Review: Samsung Nexus S
For better and for worse, the Google Nexus S bears the common traits of the entire Samsung Galaxy S lineup. It's a thin, black phone, clad all in glossy plastic. I might prefer the feel of a metal shell on a handset, like the HTC-built Google Nexus One, but there are some benefits to that plastic. First, the Nexus S is just a bit lighter than the original HTC Nexus phone, even though it's bigger in almost every way: taller, wider and with a larger screen. Samsung's plastics don't feel cheap on this phone, but there is something about HTC's metal designs that make phones feel quite solid, and that the Nexus S lacks.
The phone has a gentle, yet noticeable curve to it. It curves just slightly to fit your face when held to your cheek for a call. Honestly, the curving glass front did not seem to make any difference using the phone, but it does add a unique style to the otherwise black monolith. I never found the curve getting in the way. The phone was very comfortable in a pants pocket, even with the curve facing away from my body.
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The phone has very few buttons, too few if you ask me. There are the requisite Android buttons on the face, below the screen. These are touch buttons for Back, Menu, Search and Home. After nine months of using the Nexus One as my primary device, I wish these buttons were standardized by Google, as Microsoft mandates the order for the Windows Phone 7 buttons, so that I didn't have to learn the new layout (Search and Home are switched on the Nexus One).
Otherwise, there is a power / screen lock button on the upper right hand side of the phone, and a volume rocker on the left. Both of these are nicely raised and easy to find. I'd like to see the government pass a law requiring all touchscreen phones to have camera buttons. Again, Microsoft got this so right on Windows Phone 7, requiring every phone to have a hardware camera key, and I wish this carried over to other smartphones like the Nexus S.
The microUSB port and the 3.5mm headphone port are on the bottom of the phone. Both are exposed - no sliding port covers on this phone like on the Galaxy S devices - which is too bad.
Around back, there is a subtle pattern in the glossy paint, but no texture. A bulge near the bottom breaks the graceful curve of the device. It also helps keep the phone from wobbling like a rocking horse on a desk, but it seems a bit severe for this otherwise smoothly sloping phone.
The Samsung Nexus S has no trackball or other pointing device. With the improved text selection in the Android 2.3 Gingerbread system, this isn't a serious problem. But a bonus feature of the trackball on the Nexus One is that it glows with an LED light, and you could easily add an app that would customize that light to flash different colors for different notifications.