Every phone that gets launched these days is touted to be the “iPhone killer”. The initial promotions for Nexus one were no different. While I had my doubts on whether it could really dethrone iPhone from being the best-selling touch screen phone in the PDA segment, I can’t deny that I was as excited as a little child to get my hands on this latest Gizmo which was being directly marketed and sold by Google. The war was on. Google vs Apple!!
A cell phone may have a host of features. But if it doesn’t do the basic thing of making calls properly, it loses its purpose of existence. Thankfully, the Nexus doesn’t disappoint. The call quality is brilliant. The reception, even is low network areas is very competitive. It even has second mike on the back which is used for voice cancellation when you are on your phone in a noisy area. So the person at the other end will hear you loud and clear without the extra noise. The loudness and clarity of the incoming voice is quite adequate as well.
Physical design and appearance
When you slowly unwrap this phone from its covers. You are pleasantly surprised by how thin and light it is. The photos of this phone on the web don’t do it justice. The phone looks and feels much better in your hand than it does in the images on the web that you have been drooling on. The back cover of the phone has a rubberized feel to it, which makes it scratch proof. It also helps in gripping the phone nicely so it doesn’t go flying out from your butter fingers in case you are jumping with joy on receiving a certain call you were expecting.
Under the hood
The operating system
The Nexus one runs Android 2.1 (Google’s open source OS for cell phones) as its Operating System. This OS, owing to the fact that it is open source, is finding many takers in the market. Many cell phone makers (HTC, Motorola, Sony Ericsson) are building devices with this OS which are gaining increasing popularity.
First time boot and various features
When you switch on the phone for the first time, its asks for your Gmail user id and password while it is still booting. Once you provide that, it automatically brings your contacts, calendar, emails, Gtalk and Picasa albums to the phone!! You dont to separately sign in to all different Google services, they are integrated beautifully. It also has wonderful support for all your social networking needs (Facebook, Orkut etc).
The home screen really comes alive on the 3.7 inch AMOLED display which is arguably the best screen in the market today. The live wallpapers give it a very unique and nice feel getting you loads of complements from anyone who gets their hands to your phone. In fact, the home screen is so customizable with the options of so many widgets, that every phone will look very different and perhaps reflect the personality of the owner.
The good surprise on this phone is the onscreen keyboard. I have unusually blunt thumbs and therefore, I have always been hesitant in using touch screen phones without a physical keyboard. (iPhone was the first phone I had used successfully, which dint have a physical keyboard). But there is good news for my species as well. The onscreen keyboard is quite receptive. Unlike Nokia, you don’t need to “tap” your screen to enter something. You only need to touch it. If some people still find it challenging, you have the voice to text feature integrated beautifully!! And yes. It works with your indian accent, so long as you dont sound like a character from Simpsons.
The messaging feature works quite well too. You can choose to dictate SMSes or emails to your phone which it converts to text. It has about an 85% success rate unless you are trying to write hindi expletives to a friend who is absconding from the theatre with your movie tickets. I am afraid you will have to write those yourself.
The app store of android
You can download a host of applications from the Google app store for your phone. There are a variety of useful applications and games (free) which will keep you busy in boring meetings or airports when you have nothing better to do. Some noteworthy games that you can download are:
1) Tower Defence
2) Age of Conquest
Some of you Nokia users might compare this app store to the Ovi store available for Nokia. But the applications available on the google store (both in quality and quantity) outshine the Ovi store by a huge margin. While it still doesn’t compare to the Apple app store for the iPhone. I suspect that will change soon. Last quarter, Android overtook Iphone in the total number of sales. See this link.
The more this operating system sells, the more the number of programmers willing to write applications for it.
Camera and music
This phone has a 5 mega pixel camera and a reasonably bright flash.Tthis phone is more than capable of supporting you during the unsuspecting moments of need when you need to capture something and realize your digital camera is resting comfortably in your wardrobe. I have uploaded a few pics that I took from the phone when I had successfully escaped work and run of to Om beach (remote place on the borders of Karnataka). The features on the camera are again reasonably good. Obviously not comparable to professional cameras, but what you have now come to expect from cell phones.
The music quality through the headphones is quite nice. Sadly, still doesn’t match the performance of the iPod or the iPhone. I am not exactly complaining. Let’s just say, the music quality will not disappoint you as long as you use the ear phones. If however, you chose to test the speakerphone on this device, you will be quite disappointed. The volume and clarity (both for phone calls and songs) is below par as compared to cell phones half its cost.
1) I wish it worked out of the box with Microsoft Exchange so I could get my office emails on it as well but it sadly doesn’t.
2) While the screen looks very vibrant and alive indoors, the visibility in sunny outdoors suffers. It’s very hard to read text while walking in the sun.
3) The battery life is very poor. It usually doesn’t last the entire day. Actually the talk time on the phone is not half as bad. But the battery life seems less because you can’t stop yourself from playing with the phone, the powerful snapdragon processor and the display causing the battery to drain.
1) The screen resolution on this phone is one of the best. Looking at pictures or videos on this phone is about as good or better than watching them on the laptop.
2) The android App store is phenomenal. Even after almost 4 months of usage, I am still fairly engaged in my phone. This coming from a man who usually changes phones in less than a year.
3) The most amazing part about this phone is that it doesn’t come with any “desktop sync” software like the Nokia PC sync or the iTunes for Apple. It is an independent device that doesn’t need to connect to your PC for any reason at all. You can download songs directly to your phone by using the wi-fi connectivity, upload images on Picasa, watch videos or upload them on YouTube etc. Even for the Firmware upgrade. The phone downloads them directly over the air, installs them and just needs a reboot for the changes to take effect!!! (Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t connect it to your laptop . It shows up as a thumb drive)