Two weeks ago, I bit an expensive bullet and bought a new Nexus One phone, directly from Google. I’m a T-Mobile customer, and, as long-time readers know, an early adopter of the T-Mobile G1, the first publicly-available Android phone. I went for the unlocked version of the Nexus One (at $529 before taxes) rather than the $279 upgrade. My analysis of what the cost would have been, under the arcane T-Mobile condition that I can’t get a Nexus One and maintain my family plan at that price, was that it would have cost hundreds more over the two year contract term.
Here’s the short review: Fast, fast, fast, fast and shiny!
Here’s the long one:
My critique of the G1 has always been that it is mediocre hardware sporting an awesome operating system. I love Android; I loved it before there were any decent apps available. Maybe it’s because I appreciate a mobile OS that acts like a desktop OS when it makes sense to and doesn’t when it doesn’t, which is about the opposite of Windows Mobile with it’s “start menu” and “Program Manager” metaphors carried over from the PC and the incessant pop-ups interrupting whatever you’re trying to do. Android is like a computer OS in it that it is highly configurable, whereas every other mobile OS is tightly structured. Android features unobtrusive notifications and a cloud-based approach to managing the phone’s data that makes it far simpler to deal with than something that requires Activesync or iTunes.
The Nexus one erases almost all of my G1 hardware peeves, with one big exception: it has no physical keyboard. That I miss, and I would gladly add an eighth of an inch to the thickness in order to have one. But, that said, the soft keyboard is much better than earlier Android soft keyboards and it’s not stopping me from using the phone. Another saving grace is that the Nexus supports voice input (as well as voice searching and dialing), so I can input an email by speaking into the phone, clean it up a bit, and send, rather than type the whole thing. The voice dictation isn’t perfect, but it’s really not bad.
The battery lasts exactly a day for me. That’s with GPS and Bluetooth turned off unless I have need for them, and average use. It’s about half a day less than I had after I impregnated my G1 with a fat replacement from Seidio. Seidio has one for the Nexus One, too, but I’m not willing to fatten it up for it, as opposed to just keeping a sync cable handy.
So that’s the bad news: no keyboard and a battery that’s as good as the iPhone’s. Everything else is awesome!
The 1Ghz Snapdragon processor — the fastest in any phone on the market today — just pops. The only time I ever see any churning is on occasional loads of the Android Market, and I know that those are on the server’s end. Email, games, maps, and most web pages are so snappy I have to blink and wonder if I’m really on a mobile phone. The snapdragon also features 512MB RAM and 512MB flash storage, which is worlds more than the G1. One of the liberating things is the ability to install and try out apps without having to first scrutinize what I have installed and remove a thing or two, another killer flaw for the G1.
The 3.7″ 480×800 resolution screen is beautiful. Unless you have a Verizon Droid, which is the same size with slightly higher resolution, you’ve never seen a screen this nice. Along with the multi-touch (added to my phone in an update that arrived on the same day that I got the phone), you can really read web pages and view photos. And the camera — 500 megapixel; flash; auto-adjusting. I finally have a better camera phone than my wife, who has the excellent Blackberry Curve 8900.
The phone itself sports two microphones, one that captures voice and background noise, and another that catches only the background noise and filters it out of the broadcast. this makes the Nexus One a very clear phone. This is big for me, because in my cubicle culture workplace, I often duck into the noisy server room in order to have conversations with my wife and kid.
I use all five home screens on the phone, with icons, folders and widgets. A handy included widget let me toggle the wifi, GPS, bluetooth, etc. I may ditch the ubiquitous Google search box widget because one of the four buttons on the phone pops it up. I’ll probably remove the pretty live wallpaper that shows autumn leaves falling behinds the icons in order to preserve a little more battery, but it has too much of a show-off factor right now to disable.
I’m appreciating a couple of apps that I never bothered to try on my stuffed G1. Seesmic’s twitter client is faster, stabler and better than Twidroid. There, I said it. I stood by Twidroid for over a year, but Seesmic includes bit.ly links in it’s free version (there is no paid one yet) and just seems to be more logically laid out. GDocs has replaced my beloved Wikinotes. I’m losing the Wiki, but I now have a notepad that integrates with my Google Docs account, allowing me to sync notes I write to the web and edit them in either place. That’s very cool.
I had MyBackupPro on the G1, and it lived up to it’s claims, restoring all of my Android preferences when I first set up the phone. And Bluetooth File Transfer and PDANet both seem to do what they claim, allowing me to transfer files to and from my Mac when a sync cable isn’t handy; and to use my phone as a 3G modem if I’m stuck without WiFi available for my Mac.
One issue I’m experiencing is that the phone won’t accept subbing in Google Voice as my voicemail carrier, but this might be because I have yet to make it down to T-Mobile and tell them that I’ve made this swap. I anticipate that they’ll tell me that i have to pay $5 more a month for their “Android plan”, which is somehow different from the “G1 plan”, but I also need to drop a monthly $5 equipment insurance fee that I doubt they’ll honor on a phone that they didn’t sell me.
I downloaded the WordPress app as well, but I’m cheating and typing this post on my computer. Next one, I’ll dictate into the phone.
There have been widespread reports of 3G connectivity problems with Nexus Ones. I’m crossing my fingers as I type, but I haven’t seen any of them.
My friends with iPhones still all believe that they’re better off because they have 50 million apps to choose from. And a phone that’s half as fast, with a smaller screen at half the resolution, a lousy camera, an operating system that they can’t customize, AT&T 3G, poor call quality and no ability to multitask. They have full iPods, yes, and I considered that significant for some time, but now that there’s Doubletwist, which can sync your own — or your iTunes — playlists to an Android phone, that’s not so big an advantage.
I’m confidant that the Nexus One is the best smartphone, period — I can’t recommend it enough. Android has come of age.