updated 11:25 am EST, Mon December 6, 2010
Google Nexus S official with Android 2.3
Google today at last confirmed the Nexus S, the first phone to run Android 2.3. The Samsung device is the first to run Android 2.3 and is a showcase for some of its most important features: it now has a front-facing camera for video chat and other functions, NFC for short-range payments, and a full gyroscope for better motion control. It also has a unique variant of the four-inch Super AMOLED in the Galaxy S, the Contour Display, which reportedly has a more natural view than a flat screen.
Android 2.3 itself brings a slew of major updates beyond those tied to hardware, including a much simpler and more iPhone-like copy-and-paste text system. The keyboard is now multi-touch aware to support faster typing, and suggestions are faster. Users can now make VoIP calls directly from the Android OS to anyone with a SIP voice client, like Skype, as long as they already have an account at a provider.
Multitasking has been given a boost with much quicker access to the task manager as well as smarter power management that idles or even quits apps that may use resources but are rarely active. Google has given the OS a higher-contrast visual scheme and improved the download manager as well.
The Nexus S is otherwise very similar to Galaxy S phones with a five-megapixel camera, a 1GHz Hummingbird processor with PowerVR SGX 540 graphics, 802.11n Wi-Fi and GPS. It comes with 16GB of storage built-in, but no microSD slot.
Google is planning to ship the Nexus S first to the US, where it will reach Best Buy stores December 16 either on contract at T-Mobile or at full price unlocked. The UK will get it December 20 at Best Buy and Carphone Warehouse. Pricing will come in at $200 on a two-year T-Mobile plan and $529 unlocked, but international sales haven't been detailed.
Android 2.3 is due to be open-sourced soon and will reach other phones in the future, although platform fragmentation means most Android devices won't get the upgrade for months or at all due to hardware and manufacturer support.