Google’s Utopian vision for mobile — at least on some purely theoretical level — is for equal access to unrestricted Android on unrestricted hardware, regardless of network. The realities of doing business in the American wireless market seem to have distorted that vision somewhere along the way, but every once in a while, they’ve managed to stay true: the Nexus One and Nexus S are both concrete examples of that, unlocked devices that are devoid of manufacturer- or carrier-specific customizations, SIM locks, and superfluous silkscreened logos.

The GSM / CDMA divide, of course, makes it far more complex for Google to deploy a single device that meets everyone’s needs. It’s not a uniquely American problem, but it’s close. That’s where the Nexus S 4G comes into play, bringing a near pitch-perfect translation of the original Nexus S to Sprint that features WiMAX (hence the “4G”) alongside CDMA with EV-DO Rev. A. I’m sure that Google would’ve theoretically liked to have offered a CDMA Nexus S that worked on both Sprint and Verizon, but CDMA (at least, American CDMA) doesn’t really work that way — and the WiMAX support wouldn’t do any carrier other than Sprint any good anyhow.

Considering that the original Nexus S began life as a Galaxy S massaged to meet Google’s self-branded specifications, it’s interesting that they’ve decided to launch another variant nearly half a year later — and that Sprint is putting marketing dollars and store real estate into the affair. It’s not new hardware anymore. But does that matter? Is the Nexus S still awesome in its latest incarnation? Let’s take a quick look.