Saturday, February 06, 2010

its my first time: my google nexus one / android experience (part 1)

so yes, i was one of those geeks. up until the day of launch, i was not really too sold on the new Google Nexus One phone.   Android didn't seem to be as mature as the iPhone OS but still seemed to have a one-up on Windows Mobile/Web OS though.  However, after doing more research on the technology being used in the new Nexus One I was sold.  The Snapdragon CPU alone was worth it imo (cpu speed has historically been the weakest part of most devices, and of course balancing it w/decent battery life) and the fact that there were visual notification options (external led and trackball notifier).

So, what does this previous iPhone 2G and 3G user think of Android and the Nexus One?   Hit the jump to get my part 1 of 2 on my experience.



Introduction/Background:

First things first, this is Google's first real attempt at launching its own phone.  In late 2008, T-Mobile was the first to launch an Android smartphone.  Android is Google's smartphone/smartbook OS.  The main idea behind the Android OS is that it is free and open source; so anyone can use it or create apps for it.  There is no premium attached to running it on a phone for a manufacturer.  The inital launch of the G1 was mixed with love and hate.  The hardware itself was not the best at the time and at times showed its age by being a bit slow.  The Android OS itself was VERY young and immature; however even though it was Google's first release it still was pretty good (almost as good and perhaps better than Windows Mobile in terms of stability and ease of use).

Between the G1's launch and Google's announcement of the Nexus One (days before CES, similar to how Apple's iPhone announcement was setup), the Android platform had matured quite a bit and very nicely.  HTC released several great device such as the Hero and Motorola really brought its A-game with the Droid.  The Droid was one of the first Android devices to really catch the consumers eye (besides the geeks and early adopters of previous android phones) with an updated Android OS.

Prior to the Nexus One announcement, rumors and eventually blurry spyshots and videos slowly leaked from google employees.  Google had distributed devices to all of its employees for testing and in what seemed like a nicely coordinated viral marketing campaign; more and more details  started leaking out including the first blurry pics and then the bootup screen and finally as CES approached more and more detailed videos and info started leaking.  Finally, Google made it official at an event prior to CES.

The biggest thing about the Nexus One was that Google would be selling the device from its own webpage (http://google.com/phone ) and would sell it unlocked or subsidized w/a contract with T-Mobile (USA) and later in the year Verizon.  The cost for the Nexus One unlocked was $529 (meaning you can use it on any GSM based network) or for $179 subsized by T-Mobile (in turn requiring a 2 year contract and also requiring a $39 unlimited data plan).

Most people were not very impressed by this.  To most, $500+ for a phone is a lot of money but the problem is that most people don't see the full picture.  I've been a T-Mobile customer now for about 4 years and in turn have been grandfathered into the T-Zones Unlimited Web data plan ($5.99/mo) and did not want to loose that plan since its a bit more challenging to get it back ( see my tech-recipe on how you can try to get this data plan).  So I had to decide on whether I wanted to save a few bucks instantly but pay for it in the long run or if i wanted to pay the full $529 but in the long run save money.  To me, this was a no brainer; buy the phone unlocked since 1 years worth of data would in turn make the cost of ownership of the Nexus One more than the money saved on the subsidized price.  So about around 3pm on launch day I pulled the trigger and snatched it up.  Gotta love the free overnight shipping!

Hardware/Initial Impressions:

The boxing of the Nexus One is comparable to the iPhone's.  A nice sturdy, white box w/a microUSB cable, power cable, the phone.  The feel of the Nexus One is a bit different but good; it has a velvet rubber backing feel and the screen feels and looks better than my previous iPhone 2G and 3G.  The boot up screen loads rather fast and walked you through activating (if you are a new customer), however since I already have a tmobile sim, i just popped it out of my iPhone and into the Nexus One and was instantly up and going. :)

The phone itself feels very solid and high quality. The near velvet feel of the backing is nice and grippy vs the iphone's smooth/glossy surface.  It has 3 hardware buttons and a scoll ball/led indicator.   My fave feature of the Nexus One is the LED notification.  Its sad to think i've gone almost 2 years with having to turn on my phone to know if i had an unread message/missed call/voicemail.  A feature the iPhone to this day lacks, what, LEDs too expensive?? /sarcasm

The first thing you'll notice when you power on the phone is how fast it does boot up and also the screen.   It really is gorgeous.  Anothering i've noticed is that the screen seems to almost be a 'self-cleaning' screen in that when i put in back in my pocket and then take it out, it seems to clean the finger prints off of it by rubbing on the fabric in my pocket.

The battery is removable but the memory card (microSD/SDHC) and sim cards can only be accessed with the battery out which can be annoying at times.

The camera is on the back like all touchscreen phones but the nice thing is that since the camera is above the battery area, if your camera lense gets very scratched, you can just buy a new battery cover and fix that.

The connnector is a microUSB  flavor (the new current standard for phones).  The Nexus One also internally has Bluetooth, 802.11n wifi, HSPDA/EDGE data radios, GPS, Compass (for augmented reality apps, navigation).  It has almost every connectivity flavor that currently exists in phones and of course easily powers it with its amazing 1ghz Snapdragon processor.  Like others have said, this phone is really the best of all current phone technology packaged into one phone.

Overall, the Nexus One feels like a very high quality phone; it doesn't feel slippery or plasticky cheap. So hardware-wise, i'm very impressed with the phone. Google just released the Dock for the Nexus One however I have not had time to use yet but once i return back home i will add a new post on it.

So yes, the Nexus One is an amazing piece of phone hardware. For a phone geek, you couldn't ask for more.  It has the actual processing power to drive AR apps without any lags and a screen that is gorgeous compared to most other touchscreen phones.  The camera is a very nice 5mp and does a good job of shooting.

Next post, i'll take a look at the software side of things and how the transition from iPhone OS to Android went for this geek.