Sunday, March 14, 2010

Random Thoughts on the Nexus One

download-01-nexus-one-540x442[1] I've put this review off for far too long. I didn't want to make any assumptions and I didn't want any preconceived notions sway my review, so I'm writing it now. On February 23, 2010 I got Google's Nexus One. I won't bore you with the specs or any of the other readily available information that clogs the tubes about the Nexus One, I'm just going to give you my thoughts on this phone.
Let me start by saying, I knew I was going to love this phone before I ever got it, so I took advantage of the free engraving Google offered. Not necessarily out of vanity purposes, but I took the opportunity to create kind of a calling card with my Nexus One. I put my Twitter information, my Google Voice number and my email address on it like so:

@Zephyr757 · 757-967-XXXX

I received my new "superphone" the day after I ordered it. Even though the site said that the engraving would take 72 hours. I got the smallish package and was so excited. I actually recorded the unboxing with my webcam. I may upload it after some fine-tuning of the video. That also may never happen. But I digress, I opened the unassuming brown cardboard box that did not mention "Google," "HTC," or anything else that might have indicated that a $500+ phone was included in the slightly-larger-than-shoebox sized box. I opened it very carefully, not knowing what to expect on the inside. I found an even smaller white box with the trademark Google colors of blue, red, yellow and green along each of the four sides of the box. It was very reminiscent of the packaging that contained Darrell's Amazon Kindle. I very carefully opened the stark-white box to find the Nexus One very gingerly wrapped in a layer of protective plastic. I unwrapped my newest obsession and proceeded to the next layer in this small box. It included the battery and all of the accessories. Google was very generous with the included accessories (and rightfully so, for over $500). A micro USB cable was included, as was a wall charger, a neoprine pouch and a wired headphone/headset combo. I immediately noticed that the neoprine sleeve and the headset had my favorite green Android on them. He is on the right earphone and is also screen printed tone-on tone on the pouch. While traditionally he is green, in neither case is he green on the pouch or the headphones, which makes him look far more classy, while giving the user a very distinct Android feeling. The headphones have a control section with buttons for media navigation/playing, and the play button doubles as a call button for answering calls or presumably redialing the last number.
Needless to say I was impressed from the start with the way Google and HTC packaged the Nexus One, but once I powered on the superphone, the amazement kept coming. The feel of the phone is so sturdy, the menus fly in with ease, the touch-sensitive buttons along the bottom of the screen can be quirky, but overall once you get used to them, they are very responsive. The unlock/power button on the top can feel awkwardly placed at first, but again, once you get used to it, it becomes second nature. The responsiveness of the touch screen is phenomenal, and the accuracy is spot on. I believe the high resolution of the display helps the accuracy of the touch screen, but I'm no engineer, so I'm not sure of that. The camera takes excellent pictures, but the flash does leave something to be desired. It is very powerful, so sometimes the middle of the image you're capturing can be a bit blown out, but overall the images are very clear and are more than I expected for a 5 megapixel camera built-in to a phone.
Keep in mind that this not my first, but my third Android powered phone, so the operating system of the phone is very familiar to me, however Google has hit several home runs with Android 2.1. The new menu fly-in is very polished, and is a huge step forward from the menu "drawer" from Android pre-2.1. Since the phone has such a powerful processor, I have seen a lag only in a few places, and normally it's when several apps are running in the background. Remember Android is a multi-tasking operating system! I have downloaded more apps to this phone than I had on either my G1 or my MotoCLIQ combined, and have yet to run into any storage problems, so the added storage capacity has come in very handy. I've installed Google Earth and have amazed everyone who has seen the fluid animation of the globe spinning and flying in to our exact location via GPS. Speaking of GPS, the Car Home application that comes built-in to Android 2.x has enabled me to use this phone as my primary navigation system, rendering my Garmin Nuvi 200 obsolete. The turn-by-turn spoken navigation with spoken street names outperforms my Garmin in every way, plus it includes live traffic and because it's Google Navigation, guess what? It's FREE! Also, the Car Home application makes using the phone's speech search and dial system even better because if it knows exactly whom you're trying to call, it will give you a 10-second countdown to correct it, or it will automatically dial, thus enabling true hands-free dialing of the phone, which leads me to the next new feature of Android 2.1: speech input. This feature is AWESOME! You can literally text by speaking to the phone. Anywhere you would type, you can talk to it. And it is eerily accurate. I find myself using the speech-to-text more often every day. You can talk a heck of a lot faster than you can type, even on the much improved stock on screen keyboard.
You may find on the interwebs that a lot of people are giving the Nexus One a lot of flack over some of the phones having issues with the touch screen, or with the signal dropping out of you hold the phone a certain way. I haven't had any of these issues with my phone. I've TRIED to duplicate the problems people have had, and I've not been able to make it happen. Don't think that I would just write it off either. I had my MotoCLIQ for one day before I called T-Mobile and asked them to replace it due to a flaw I found with the phone. I had my G1 replaced 3 times within the year I used it due to one thing or another (once for a dead pixel), so I am very stringent what I consider to be a quality phone, and the Nexus One has met all of my requirements thus far.
In all, I give this phone a 4.8 stars out of 5. The reason I'm not giving it a full 5 stars is because of the quirks I mentioned before with some of the awkwardness of the placement of the power/unlock button and the strange behavior of the touch buttons along the bottom of the screen. Another quirk I'm not so fond of is the automatic brightness. It doesn't seem to do a very good job at determining when to adjust the backlight, so I manually adjust it. This is something that can be fixed with a software update, so I'm not too worried about it.
If you're thinking about getting a new phone, I would strongly recommend ANY Android device. All the major carriers have them now, and there are slated to be several new Android phones to be released this year. If you're able to get the Nexus One (will be on Verizon sometime within the next several weeks and is on T-Mobile or unlocked for AT&T), then by all means, get the Cadillac of Android phones, but if not, the Open Source Android OS is an excellent choice for any phone, no matter your needs. I've even convinced a friend of mine to give up his iPhone for a Nexus One. Yep, the Nexus One is better than the iPhone, and it's UNLOCKED, so you're not tied to any specific ANYTHING!!!