'

iFixit's verdict on the Nexus S: "A tad underwhelmed"

iFixit have done what they do best - acquired a brand spanking new Google Nexus S handset, and set about dismantling it for our entertainment. However, the company admits to being "a tad underwhelmed" by Google's flagship Android handset.

iFixit have done what they do best - acquired a brand spanking new Google Nexus S handset, and set about dismantling it for our entertainment. However, the company admits to being "a tad underwhelmed" by Google's flagship Android handset.

The Nexus S is supposed to be the next flagship Android phone. Yet, having looked at both the outside and inside of this device, we're just a tad underwhelmed. We feel the phone's curved glass is more of a gimmick than anything else, although it does feel very nice when pressed up against the user's face.

Oh, and about that curved screen, the LCD isn't really curved:

Our teardown reveals that only the glass itself is curved, but that the LCD and touchscreen are just as flat as any phone's. Although Google/Samsung technically doesn't lie on their site -- they clearly mention a curved glass panel, not curved LCD -- we still find their "Contour Display" name a bit misleading.

Highlights from the teardown:

  • The Super AMOLED does away with the digitizer, and integrates the capacitive touch sensors into the display.
  • Inside is an S5PC110A01 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird Processor stacked together with a Samsung KB100D00WM-A453 memory package. Other notable chips include a SanDisk SDIN4C2 16GB MLC NAND flash module, an Infineon 8824 XG616 X-Gold baseband processor, a Wolfson Microelectronics WM8994 ultra-low power audio codec, and a Skyworks SKY77529 Tx Front-End Module for Dual-Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE.
  • The 1500 mAh, 3.7 V, 5.55 Watt-hour Lithium ion cell provides up to 6.7 hours of talk time on a 3G network, and up to 14 hours on a 2G network. That's slightly higher than the 1400 mAh and 1420 mAh battery ratings of the Nexus One and iPhone 4, respectively.
  • The design of the motherboard is peculiar to iFixit. Its inner perimeter encloses the battery on all sides.
  • For you AT&T customers out there, just a quick reminder that the Nexus S does not support the 850 MHz and 1900 MHz HSPA frequency bands required for 3G mobile data. If you use this phone on AT&T's network, you're stuck in 2G land.
  • Interestingly, the two cameras share the same connector on the motherboard and are removed as a singular unit.
  • The EM-Tech EME1511AFRC module integrates the earpiece speaker, loudspeaker for speakerphone and media use, and a sensor bank all into one unit with a singular shared data connector. This is definitely a win for integration, but at the same time forces users to replace the entire unit if only one component malfunctions.

How repairable is the Nexus S? iFixit gave it a repairability score of 7 out of 10. A big downside is that you need to use a heat gun to separate the display from its frame, and that you have to replace both LCD and glass should just one of them fail (they're fused together). On the upside, the battery is easily swappable, and you don't need much aside from a #00 Phillips screwdriver and plastic opening tools to disassemble the rest of the phone.