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Review: Samsung Nexus S

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Bluetooth worked just fine with the Samsung Nexus S. Actually, Bluetooth reception was pretty good. Sound quality through my headset wasn't quite as good as it was talking through the phone's earpiece, but it was still better than average. Playing music through stereo Bluetooth speakers sounded even better. I was also able to send photos from the image gallery to my laptop once I paired the devices over Bluetooth.

Strangely, the Samsung Nexus S only offers Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR, while the Galaxy S devices offer the newer Bluetooth 3.0 protocol. Bluetooth 3.0 gets the Wi-Fi connection involved to help improve data transfer speeds. Strange that Google wouldn't want the newer standard included on its flagship device.


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The Nexus S features a nice, big, digital clock on the lock screen. You can't customize it to change the style or size, but it is easy to read in a hurry without unlocking the phone. There is a much smaller clock in the notification bar, and Google offers a very basic analog clock widget that you can slap onto any (or all) of your homescreen panels. There are also plenty more clocks available from the Android App Market.


Though previous Samsung Galaxy S phones had some GPS issues, I had no trouble finding my location quickly with the Nexus S. On the day the phone went on sale, Google launched the new Google Maps 5, and it's a very impressive piece of mapping software. Google Maps now offers a 3D view, complete with rendered buildings in many large cities. The turn-by-turn navigation worked very well, guiding me on my trip in and out of the city. Google also has an extensive point-of-interest database that has always seemed more up-to-date than the competition, especially the standalone GPS apps.


As I've mentioned, the Google Nexus S has NFC hardware built in, but there isn't much use for it yet. MasterCard and Visa are both running select trials for their respective NFC payment systems, and the major cell carriers are getting together with large banks and financial institutions to come up with more NFC payment plans, but these plans have yet to materialize. Google is trying to get the ball rolling by offering business special NFC stickers to hang in their windows, but this program is still only in its trial phase in Portland, Oregon. For now, NFC is more of a niche feature.


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