When the Google Nexus One arrived via DHL Express, all of us here at GDS felt like it was Christmas and rushed to catch the first sight of the new toy. For me, Christmas indeed was an accurate description of the atmosphere. The arrival of the Nexus One is the long anticipated arrival of the phone Messiah that would deliver us from the stronghold of Apple’s reign on the Mobile Phone world with its iPhone.
I am going to write this review under the assumption that the iPhone is the most desired mobile phone in the market right now, and Google’s launch of the Nexus One is an effort to try to get a slice of that pie. So inevitability we will have a final showdown of the two smartphones… but for now, we will keep things civil. I will begin by giving an objective account of the Nexus One experience.
Look and feel
The Nexus One looks will not stun you. It feels like the designers wanted the phone to fit into your everyday life, and not be the center of it. With its greyish black colour, it can camouflage itself to be like any other hand held device. The large screen certainly impresses, and the four command icons and the roller ball at the bottom gives you the assurance that the phone will not be a puzzle that you will be trying to uncover. The camera lens is obvious at the back of the phone, which I thought could be designed better as the back is the rugged side and the lens is contrary to that.
The thickness of the phone is one thing that I am particular about, and the Nexus One passes the test by being only 11.5mm in depth. The height is 119mm, width 59.8mm and it weighs 130grams with the battery. There is something to be said about the size and strength of our hands, the race for the smallest and lightest hand held devices is over. Now, manufacturers are in the search for the right size and weight, not too big not too small, not too heavy or too light. The Nexus One has achieved that (not the first of course). The only complaint is that the command icons and roller ball is all the way at the bottom of the phone. If you would hold the phone snug in your hands, you would have to slide the phone up for your thumb to reach the bottom.
The Google Nexus One is very much Google centric and wants to provide the user a Google experience. On its ‘desktop’ display, together with the phone, messaging, contacts, camera and music apps, is gmail, Google maps, Google talk and a Google search bar. So to really fully utilize the phone you would need a Google account(who doesn’t have one?). An account is also needed for downloading apps in the apps ‘Market’.
The touch navigation on the phone is a pleasant experience, after only a day of toying around with the phone, I was able to type emails and SMSes confidently. Whilst I promised to stay the iPhone comparison till later, I must say that the Nexus One offers a roller ball in direct contrast to the iPhone’s pressure-point text navigation. This is my opinion is far more useful for corrective action than the iPhone. No matter how well you can type on a virtual keyboard, typos will abound (this is true even with a real keyboard). The roller ball is a far better bet for fine navigation between text, which in my opinion is priceless. Imagine trying to get your(mine) XL fingers in between the spaces!(BB users will breeze through this transition).
The Nexus One also features Accelerometer technology. That means the screen orientation follows your tilt(but only to one side I must add) and it flips and scrolls faster or slower based on the movement of your fingers. No complains there either. :)
Another note worthy feature, the ‘desktop’ display I mentioned. After only a few days, I have littered my phone with apps. The ‘desktop’ gives you the choice to put apps in ‘front’, so you can access the more essential and more frequently used apps with ease, instead of running through pages and pages of apps. The desktop has five pages for you to customize with.
Phone usage and music
Well, honestly nowadays we do not base our decision to purchase a phone on how it performs as a phone. By now all the manufacturers have just about got it right. The speakers and microphone of the Nexus One are vocal sensitive and cancels out surrounding noise to allow for clear conversation.
Its music function is also normal. But do not be deceived, normal in today’s standard is pretty good. The Nexus Ones has the full array of the standard mp3 player functions; playlist creation and management, shuffle and multiple repeat functions etc. The only thing lacking there is an equalizer. The default music player software does not provide any, not even preset equalizer settings like ‘rock’ ‘pop’ or ‘speech’. But the Android being an open source platform, you would be spoilt for choice with the range of music playing apps generated by the economics of supply and demand.
The voice recognition function on the deserves its own header in this review. Before I met this phone, workable voice recognition is still a thing of science fiction, like teleportation. But once I tried it hands on, or rather mouth on, I was blown away by how easy it is to use, how accurate it was and how useful an application it is. Mind you, this is not an app that you download, the mic icon is a fixture on the virtual keyboard. Single word recognition is already impressive(and useful when you don’t know how to spell!) but it is accurate for full long sentences! I tried ‘The brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’, and it came out right the first try. But, and there’s always a ‘but’, it does not recognize slang like ‘lah’ or ‘meh?’ This feature is perfect when you are driving or sick of typing.
OK! Right now I will start the Google Nexus One, Apple iPhone shoot out!
|Nexus One||iPhone 3GS|
|Battery||Up to 10hrs talktime, 290hrs standby||Up to 5hrs talktime, 300hrs standby|
|Camera||5-megapixel autofocus with LED flash + video capture at 720×480||3.2-megapixel autofocus + video capture at 640×480 pixels|
|Screen||3.7-inch 480×800 pixel||3.5-inch 320×480 pixel|
|Home Screen||5 scrollable panels with interactive wallpapers||Multiple panels for apps and bookmarks|
|Bluetooth||Handsfree, stereo bluetooth, audio control & file transfer||Handsfree & stereo bluetooth, no audio or file transfer|
|Apps||10,000+ apps from Android Market||90,000+ apps from Apps store|
|Voice Features||Voice control for online searches or dictating messages and emails||Voice control to phone contacts or select and play music|
|Storage||MicroSDHC card slot4GB bundled), expandable to 32GB||16GB or 32GB internal storage space (not expandable)|
|Multimedia||Default music player, downloadable 3rd party apps||Seamless iTunes integration.|
The Nexus One I must conclude, is a really good substitute for the iPhone. In fact, in various aspects it is ahead of the curve, namely in its battery life, voice features and navigation of the phone and of the internet. But, the real deal breaker is this; the open source Android platform and its ability to be applied universally.
As put out clearly in the table above, the Nexus one can play audio files and transfer files from any other source. Unlike the iPhone that is locked down by iTunes. The Nexus One is expendable in its storage and you can actually have an extra battery or get a larger capacity 3rd party battery to solve the power issue that these phones have. The approach that Google took with the mobile phone is vastly different from Apple, and it opens the way for the other mobile phone manufacturers to build and compete in this market. End line, better and cheaper products for the consumer :) Already, we are anticipating similar Android phones from Dell, Acer, Motorola and of course HTC.
The only two things that are lagging behind the iPhone is, firstly, the touch sensitivity is a little more sluggish that the iPhone’s, also there is no multi-touch(zooming in with two fingers, replaced by a double tap) and its apps base is significantly smaller than Apple’s.(But in this writer’s opinion, not for very long)
Yes, it is Christmas here in mobile phone land. The messiah that was promised has delivered! No longer do we need to live in the tyranny of the iPhone to have a myriad of apps that we do not need but want so badly, or surf the internet standing in a crowded bus on the way home. But is the Google Nexus one a great deal? Well, no. It costs over S$800 to own it in Singapore now and there is no word of a contracted plan for the phone yet. The iPhone will go for as little as S$248 with a data plan if you sign with a service provider. And if you think about it, the iPhone is a good enough substitute for the Nexus one. So no, not a great deal yet, but it is hell of a great phone :)
More images of the Nexus One:
Want to own the Google Nexus One? Participate in our “What’s The Great Deal?” Google Nexus One giveaway contest. Contest ends on 14th February 2010, so hurry!