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Google Nexus S - Interface, NFC and Keyboard

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


As ever with Android, you're presented with an array of homescreens onto which you can place shortcuts to all your favourite apps and arrange them into folders to keep everything neat. You can also add widgets in the form of search bars, email readers, stock tickers and such like, generally making it very easy to have quick access to all you favourite features of the phone. That said, the choice of widgets on offer is fairly poor compared to those on some other Android phones.

Along the bottom of the screen are shortcuts to the dialler, main menu and web browser and these are flanked by lines of dots indicating which screen you're on. These can be tapped to flip between the screens.

Google's live wallpapers are present and very funky they are too, showing all sorts of nice animations in the background while you're going about your business. As always, though, it's better to turn them off if you want to save battery.

Tap on the Menu button and as well as being able to manage your phones homescreens you can also access the new app management interface, which lets you easily find out what apps are running and close them down if needs be. Heading to the Settings -> About Phone option on the main menu also gets you to the new battery management interface that shows what programs and features have been sucking up the most juice, another new feature with 2.3.

Also new is support for Near Field Communication. This short-range wireless communication technology is the same as used in Oyster cards and wireless bank cards. Just wave the phone near an NFC device and it will recognise it and act accordingly. Currently it only supports basic functions like reading a URL embedded into a sticker - it recognised my Oyster card but didn't know what to do with it. Nonetheless, the potential for the technology is huge with it being perfectly perceivable that in the not too distant future you can use your phone to swipe your way out of your place of work, pay for some dinner, jump on a train, get into a gig, and swap contacts with a new friend all using one device. For now, though, it's simply a nice to have.

Other key improvements have been made to the onscreen keyboard. Now you can add multiple upper case letters or symbols at once by holding down the Shift or Symbol keys with one finger and tapping out the symbols you need with the other. Word prediction, and the way it is presented, has also been improved with alternatives appearing in a neat row above the main keyboard.

Even better is the new text editing function that lets you quickly highlight a whole word (by holding down your finger and selecting the option) then drag the selection markers to wherever you like. From then on you can cut, copy, or paste whatever you've selected. What hasn't improved, though, is how you place the cursor, with you still having to tap blindly and hope for the best.

In general, though, the improvements to text entry make this a very accomplished phone on which to tap out messages, long and short. It's possibly even the best on the market right now.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


December 31, 2010, 2:34 pm

I got it on 21st of Decemeber to replace desire and had planned to send it back as I missed sense. Was going to just get a Desire HD instead. But I love it now, launcher pro changed my mind, as well as the fact that it just works flawlessly. Battery life is a bit better as well, I don't think current batteries are ready for dual core unless they have some way of doing things that makes it not matter. Also there is nothing I can do on the phone that isn't 100% smooth so I am not sure what dual core will bring at this stage. Any ideas?


December 31, 2010, 2:58 pm

@TechnicPuppet: In theory at least dual core processors could actually improve battery life as you could run the cores at a slower clockspeed thus require less power. The problem with that theory is basically no-one knows if that's going to be the case. The software, both OS and applications, need to support proper multi-threading to make effective use of the processor and the processor itself has to be well designed (there's a host of other unknowns but I think those are the two main ones).

That being said I probably wouldn't buy a high-end Android handset now. CES is a week away and we're likely to find out more there about whether or not dual core is imminent, Honeycomb is on the way and the Nexus S kinda comes at the end of the Galaxy cycle. Yes, it's got a couple of new features with the curved screen and NFC capabilities but neither are killer and by the time NFC really takes off it'll be in the next gen handsets anyway. Ultimately this is a six month old design with a few tweaks and considering the pace of progress in the mobile space at the moment that could start to feel a bit outdated VERY quickly once the next wave hits.


December 31, 2010, 4:18 pm

It does look like a nice phone, im just not sure that its enough of a step forward from the original Nexus one to warrant an upgrade for Nexus one owners

Also I have a slight issue to do with the scorings again, specifically the features score. Look at this phone compared to the Nokia N8, admitably the N8 has got a smaller screen and a slower processor and does not have NFC (i believe) compared to the Nexus S, however it does has a far superior camera (more mega pixels with zoom), a micro SD slot, FM tuner and transmitter, HDMI out ect, and yet they both get an 8.

Just to clarify, I have neither phone, it just seems odd that when the Nokia obviously has a far better feature set (why oh why doesnt this phone have a micro SD slot) that they get the same score?


December 31, 2010, 4:19 pm

Also - It would be interesting to see an article comparing the Nexus S and Nexus One both running 2.3, to see if the Nexus S really is worth the upgrade


December 31, 2010, 4:46 pm

@Edward - "However there isn't a microSD slot so you won't be able to add to the phone's inbuilt 16GB of storage, which is a bit of a mistake considering Apple already offers a 32GB iPhone."

While the Nokia N900 offers 32GB plus a microSD slot...


December 31, 2010, 5:58 pm

I can't disagree with anything anyone is saying as I was saying it myself last week. Like I said it was going back, but there is just something about it that really appeals, so that along with knowing ill get every update first swung it.

