Day 8 with Nexus S: High end specs, Hidden apps #Maxis10

Experiences in Day 8

Tech Specs Review

Samsung Hummingbird

Being the first Android device to run the new Gingerbread and the second official Google phone, Samsung knew that the specifications for Google Nexus S must be somewhat at the high end level to showcase the performance of newly optimized and refined Gingerbread without tagging the device at a screaming price, therefore the one-year-old ARM Cortex A8 (similar to the processor powered the Apple iPad) based Samsung Hummingbird processor is definitely is the right choice to go, since Samsung Galaxy S and Samsung Galaxy Tab has been using the same processor (thus the lower production cost), and this 1GHz processor feature a very good balance between performance and power consumption. While it is still slightly disappointing that Google (or Samsung?) does not choose to equip Nexus S with the best specs currently available (Nvidia Tegra 2 chipset for instance), but all in all, Samsung Hummingbird processor is still piece of pretty impressive hardware in modern mobile devices.

If you aren’t aware, the Samsung Hummingbird is a system-on-a-chip that also comes with PowerVR SGX540 GPU that supports OpenGL 2.0 and DirectX 10.1 Shader Model 4.1 and has the capability up to 20 million triangles per second @ 200 MHz (The same PowerVR SGX GPU series5 is used in Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch), thus it is pretty adequate for an enjoyable gaming experience on the 4.0-inch screen of Google Nexus S. Using the Unreal Engine-powered Dungeon Defenders as a benchmark, Google Nexus S is still considered as a High End device, so besides running Dungeon Defenders at the playable frame rate, Nexus S is capable to run most, if not all of the games available in Android Market without any issue.

Contour DisplayIn terms of memory and storage, Google Nexus S, again, doesn’t fed with the best options available in the market – it is equipped with 512MB RAM and 16GB storage (1GB for internal and 15GB for USB storage), not too bad, but nothing too impressed either. Perhaps one of the most adorable specs on the Nexus S is the Super LCD (yes, I got the Super LCD version rather than the Super AMOLED) contour display. The curved glass screen feels surprisingly comfortable along the side of the face, and also fits pretty well on the hand – I can see some ergonomic studies are involved. The screen quality is also pretty good, I love the brightness and luminance it has (compared to my Sony Ericsson Xperia X8), and most importantly, the screen is still quite viewable under the sun. Oh, do I mention that Nexus S is the first smartphone device that has a contour display?

Other than that, some other specs in Google Nexus S that worth a mention are the capacitive touch-sensitive buttons, a replaceable 1500mAH battery (which can last for at least 2 days for average usage) and Near Field Communication bulit-in (future proof).

5MP Camera“Wait! What about the camera on the Nexus S?’’ You might ask. While most of the high end device has turn their head to at least a 8 megapixel camera, surprisingly (or I should say disappointedly) Google Nexus S has only an auto-focus 5 megapixel camera, and there is more surprise – There is no HD video capturing in Nexus S, while Galaxy S is able to do it, so it is a pretty large disappointment on this device. Again you might ask why, and Brian Swetland, an Android kernel developer tells you why:

Nevertheless, I must say Google Nexus S is still a piece of beautifully crafted Android device despite of some down sides. If you doesn’t mind that it can’t take HD video and it cannot be used to make video call via 3G, Google Nexus S is one of the best (and the first) Gingerbread phone you can get in the market.

Hidden apps in my Nexus S

Done talking about the tech specs of Nexus S, and it’s time for me to reveal the three hidden apps in my received unit. I wasn’t too sure the reason they hid in my phone, as they supposed to appear in my launcher since they are being pre-installed. The three apps I am talking about are:

Google EarthGoogle Earth – Surprisingly the Nexus S unit I received doesn’t have Google Earth in the launcher, and it is impossible to find it in the Android Market (due to the carrier I guess). But after some exploration, I found that Google Earth is actually pre-installed in Nexus S, but I have no way to launch it since there isn’t any shortcut available.

