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Review: Samsung Nexus S

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The camera app on the Nexus S is very basic for a flagship smartphone, but Google does include most necessities. The camera button and interface elements take up too much of the screen, maybe a fifth of the large display, leaving you with less room for the actual camera viewfinder window. You get some focal controls, like a macro mode or a basic auto focus, but the phone lacks touch focus capabilities, which are always a big plus.

There are 10 scene modes, including modes for snow scenes, fireworks and sunsets, but these didn't help much in my photos when I had a chance to use them in their respective situations. You can also apply color effects, like sepia tones or black and white, and you can adjust the exposure and white balance, though again the white balance tweaks seemed to hurt my pics much more than it helped.

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There are plenty of features I would have liked to see on this camera app. Face detection would be nice, or panorama stitching software.

From the camera app, you can also switch to the VGA front-facing camera for self portraits. Though these pics are even lower quality, this is your best option for self portraits. If you try to snap yourself with the 5-megapixel camera around back, it's difficult to press the camera button on screen.

The camera can respond very quickly. After pressing the app icon, the camera fired up in less than 2 seconds. There was a delay after each shot to review pics, and I wish I could turn off this image review and just get back to shooting faster.

Image Gallery

The image gallery on the Samsung Nexus S is completely unchanged from previous versions of Google Android, but here's one feature where Google is already ahead of the pack. The gallery consists of cool, 3D-looking stacks of images that move as you tilt the phone. You can pull the stack apart with two fingers to see a slick fly-by of all the images it contains, or just tap to see the pictures as a thumbnail grid. Tap a thumbnail to see it full screen, with pinch-to-zoom gestures for a close-up.

There are also plenty of sharing options from the image gallery, depending on which apps you have installed. You get to share photos as picture messages and emails out of the box, and you can upload pics to Picasa if you use Google's online photo service.


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