Experiences in Day 8
Tech Specs Review
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.
In 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).
“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 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 – 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 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!