Tuesday, 07 December 2010 18:57

Google launches Android OS 2.3 - on Samsung's Nexus S

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Google has launched its second Nexus phone, based upon Samsung's highly successful 'Galaxy S' range of smartphones, through which it has also brought Android OS 2.3 to the world - likely months before other Android phones will get it.

Google must have been very impressed by Samsung's successful 'Galaxy S' range of Android OS 2.1 smartphones, because the second 'official' Nexus branded phone, one that is Google's own, hasn't been made by HTC, but obviously, by Samsung.

Dubbed the Nexus S, instead of the Nexus 2 as some suspected (although S reversed does look like the number 2), Android OS 2.3 'Gingerbread' doesn't just bring a face-lift to Android OS 2.1 or 2.2, but naturally adds in some new features seen in both hardware and software. 

When will it launch in Australia? A statement from Samsung - along with Nexus S info - is on page two, and full specs are on page 3. 

Headline features being promoted beyond OS 2.3 is a 4-inch 'Super AMOLED' touch screen with a curious sounding 'curved design', the addition of NFC or 'near field communication' support to enable an easy way to turn your phone into a digital wallet for 'touch and go' type of payments, front and rear facing cameras and a 1GHz processor.

The 1GHz processor is a bit of a surprise in the light of much talk about dual-core processors and 1.5GHz speeds, but these will clearly come later, in 2011 - perhaps in time for Android OS 3.0, or 'Honeycomb', something that is also being billed as the true 'tablet-optimised' version Google OS.

Naturally, Samsung's President and Head of its Mobile Commnications Business, Mr JK Shin, was pumped by the announcement, stating that: 'Samsung and Google have worked together closely to deliver the best Android smart phone experience for consumers. It has been our ambition in working with Google to continue to push the Android platform forward and create a smart phone that has both superior functionality and a stunning user-experience. It is extremely satisfying to see this partnership again bear tremendous fruit.'

One can only wonder what HTC's Peter Chen thinks of this, but as you'd expect Mr Chen's thoughts do not appear in Samsung's press release, although given the claim that Samsung is now the 'Number one mobile phone provider in the U.S claim for Samsung Mobile based upon reported shipment data, according to Strategy Analytics, Q3 2010 U.S. Market Share Handset Shipments Reports', it's not surprising to see Google give Samsung at chance at what has now become the next Nexus.

Omar Khan, the 'chief strategy officer' of Samsung Telecommunications America was also excited, as you can imagine, stating that: 'Samsung was thrilled to work with Google to create the first device featuring the much anticipated Android 2.3 OS. Nexus S is powerful proof of Samsung and Google's commitment to bringing technology firsts to market and launching products that utilize the open and innovative Android operating system.

'Nexus S integrates Samsung's best-in-class hardware and technology with the exciting new features and upgrades of Android 2.3 Gingerbread to give consumers a breakthrough smartphone experience', Mr Khan continued, with no sign of Star Trekkian wrath.

The original Danger man himself, and Chief Google Droid Andy Rubin, whose real title is 'Vice President of Engineering at Google' also had a few words to say, stating that: 'Google is excited to co-develop Nexus S with Samsung, ensuring solid integration of hardware and software to deliver the lead device for the latest version of Android, Gingerbread.'

Hmm'¦ perhaps that is why Android OS 2.3 is being launched on a device with a 1GHz processor - it certainly makes it more likely that OS 2.3 will find its way onto devices that support OS 2.1 or 2.2, even if those older smartphones don't have NFC chips built-in, although we'll just have to wait and see what Google's true 'minimum hardware requirements' really are when it comes to older phones, something you definitely won't hear anything about when a brand new handset is launched.

More Nexus S info and an Australian release time-frame are on page two, specs on page three, please read on!


As you'd expect, Samsung is talking up its 'brilliant Super AMOLED touch screen technology' as providing a premium viewing experience, although we'll all want to see how readable Samsung's 'Super AMOLED' is when viewed in the sunshine.

That said, Samsung says its '4-inch Contour Display features a curved design for a more ergonomic style and feel when held to the user's face', so there is clearly an improvement over previous AMOLED iterations.

Also re-mentioned is Nexus S' feature of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology which 'allows you to read information off of everyday objects like stickers and posters that are embedded with NFC chips.'

We're also told that the 'Nexus S produces rich 3D graphics, faster upload and download times and supports HD-like multimedia content.'

Other noteworthy features include a '5 megapixel rear facing camera and camcorder, as well as a VGA front facing camera. In addition, Nexus S features a gyroscope sensor to provide a smooth, fluid gaming experience when the user is tilting the device up or down or panning the phone to the left or right. Nexus S also comes with 16 GB of internal memory.'

The press release talks up Android OS 2.3 or Gingerbread, as 'the fastest version of Android yet'. But what else?

Well, aside from the aforementioned NFC, there's 'a new and improved keyboard with multi-touch support, Internet calling (VoIP/SIP support), and a clean new user interface.'

Google also reminds us of Android's ability to work as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot (well, at least since Android 2.2, unless it was retrofitted into Android OS 2.1 as Motorola did with its DEFY), true multitasking, access to Google mobile services such as Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps with Navigation, Voice Actions, Google Voice and YouTube, and access to over 100,000 apps and widgets on Android Market.

While we now know that the Nexus S can be purchased unlocked, online and in-store from Best Buy retailers in the U.S. starting after December 16 and at Carphone Warehouse retailers in the U.K. after December 20, what about Australia?!?

All we know so far comes from a statement from Samsung Australia.

Here a spokesperson says that: 'Samsung Electronics Australia is excited at the prospect of bringing the Nexus S to Australia. We are currently reviewing our options on how to bring this to market locally and look forward to sharing more details at a later stage.'

So, this clearly rules out any 2010 release and likely points to a Q1, 2011 timeframe - I can't imagine Samsung wanting to wait any longer than that to bring its newest flagship smartphone to market, while at the same time minimising any potential damage to existing Galaxy S handsets in stores and ready for that Christmas sales rush all companies look towards enjoying at this time of the year.

Nexus S specifications on page three, please read on!


So, what are the specifications for the brand new, Android OS 2.3-powered Samsung Nexus S? Here we go:

Network:
2.5G (GSM/ GPRS/ EDGE) : 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
3G (HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps) : 900 / 1700 / 2100 MHz

OS:
Android 2.3 / Gingerbread

Display:
4.0' WVGA SUPER AMOLED (800x480)

Camera:
5.0 mega-pixel Camera + VGA front Camera, Auto Focus, Self shot

Video:
HD (720p@30fps) video playing, Video recording D1 (720x480)@30fps, mpeg4, H.264, H.263

Audio:
MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, AMR-NB,

Value Added Features:
NFC (Near Field Communications) capability
Android Market for more applications and contents
A-GPS
Gyroscope Sensor, Accelerometer, Digital compass, Proximity, Light

Connectivity:
Bluetooth technology v 2.1 + EDR
USB v2.0 (High-Speed)
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n

Memory:
16GB iNAND

Size:
63 x 123.9 x 10.9 mm

Battery:
1500 mAh

 

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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