Google Nexus S 4G to Launch on Sprint on May 8

The flagship Google Nexus S (s goog) handset that launched late last year is getting a new wireless radio and carrier. Sprint today announced the Nexus S 4G, with support for Sprint’s WiMAX network (s s), is launching on May 8 for $199 with a two-year contract. The handset, manufactured by Samsung, runs on Android 2.3, the most current version of Google’s smartphone operating system.

Although the handset is running a recent version of Android, demand for the Nexus S 4G may be muted due to the hardware specifications. Unlike many of the newer handsets now arriving, the Nexus S 4G uses a single-core, 1GHz processor from Samsung, doesn’t support high definition video recording and has a display resolution of 800×480 pixels. However, the Nexus S 4G compares favorably with Sprint’s other WiMAX handsets, such as the EVO 4G, EVO Shift 4G and Epic 4G.

There are some features the Nexus S 4G bring to the table over competing Sprint handsets, however. The device includes an NFC, or near field communication, chip which may be used in the future for wireless mobile payments and location-based check-ins. Samsung’s Super AMOLED display offers vibrant colors and the screen is slightly curved for comfort. And being a part of the Nexus line of handsets, the phone is more likely to receive Android updates from Google before other phones receive them. Plus the handset integrates natively with Google Voice, which can be used as a primary phone number on Sprint’s network.

Given that other new phones offer dual-core options and higher resolution screens, my first thought was that Sprint may have a tough time selling the Nexus S. But Sprint customers don’t have any dual-core phones to compare with the Nexus S 4G, so there’s bound to be some that want a pure Google experience on Sprint’s WiMAX network.