A great news for potential Android phone buyers: on July 24 Best Buy will start selling Nexus S phone fully compatible with AT&T network for $99 with 2-year contract. AT&T joins T-Mobile and Sprint in supporting Nexus S, which leaves Verizon as the lone carrier without Nexus branded phone. Nexus S ships with the latest version of Android (2.3.4) called Gingerbread and has 4” Super AMOLED screen, a 1 GHz processor, front and rear facing cameras and support for NFC (overview of specs, full specs, list of features). Best Buy Nexus S page is not showing AT&T version of the phone yet, but it will be available for pre-order soon.
The most significant advantage of Nexus S is that it provides a pure Google experience, which means stock version of Android and no carrier or manufacturer bloatware. Another significant benefit of stock Android is built-in support for USB tethering and portable Wi-Fi hotspot for no extra charge (at least, that’s the case on T-Mobile network). Google experience also means that Nexus S will be the first phone to receive future Android OS updates.
It looks like AT&T version of Nexus S does not support 4G, which is a good thing. 4G drains battery faster than 3G or 2G and there is no way to turn 4G off and keep 3G on. The only way to save battery is to turn both 3G and 4G off which leaves only slow 2G (EDGE) connection. Since 3G provides quite decent download and upload speeds, I don’t think the benefit of extra speed with 4G justifies the extra battery drain.
I’ve been personally using Nexus S for few months now and in my opinion it provides the best Android experience. The screen is amazingly bright and clear and 4″ is the perfect display size for the phone. Nexus S is surprisingly light (129g/4.5oz) and thin (10.9mm/0.43″) and is quite fast.
The only aspect of Nexus S that could be lightly criticized is its battery life. Nexus S uses AMOLED screen that drains battery a bit faster than regular LCD screens. That extra battery drain is quite justified by the brightness and quality of AMOLED display and in my experience Nexus S always lasts a full day under moderate usage and 1.5-2 days under light usage. However, under heavy usage the battery could be fully drained before the end of the day.
Nexus S was originally released in December 2010 and if you need to buy or upgrade an Android phone today, Nexus S is the obvious choice. However, if you are not in a hurry, you may consider waiting till November or December of 2011 when a new Nexus branded phone will be released. The upcoming Nexus phone (possibly called Nexus Prime) will be shipping with a major update of Android OS called Ice Cream Sandwich which can roughly be described as an Android Honeycomb optimized for phones.
Nexus brand has come a long way since original Nexus One launch in January of 2010. With Nexus S phones available on 3 out of 4 major US carriers, a pure Google experience is now available to more Android users than ever. Verizon, it’s your turn now.