Tuesday, March 16, 2010

48 Hours with the Google Nexus One in Canada

I was fortunate enough to get a Google Nexus 1 for a couple of days. I used it as my primary phone using my Fido SIM card. This isn't going to be an exhaustive review. If you want one of those, there are plenty around. However, I thought I would put down my personal impressions of the phone and version 2 of the Android platform. That and my quest for a new phone.

First, some background. I own and use a Sony Ericsson Z710i "dumb phone" as my primary phone. It has hacked firmware installed on it to get around Rogers/Fido limitations. It may be a regular phone but as a phone and MP3 player, it has served me very well for the last 3 years. It also happens to have one of the best Bluetoth implementations of even the latest phones (ie. iPhone). I have been using Sony Ericsson's phones for over 8 years now and am very comfortable with their platform. I also use a 3rd generation Apple iPod touch. I have over time owned and or used several Windows mobile phones and PDAs and and the Nokia E71.

My initial experience with the Android platform was the HTC Dream/G1. The first phone commercially available running the Android platform. Let's just say I was not too impressed. This was also about the time I got my hands on a 2nd generation iPhone to try. Other then the keyboard, the Dream had nothing going for it. It was underpowered running a slow, rushed out the door OS. I dismissed it as a poor first attempt.

Since that time I have been on a quest to find a PDA type phone which was as responsive as the iPhone, but far less restrictive. Unrelated, I ended up with a 3rd gen iPod touch for development reasons. Having the touch convinced me that the iPhone was not the device I ultimately wanted. The reasons for me not getting an iPhone are:

  1. Prefer physical keyboard

  2. iTunes sucks. I'm sorry, it does. If you've used any other media manager you'd know this. (ie. Winamp)

  3. Having to use software to move files back and forth to my "portable computer" is silly

  4. All the truly useful applications and utilities only exist after you "jailbreak" the phone

  5. No user replaceable battery

  6. No memory card expansion

  7. Poor, unreliable Bluetooth support

However, the iPhone/Touch have a few qualities, at least in the latest 3rd generation versions that have now also become a requirement for any phone that I buy:

  1. Responsive touch interface

  2. Instant feedback. AKA Zero lag

  3. Build quality

This leads me to several days ago, where I got the chance to try out the Google Nexus One. Let me start off by saying that if your experience of Android was any of the first generation ones, forget them. This is what Google should have come out with a year ago. This is also a negative point. This should have been what they had out a year ago, and today's phone should be as polished and responsive as an iPhone. It's not, but that's not to say it's not as good. It's just different.

The positives of the Google Nexus 1:

  1. The Google integration is scary good

  2. The screen. Seriously beautiful. Four times the resolution of most smart phones including the iPhone

  3. I can choose to use a media manager or just copy files over, your choice

  4. The customizable home screens are very useful

  5. There is a setting to allow non-authorized applications. This is how things should be

  6. Auto Rotation works 100% of the time and is instant

  7. Raw horsepower. Seriously, this thing is faster than the first few desktops I have owned

  8. Size and weight are nice and it sits well in the hand

  9. The multitasking works well with the right interface to support it

  10. status bar is great and super useful, like the auto open wifi notification

  11. The back button functionality is very very useful. Taking you back from app to app

  12. Integrated Amazon MP3 Store sells DRM free MP3s, as things should be

  13. GPS Integration works well

  14. Excellent on screen keyboard implementation. The keyboard lists the possible words above the keyboard that show up as you're typing allowing you to quickly bash the one you want without having to finish typing it

  15. It is possible to not be tied to Google here

  16. Stereo Bluetooth implementation is the best I have used in a phone. Slightly edging out my 3 year old Sony phone, and trouncing the iPhone/iPod touch.

And the negatives:

  1. The google integration is scary, google owns you here if you do end up using all their services.

  2. How on earth does a 1Ghz phone have interface lag? How do you screw this up? It's minor but it's there in rare occasions

  3. Yes, it has the best on screen keyboard I have ever used. It's still not as good as a Blackberry/Nokia E71 or Motorolla Milestone keyboard.

  4. The Amazon MP3 store interface needs work

  5. Voice quality was not as good as other phones I have used

  6. Lacks Bluetooth HID support, though it is implemented in the driver stack so this is temporary

  7. The bottom buttons are seriously borked. They should have been physical buttons. They work about 50% of the time. And 5% of the time you hit the home key when you want to be hitting space on the vertical keyboard

As of this posting, the Phone is now available in Canada on both the North American 3G Bands working on Rogers, Telus and Bell and the AWS Bands working on Wind Mobile and the soon to be out Mobilicity.

I did not test it's Edge Data performance on the Fido/Rogers network.
Took only one snapshot with it
It's BBQ Time

I'm getting very close to finally upgrading my phone.


Christopher Browne said...

Presumably you haven't had time to strongly test this...

Any thoughts on battery life? As implied, a merit of Nexus over iPhone is that the battery is replaceable, so you're not forced to be tethered to power quite so much. It's got a standard USB port for power, right?

Paul T. said...

Correct, I did not have that much time. Only two days.

Yes, the battery is replaceable and you can have a spare on hand.

The standard USB cable is also a big plus I forgot to mention.