Samsung Nexus S 4G

8.0
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Reviewed by caramelpolice (Currently owns)

As I'm writing this, the Nexus S's time to shine is long gone. In a market with dual-core beasts like the HTC Rezound and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, this 4-inch, single-core relic seems more than a little dated. However, while it may not be the latest and greatest, the Nexus S 4G is absolutely a solid choice as a mid-range device, especially now that Android 4.0 has given it a new lease on life.

With phones launching with large 720p screens, the Nexus S's 800x480 Super AMOLED can't compare in terms of screen quality. Unlike the Galaxy Nexus, the use of PenTile is quite noticeable. Fortunately, the phone still benefits from the perks of Super AMOLED tech, including perfect black levels and popping colors. Screen brightness in sunlight can be an issue; the brightness has to be turned to maximum for decent visibility.

The phone's body is made of glossy black plastic, which makes for a light phone, but unfortunately causes it to feel a bit cheap. The front glass panel is curved, creating a striking look when the phone is laid flat. However, the phone does not make use of Gorilla Glass due to the curvature, making it somewhat prone to scratches. A screen protector is highly recommended.

The camera is a five-megapixel shooter. Still pictures are of decent quality, but compared to modern cameras on the iPhone 4S and Galaxy S II, they're slightly grainy and look poor in low lighting conditions. If you're not a heavy camera user you'll find them perfectly fine. Another shortcoming is that the device can only shoot 480p video, an odd quirk considering the original Galaxy S on which the Nexus is based is capable of 720p. As 480p video goes, however, the quality is quite solid.

The biggest advantage of the Nexus S is its early access to the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich. While the update has not yet officially been released for the Sprint variant, support for the device is already available in the AOSP. ICS runs quite well despite its year-old hardware, and is unquestionably a large step up from Gingerbread. While the Nexus S does not gain all of the Galaxy Nexus's features like Face Unlock and instant photo snapping, ICS makes even this dated phone perfectly viable as a primary device.

While the Nexus S 4G isn't the latest and greatest, it performs well enough to do almost any task you ask of it with minimal lag, and is one of the only phones with official support for the latest version of Android. On top of that, at the low price of only a penny on contract at Amazon, it's an amazing deal. If you're looking for the best device money can buy, look elsewhere, but if you need a solid phone with 4G support and an affordable price, look no further.

The Breakdown

  • 1
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  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • Design 7
  • Display 7
  • Camera(s) 7
  • Reception / call quality 9
  • Performance 9
  • Software 9
  • Battery life 8
  • Ecosystem 8
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