Updated - Conclusion
(S)ucceeding the Android Spirit
A new year brings with it a new Google Android device, i.e. the Google / Samsung Nexus S. While the "S" was never specifically named by Google, we think the word 'successor' is a perfect fit. Of course, it's also a nod back towards the Samsung Galaxy S, since it is nearly the same device that was introduced by Samsung back in 2010. The follow-up Samsung variant with the S-LCD display is a sure indication of Android's popularity and adoption in the mobile industry.
Subtle differences do exist between these two Android devices.The more obvious change comes from the relocation of its microUSB and 3.5mm ports from the crown to the bottom of the Nexus S. The handling feels very much as you would get from the Galaxy S, right up to the rear curved edge.
A 1GHz Hummingbird (yes, the same chip used by the Galaxy S) powers the Nexus S. Running the show for its interface is the latest Google Android 2.3, otherwise fondly known as Gingerbread. Retaining the benefits from its earlier version 2.2 such as Adobe Flash support and wireless tethering, minor and maybe not too obvious improvements are implemented across the board. These include a shortcut to manage your apps from the sub menu and a quick switch from your rear to front camera for imaging purposes.
What really impressed us, was the smooth and swift interface when we interacted with the Nexus S. Using Android-specific benchmark apps such as Quadrant and NeoCore, the Nexus S returned scores that were higher than its Galaxy S counterparts. While it was heavily loaded with apps in the background, video playback was exceedingly smooth and had no discernible frame losses.
On the same track, even with a swapped S-LCD display, its multimedia performance was fine and dandy, with some decent audio performance to go with it. The 5-megapixel camera completes the multimedia suite, with sharp images and well-balanced colors found on its images. The downside is apparent when we got only 5.3 hours off the Samsung variant. Should you consider it against its Google Nexus S and Samsung Galaxy S siblings, the Samsung Nexus S isn't able to match up to their 7+ hours lifespan. Yet, we can't deny that there are worse examples out there, smartphones that aren't even able to sustain up to three hours in our grueling test with similar specifications to the Samsung Nexus S. Even so, its stamina is still very dependent on one's usage pattern. With a single charge, it held out for nearly a day mixed with spurts of intensive usage and idle standby.
With all the hype over upcoming dual-core smartphones, you might find yourself sitting on the fence for the Google / Samsung Nexus S. While we've seen a fair share of those prototypes in action, we've yet to encounter enough of these phones in retail to pass a verdict (the only one we've tested so far is the LG Optimus 2X and that didn't hold out too well in battery life). Till then, the Google / Samsung Nexus S has shown us what it's capable of and we're overall pretty satisfied with the a proper implementation of the updated Andorid OS.
If you prefer the Google Nexus S over its Samsung variant, getting your hands on it will be a tough affair. Unlike the earlier Nexus One which was available for purchase via the Google phone site, the Google Nexus S opts to take the retailer route. Retailing at US$529.99 in the United States, you can use that as an estimate to search through sites such as Ebay or Amazon for potential sellers of the device.
Fortunately, the Samsung Nexus S is an easier target. Retailing at S$828 without contract, the Samsung Nexus S is also available under a two-year contract with the Singapore telcos. With it, you'll also get Android 2.3 available immediately on the Samsung Nexus S. And if you're adamant about staying with the Samsung Galaxy S (seeing how both devices are so similar), you can consider that option, if you're willing to wait for the Android 2.3 update that's coming to the Samsung Galaxy S in a few months' time.