Loved the hell out of my Nexus One but I’m the kind who just can’t stand knowing that there’s a new Nexus and I don’t own it, even though there are a lot of more important things to spend money on and from what I had read this Nexus S, while sexy, wasn’t mind-bogglingly better. Instead of giving you a side-by-side spec chart (a little late for that), here’s what struck me as noticeably better and worse about the new Nexus, might help you decide if you’re on the fence.

Too long; don’t want to read? Get the Nexus S.

The thing felt and looked chic with its concave screen and unusual contemporary form factor. It’s definitely sexy and thankfully not as dinky or plasticky as other Samsungs – though still not quite as rugged as the N1. It feels lighter yet Wikipedia’s telling me it’s only 0.05 lighter. It has a higher-rated battery, 1500mAh versus the N1’s 1400mAh, yet it’s slightly thinner and lighter — nice. Always love more milliamp hours, especially if I’ve got a crazy bright 4” screen.

No trackball. That made the phone look a little sexier, plus I never really used the trackball except for surreptitious photography. Two things I miss about the trackball is that when picking up the phone it’s not obvious whether you’re holding it in the right direction until you feel around for the buttons. One irritation is that Samsung flipped the home and search softkeys around. I still haven’t gotten completely used to that.

Also, the Nexus One’s trackball doubled as a LED notification light that could glow in any color. No notification light on the Nexus S. Might be the only phone I’ve owned that didn’t have such a light. That didn’t bother me because I get so many emails and calendar or to do reminders that it’s a safe assumption that at any given point I have something new, but my wife would have preferred some sort of light. Perhaps someone could code a very brief and intermittent staccato blink using the flash?

The screen, wow, damn this Super AMOLED is sweet, believe you me. During those speed tests I did outside I had to turn down the Nexus S’s brightness and crank the N1’s up in order to get the lighting right for the video. I don’t know if it’s using more juice or not, if this screen technology is more efficient, but it’s bigger and a lot brighter (6.2% bigger, 3.7” vs 4”). I’d say that that’s the biggest selling point for N1 owners.

What really sucked was buying the phones from Best Buy. Not a pleasant experience, but I can understand that Google figured they’d better try a very different method of selling this given the N1’s history, or maybe T-Mo with all their MyTouch 4G commercials didn’t want this phone stealing the MyTouch’s thunder, who knows. But that so many Best Buys were, according to twitter, ridiculously understocked with the phone, almost as if Google did that on purpose for appearance’s sake, that was irritating. Did not appreciate that Google, but I hope it helped you. Especially if you’re switching carriers, just order it from their website and take it to a T-Mobile dealership to finish the transition, number porting and such.

The packaging was a little underwhelming versus HTC’s N1. Similar style, but small and tightly stuffed. Did not come with a sleeve like the N1 did and I’m having a tough time finding one online. Where’s my damn sleeve. No sleeve. No engraving, that I can live with, but no sleeve? The back cover is a bitch to remove. Really, it’s a bitch to remove. It’s weird how big a bitch it is to remove. It’s these subtle things that make HTC seem just a little more thoroughly refined.

The headphones sound great, quite superior to the Nexus One’s in terms of oomph, and the mic thing isn’t down by your chest so you don’t have to clip it onto your chest hairs, rather it’s around your cheek. But there’s only a single button that only seems to play/pause music, no longpress for voice activation (though that might come with a custom rom). Plugging in my N1’s headphones which has play toggle, forward and back, all three just do the same thing so I’m guessing no headphones you try will do anything more than play/pause. Maybe it’s just me and my big ear holes but they do fall out of your ears more easily.

As for the hardware inside, like the processor, I believe I read that it’s superior somehow even though it runs at the same clock speed, but the Nexus One was plenty fast that the only thing that is noticeably faster with the new phone is that it boots a lot faster, 35 seconds to get to the lock screen versus more than double on my N1 (though I may have more crap installed), but that may be mostly attributed to Gingerbread which I hadn’t yet installed on the N1. If you’re a Quadrant junkie, Quadrant doesn’t work on this phone yet and Linpack yields disappointing results. However, the phone’s still young and already there’s a 1.2GHz overclocked kernel, appears to be stable and that’s a bigger number than the N1’s fastest OCed kernel. Fast enough to play Angry Birds and Paper Toss, no doubt. I should test this a little more but I think the GPS doesn’t grab a fix as fast and solidly as the N1, but it’s good enough, especially with wifi which by the way doesn’t seem to drain the battery much if you leave it running.

All right, so no removable SD, but 16GB leaves at least me with some elbow room. For a minute I did think Damn, I just ponied up for a class 6 16GB chip for my last phone, but according to SD Card Speed Tester this baby’s read/write is an impressive 25MBs / 8MBs whereas my N1 with its class 6 chip cooks at 6MBs / 11MB/s.

Not much point in going into software differences as both phones may run Gingerbread. As far as the cries about it not having a HSPA+ capable radio, you’ll get over it. Just right now I did a speed test, 4.2Mbs down, 52ms ping. That’s over half a megabyte a second down and a pretty good ping. On the other hand, whether you need the bandwidth or not, HSPA+, according to Wikipedia, also delivers an all-IP setup like LTE, consequently your phone always has a data connection yet the standard somehow provides “significantly battery life improvements and dramatically quicker wake-from-idle time.” Wish I hadn’t read that. Oh well. Maybe HSPA+ support is an Easter egg Google had Samsung leave to the XDA guys to discover. That along with 720p recording hopefully…

For those of you who own Nexus Ones there will be a small list of things that you’ll miss were you to get this phone but you’ll get over within a few minutes of opening the box. They’re both fantastic phones and it’s with regret that I’ve looked around on eBay to see how much I’d get for my N1 ($400 to $500). On the other hand, I’ve had this new phone for a couple weeks and hadn’t touched the N1 since.

Black Swan is a masterpiece by the way.

Doug Simmons

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