Reverse-Engineering the Nexus S

If you’re anything like me, Google’s big Android announcement earlier this month was big news for a couple of reasons: Gingerbread, and, almost more importantly, the fabled Nexus S. Why this is important news to you may differ from me, though.

I see the phone itself as nothing special, really. I already have a Galaxy S (Captivate), so I already own the same basic hardware. The same thing that makes it nothing special is also what makes it so exciting, though. The various folks that build custom ROMs for these devices are also very excited--so much so that they've already rooted the Nexus S. I’m hoping with every fiber of my being that this means we'll soon see a custom ROM for Gingerbread on my Captivate. (I currently use Designgear’s Perception Build 7.UGJK3.)

The excitement is almost palpable. One look over at one of the various threads on XDA Forums shows you what I mean. To bring home the point, here’s an update I just got via Twitter regarding Android 2.3 already running on a Droid Eris. Before things get too crazy, though, let me explain my original point.

If you bought a Galaxy S phone (on whatever carrier), what you got was Android 2.1 on a fast and beautiful device. Android 2.2 was a huge upgrade, and Samsung made sure to tease about how Froyo was coming “soon”. Months later (in the Captivate’s case) there’s no Froyo to be seen, and the Galaxy S line shipped with a couple of hot issues (GPS was broken, for starters) that Samsung was extremely slow to deal with. It left many customers feeling like Samsung didn’t care about them.

Couple that with phone carriers and their draconian usage contracts and you get some serious resentment from the very customers you live on. For good measure, Samsung released the phone with Touchwiz, an iPhone looking UI for Android that doesn’t even rate against other carriers own bloated UIs (Sense, Motoblur). Just a bad scene.

Until now. The Nexus S has almost the exact same hardware as in other Galaxy S series phones, except it has a front facing camera and an NFC chip. With the Nexus S getting updates as frequently as the Nexus 1 does, there’s very little stopping devs from porting those updates immediately to the Galaxy S line. And that will mean fresh, clean Gingerbread without Touchwiz for everyone and Android updates hot off the wire; I mean, everyone willing to root their devices and install custom ROMs. But, considering how long Galaxy S users have had to wait for a single update to their smartphones, don’t you think at this point customers will be rooting in droves?

I do. I wonder if Samsung had in mind that this new-fangled “Google phone” collaboration might free their customer base to choose vanilla out of the box Android instead of their vision of it. I sincerely hope Google did.

What do you think? Excited yet? Would you root your Galaxy S and run a custom ROM in order to get the latest and greatest Google has to offer through Android on your existing Galaxy S smartphone? Let me know in the comments!

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