iPhone 4 vs Nexus S

I was wrong when I wrote last week that Google's Nexus line of Android phones were brilliant examples of counter-programming the iPhone. I still believe that of the Nexus One but not of the Nexus S.

I bought a Nexus One when it was made available with AT&T/Rogers-friendly 3G bands and was fairly certain I would be getting a Nexus 2 when it came out. But it didn't. The Nexus S came out instead and while I joked the S was 2 written backwards I now believe they deliberately didn't use the 2 and I think I know why.

The Nexus One was an aspirational device from Google that lead the way to a new generation of Android phones through much of 2010. Nexus S is more of a summation device, capping off the current generation of phones that ended 2010. Both are aimed at developers and technologists but one showed where Android was going and the other where it is.

Nexus One was the darling of CES 2010. Nexus S is loved by some bloggers but already boring others. When the Nexus One came out there weren't really any other Android phones, or arguably any phones, to compete with either its specs or its software, including its great screen and system-wide voice integration. When the Nexus S came out it was the 6th or 7th Galaxy S device in the last couple months with some unrealized near-field communications thrown in the mix. And frankly, I still prefer the look and feel of my Nexus One to the decidedly Hasbro aesthetic Samsung just won't let go of.

Where's the 720p display? Where's the pentaband radio so it can work on more than just T-Mobile 3G? Where's the inductive charging, facial recognition, Google Voice-as-VoIP, or any other iPhone 4-killer feature? They even took out the 720p video recording, which Apple added to iPhone back in June. Sure the Galaxy S has Android 2.3 Gingerbread and will always get the newest updates first, but the same is true of the Nexus One, right?

Maybe it's not the Nexus 2 because Samsung didn't want to be Number 2 (insert Austin Powers joke), or maybe it's not that next-generation, aspirational follow up device and Google didn't want to raise that expectation, even though most of us probably heard the Nexus brand and immediately raised our own expectations. When Nexus One came out it prompted all sorts of rumors about Apple feeling the pressure and Steve Jobs promising iOS 4 and iPhone 4 would take it to Google with next release. I don't think Apple is sweating in the least over the Nexus S, and I'm not happy about that.