Moving to a Nexus S, Part 2

August 5th, 2011 Leave a Comment

My move from the HTC EVO 4G that has served me well since Google IO 2010 to a brand new Nexus S 4G is nearly complete.

Frankly, the biggest issue so far has been dealing with the carrier, i.e. Sprint. I’ve spent more than three hours on the phone with Sprint and in Best Buy stores trying to convert my old number, which is a business account, to a personal account. I finally gave up and cancelled the old account in favor of a new number.

Oddly, even though I’ve had Sprint for 14 months with the EVO, my account wasn’t entitled to a free upgrade, at least not to the Nexus S. As an aside, I wonder why the upgrade takes so long, and the cost of an early one is so high. It seems like carriers could charge a nominal fee to upgrade before nearing the end of the contract to lure people into newer phones. I don’t really understand that business model completely, so maybe someone can shed light on why the carriers would charge big bucks to upgrade early.

Anyway, switching phone numbers has given me some pause. I had the other number for nearly a decade, but I guess it’s time for a change.

Even though I was already technically a Sprint customer, they still want an activation fee for the new line, which is a bummer. I’m also bummed to be back in a contract, but we’ll see how that goes.

So, Sprint is bumming me out a lot.

Lucily, the Nexus isn’t. It’s a great phone so far.

The first thing I noticed is that the Nexus S boots really fast. The EVO running CM took a few minutes to boot, the Nexus, a lot less than a minute.

Once in, I was struck by how much CyanogenMod (@cyanogen) actually is like vanilla Android, just as they claim. Actually, I’ve found a few minor features that CM has that I miss, e.g. configurable Power Control widget, widgets in the Notifications area, swappable app drawer icons. The latter might be possible on vanilla Android, but I haven’t figured out how yet. Let me know in comments if you know how to swap out the apps in the drawer.

Overall, Android seems to run faster, which stands to reason from a slightly faster phone. OS-wise, there’s very little difference between CM7 and Android 2.3.5.

As with other new Android devices, when I authenticated with my Google creds, apps rained down from the sky, which is nice. But again, not all of them came down from the clouds, making for a treasure hunt to figure out which ones were missing.

Physically, the Nexus S is very polished next to the EVO, which frankly hasn’t worn well and not just because I’ve dropped it a few times. The EVO’s display has always had several eraser-sized dead pixel areas, and the upper left portion of the screen quickly began to let dust bleed into the gap between the screen and display, creating a cloudy corner.

The Super AMOLED display is pretty sweet, not as large as the EVO, but a more muted color range, easier on the eye than the EVO’s super bright, harsh colors. I’m not a huge fan of the roundness of the Nexus, and while the shiny plastic makes it look sleek, it also makes it more slippery. The battery life could be improved, when compared to Apple, but it’s much stronger than the EVO.

Overall, Samsung has come closer to the build quality of Apple devices, but I do miss the metal you find on iPhones and iPads, nicer to hold.

So, that’s pretty much it for now. I’m nearly moved over, and I’ve been pleased with the phone so far. And decidedly displeased with the Sprint experience.

Oh well. I guess you’ll have that if you live in America.

Find the comments.

Update: One thing I forgot to mention about the Nexus S is that all but one of the buttons are in different places than they are on the EVO. Only menu is in the same place, so I’m having to retrain myself, not a big deal, but mildly annoying when you’re in a hurry.

Another update: I’m sure Matt (@topperge) will remind me at some point that the Nexus S has NFC on board. So, I have that to experiment with, assuming I can find a merchant that uses Google Wallet.

Also noteworthy is the convoluted rooting process, which surprises me. There are no easy root solutions like Unrevoked for Nexus S, which just seems odd, given that this is the Android phone meant for developers. It looks like I’ll need to unlock the bootloader to root the phone, which will wipe all my data, even the SD card.

I’m now weighing whether I need root, since I’m not fully sold on the “you never truly own an Android device unless you root it” mantra.


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