Google, Samsung launch Android 2.3-based Nexus S smartphone

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Samsung unveiled the Nexus S, the first phone running Google's Android 2.3 software, or Gingerbread.  The Nexus S is the successor to Google's Nexus One smartphone.

The Nexus S

Like the Nexus One, the device will be available unlocked or subsidized with a two-contract from T-Mobile USA. The device will be available beginning Dec. 16 at Best Buy for $529 for the unlocked version or $199 with a two-year contract from T-Mobile USA. Carphone Warehouse will offer the phone in the U.K.

The device has a 4-inch Super AMOLED Counter Display screen, a 1 GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor, Near Field Communications capabilities, a 5-megapixel camera, VGA front-facing camera, accelerometer, gyroscope, WiFi and 16 GB of storage.

Google also rolled out the Android 2.3 update to Nexus One owners and unveiled the new Android 2.3 SDK for developers. The new operating system includes a number of updates, including user interface refinements, NFC support, a new keyboard and text selection tool, tightly-integrated VoIP/SIP calling, improved copy and paste functionality and gyroscope sensor support. 

Google CEO Eric Schmidt demonstrated what was widely believed to be the Nexus S at the Web 2.0 Summit last month, touching off speculation that it was coming soon.

In July, Schmidt said that Google found the Nexus One "was so successful, we didn't have to do a second one." However, during his talk, Schmidt alluded to the possibility of a Nexus successor of some kind. "I said there would never be a Nexus Two. I said Two," he said. "You notice the similarities between an S and a 2."

Google first introduced its high-end Nexus One smartphone, complete with a direct-to-consumer sales strategy, in January. At the time, the company promised to reshape consumers' smartphone perceptions and fundamentally change the way handsets are purchased--a change that involved bypassing the operator altogether and challenging Google's own Android licensee handset vendors in the market. However, in May Google announced it would stop selling the Nexus One via its website, and would shutter the direct-to-consumer effort.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Google blog post
- see this Engadget post

Related Articles:
Rumor Mill: Google's Eric Schmidt shows off Nexus S
Google integrating mobile payments into Android 2.3
Google's Schmidt: Nexus One was a success
Google shutters Nexus One direct sales channel
Is it game over for Google's direct-to-consumer Nexus One plans?

Article updated Dec. 6 to clarify that the Nexus One was originally available unlocked and subsidized by a T-Mobile USA contract.