Inside Google's Nexus S

Google's just-released smartphone comes with some pretty impressive hardware, though advertising claims about the display component may be slightly exaggerated.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

Inside of Google's newest smartphone is a lot of solid, though fairly standard-issue hardware. One item on the outside of the phone raises a few eyebrows, however.

The Google Nexus S' battery is 'extremely easy' to remove, according to iFixit.
The Google Nexus S' battery is 'extremely easy' to remove, according to iFixit. iFixit

Google's spanking-new smartphone--made by Samsung and available at Best Buy--packs widely used components like a SanDisk 16GB NAND flash module and a baseband processor--used for 3G--from Infineon, according to teardown virtuoso iFixit. (Note that Intel is in the process of acquiring Infineon's wireless business unit so that would technically put Intel inside the phone.)

The Nexus S is cut from the same cloth as the Samsung Galaxy S, boasting many of the same hardware specs, according to iFixit. Departures from the Galaxy S include NFC (Near Field Communication) support--for exchanging data between devices over very short distances--and a Super AMOLED display.

iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, however, takes Google/Samsung to task for a feature he believes could be construed as a little misleading. "We feel the phone's curved glass is more of a gimmick than anything else," Wiens wrote in a note sent out Thursday. "Our teardown reveals that only the glass itself is curved, but that the LCD and touch screen 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," according to Wiens. (A CNET Review also cited this feature as a bit gimmicky.)

Other highlights from iFixit:

  • Display: The Super AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) display eliminates the digitizer and integrates the capacitive touch sensors into the display though the display itself is as "flat as a board, just as any other phone on the market," according to iFixit.
  • Processor: a S5PC110A01 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird Processor based on an ARM design. 1GHz processors have become the norm for high-end smartphones, though higher-speed dual-core processors are expected next year.
  • Memory: Main system memory is supplied by Samsung, while the flash memory for storage is from SanDisk. The SanDisk flash uses multi-level-cell, or MLC, technology. MLC allows flash chipmakers to increase data density at a lower cost.
  • 3G: An Infineon 8824 XG616 X-Gold baseband processor and a Skyworks SKY77529 Tx Front-End Module for Dual-Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE.
  • Audio: a Wolfson Microelectronics WM8994 ultra-low power audio codec.
  • Battery: a 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," according to iFixit.

And a heads up for AT&T customers. "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 [on AT&T's network]," according to iFixit.