Plus I have a deal with the g/f that she takes my old phones so I get a new one every year the way the contracts work.


December 31, 2010, 6:05 pm

2 things put me off upgrading to this (from the Nexus One):

1. As others have pointed out - no micro SD and only 16gb of storage. A high end phone like this should really be offering an expansion slot regardless of on board storage. Is this maybe related to the Galaxy's issues with memory cards?

2. No plug-less charging. One of the big (but understated) features of the N1 for me is being able to drop it into the desktop dock for charging - as a heavy user I have a dock at the beside and another on my desk at work.


December 31, 2010, 6:45 pm

Small mistake in your otherwise excellent review: This phone does not currently offer 720p video recording.

john g

December 31, 2010, 7:04 pm

You show a picture of the battery management screen and say that it's new to Android 2.3 but my Desire HD has exactly the same capability running Android 2.2. Is this something that HTC added or something that has been overlooked in previous reviews?

Also, was the review written before Google Maps 5 was released on December 17th? I've been using it for a couple of weeks and the vector-based graphics and improved caching are a great improvement.


December 31, 2010, 8:56 pm

Great phone, but omitting the MicroSD slot is like taking one step forward and 10 steps back. Why oh why?!?

I suppose the internal storage could be used as app storage. I suppose that one of the reasons why Google didn't like the idea of app storage on the SD card was because they didn't want to give users the ability to remove the vital SD card while those apps are running. That would create some stability issues, but removing the slot is hardly the answer. I'd rather the slot was just placed behind the battery or something, thereby forcing the user to shut down the phone before removing the card.

I really hope this 'feature' isn't a sign of things to come.

Denis iii

December 31, 2010, 9:14 pm

Still not worth it. Watched a utube clip showing the interface and usage is all over the place with one function working though so here but different there and different again here and there so a complete fail IMO.

Will wait for new Win7 phone with the software upgrade and working memstick.


December 31, 2010, 10:19 pm


Hotmail supports Exchange and while I don't have a Nexus S it works fine on my Gingerbreaded Desire with support for mail, contacts and calendar sync.

Also, Google Maps 5.0 has been out for a few weeks now with the new 3D view, vector graphics and offline caching. I'm surprised that it's not intalled by default but should only take a quick update.

I found your comment about it not being ideal to have to install apps a bit strange. Isn't it a bonus that you can easily add functionality with a quick download? Seems like the whole point of having an app store to me.

I totally agree that some of the inbuilt apps aren't the best but for me the whole point of Android is it's customisability. Being able to change pretty much everything to get it working exactly the way you want it to. It does just work but with a little effort it can work so much better.


December 31, 2010, 11:06 pm

More excited about the software than the hardware I have to admit.

Edward, you have become a true professional. Watching your vide review, there was a point when you had just mentioned about scrolling and reaching the end with a 'bump' and the settings menu didn't exhibit this features. After going up and down a couple of times, you gave up. I'm sure your face (which we couldn't see) was probably saying WTF??, but your video commentary went on as if nothing was out of the ordinary!!

Well done. A true pro!!


January 1, 2011, 12:12 am

This looks like a great phone, however now the software is at last a challenge to ios, they need to sort out the build quality. The iphone 4 has what feels like a 'no compromise' approach to quality with it's glass back & s/steel surround. Most people will be buying these phones on a long contract and a plastic back just doesn't inspire the 'built to last' confidence I'd want with a daily use item that I'm going to spend the next 2 years using.


January 1, 2011, 3:38 pm

Can anyone comment on whether Android has a problem with text messaging or not? The specific issues seems to be that now and then it'll send texts to the wrong people. Is this true?


January 1, 2011, 7:25 pm

Good review Ed. Very interesting. If I was upgrading at this moment, then this would probably be my no.1 choice. I have a HTC Desire at the moment and while the Sense interface is good I would prefer one current up to date android update. My froyo update only came through a month ago! Have played with a friend's GalaxyS and was very impressed. The larger screen means a lot to me as I use my phone probably more than my macbook for email and browsing. the lightness compared to my Desire is not significant but as I carry my phone all the time in my pocket it would be welcome. And although I abhor glossy plastic I did think the GalaxyS's use of it was classy and modernistic compared to the rather unremarkable mocha metal/plastic mix on the desire. And the screen as shown in the video review looks and sounds as if it is the right size, quality, and feel, to meet my needs. It will be another year before I upgrade, so probably the successor to this phone will be in the running for me.


January 1, 2011, 11:09 pm


Yes there is a bug in the messaging app. Sometimes when you select a thread it inadvertan opens a different one. If you're not careful you can then end up texting the wrong person.

Definitely needs fixing although I use handcent which doesn't seem effected by it.


January 2, 2011, 8:55 pm

Nice review. Is there any chance that you will be allowing full screen playback on your review videos at some point?


March 16, 2013, 12:50 am

This phone is TERRIBLE. It only last for a couple months and then something goes wrong this is my 3rd time getting this phone because of this reason.


May 26, 2013, 7:22 am

no memory card slot...........:(

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