Google announces the Nexus S

And Android 2.3

THE MUCH RUMOURED and anticipated Google Nexus S has finally been unveiled by Google, alongside the even much more anticipated release of Android 2.3. The bad news in the first case is that you have to wait until the 16th of December to be able to purchase one and in the latter case that so far only Nexus One owners will be able to get their hands on Android 2.3 initially, well, that’s only bad news if you don’t own a Nexus One.

So what does Android 2.3 bring? Well, first of all it has a wide range of new UI refinements, all intended to make it easier to navigate around the OS. Google has also changed the default keyboard and optimised it for predictive text input. There’s also a new one-touch word selection with a new copy/paste option. Power management has also been improved which should hopefully lead to better battery life on Android devices. Support for SIP for internet calling has also been added as well as support for near field communications (NFC) and there’s a new download manager.

For developers Google has added better support for games, including updated graphics driver for OpenGL ES. Support has also been added for the Khronos EGL library that adds better support for OpenGL ES textures and surfaces, as well as support for the OpenSL ES audio API. Support for more types of sensors has also been added for games, as well as better motion processing support for phones equipped with gyroscopes etc. SIP and NFC support is of course part of the new development tools and so is support for mixable audio effects, new media formats and access to front facing cameras. The new media formats include Google’s VP8 video codec, the WebM container and support for AAC and AMR audio encoding.

The Nexus S appears to take advantage of most of the new OS features, especially as it’s the first Android phone that we’re aware of to feature NFC support. The processor is a 1GHz Samsung Hummingbird based on the ARM Cortex A8 core and there’s also a mention of a dedicated GPU, but no word as to what this would be. With 512MB of RAM and a massive 16GB of iNAND Flash memory, the Nexus S has taken Google to a new level when it comes to the amount of built in storage memory and should solve the issues many people have had with Android running out of space on the internal memory. There doesn’t appear to be a memory card of any kind on the Nexus S though, at least there’s no mention of in the official specifications.

Other features include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, a micro USB 2.0 port, A-GPS, a digital compass, a three-axis gyroscope, an accelerometer, a 5 Megapixel camera with LED flash, although it only records video in 720×480, a front facing camera for video calls and a 3.5mm headset jack. However, one of the big selling points of the Nexus S is likely to be the huge 4-inch contour display Super AMOLED screen which features a curved glass screen with a resolution of 800×480 pixels.

The Nexus S is a quad band GSM handset with tri-band HSPA support for the 900, 1700 and 2100MHz bands and it supports HSDPA speeds of up to 7.2Mbit and HSUPA speeds of up to 5.76Mbps. Google’s launch partner in the US is T-mobile, hence the support for the 1700MHz band and it can be bought in Best Buy from the 16th of December as mentioned earlier. It will go on sale via the Carphone Warehouse in the UK from the 20th of December and that’s as far as Google has been willing to unveil in which regions the Nexus S will be on sale. Best Buy will be offering the Nexus S for $199 with a two year contract on T-Mobile, or you can pick one up for $529 unsubsidised – that’s the same launch price as the Nexus One.S|A

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