vanilla Google phone with adequate specs and reliable performance, than a quad-core, but locked device, with poor battery life and glitches which go unfixed for months.

  • http://Website Max :)

    I really want to see some benchmarks for this :D

  • http://Website D.LaFleur

    Thanks for the note I didn’t read the FAQ . Do you think it will be tough to get one after 6pm east time or should I go before work

  • http://Website D.LaFleur

    One last thing for every phone that comes out y can’t they put in a screen protector in the box. Forget about that its fingerprint free that’s what one vid said, yea rt. Im not cheap but ill be shelling out over 600 when I get to checkout with everything for this phone. Thanks again

  • http://Website revs


  • http://Website revs

    no hspa+/????
    no sd card ?
    my touch 4g wins

  • http://Website mkrmec

    For all the myTouch “wins” noobs.. gingerbread 2.3 is enough for Nexus S to win.. let alone the better CPU etc… please… go stuff your HTC crap wierd UI down your throat.

    • http://Website adc

      Dude I’m srry but the mytouch4g is one of the best phones of all time

    • kyubinexus1

      MKRMEC’s comment: For all the myTouch “wins” noobs.. gingerbread 2.3 is enough for Nexus S to win.. let alone the better CPU etc… please… go stuff your HTC crap wierd UI down your throat.

      ^^^^^^^U r so misinformed, and like most jack azzes trolling these sites, u fall into the category of douche bag…first off, the NS is still on a first generation Hummingbird Processor…compliments of Samsungs uncanny ability as far as any type of updates go. as opposed to the MT4G’s 2 gen 1GHz processor. 2nd off, u say 2.3 is enough for NS to win alone, u say that as if no other handsets are actually gonna update to 2.3…HTC ALWAYS lets google and carrier have freedom over the OTA’s, unlike Samsung who wants to control when they think people should be able to update. And ur argument on UI is completely benign…being that the MT4G is an Android device which embraces open platform mentality, its permanent root capability can change the UI at the will of the user…meaning if a user wants the Stock android experience, they only need to look to developers who take the time out to make it possible. so before u and anyone else goes spouting trivial bs like what u did, how bout u do ur research first. Theres always people who know what they r talking about in order to set idiots like u str8. ANDROID FTW!!! U JUST GOT OWNED MK!!!

  • http://Website archboy69

    Uh…if you look at the benchmark it is not all about the cpu. The MyTouch may have a ‘slower’ cpu but in benchmark test it certain holds it own. Secondly, I’m betting the the 4g will get the update. It is just a matter of when. Fourth, HTC sense is pretty dam nice in UI and functionally. Finally, we’ll see who is crying when they are cursing at their overblown Galaxy S phone.

    I actually have a Nexus One which in all stated purpose still stuffs crappy cheap plasticky Samsung phone. Oh an did I say it was getting 2.3?

    • kyubinexus1

      OMG ur another one, u tried to come to the rescue but even u failed at that. the MT4G doesnt have a slower CPU. its a 2nd Gen Snapdragon…the 1st gen Hummingbird is still in the newest Samsung Galaxy phone aka Nexus S.

  • http://Website Nexus S developer

    nexus s is already old, outdated and its from samsung. NEVER EVER im gonna buy this fumble

  • http://Website REPLY?

    Yeah its a crappy fone!!!!!!!

    • http://Website BlueScreenJunky

      Oh ?
      I haven’t read through all the reviews yet but none of the ones I read came to that conclusion. Seems to me it’s a pretty decent phone, and maybe even one of the best Android phones available along with the G2 and mytouch 4G.

      btw, English is not my native language but I’m pretty sure it’s “phone” and not “fone”.

      • http://Website english teacher

        no, its vodaFONE

      • jjl84

        Interesting how the only phones you mentioned were T-Mobile phones. I’m sorry, but even though those are good phones, they aren’t the only good (or best) Android devices.

        • http://Website BlueScreenJunky

          I don’t know about that (I live in Europe so I don’t know which phone is T-mobile in the US), but yeah I was using them as examples of very good phones, I’m sure there are others.

          • jjl84

            You live in Europe yet you used the names used exclusively by T-Mobile USA. The name “MyTouch 4G” is T-Mobile’s name for the Glacier and there is no G2 available outside of the U.S. (closest thing is the Desire Z). Not that it really matters, I’m just confused.

      • http://Website Maggie Wimberly


  • http://Website Jack

    To each his own, but don’t say this trumps the Mytouch 4G. The screen is nice, but it has 256 mb less ram than the 4G and scores a slightly lower neocore score. With no HSPA+ capabilities or SD card slot, you’ve got to admit that there are some head scratching things they left out that keep it from taking over top spot in the Android world.

