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printed November 27, 2014
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Review: Samsung Nexus S

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Image quality from the 5-megapixel camera on the Nexus S was disappointing. Image quality has never been much of a priority for Samsung, and this is true for Google’s new flagship phone as well. Frankly, I was surprised to learn the phone would only have a 5-megapixel sensor. There are already 8-megapixel cameras in this price range on other Android phones. It seems like Google and Samsung were aiming low with this sensor.

Images from the Nexus S were generally hazy and faded, whether I was shooting indoors or out. The phone produced a nice level of detail in close-ups, especially with macro focus engaged, but it was nothing that will beat the best of the competition. Colors could seem washed out on this phone, and without a touch focus mode it was difficult to set up a proper shot without the phone focusing on the distant background instead of my foreground subjects.

The camera did a nice job with its built-in flash. A xenon flash would have been preferable, but the camera balanced the cool light from the LED flash nicely, and I saw more details from well-lit close-ups helped by the built-in lamp.

 

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Video

Video from the Nexus S was a mixed bag. Again, I was disappointed that Samsung and Google went with a 480p camcorder. High-def, 720p video cameras have become the norm on high-end smartphones, and the next few months should see the release of the first 1080p smartphones to hit the market. For a flagship device, the Nexus S is already well behind in imaging.

That said, videos weren’t bad. Quality was similar to the still images. Colors were washed out a bit, but the camera handled motion very well. Sound quality in videos was superb, among the most clear sound recording I’ve heard from a camcorder phone. Still, details were a bit hazy and lost in the distant fog.

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