YouTube

YouTube – Another surprise. This app doesn’t appear at all in my launcher, and again, it is impossible to find it in Android Market. Yeah, it was indicated as installed in my Nexus S as well; I wasn’t too sure what causing it, but I don’t see any reason to exclude it from my unit.

 

Google BooksGoogle Books – During the exploration, I also found Google Books, which is also pre-installed in my Nexus S, and I cannot access it from my launcher. Though it won’t be too useful in Malaysia since Google Books service isn’t available, but it is still strange that it is also hidden from launcher.

Using the trusted ASTRO File Manager, I found these three apps apk files in /system/app, and I exported them out to my Dropbox, then launch them to do a reinstallation. Voila, eventually these three apps appeared in my launcher! A short testing session for these three apps has one conclusion – they works perfectly in Nexus S, though I must highlight that Google Books isn’t really that useful unless you still haven’t read the book ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

With the high performance of GPU in the Samsung Hummingbird processor, how about running some latest games to see how Nexus S performed? Stay tuned for the next post!

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7 thoughts on “Day 8 with Nexus S: High end specs, Hidden apps #Maxis10”

  1. From what I’ve read, the Hummingbird SGX540 GPU is able to process 90mill triangles per seconds, not 20mill like you stated. I think the 20mill is for Adreno 200 in QSD8x50 of Nexus One http://goo.gl/2jDZM

    One more thing about the GPU, Nexus S uses SGX540, iPhone 3GS: SGX535, iPhone4/iPad 1:SGX535, iPad2: SGX543.

    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for the comment!

      First of all, just FYI, about the triangle rate of SGX540, I got it from the Wikipedia about PowerVR chipset: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PowerVR#Series_5

      I am certainly aware that most of the websites are talking about the 90M t/s performance of SGX540 (which is claimed by Samsung), but I supposed there are some information yet to be completed. Check out the latest press release of SGX543 chipset used in the iPad 2, it is claimed to be able to process 35M t/s @ 200MHz (which you can see in the above link), while SGX540 is able to process 20M t/s @ 200 Mhz. From this point of view, I decided not to quote SGX540 is able to process 90 M t/s, though it might make sense if a simple calculation is involved (1Ghz = 200MHz X 5, therefore 20M X 5 t/s = 100M t/s), but I am not too sure if it can be calculated in such way. Perhaps in my post, I should mentioned that the 20M t/s performance is achieved when the processor is clocked at 200MHz.

      Yes, you are right about the GPU used in those devices. What I meant on my post is that there are using the same GPU series which is PowerVR Series5 (or SGX series). 🙂

      Rgs,
      Taylor

      1. 535 as in iPhone 4 and 3G S capable of 14M
        540 is capable of 28M, probably unlit, untextured.
        543 as in iPhone 4S up to 35M

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PowerVR

        Wiki page is unclear on whether the figures are for one or more cores and what clock speeds (but suggest 200MHz)

        iPad1 & 2 benchmarks compared here: The iPhone 4 will be marginally faster where the test is fill limited, owing to having slightly fewer pixels.

        http://www.anandtech.com/show/4216/apple-ipad-2-gpu-performance-explored-powervr-sgx543mp2-benchmarked

  2. Thanks a lot for mentioning those hidden apps. I tried to launch the apps from the file manager but got the message “no activity found”. Could you please explain in some detail how can I make these apps work as I am kind of newbie?

    1. Hi,

      Yes, directly run from the file manager will not be able to run them. The trick that I did is, send them out from that folder (I sent to dropbox), then try to run them. If I am not mistaken, the installation will proceed with asking you whether to replace the current one in your device, then you will have them!

      Let me know if it works. 🙂

      Rgds,
      Taylor

      1. Hi,

        Which app you are referring to? Once you exported out the apk, try to get that app uninstalled from the app list, then try an install, it should work.

        Rgds,
        Taylor

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