  • http://Website revs1227

    hahahahahHAHAHA i say th mytouc is better n ppl get mad ???
    this phone is a damn galaxy s ! with 2.3 n no sd slot ….
    mytouch will get 2.3 and even without it 2.3 is not big step up frm 2.2
    a couple silly changes
    ppl r mad because a tmobille phone owns right now
    the silly my touch 4g is the single best phone out
    followed by nexus s and epic 4g
    deal with it

    • jjl84

      So I guess if you say “deal with it” then it must be the truth? And what does T-Mobile own? Sure, the MyTouch might have some other features that make its hardware better, but the simple fact that this is a Google phone outranks those features for most people. I, for one, would sacrifice a few things from my Droid X (I suppose it’s the best phone in the world since it’s what I own and my opinion is all that matters :)) in order to have a Google-branded phone. Your opinion is only that, opinion, but don’t act like it supersedes other people’s opinions.

      • jjl84

        (Oh and I was being sarcastic when I said my opinion is all that matters.)

      • kyubinexus1


        its not always about branding. u forget that all a google branded phone is that it has GOOGLE on the phone, the big picture is that its just another addition to the Android family, so in essence, every Android device is a Google branded phone. Android is the Google brand, which means any android phone can be made stock android. and really thats all thats changed about this new galaxy S, its TW UI isnt present…think a lil bit, every android device out here is GOOGLE BRANDED…geez

        • jjl84

          The operating system on all of the devices is based on Android, but this doesn’t make them a Google-branded phone. By phone I mean just that, the physical device, not the base OS. If a phone is a Google brand phone, it means it is made by Google (and ultimately controlled by them). No phones besides the N1 and the Nexus S can be considered Google-branded phones. Maybe next time you should think…geez :)

  • http://Website David

    “Once the Galaxy S gets 2.3, these features won’t matter”. Yeah, well too bad the Galaxy S phones will NEVER get 2.3, most will be lucky to get 2.2 this year

  • jjl84

    Hey Taylor, just wondering if you’ve heard anything about a Nexus S coming to Verizon? I know there’s nothing official, but I just got my yearly email from Verizon saying I’m due for an upgrade :)

    I still love my DX, but it’d be so nice to have a true Google phone and that Super AMOLED screen. So please, tell me that I’ll be able to use my upgrade soon.

  • http://Website New York Times

    Rumor has it, RYAN LEAF is purchasing a Nexus S while CAM NEWTON has an iPhone! Go figure.

  • http://Website Anthony

    Ya know I just had to chime in. I own a nexus one and really don’t see the need to change this. People you really gotta get the right phones. The g2 right pure android my touch 4g wrong choice not pure android sorry but true. The nexus one will be updated before the mytouch4g because its pure google. I would choose the nexus s over any other why pure android.
    Google phones will always lead the pack the n1 is a year old and still relevant
    I love my sexy nexy

    • jjl84

      Not always. When you look at Froyo, the Evo was the first phone after the N1 to get it, followed by the Droid. By your logic, the Droid should have received the update first since it runs vanilla Android. I agree that if you want a guaranteed update schedule you should buy a Nexus, but some of us don’t have that option. For those that want other phones beside a Nexus device, there is no way of knowing which ones will be updated. I guess purchasing a popular phone is the best choice, because a phone running stock Android is no guarantee of timely updates.

  • Scotter

    I love my Nexus One.
    I am glad of the decision to buy it.
    It was ahead of it’s time enough to last a year (and a bit longer for me, it looks like).
    The Nexus S: No HSPA+, no card slot, single core, no HDMI-out, no extra noise-canceling mic, no notification LED.
    The Nexus S is behind the times already.
    Yes, “pure Google” counts for something but not enough to make up for all they left out of the Nexus S! I’m going to skip this Samsung Fail and wait for the next “pure Google phone,” hopefully to be made by HTC.

  • Scotter

    I think Samsung is too concerned with copying Apple “features” that do not necessarily serve consumers and leaving “geeks who love Android” out in the cold.

  • http://Website Anthony

    Ya know we can wait on htc for another nexus but google didn’t go back perhaps the problems the nexus one had left a bad taste in Google’s mouth. The truth be told the N1 had a few issues that drove people bonkers. The touch screen problems and htc using well not the best internal parts. I think google chose another way this time perhaps Motorola is next

    • jjl84

      I really hope Motorola is the next one in line for a Nexus phone. The only thing that drives me crazy about my Droid X is the locked bootloader, everything else is so solid. I also love that their designs are so different than anything out there. I had to do a double take with the Fascinate because it looked identical to a 3GS.

  • http://Website root my roots

    nexus disaster

  • Jacobhfc

    worth it or not if im getting it for AT&T? i have a stupid xperia right now on 1.6 haha

    • http://Website w

      Nope, it may be unlocked but it only supports T-Mobile 3G. You would be stuck on EDGE with att.

  • http://Website Paul Atreides

    Wishing all of you the best whether choosing this Nexus or the old Nexus, vanilla android or sense, tmobile or verizon. Personally, I’ll take my gingerbread supersized, EVO style!

  • John J

    I dont understand why people compare to other Custom Android where this is a Stock Android. Only phone you post to compare to is Nexus One.

    Custom Android has some cool tweaks of benefits but they are lagger in software update. I would recommend keep the phone separated based on manufacture and custom version of Android.

