First impressions of the Sprint Google Nexus S 4G

Summary:The Nexus S 4G is the second Samsung Nexus S device, but this time it comes with a faster wireless radio thanks to WiMAX from Sprint.

I remember the day when my Google Nexus One arrived and to this day I still wish I would not have gotten rid of that device. I would have purchased a T-Mobile version of the Nexus S if it had an HSPA+ radio and now Sprint and Google are rolling out the Nexus S 4G with WiMAX radio that has me considering the device. You can check out a few photos of the Nexus S 4G in my image gallery along with a few thoughts on the device below. I plan to spend a bit more time with this pure Google device to find out if the experience is worth a compromise in specs. I imagine we will see these being given out to attendees at the Google I/O conference later today as well.


Image Gallery: Check out a few photos of the Nexus S 4G for Sprint.
Image Gallery: Nexus S 4G retail box
Image Gallery: Back of Nexus S 4G in hand

In the box and first impressions

The Nexus S 4G comes in the white box with primary color highlights that we have come to expect from Google with these pure Android devices. You will find the Nexus S 4G, battery, USB cable and charger, wired stereo headset, and some pamphlets in the box.

This was the first Nexus S device I have had the chance to hold and it is an attractive device. It has high gloss black plastic and is a fingerprint magnet. I am personally not a huge fan of Samsung's plastic devices, but they make up for this with fantastic displays. The 4 inch WVGA Super AMOLED display is about the perfect size for a smartphone and it does feel good in my hand.

Specifications

Specifications for the Nexus S 4G include the following:
  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread
  • 1GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor
  • 1xEV-DO CDMA and WiMAX 4G radio
  • 4 inch 480x800 pixels Super AMOLED display
  • Integrated 16GB flash drive with no expansion card slot
  • 5 megapixel camera with LED flash
  • VGA front facing camera
  • Dedicated, touch-sensitive Back, Menu, Search, and Home keys
  • Proximity sensor, light sensor and digital compass
  • Integrated A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n)
  • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
  • 3.5 mm headset jack
  • 1500 mAh lithium-ion battery
  • Dimensions: 123.9 x 63 x 11.2 mm and 129 grams

The Nexus S 4G also has an oleophobic front panel so fingerprints aren't bad on the front while there are quite a few on the back.

Walk around the hardware

The front of the Nexus S 4G is dominated by the curved front 4 inch display that looks fantastic. The hardware buttons are different than I am used to on HTC devices so there is a bit of a learning curve there. A VGA front facing camera is up to the right of the headset speaker with proximity sensor and light sensor to the left of the speaker.

The only thing on the right is the power button while the left side houses the single volume button. A 3.5mm headset jack, microUSB port, and microphone are found on the bottom. There is nothing on the top except for the notch to pry off the back panel.

There is a 5 megapixel camera with flash and a speaker on the upper part of the back. The device is pretty basic and simple, which is usually what people want with these pure Google Android devices.

Quick thoughts on the software and performance

The Google Nexus S 4G runs Gingerbread (Android 2.3) and it is very refreshing to find a device with nothing extra loaded on it. Then again, Sprint has some excellent services that are included with your monthly fees (NASCAR, Sprint Football, Sprint Navigation, Sprint TV) and none of these are loaded on the device. However, the great news is that you can download some of these yourself and this is how it should ALWAYS be done on these devices!

The Gingerbread keyboard is found on the device and so far I have gotten it to work quite well. I do like Swype and can always download it myself too. I have yet to try out NFC.

It was nice to see Google or Sprint include a 3G/4G toggle, even though it is hidden in the settings. At least you can manage your battery a bit more easily than you can on the ThunderBolt.

I took a couple of photos and it seems to take very good shots in good lighting. The flash also seems to work quite well in low light conditions.

You will find the WiFi hotspot utility in the wireless network settings area. Sprint does charge you $29.99 to use the hotspot, but the good thing is they still do not have data limits on their service. You also will pay the $10 premium data fee on the plan so you are looking at a minimum of $79.99 before taxes and the hotspot fee.

Pricing and availability

The Nexus S 4G is available now for $199.99 with a minimum voice and data plan with 2-year contract. The full retail price is $549.99.

Final first thoughts

The Nexus S 4G is a solid device and it is refreshing to run a pure Google device with the latest version of Android. With so many other high end Android smartphones hitting the streets it might be tough to choose one with an older processor (not necessarily slower), no expandable memory, and glossy plastic design.

I plan to spend more time with this device so if you want me to try out something let me know in the Talkback section.

Topics: Hardware, HTC, Mobility, Telcos, Wi-Fi

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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