After coyly suggesting that it would no longer make or market its own smartphone, Google this week announced a follow-up to its lackluster-selling first Android smartphone. The new Nexus S smartphone will hit the United States in mid-December and sell for $200 with a two-year T-Mobile contract, or $530 without a contract.

With the Nexus S, Google isn't using the same sales or support strategy that it saddled its Nexus One phone with. Then, Google handled everything directly, the phone sold poorly, and many customers complained about Google's utter lack of support. Now, the Nexus S will be sold and supported through the Best Buy retail chain, though Google will of course provide the software updates directly.

The Nexus S release was timed to coincide with the release of the next version of the Android OS smartphone software, code-named Gingerbread. This version of Android (v2.3) features numerous UI refinements, multi-touch "key chording" for faster text input, one-touch selection and copy/paste, better power management, and many other changes. (Click here to read more about this release.) Gingerbread will be open-sourced soon and will make its way to other Android devices, Google says.

The Nexus S is also being billed as the "pure" Android experience, a device that will offer the best integration between the underlying software and the phone hardware. It comes unlocked and will be updated with fixes and new features as soon as they're released by Google; one of the big complaints in the heavily fragmented Android market is that some updates never make it to certain phones, or come very slowly.

From a hardware perspective, the Nexus S is a modern and capable device, made by Samsung. It features a 1GHz microprocessor, a dedicated graphics processing unit (GPU), a 4" contour Super AMOLED display, front- and rear-facing cameras, and 16GB of internal memory.