    Everyone talks about how Nexus S is just beef up Galaxy S. Well you are right in terms of hardware but this no way can also be same for software. Stock Android is a whole different ball game on top of that is Google brand. 2 words.. ***FREE WIFI TETHERING…**** It dont matter what you say about that phone just this feature along is a must buy!!! Any other phone, including Android phone has a carrier monthly fee to have Wifi Tethering!!! So any one loves to tether and dont like paying your cell phone carrier this is a Must Have!

    Google Brand mean latest upgrade! Its so funny people forget how important software updates are. For example Nexus One came out in Jan still to today any new phone comes out they still compare to Nexus One and rules the benmark speed test charts.

    Technology is improving fast but dont expect a revolutionary brake through every year.. If you look at iPhone 4 same dilama they facing. Beside facetime and the retna display they dont have much.. Just a beef up iPhone 3GS!

    As a prode Nexus One owner I love my phone but I know N1 has serious hardware bug that was never addressed (cough Touch Screen cough). I always wish if there was a way I can get this screen issue fix I would pay some one to do it.

    I strongly believe Nexus S is big upgrade in compression to Nexus One. I will be getting one my self. I encourage any one planing to upgrade their Android.. Nexus S is a must have!!

    People who waiting on Dual Core I dont think it makes that much of difference unless you want 1080 P with video editing function on your phone.

    Google Brand (latest update)
    4 in Super Amoled
    NFC (will soon see in wide range of use)
    FREE TETHERING!!!! (no additional fees or rooting required!)
    2nd camera if wanted one… (comes handy when comparing to iPhone4)
    Better Touch screen (for nexus one owners)
    Over all nice looking phone and has Ginger bread!

    • jjl84

      I agree. I think too many reviewers are downplaying the value of this being a Google phone. If the Nexus S comes to Verizon, I will probably get it even though there will be some things missing from my DX. The simple fact of knowing 100% that I will get the newest Android version first is one of the biggest features I could ever want.

    • http://Website anthony

      Hey john well said you get it. I have a nexus one and I will upgrade to the nexus s. I love my nexus but the troublesome touch screen issues plagued by some not all is why I will switch. I am just waiting on feedback regarding the touch screen on the nexus s. I see it as a no brainer which was explained by you quite well. The good news is I can play with it send it back and still have my N1 or sell my N1 for a good price

    • http://Website J.

      TeamDouche members (the guys who code CyanogenMod) have reported that tethering on the T-Mobile network has been throttled even through their Nexus 1s.

      The G1, HTC Tattoo, Motorola Droid (original), and the T-Mobile G2 are all Stock Android phones.
      G1-Abandonware. Officially at 1.6, ROM market kept it alive until 2.1. Theoretically you could run Froyo, but it was a slog.
      HTC Tattoo – No real US support for this, so I’m not sure where the ROM market is at, but officially became abandonware @ 1.6 (it’s shipping version)
      Motorola Droid – Currently running 2.2.1, expected to receive 2.3 update (certain to receive it via ROM community)
      G2 – Alive and well, fully expected to receive official 2.3 release, DEFINITELY going to get it via the ROM cookers, and as I’m very fond of pointing out…when overclocked it is *by far* the FASTEST ANDROID PHONE ON THE PLANET. I’m currently running a slightly conservative performance kernel @ 1.8Ghz and pulling 12 hrs of moderate/heavy use battery life. (Take that Droid 2 world edition!)

      The only real selling point of the Nexus line over carrier-”supported” phones is the instant unlock/root. But even then, it doesn’t take long to negate that advantage. HTC thought it was being clever with the G2/Desire Z…it took a month. A. Month.

      So you know, I’m glad you like your Nexus 1, I love my G2. No chance in hell I’d trade ti for a Nexus S. *IF* I win one from Google I’d use it for a few weeks, but I’d be willing to bet that thing would be on Craigslist PDQ.

  • http://Website Melissa

    The new iPhone will blow this anti-phone out of the water!!!

    • http://Website anthony

      Melissa news flash the g2 and the mytouch4g handles the iphone so ba bye

  • http://Website HTC SLAVE


  • http://Website ACR

    I still take this over any current android phone. Super AmoLED+ Hummingbird+ Stock Android = Best Currently.

  • Name: Mark

    I am very old I only have a phone that was used for getting ahold of me be the transplant center. I don’t know what an android is but I know they are high tech and I would like one but I would never figure out how to use it Yes it will be unveiled today i do believe

  • Noyabronok

    I was really looking forward to the Nexus S, but I think I’ll go with the MyTouch 4G. No HSPA+ and no SD memory give it the hardware advantage. I don’t care about Near Field sensor. Gingerbread is nice, but Cyanogen should support MT4G sooner or later, and Froyo is still good for a while till then.

  • highest rakeback

    Someone necessarily help to make significantly articles I’d state. That is the very first time I frequented your website page and to this point? I surprised with the research you made to make this actual submit amazing. Wonderful activity!