Hands on the Nexus Two by Samsung

The Nexus Two is real. It's made by Samsung, and a friend of ours got to play with it. It's not going rock your face like the Nexus One did. But it will record it with a front-facing camera.

"When I first saw it from 10 feet away, I thought it was the Galaxy S," says our source, who got to handle one. "I was a little surprised it was the Nexus Two," because it's so different from the Nexus One.

It's black and shiny, built with glossy plastic. Up close, though, it's "got this curve to it." While the screen, which our source thinks is the same 4-inch AMOLED affair from the Galaxy series, is flat, the front is "sort of concave" with hard edges. And the back is curved. The tapering makes it feel thinner than Galaxy S, though it might be about the same thickness. "It feels really similar to the Galaxy S in a lot ways." (Note: Our mockup is very approximate.)

Externally, the main difference from all of the current Galaxy S variants in the US is that it's got a front-facing camera, and it's running a stock build of Android that was still "really buggy." (Update: Forgot about the Epic 4G, which has a front camera.) Our source wasn't sure if the internals were any different. Google's supposedly trying to build video chat into Gingerbread, using the same protocol as Google Talk. So it makes sense that the flagship phone for the next year—the one that most Googlers will probably be developing on—comes with a front-facing camera, even if video chat doesn't quite make it into Gingerbread.

At first blush, it's a little disappointing that Google possibly isn't pushing things forward in the same way they did with the Nexus One, since it seems like the Nexus Two is a refreshed Galaxy phone. On the other hand, it says a lot that the Android ecosystem is so stocked with high-powered phones, from the Evo to the Droid X, that even Google won't radically jump ahead of its partners with a new flagship. Hopefully their plan for selling it is a little better.