Android 2.3 Gingerbread has finally been released on Samsung’s Nexus S smartphone. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to many because the Android operating system was demonstrated by Google’s chief executive officer Eric Schmidt on this very device during the Web 2.0 Summit around the mid-November. Also, on Dec. 6, there were reports splashed across the Web that anticipated the release of Gingerbread.
In the United States, the smartphone from Samsung will be available unlocked and without a contract at Best Buy, starting Dec. 16, for $530; on the other hand, when it is bundled with a two-year wireless contract from T-Mobile, the Nexus S costs about $200. It will be available for sale at Carphone Warehouse retailers in the United Kingdom from Dec. 20 onward and because it can be bought unlocked, the phone will also work in countries other than the U.S. and the U.K.
The Samsung phone running Android 2.3 follows Google’s Nexus One, which was made by HTC. The Nexus S weighs 4.55 ounces and measures 63 x 123.9 x 10.88 mm – which makes it somewhat larger than the Apple iPhone. It is Google’s new flagship device. Like the Nexus One, the new Google phone has no third-party software from Samsung or T-Mobile. It just has Android Gingerbread and can therefore be used as a standard for Android OS.
Google says the interface of the new OS has been designed to make typing easy. The keys are shaped and positioned to enable fast typing and the keyboard displays the current character and suggestions from the dictionary in a highly legible style. Text selection too has apparently been improved.
However, Techcrunch, a website that reviewed the Google Nexus S, gave the iPhone eight marks on ten in terms of text input; while the Nexus One got only five marks and Nexus S got six.
Among Nexus S’ other features that have undergone a redesign is power management, particularly for apps that keep running in the background. The new power management feature closes these apps, if possible. The new Android 2.3 OS also has a black notification bar instead of a grey one which consumed more power. These small tweaks reduce overall battery consumption.
Google has also introduced features called garbage collector, fast event distribution and better video drivers. Also, apps using native code can receive sensor information in native code as well which could speed up performance. Nexus S, however, doesn’t support HSPA. Its specifications include a Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor clocked at 1 GHz, which is what Samsung uses for its Galaxy S phone as well. The phone has 512 MB of RAM and 16 GB of internal memory. The phone’s memory cannot be expanded any further.
It has a 4-inch AMOLED Contour Display which uses a curved glass screen. The glass has anti fingerprint oleophobic (anti oil) coating similar to what Apple devices have. The screen displays 800 x 480 pixels. Google Nexus S has a 5 megapixel camera with flash and auto focus at the back and a VGA resolution camera on the front. Galaxy S, incidentally, lacks the flash. Nexus S can capture still images at a resolution of 2560×1920 pixels and video at 720×480 pixels.
The phone has a three-axis gyroscope sensor for gaming and an accelerometer, digital compass, proximity sensor and light sensor.
The Nexus S uses quad band GSM networks, HSDPA up to 7.2 Mbps and HSUPA up to 5.76 Mbps.
The Samsung phone apparently supports up to 6 hours of talk time on one charge of its 1500 mAh battery. It also supports Near Field Communication, which means that it can wirelessly exchange data with other NFC enabled devices in the proximity.
According to Techcrunch blog, the processor of Nexus S is much faster than the one that the Nexus One used. This processor is capable of handling multiple apps simultaneously. Further, Techcrunch says that Google has included its noise cancellation software in the device which provides good voice quality when coupled with good quality audio hardware. Google Nexus S has a 3.5 mm audio jack, but that isn’t considered better with stored music than the previous versions of Android.
Andy Rubin, the founder of Android, said that Nexus S is the first device running Android 2.3 to be commercially available. Smartphones that are compatible with Gingerbread, or Android 2.3, should get updates within a fortnight.
Nexus S uses Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1, even though Samsung’s older phone Galaxy S uses Bluetooth 3.0 Even stranger is that the Nexus S Android phone lacks an HDMI port and FM radio.
Android 2.3’s SDK has also been released and there seems to be a new code meant for L1, L2, R1 and R2 triggers on Sony’s PlayStation controllers. It is unclear though whether the operating system has anything to do with Sony Ericsson Zeus Z1 or the much talked about PlayStation phone.
Now with the first Gingerbread phone out, we can soon expect to see the OS on upcoming tablets also.