The details are now official: Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has launched today its newest device, the Nexus S, and the latest Android update, Gingerbread. The device, designed with Samsung, lays claim to being the first smartphone with a contoured screen. First markets for the devices: the U.S., where it will be available after December 16; and the UK, where it launches after December 20. Best Buy/Carphone Warehouse bagged the exclusive deals to sell the devices, with T-Mobile in the U.S. and T-Mobile and Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) the initial operators offering service plans.
Pricing for the Nexus S in the U.S. will be $199 with a two-year service agreement with T-Mobile, or unlocked for $529. In the UK, the device will be free on £35/month contracts, or £549.95 if you buy it unlocked.
– Operator partners: Looks like T-Mobile gets exclusivity in the U.S. but in the UK the marketplace is a bit more open. A spokesperson for Carphone Warehouse in the UK tells us that so far Vodafone and T-Mobile are the operators confirmed to offer data plans for the Nexus S, “but we are talking with the other operators to make sure it is available.” She said that Carphone Warehouse’s own mobile operator, Talk Talk, is also included in that.
– The device is sure to have its vocal champions and critics, especially given how many smartphones there are out there for comparison. Coming “late” to the market has been an issue for other devices like the Windows Phone 7 handsets. Will Google be able to rise above that kind of criticism?
Unlike the iPhone, the Nexus S will come initially only with a 16GB storage facility — although given Google’s big push on cloud computing it’s not really a surprise to see that they are not putting a lot of emphasis on offering a large amount of on-phone storage.
The curved screen is an interesting one – you can see it was something that Google was already starting to think about even in its first G1 device, which had a casing that angled slightly towards the user’s mouth, although the screen itself was flat.
– Gingerbread. Much has been made of Gingerbread as the Android edition that will be best suited to the tablet form factor, but here we have very much a handset as the first device for OS. Google says it worked closely with Samsung on this new device, “ensuring tight integration of hardware and software to highlight the latest advancements of the Android platform.” The device will deliver, in VP of engingeering Andy Rubin’s words, a “pure Google” experience: “unlocked, unfiltered access to the best Google mobile services and the latest and greatest Android releases and updates.”
– Bells, whistles: Upgrades in Gingerbread include an improved user interface, faster text inputting options and more intuitive application management. Included too is the NFC reader that CEO Eric Schmidt hinted at a few weeks ago. More details on the Android developers’ blog.
Here’s Google’s wacky vid introducing you to the new device, complete with quirky French pop music: