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12/6/2010
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Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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5 Reasons The Nexus S Isn't Revolutionary

Google and Samsung announced the Nexus S today. Google's first Android 2.3 Gingerbread device is impressive, but not an exciting stunner. Here's why.

When Google debuted the Nexus 1 early this year, it named the first Android 2.1 device a "super phone." It had a huge, high-rez screen, a 1GHz processor, a 5 megapixel camera and other features that made it stand out from the pack.

The Google/Samsung Nexus S is a slightly warmed-over variant of the Galaxy S line of Android smartphones. It is so similar to the Galaxy S line, that I am surprised Google choose it to be the next marquee handset with the latest version of Android. Here are five (admittedly nit-picky) reasons why the Nexus S is no super phone.

1. No HSPA+. What the what? The Nexus S has HSDPA 7.2Mbps and HSUPA at 5.6Mbps. It doesn't support T-Mobile's much-faster HSPA+ network. For Samsung to leave out support for HSPA+ is short-sighted, and doesn't help to set the Nexus S apart from the competition.

2. Mediocre Camera. The Nexus S has a 5 megapixel camera. It does a decent job, but it's no 8-, 10-, or 12-megapixel shooter. There are plenty of camera phones on the market with superior cameras to the Nexus S. Samsung should have stepped it up and given the Nexus S a better camera than the rest of Galaxy S line. Also, adding a flash would have been nice.

3. Loses Bluetooth 3.0. This one is a head scratcher. The entire Samsung Galaxy S line uses the newer Bluetooth 3.0+HS standard. Bluetooth 3.0+HS allows for much faster media transfers between devices. It connects and sets up a transfer via Bluetooth, but then switches to Wi-Fi to actually pass the data. The Nexus S takes a backward step and only supports Bluetooth 2.1+EDR.

4. Ho-Hum Processor. The Nexus S uses Samsung's 1GHz Hummingbird processor. Don't get me wrong, it's a good processor, and all the Galaxy S phones I've used performed very well with that processor under the hood. However, the Nexus 1 set a bench mark with its 1GHz processor. The Nexus S should have set a similar benchmark with a faster clock speed or a dual-processor core. It didn't. The Motorola Droid 2 Global bests it with a 1.2GHz processor.

5. Carry-Over Display. The Nexus S uses Samsung's four-inch Super AMOLED display. This is one of the best displays on the market, no doubt. But Samsung didn't do anything to improve it when compared to the rest of the Galaxy S line. The chief improvement I would have liked to see is a bigger diagonal, perhaps bump it from 4.0 inches to 4.2 or 4.3. The Droid X and the HTC HD7 both have larger displays.

5.5. No AT&T Support at Launch. As with the Nexus 1, the Nexus S will only support T-Mobile's version of 3G in the U.S. at launch The Nexus S doesn't support AT&T's 3G frequencies. It would have been smarter for Samsung to make one pentaband phone supporting 850, 900, 1700, 1900, and 2100MHz frequencies. That way it could have made one SKU to cover almost every market around the globe.

Don't misunderstand me. The Nexus S is a solid, solid smartphone. It has a number of key features, including support for near-field communications and of course Android 2.3. I simply believe Samsung could have done a better job at differentiating the Nexus S from the competition. With such a fierce war being fought for dominance in the Android arena, handset makers need to do everything possible to stand out.

The Nexus S stands tall, but not tall enough.

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