The Nexus S is a rebel child, officially declining to use the brand names of either of its parents, Google and Samsung, despite having their logos tattooed on its back. But it's got nothing to be ashamed of -- it's a great combination of Google's software smarts and Samsung's hardware savvy.
Although you won't be able to buy a Nexus S until 20 December, exclusively from Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy UK, we had the pleasure of taking the phone for an early spin. With pre-production hardware and software, the sample that we used wasn't quite ready for prime time, but it still ran insanely quickly and smoothly.
We also got a glimpse of Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which is making its debut on the Nexus S. But we don't think this update will blow minds as much as the last iteration, Android 2.2 Froyo, which brought Flash to the Web browser.
We like Gingerbread's support for a gyroscope and front-facing
camera, both of which are built into the Nexus S' hardware. There's
also a graphics processor that's separate from the main Hummingbird processor. Combined with the gyroscope, that opens up the possibility of even
better Android gaming.
Gingerbread's headline features won't mean much to many users, however. Its NFC (near field communication) wireless technology could possibly replace QR codes as a quick way to grab content or link to Android apps without having to type anything in, but any really compelling uses are still in the future.
Built-in SIP, which makes it possible to make VoIP calls directly from the phone's dialler without installing another app, will take a while for most people to figure out. Like tethering, we think it could be a handy feature that many users will ignore.
The treats we think you'll enjoy most in Gingerbread are speed improvements and a few tweaks to the user interface.
Still, there's something delicious about being the first to get the latest features, and having pure, unadulterated Android on the Nexus S means you're likely to get operating-system updates before anyone else, too.
Check out our preview for an in-depth assessment of the phone's pros and cons, based on our hands-on experience. We'll be updating the preview with a full review once we've taken the Nexus S for an all-out test.
In the meantime, click through the photo gallery above for a peek at the
Nexus S' new, darker user interface, shiny black case, and
unfathomably coal-black soul (maybe).