Jan. 8th, 2010
Two Days In The Nexus: My Review of the Nexus One  
Nexus One Review

I've been working with my Nexus One since receiving it Wednesday morning. I can honestly say I have been very surprised. After reading the reviews, I expected to be underwhelmed (and returning it within the 30 day window).

Fortunately (or unfortunately for my wallet), I've fallen in love with my new toy, and here's why:

The Quick Summary
In my opinion, the Nexus One is truly game changing for Android. Unlike its geeky, awkward, and slightly retarded (yet lovable) G1 cousin, it's an awesome, responsive, and sexy phone. I'm not going to call it the "iPhone killer." I find that whole concept to be tenuous, and it makes me stabby every time I read it. The iPhone isn't going anywhere, no more than Samsung is. It's a market, and this is called competition. Competition is healthy, and needs are subjective. Being someone who changes phones as often as his underwear, I'm going to tell you my experience with the phone, and you can draw your own conclusions based on your needs, likes, and wants.

While my G1 filled my geeky little soul with delight for what it could do (and, more to the point, didn't stop me from doing), using it was often frustrating, often causing me to be tempted to pop my SIM card back in my iPhone, give into the Reality Distortion Field, and drink my Kool-Aid. I loved the freedom of the G1, but going back to my iPhone would remind me of the polish it was oh so sorely painfully lacking.

That's changed.

I think I may be ready to hang out in The Nexus for a bit (and maybe go for a hike with Captains Picard and Kirk).


Nexus OneNexus One Design
I've been a fan of HTC's products (from a feature standpoint), but the looks of their phones have always left something to be desired. The Nexus One is sleek, solid, and eye catching. Design is subjective, so I'll stop there; but I like the looks of this thing.

Snapdragon
The N1 is fast. Granted, I've only been using it two days now, but I've already loaded it up with all the apps that were bringing my poor G1 to a snail's pace: email IMAP checking two accounts, contact/calendar syncing, Exchange push email (new), Facebook, Seesmic (Twitter), and Loopt constantly updating my location. The animated wallpaper has yet to even so much as hesitate.

The 1 GHz Snapdragon CPU powering this thing is so far doing the job and doing it extremely well.

Size and Form Factor
Sleek, light, comfortable to fit in my pocket without driving me crazy. For comparison, it's 5-6 grams lighter than the iPhone, 29 grams lighter than the G1, and 10 grams heavier than the HTC Dash. I've never carried a Blackberry, so I have no comparisons for you there.

OLED Display Screen
The screen is nice (and big). For size, it's bigger than both the G1 and the iPhone's screens. The OLED screen looks really sharp, and being OLED, it's easier on your battery.

It has a photo sensor that the OS can use to adjust the screen brightness automatically (a feature I've missed). I do find the setting it picks often to be a bit dimmer than I'd like, and there's currently no way to set a base level. You can turn the feature off altogether, but then you're back to manual adjustments. I've opted to let it do it for me, but hopefully Google will add a feature that lets you adjust it up or down.

The one thing that does drive me a little insane are the finger prints though. This thing lights up fingerprints better than Superglue vapor in bright light. It may just show them off more, or it might still be some residue from the protective cover it ships with, but I find myself wiping it off every couple of times I use it (there's a pill for that).

Keyboard
If this phone had a magic slide out keyboard, I would totally marry it on the spot. The soft keyboard option on the G1 drove me absolutely batshit insane. The G1's screen just didn't seem sensitive enough, and the predictive input just wasn't up to par with the soft keyboard I was used to on the iPhone.

As such, I expected to hate the soft keyboard. Even though I'm adept at using it on my old iPhone, for cranking out long emails or text messages without errors, you need a real keyboard. That said, the soft keyboard seems much improved. I don't know if Google's updated any of the algorithms or if it's just the larger and more responsive screen, but it's not driving me crazy (yet). Time will tell.

I don't want this to be another of those annoying iPhone vs. XYZ phone reviews, but since it's so far the only soft keyboard I've found usable, it's hard not to. The Nexus One's may just take getting used to, but I'd say the iPhone's soft keyboard still has an advantage at this time. Of course, the one beauty of soft keyboards is they can be improved in software.

Battery Life
I can sum up battery life as so far, so good; but this is something that will take time to flesh out. Off hand, it seems to be much better than my G1. I could drain the battery on my iPhone pretty fast as well though, so I'm not sure how my usage compares. So far I've been pleased, but I will be picking up a spare battery for times I'll be away from a charger for a long period of time. The charging port, btw, is a standard microUSB port (not to be confused with miniUSB port most devices have)—still a standard nonetheless.


