But the main event is Gingerbread operating system, which comes installed on the phone. No, the UI hasn’t seen a ground-up redesign (that’s coming in Honeycomb), but it’s improved in a lot of small ways, like the switch from a drab gray to a black notification bar (which actually helps save battery).
It comes with old crowd-pleasers like the on-the-fly creation of Wi-Fi hotspots. And Google has also iterated on the user interface, particularly the keyboard. It’s not as polished as the iPhone, but text entry is significantly faster than previous Android phones, with less errors. It is also much better at predicting words, and copy-and-paste has been improved as well. If the iPhone is 8/10 on text input, the Nexus One is probably 5/10 and the Nexus S is a solid 6/10. Gingerbread also supports VoIP/SIP calling.
Best of all, of course, is the fact that the Nexus S is a clean install of Android, and a pure Google experience. There is no messy third-party software to muck things up.
The Nexus S Experience
We can write all day about a phone, but the real test with us is whether we continue to use it after a post. The EVO and the Droid X were quickly forgotten for us. Michael tested the iPhone 4 but its lack of point to point navigation and unwillingness to play well with Google Voice made him ultimately give it up after a month and move back to the Nexus One (Google Voice has finally made it to the iPhone, but it isn’t as deeply integrated into the OS as on Android, and probably never will be). The Nexus S will almost certainly be his go-to phone for the next few months. Michael is leaving today for a week in Europe, and taking only this phone with him. The fact that it’s unlocked means he can add a sim card once he is in Paris and continue to use it without extravagant additional charges.
Google’s voice search/input applications and Google Navigation continue to make Android phones in general significantly better mobile devices than the iPhone. Conversely, Google continues to flail on media, and the device is not any better than previous Android phones at dealing with stored music. That’s why Michael will also be bringing an iPad to Europe, which integrates perfectly with iTunes.
The bottom line is this. If you are an iPhone user this isn’t going to make you switch. If you’re an Android user you will want this phone more than any other. If you’re currently neither, we recommend that you go with the Nexus S. It is better than the iPhone in most ways. What you lose with the slightly less impressive screen and iOS’s slightly slicker user experience you will more than make up for with the Nexus S’s ability to actually make phone calls that don’t drop and Google’s exceptional Navigation and voice input applications. The fact that the phone is unlocked and can be used abroad with other carriers is also a very big plus.
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