First impressions of the Sprint Google Nexus S 4G

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 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

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  • No crapware. No OS delays. No carriers getting in the way

    The nice thing about this phone is that it is the first to get new operating system updates.

    Whenever OEMs or carriers add their own software to the phone, it causes long delays to get an OS update. Often, those OS updates bring speed boosts, which may be as good or better than using a faster processor.

    This is the phone for everyone who doesn't like mobile carriers delaying their OS updates.
  • RE: First impressions of the Sprint Google Nexus S 4G

    But why is it only on Sprint?
  • RE: First impressions of the Sprint Google Nexus S 4G

    I got a Sprint Nexus S this weekend, and so far, I like it. I agree that clean is good. Also FYI, this version of the phone runs the Wi-Fi hotspot without paying for the extra service. They might close that door, but it works now. Battery life may be an issue with constant screen use (display seems to be the biggest drain). I will post a review (less techie, more business) on my blog this week.
    • RE: First impressions of the Sprint Google Nexus S 4G

      when I bought my Sprint Nexus S, they told me that even if you don't see a charge for using the wifi hotspot now, they are tracking if you use it and you will be charged for it later.
    • Be careful, they might charge later

      @litigationtech When I went through the process to purchase one they had the WiFi hotspot functionality specifically identified as $29.99 per month. It would be great if it was free, as it should be up to your limit, but I doubt it.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • How fast does the network make the phone? (downloading, streaming, etc.)...

    I'm still rockin' my first gen Google Nexus One. This thing is so fast w/no crapware and AT&T as the carrier (fortunately or unfortunately). But would like Sprint if 4G is all that and a bag of chips! Sounds like Sprint has a clue because oh so many other carriers are clueless.
  • Keyboard dilemma

    I have a Samsung Moment now and it's time to upgrade. I am having a very difficult time giving up a physical keyboard. I've played a lot with the Evo keyboard and wasn't much so that I planned to get the Samsung Epic. Now that the Google Nexus S 4G is out, I really think I should consider it. Are there any diehard keyboard users out there who have switched to this phone? If so, how are you coping?
    • Not the Nexus...

      @marissarae <br>I borrowed a friends EVO with the 4.3 inch screen for an afternoon. Swype didn't save any time by the time you select the multiple words it finds. The onscreen keyboard was decent but in the end, I went with the Shift. I can portrait thumb type with one hand, it has the landscape onscreen but for serious typing, I use the slide out keyboard. I ended up getting the EVO shift. Getting pretty good at it. Came from BB a week ago. Size wise and 4G were perfect. <br><br>I would recommend you go for an extended test drive of virtual keyboard only in the store. Personally, I like the sense UI touches, but like some, lament that you can't delete apps you will never use like flicker or lattitude.
  • For anyone switching to sprint.

    If you port your number, they have extended the $125 credit to mid june, you simply have to enter your phone number and buy/have bought within 72 hours.
  • Patiently waiting for iPhone on Sprint

    Call me crazy and laugh all you want, but I'm still hopeful that Apple will announce the iPhone on Sprint this summer. There's no way I'd switch to AT&T, and I hear Verizon's prices are too high. I've been with Sprint since '97 and have no complaints about their service/coverage. If they don't announce the iPhone on Sprint, then I'll settle and get this Nexus. <img border="0" src="" alt="happy">
    • RE: First impressions of the Sprint Google Nexus S 4G

      @luisfrocha ive had iphone and it does not compare to this iphone is a boring phone!!! why would you downgrade completly plus iphone 4s not 5 is NOT gonna have 4g!!!
      • RE: First impressions of the Sprint Google Nexus S 4G

        Absolutely right. iPhone's are slow and really don't offer anything special compared to phone's such as the Samsung Galaxy. Read this article it gives a more clear understanding about the Nexus S 4G:
  • RE: First impressions of the Sprint Google Nexus S 4G

    I ran the Nexus through several tests with my EVO and found several problems with the Nexus. No need to dump an EVO for the Nexus, but maybe upgrade from a hero or epic and don't want the physical keyboard. You can learn about all of yhe problems in the various Android forums.
  • RE: First impressions of the Sprint Google Nexus S 4G

    I got it this past weekend and It's a great phone, but display does eat up a lot of the battery. I lowered my brightness so the battery last longer now.

    Did you have any problems downloading Sprint TV? I still haven't been able to, any ideas?
  • Andoid OS touch only issue

    I tried an HTC EVO Shift earlier this year and returned it in the 30 days because I kept missing calls, could not answer with the slide stroke required to do so... it seemed the system was so busy ringing, it wasn't paying attention to my touch to answer. <br><br>Also, the matter of moving back in your outgoing message or notes to insert words or correct a typo was an issues with touch. I had to switch to keyboard to fix that. <br><br>I ended up going back to my Treo 750 on ATT.