After spending the last five days using the Samsung Nexus 4G smartphone, which Sprint began selling May 8 for $199.99 on contract, I'm experiencing some serious cognitive dissonance.
I love the phone's hardware and software, but I am not crazy about Sprint's 4G WiMAX network. The Nexus S 4G is certainly faster than the original Nexus S Google launched last December on T-Mobile's network.
However, I used the new Nexus after testing both the HTC ThunderBolt 4G and Samsung Droid Charge on Verizon Wireless' 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network. If you're guessing Verizon won that race, you'd be right.
Sprint does offer something with the Nexus S 4G that could win a lot of people over: native Google Voice support. Google Voice on this phone is great, and you won't find that on Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile or any other carrier right now.
Let's back up to gloss over the hardware and software. The Nexus S 4G is its Nexus S predecessor in all external aesthetic and most internal aspects, but it's powered by a 4G radio inside instead a 3G transmitter.
The 1GHz processor-powered phone features a pretty 4-inch Super AMOLED (Super active-matrix organic LED) display (480 by 800 resolution), which was the best screen I ever tested until the Droid Charge came along with its 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen. That phone went on sale May 14.
When I tested the Nexus S last December, I believed it to be Samsung's best hardware to date. After testing the Motorola Atrix 4G, HTC ThunderBolt and Droid Charge this year, all those phones felt more comfortable in my hand.
As I held the Nexus S 4G, which measures 4.8 inches long, 2.5 inches wide and less than half an inch thick, it occurred to me the black bezeled plastic is nice but a little slick in my hand, compared with the more pedestrian, tough-guy gray plastic of the Charge. I kept thinking I would drop it, even if I never did.
I could argue that the Nexus S 4G's software is superior; the phone runs Android 2.3 "Gingerbread," while inexplicably, the Charge runs Android 2.2 despite a price tag of $299.99.
Honestly, other than the better virtual keyboard and one-touch copy-and-paste functionality afforded by Gingerbread on Sprint's new gadget, I don't notice much difference. See more about the Gingerbread specs here.
I'm not a big gamer, so the gyroscope is not a big deal for me. And while Gingerbread's NFC (near-field communication) capabilities are great in theory, they are weak in practice. No one is using NFC in a meaningful way to a great degree. Heck, Apple is even bailing on it for the next iPhone.
Call quality on the Nexus S 4G is fine and the 5MP camera and front-facing VGA camera are serviceable, if unspectacular, for photo- and video-taking. There's also 16GB of iNAND internal storage.