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printed October 23, 2014
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Review: Samsung Nexus S

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To the right user, the Samsung Nexus S is an appealing choice, but if you’re not interested in unlocking your phone ( thus voiding your warranty) and loading your own custom ROMs and system software, that user probably isn’t you. Though it runs the newest version of Google Android, Gingerbread version 2.3, that’s about the only feature that sets the Nexus S apart from the rest of the Android pack. The phone runs a pure Google experience, which means it isn’t encumbered by bloatware and manufacturer tweaks, but it also means it doesn’t get the best social networking, camera and interface features those manufacturers have worked so hard to add.

The Nexus S has a great design, with a screen that is dazzling and colorful. But Samsung’s Galaxy S phones have the same screen, as does the Samsung Focus, a Windows Phone 7 with better multimedia and gaming. Call quality on this phone is very good, and there are some cool design flourishes, but the tweaks that come with Gingerbread are few and far between, and certainly not enough to recommend such a stripped down device over the more robust offerings from Motorola and HTC.

In some ways, the Nexus S is downright disappointing. The camera is sub-par, the music player is ancient in smartphone years, and core apps, like the calling, contacts and messaging apps, aren’t as impressive as what you’ll find elsewhere. But the real appeal for this device lies in its future potential. With NFC already on board, and a system made for easy modifications and frequent updates, the Samsung Nexus S manages to keep one foot ahead of the pack, while dragging another foot behind.

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