We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Android smartphones Reviews
15,577 Reviews PC Advisor Recommended

Google Nexus S review

From free depending on contract; £550 unlocked

Manufacturer: Samsung

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

The Samsung Nexus S smartphone - better known as the Google Nexus S - is a joint effort between Samsung and Google with some impressive features. Updated 22 March 2011

The flagship handset for Google Android 2.3 'Gingerbread', Google’s Nexus S is largely similar to the Samsung Galaxy S on which it’s based. Its 16GB memory can’t be expanded, however. 

A subtly curved screen allows the speaker to lean in towards your ear, aiding call clarity. We didn’t notice a difference in volume, but the Google Nexus S handset doesn’t feel as brick-like as some of the others in our most recent smartphone group test. The curved screen makes for a slightly odd setup when viewing video on the 480x800-pixel screen, however. 

The Google Nexus S's super-bright AmoLED screen all but screams its presence. We’d prefer the handset to be made of something more substantial than plastic, but the upside is the Nexus weighs a scant 129g.

Another feature that marks out the Nexus S and Gingerbread OS is its support for near-field communications (NFC). In its infancy in Europe, it’s an established technology in the Far East and Google expects it to become a de facto contactless payment method.

The Google Nexus S is a lot of fun to use, with interactive wallpapers and the slick scrolling and navigation you’d expect from a smartphone powered by a 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird single-core processor. 

Four neat hardware buttons at the bottom of the display take you to the Home screen and allow you to search or bring up settings, but you’ll find yourself enamoured of the 3D scrolling effect of the main display and happily trawling through its endless menus. 

Used with the iPlayer app, the Google Nexus S’ bright screen and Flash support make a compelling case for watching video on a smartphone. 

We had the odd issue when using the onscreen keyboard to compose email messages - the screen was marginally miscalibrated - but, in general, we found this an intuitive device to use. Copy and paste and above average battery life of more than two days in standby (provided that you remember to turn off the most power-hungry apps) mark out the Nexus S as a superior device.

We found scrolling around Google Maps and using the web browser, complete with multi-pane support, a rewarding experience. That huge, crisp display and ability to reflow text and to zoom in a little or a lot are real selling points. The 5Mp camera is also above par. 

Next page: Our original review of the Google Nexus S, from December 2010 >>

See also:

Best deals on Samsung Nexus S

Google Android 2.3 review

Google Nexus One review

Group test: what's the best smartphone?

Samsung Nexus S Expert Verdict »
Google Nexus S Scores 8.6 out of 10 based on 68 reviews
1GHz Hummingbird processor
Google Android 2.3 'Gingerbread' OS
512MB RAM
16GB internal memory
4in Super AMOLED display
5Mp camera with flash
video at up to 720x480 at 30 frames per second
NFC chip
124x64x11mm
128g
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 9 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 9 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

We can see why Google chose the Samsung handset design to show off its Gingerbread 2.3 OS – unlike the many HTC and LG devices, it’s distinctive. Judged against the stunning Desire HD, however, the Google Nexus S is unable to convince us of its supremacy.

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£535
  • Google Android 2.3 review

    Google Android 2.3

    Google Android 2.3 'Gingerbread' isn't a huge overhaul of the Google Android OS but the whole interface feels more refined and more responsive. In addition, Google has built some notable new features into the mobile operating system.

  • Samsung Galaxy S2 review

    Samsung Galaxy S2

    The S II is the follow up to Samsung's incredibly popular Galaxy S Android smartphone.

  • Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Nexus 4 comparison review

    Samsung Galaxy S3 vs Nexus 4 comparison

    It's Samsung up against Google in our latest smartphone battle; read our Nexus 4 vs Galaxy S3 comparison review. Updated 4 January.

  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus review

    Samsung Galaxy Nexus

    The Galaxy Nexus is the flagship for all Google Android phones, and the launch vehicle for Google's latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

  • Samsung Galaxy Pro preview

    Samsung Galaxy Pro preview

    Samsung is expanding its popular Galaxy smartphone range, and the latest addition is the Android-based Galaxy Pro. Here's our preview.


IDG UK Sites

Sony PlayStation 5 release date, price and specs UK: When is the PS5 coming out?

IDG UK Sites

New Apple TV release date rumours, features: 'new Apple TV next week' rumour

IDG UK Sites

Mobile email is powerful and useful - but also hopelessly intrusive

IDG UK Sites

How the Oculus Rift VR headset is helping train the surgeons of tomorrow