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Just under a year ago, I reviewed HTC's Nexus One, the first "Google experience" device.  At the time, it was revolutionary, with a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 3.7-inch AMOLED display, and a stock build of Android 2.1.  Fast forward 10 months, and the market is saturated with high-end Android devices with 1 GHz processors, high-resolution displays, and Android 2.2.

Enter the Samsung Nexus S, the second Google-branded device and the first one to be marketed outside of Google's now-defunct web store.  The device will be landing at Best Buy on December 16th, and will be available on T-Mobile for $199.99, or $529.99 without a contract.

I've spent the day with the Nexus S, and here's what I've found thus far:

  • From a specifications standpoint, the Nexus S doesn't sound that impressive.  The 1 GHz Hummingbird processor is used in the Galaxy S line, as is the 4-inch Super AMOLED display and the 5-megapixel camera.  The real benefit comes in the improved performance of Android 2.3.

  • The 4-inch 480 x 800 Super AMOLED display is absolutely beautiful, and the combination of the high-resolution, curved display, and dark UI colors make it pop.  It's not as clear as the iPhone's Retina Display, but it's absolutely beautiful. 
  • It comes with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), the latest version of Android.  It's not a huge revision (that's coming with Android 3.0), but it's certainly noticeable.  Overall, I'm pleased with the improvements in the operating system, and the new Android keyboard is a nice touch.  The keys are a bit shorter and fatter than the previous Android keyboard, and in initial use, I found myself making numerous mistakes.  I'll do additional testing prior to the review.
  • The Nexus S packs a 1,500 mAh battery.  While I haven't been able to put it through its paces just yet, it beats the HTC HD7's 1230 mAh battery by a mile.  With heavy use including calling, text messaging, use of the Android Market, and some light web browsing, I'm sitting at 19 percent as I type this.  Given that I was at 48 percent a few hours ago, that's not too bad.  Like the Galaxy S line, the battery takes some time to charge.

  • I was disappointed that there wasn't a dedicated camera button, but the 5.0-megapixel camera takes excellent pictures.  Colors are vibrant, and the flash works well in low-lit environments.  I haven't worked with the front-facing camera yet, but I expect overall performance to be on par with the myTouch 4G, EVO 4G, and Epic 4G.
  • So far, signal strength has been great.  I traveled through a T-Mobile dead spot on the way to a local coffee shop earlier, and I was able to hold a call.  The earpiece is fantastic, and two of my callers were unaware that I was on a cell phone.
  • 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. 

Stay tuned for the full review, and check out the unboxing!


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