Saturday, February 6, 2010

Life with the Nexus One, part I

I bought a Nexus One directly from Google for full price, the week after it came out. I had been waiting for an Android phone for most of 2009, and the Nexus One looked like the phone for me.

A phone that doesn't suck too much

My primary goal for getting an Android phone was to find a phone that doesn't suck significantly more than the iPhone. I mean, let's face it: walled gardens suck. Also, you can't use it on any network besides AT&T without jailbreaking your phone. The way I see it, smart phones are computers, plain and simple. I wouldn't dream of buying a computer that wouldn't let me run whatever I want to run on it.

So the iPhone sucks, but then so do most Android phones. Look at how ugly and clunky the G1 and MyTouch are. And the screens are so small. And don't forget, you have to buy them from T-Mobile!

The Nexus One is the first of the current generation of smart phones that you can buy without a contract. It's an open platform. And nobody is trying to tell me what I can or can't run on it. The touchscreen is actually the same size as the iPhone, and the touch buttons directly beneath the touch screen give you some good contextual actions that you can take, so most apps are able to make better use of the screen real estate than the iPhone allows.

Don't get me wrong, the Nexus One still sucks. The battery life isn't what I would want. There's also a slight design flaw with the location of the speaker pointing towards the back of the phone. In loud environments, I find myself wanting to point the screen away from me so I can hear the speaker. Pretty annoying.

The Camera

The Nexus One comes with a 5 megapixel camera. I've had trouble sometimes with the automatic white balance making pictures more yellow than they should be, but overall it takes really great pictures, and the autofocus lets it take really close pictures, really sharp.

Autofocus combined with the 5MP camera leads to really fast decoding of bar codes and QR codes.

The Apps

As a Go enthusiast, I'm a little bit disappointed by the number of Go applications on the Android market. I haven't yet found a great app for recording Go games, although an open source app called "gobandroid" appears to be making some really great progress.

There are tons of both free and for-pay apps in the Android Market. I don't see any shortage of applications really.

Battery Life

The battery doesn't seem to last as long as the battery in my iPhone 3G did. I'm not sure what the reason for this is, but it could be due to a number of factors, not least of which is the fact that I'm always messing around with the phone. Background processing may account for some of that, but I don't really know.


One of the things I really hated about the iPhone is the fact that it took me so many steps to check email:

  1. Unlock the phone
  2. Run the "Mail" app
  3. Select the correct email account
  4. Select the inbox
  5. Wait for the client to connect to the mail server
On my Nexus One, there's only one step, thanks to background processing and a helpful status bar:
  1. Press the "standby" button
  2. There is no step 2

The Verdict Thus Far

So far, I really love my Nexus one. I'm still discovering new apps and new things about the phone, but I really use it a lot more than I ever used my iPhone.