Nexus S a Nice Device for T-Mobile Customers

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-12-16 Print this article Print


Software, Apps

This being a Nexus phone, it has all of the Google Mobile apps preloaded, including Google Search and Voice Search, Voice Actions, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Earth, Google Maps with Navigation, Google Voice, Google Talk and YouTube. There is of course Android Market, with more than 100,000 free and paid applications to choose from.

What's lacking is the bloatware associated with the Verizon Wireless Droid line and other carrier-commanded devices. That saves some space on the phone. Moreover, Google does all the over-the-air upgrades, so you don't have to wait for carriers to send software updates.

The app launcher button has a 3G scroll-thing going on for trivial eye candy. I used the Facebook-for-Android app, receiving the upgrade to version 1.5 pushed over the air as I was testing it yesterday, and Twitter for Android app.

I also downloaded the latest version of Voice Search, which is using personalized recognition to link to my Google Account, in hopes of improving the functionality of the hit-and-miss accuracy and not siphon my data. Just kidding, Google. Voice Search worked reasonably well. It has definitely improved since I started using it on Android phones months ago.

Android 2.3 and the Nexus S provided the fastest Web surfing, browsing and app-consuming device I've used since my Eee PC.

The Nexus S loaded Facebook, Twitter, Angry Birds, YouTube, ESPN, Google Search, Google Reader, Google News and the other dozen or so games and destinations I visited  faster than my Android 2.2-based Droid X did.

Not much faster-half a second to one second almost every time-but fast enough that I noticed it. That speed bump is a big deal for Google.

I realize that a new OS build is supposed to be fast, but I didn't expect to notice the difference as much as the jump between Android 2.1 and Android 2.2, which Google stressed was a big deal because of the new JIT compiler and faster browser.

I don't know whether T-Mobile's network was just screaming for the past six days or what, but the Nexus S performed beautifully. As a Web-surfing handset, there is no Android gadget that matches the Nexus S in speed today.  

NFC, Calls

Google also included in my test unit a "Recommended on Google" decal from its Google Places service for local businesses.

But it was no ordinary sticker. This decal was equipped with near field communications (NFC) sensors, those gizmos that enable wireless communications between devices from short distances. Android 2.3 supports NFC, and the Nexus S itself is equipped with an NFC controller chip and software from NXP Semiconductor.

When I held the back of the Nexus S up to the sticker, its tag registered on the phone, serving up a link to a YouTube video. Clicking on this video revealed a Nexus S Android 2.3 primer from Google's Android developers.

Nothing special, but it definitely worked. But almost no one else is doing NFC these days. What will be key is whether mobile apps makers will build mobile payment apps to let users swipe their phones across contact terminals to make purchases. Imagine the Nexus S as a wallet. Cool-and a little scary. What if you lose it?

By the way, this is a phone, even though it feels like a little laptop in the hand. Calls were clear, thanks to the noise cancellation software. As for T-Mobile, I saw no droppage here in my neck of the woods, but to be fair, I did not travel out of town with it. 

Bottom Line

If you're a T-Mobile customer and you've wanted an Android phone, this is the device for you. Well worth the $200 and contract.

After using the Nexus S, Nexus One and the litany of Android phones from Sprint, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, it's clear that this is one of the better handsets of its kind.

NFC will be a game-changer once apps get built and retailers and credit card companies support it. But there will be many more NFC-enabled devices on the market by then, so don't let this make or break your decision because you can't do much with NFC on the Nexus S today. As it is now, almost no one else is supporting NFC, although that's changing as Apple, RIM and the carriers ramp up their efforts.

If you're not on T-Mobile, you may want to think harder about buying the Nexus S to run on the No. 4 U.S. network-unless you're in dire need of a new phone and you want to switch to T-Mobile's network.

No phone is worth $529 if you have to take it to another carrier and then pay them to service it unless you have the disposable income. Of course, I bought my Droid X for a penny from Amazon Wireless, so maybe I'm just super cheap.


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