Amazingly Wicked Cool Shit

Now for the fun stuff.

Integrated VoIP
Google has really done some really head turning stuff with this phone. The Google Voice integration is almost flawless. Regrettably, I like my mobile number better than my GV one, so I'm probably not replacing my main number anytime soon, but the option is there. There is, however, the option to only use Google Voice for dialing internationally. At a Wi-Fi connection, this means making cheap VoIP calls the same way you'd place any other call!

Voice mail redefined
The really sick feature that I love showing off is the ability to use Google Voice in place of your carrier's voice mail (not sure if this will work for CDMA carriers like Verizon). With a few presses, the Nexus will send the appropriate codes to reconfigure your settings with your cell carrier.

Now, when you receive a voicemail, Google transcribes the message and sends the transcription, along with the actual message to your phone! Clicking the voice mail button brings up a Visual Voice mail type screen that will let you read your message or play it back. If you do choose to play it back, it highlights each word as it's spoken (it's like karaoke without the cheesy backdrops).

(placeholder for video if i can manage to capture it)

Blur
The contact/address book functionality is much improved, and you can see where they're taking it: fulling integrated contacts. I expect future updates to continue to this trend. You still get the benefit of everything syncing with your Google Account in the cloud, and now clicking on a contact will not only show you their info, but also their Facebook status, as well as the option to call, email, text, or IM them. The new Facebook app will also sync your friends' profile pictures for contacts that don't have one.

The ability to speak your text messages and emails to your phone (instead of having to type), is sweet (still needs some work for me, but does a pretty good job). The turn-by-turn navigation is of course still there, as well as stereo bluetooth, 5 megapixel camera, LED flash, and now Bluetooth file transfers using OBEX and OPP (FINALLY).

Exchange Support
I was able to easily setup my Exchange email into the mail app—without giving up the rights to my phone to the Exchange mother ship. This will probably keep it from getting IT's blessing, but it does make me feel a little better.

Not wanting to know the Facebook status of all 500+ employees at my company, I opted not to sync the address book. I got the impression it would merge them with my address book instead of keeping it separate. Someone please correct me if I'm mistaken, but I don't want that cleanup job, so I'm not going to be the guinea pig.

Calendar support is still nonexistent. I suspect when (if) Exchange calendar support comes, it will sync straight to Google Calendar as opposed to the phone (which effectively will accomplish the same thing). In the meantime, I will continue to have gSyncit update my calendar from Outlook instead (best $15 you'll ever spend, by the way).


What's Lacking
A cool music player interface: The stereo Bluetooth, as well as the sound itself, is great. It comes with a set of wired headphones (and mic), or you can break out your old iPhone headsets too (they're compatible). It's clear there hasn't been a lot of time spent updating the UI. Fortunately, if Google doesn't do it, someone else undoubtedly will (fortunately, Google isn't afraid of a little competition and won't reject an app for "duplicate functionality.").

Multi-touch: Both the device and Android support multi-touch, but Apple seems to think it has a patent on your fingers. It will no doubt come, but it might only be after we put an end to all the rampant patent abuse stifling innovation.

iTunes support: Of course, official support will never happen, but if someone can break the code to allow me to easily sync my playlists, that will be an awesome day.

Anywho
The web is certainly filled with reviews written by psychotic overzealous fanboys of one OS over the other, so I'm trying to present my honest opinion of the phone's strengths and weaknesses. I will say I do have a bias towards open source (lest we want to be beholden to one behemoth monopoly), so I do want to make this work. Nonetheless, I'm super critical of my gadgets (particularly my mobile), and going to say when I hate something. Coming from a G1, I'm still in a bit of afterglow having been a bit blown away by the Nexus. I'll try to post updates after the honeymoon is over, but if I don't want to throw it out a window over the next few days, I think the days of popping my SIM into my old iPhone so often may actually be over.

In short, if you're looking to find an alternative to AT&T or just don't want to have to keep chasing Apple around to whatever carrier it decides to bestow its prized jewel upon year after year, I would definitely recommend trying the Nexus on for the 14 days (30 for those of us in California). I think you'll be pleasantly surprised, but of course YMMV.

 
 
 
Mood: giddy
Listening to: The Killers - Mr Brightside
 
 
( Post a new comment )
james__sndchasr on January 9th, 2010 - 12:31 am
Great review. I've been looking at the Droid. I've read the Nexus will be coming to Verizon in the spring. Might wait and see them side by side before I make the switch.

My poor blackberry is looking like a rotary phone every day haha
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