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Android Gingerbread Arrives: More Exciting Than New Nexus S?

After much speculation on the features and delivery date, Google (s goog) today announced both the arrival of Android 2.3, aka: Gingerbread, and the Samsung Nexus S handset, a flagship device to run the new operating system. Developers can begin using the new Gingerbread features immediately, although it will take time for devices to support them. The Samsung Nexus S is the first phone to ship with the newest version of Android, beginning on Dec. 16, but the device cameras and 3G hardware will leave some disappointed.

On its Android developer page, Google is highlighting the new software features, some of which are iterations of existing functions, while others are adding completely new mobile functionality. Among these are an overall speed boost, refined user interface, improved text input and a better copy and paste solution. Google has also added support for voice-over-IP calls using the SIP protocol, as well the support we expected for near-field communications: a wireless transaction approach that has the interest of mobile payment processing companies.

Google has also devoted an entire website to the new Nexus S, which will be available as an unlocked handset in the U.S., either with a contract or fully priced without contract on T-Mobile’s network. Sadly, the Nexus S uses a 7.2 Mbps radio for 3G, meaning it can’t take full advantage of T-Mobile’s 21 Mbps HSPA+ network. Aside from that, the device shows marginal improvements over my old Nexus One: a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor, front and rear-facing cameras, a larger, curved 4-inch display (still at 800 x 480 resolution, however) and 16 GB of internal memory.

The additional camera is nice, but the device still only boasts a 5-megapixel sensor in the back, and at launch, only supports 480p video recording. From that standpoint, I’m feeling a little let-down. There’s also no way to expand the Nexus S storage memory because there’s no microSD card slot: another missed opportunity in terms of specifications. I may just hold off on a phone upgrade as I expect my Nexus One to see the Gingerbread update over the air in the near future.

Although I’m reserving final judgment until we get our hands on the phone, which will be soon, I’m actually more excited by the news of Gingerbread than I am of the Nexus S. Continued software improvements can almost turn an old phone into a new one. And for every step forward taken by the Nexus S, there appear to be just as many steps back.

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15 Responses to “Android Gingerbread Arrives: More Exciting Than New Nexus S?”

  1. Gingerbread Software SUCKS
    There is NO Way to roll back to Froyo 2.2
    Gingerbread was intended for large screen users.
    On the Droid and Nexus One the icons become so small they are not legible. The screen takes on a green tinge.
    This program is for the birds ….
    Visually impaired persons will not be able to read the screen …

  2. That was a smartphone commercial? I though it was an add for Zappos. Wierd commercial, nice looking phone though. I think from the hardware side it is excellent. 16GB is probably enough for 90% of people. And the resolution is adequate. Sure, would be nice if it was a “retina” display, but whatever, hopefully they’ll upgrade that in the next generation. I like the app at the end which identifies the constalations when you hold it up to the sky. My favorite part of the add.

  3. OK, it’s not so much about improved performance: this is essentially a Galaxy S with NFC. I like the curved screen which simple geometry tells us will reduce the size of glare and will reduce the risk of scratching; I like the little hump at the back as it will probably increase typing comfort in portrait mode, I like all the little tweaks brought on by Gingerbread.

    I’m surprised at the decision to exclude the SD card; as to DVD-grade video only: WTF?

  4. i dont think it is that big of a disappointment, the reason its not dualcore is because Gingerbread still cant even support dualcore yet.

    i think if we’ve learned anything today, is that Gingerbread is clearly just a stopgap solution for Honeycomb next Spring.

  5. The Nexus S is just disappointing. An arguable flagship model for 2010, but not for 2011. No dual core, no HSPA+, and no microSD are glaring omissions.

    When can the consumer expect to see cutting edge hardware, stock Android, and the multi-band support to chose whatever carrier they want?

  6. NeoteriX

    Re: Disappointment in the video recording

    This may be one of those cases like the 5MP shooter in the Nexus One that the hardware support for 720p is there (and may be unlocked at a later date by XDA developers) but that for whatever reason, it is not launching with the hardware 720p support.

    I’ll be curious to know if the 5MP imager in the Nexus S is the same with the other Galaxy S phones or if they are sourcing something a lot closer to the excellent imager in the iPhone 4.

  7. Gopal Srinivasan

    Not just the hardware, even Gingerbread doesn’t seem to be making as big a step-up. Can’t tell if there is a native video calling option or how the native support for Enterprises has improved…