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Gadgetell Review: Google Nexus S 4G on Sprint

Sections: Cellphones, Cellular Providers, Communications, Features, Reviews, Smartphones

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Sprint Nexus S 4G Unbox

What is being reviewed?

Today I am going to take a closer look at the Nexus S 4G on Sprint and decide whether it is worth the price tag of $199 on a two year contract. The Nexus S 4G is identical to the Nexus S that can be found on T-Mobile with the exception that it features a 4G radio compatible with Sprint’s WiMAX network.

As a disclaimer, it is necessary to know that Sprint loaned us the Nexus S 4G for the purpose of this review.

Specs

  • Android 2.3
  • 4.0 inch Super AMOLED Display
  • 480 x 800 Resolution
  • 16GB of Internal Memory
  • 4G
  • 5MP rear facing camera with LED Flash
  • VGA front facing camera
  • Contour Display
  • 1GHz Single-core Hummingbird processor

Hardware

Sprint Nexus S 4G front view
Even though the hardware present in the Nexus S 4G were not as groundbreaking as in the original Nexus One, the Nexus S 4G represents a solid Google experience smartphone packed with 4G for an affordable $199 on a two year contract. The 4 inch display renders images and videos well in well lit and poorly lit situations. It is a pleasure to browse the web, play games, and watch videos on the Nexus S 4G; and there is hardly any lag time when running an app since the 1GHz processor handles tasks well.
Sprint Nexus S 4G Back
The 5MP rear facing camera takes impressive shots, as you would come to expect from any 5MP shooter. Google makes it easy to take a picture and upload it almost immediately with Facebook or any other image hosting service. In addition, if you are in a 4G area, uploading picture can be performed even quicker. The Nexus S 4G takes 720p HD video, and the videos you record can easily be uploaded or it can be housed on the Nexus S 4G’s internal 16GB memory. Now, some people complain about the fact that the smartphone lacks a microSD slot, so the 16GB memory cannot be expanded any further. Personally, 16GB is enough to fit my needs, especially considering I can leave a good amount of my music in the cloud and access it using Google’s Music app. However, if you plan to travel with your entire music library, many videos, and numerous apps, then you may find 16GB of memory restrictive. It’s probably best to try and estimate how much storage space you need before purchasing a smartphone.
The front facing VGA camera is useful for video communication, but do not expect stellar portrait shots since it’s resolution is fairly low. There are several apps that can be used for video chat, but it is recommended that you use them when in a 4G area or WiFi zone. These apps can be used in 3G, but optimal performance will only occur where your download and upload speeds are fast.

The last hardware point I would like to hit on is the “Contour Display” that you probably hear about when talking about the Nexus S or the Nexus S 4G. It is true that the device is slightly curved, so when placed on the table, it does not exactly lie perfectly flat. Over time, it is said to be easier to hold when talking on the phone. In my limited time testing the smartphone, I did not find it to be considerably more comfortable than a different smartphone, but I suppose after using the phone for many months and then having to switch to something different, you may notice a drop in comfortability.

Software

One of the perks of owning a smartphone sold and maintained by Google is the peace of mind knowing that your device will be running the latest and greatest version of Android. The Nexus S 4G launched with Android 2.3, and you can bet that Google will make sure it receives future Android OS upgrades. Some of the main updates in Android 2.3 include a redesigned Android keyboard for more efficient text input, UI refinements, efficient power management, NFC, and a revised camera UI. A complete list of the updates in Android 2.3 can be found on the Android Developer website.

Another perk to owning a Google smartphone is the fact that it comes without any carrier specific apps or custom UIs (such as HTC Sense or Motorola’s MOTOBLUR). A lot of smartphones these days come with annoying pre-installed apps that most users hardly ever use. And while there is some utility to HTC Sense, there is something to be said about a pure Google Android experience.

Bottom Line

If 16GB of flash memory is more than enough memory to last you for a year or two, and if you do not mind having a single-core 1GHz processor, then the Nexus S 4G is a superb smartphone to purchase. If you live in an area with a strong Sprint 4G signal, then that makes the purchase even easier to make. A strong selling point of the Nexus S 4G is the fact that it comes with the WiMAX radio, so if you do not live in a covered area, it may be wise to look for a cheaper smartphone.

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