You have probably read many technical reviews of the new nexus one phone, so we decided to write an everyday usage review to give you more detailed information about what this phone is like to live with every day, and whether or not all the essentials work like they should.
We got the phone last week and the first impression, after touching and holding in our hands was: “wow, it feels so high-value and lightweight”. It really is a nice piece of hardware made by HTC, big screen with LED backlight like the Samsung Galaxy, but brighter and it feels much more responsible when you touch it. Running on Android 2.1 it feels very fast and responsive when you navigate through apps or menus. The browser renders websites quickly, almost as fast as an iphone 3gs (which i use for everday work). The scrolling is smooth even on large sites, and the zooming functions work properly. But if you’re used to the iphone, one of the first things you will notice is the lack of multitouch to zoom in and out. To us, it is the only way to navigate/zoom in websites on a mobile device that feels intuitive. Google, please consider adding native multitouch support in the browser/maps application in Android.
Adding WIFI hotspots was really easy and worked out of the box with wpa2 secured access points. After browsing via WIFI for a while, we tried the updated market application, which looks really nice/clean compared to the one which is preinstalled on a Galaxy for example. We installed some applications and games like Frozen Bubbles and the stern.de app to read news while on the go. Installation was pretty fast, but we did not expect anything else from the 1GHZ Snapdragon processor. Working with the phone in germany on t-mobile’s 3g network was good in general, but we also noticed some periodic connection problems as reported by many people in the U.S. After that we switched to “2G mode only” to ensure a stable connection while testing the device. EDGE connection was stable all the time (72 hours) and download speeds were also pretty good when using the Android market to download applications.
While in the car, we activated the bluetooth stack of the nexus, it paired fast and without a problem with the audi navigation system. The phone then displayed a popup, asking whether the car was allowed to load the addressbook into the cars phone application. We made a call and noticed no problems. Did i say “no problems”? Not correct. After the first call, the bluetooth connection was interrupted again and again, which means we were unable to make any more calls. If you plan on using this phone in conjuction with a recent audi bluetooth system, make sure to test the feature before buying or wait for an update to rectify the situation. BTW: So far this is the first phone we’ve tested that had trouble staying connected to the audi’s bluetooth system. So in all likelyhood this is an issue with the phone’s software.
After driving back home, we took some shots to test the builtin 5MP camera with LED flash. In our opinion the shots outside were a little bit better than the ones produced by the iphone 3gs, but judge for yourself. Transferring pictures and music to the nexus is straight forward, since the phone acts like an external storage device on my mac (same for windows and linux). If you are used to work with the iphone you will ask yourself, is there something like itunes available to sync my phone? Indeed there is, called “doubletwist” (http://www.nexusoneitunes.com/). It worked nicely and was easy to use on my mac to sync music etc. It’s still in beta, but i would give it a try if you are familiar with itunes and dont want to drag/drop all your stuff to your phone manually.
Ok, back to the phone and to one of the most important things in reviewing a phone: its battery life. In this respect the nexus one proved equivalent to the iphone 3gs. I had to charge it after all the stuff above was done (28hours). So for me it was ok, since i know my iphone 3gs gets about the same battery life.
Our final summary for the google nexus one is: It is not only the newest Android device (newest version) out there at the moment, it is really a very competent phone for everday use like browsing the web, writing mails, listening to music, and taking some pictures while on the go (also at night, thanks to the decent LED flash), but the lack of proper bluetooth functionality was a problem, at least in out testing. Perhaps it works well with other cars, but it absolutely refused to stay connected to the audi rns system, and we suspect it will have similar problems with vw, seat and skoda bluetooth systems featuring the same basic hardware. Despite this flaw, it’s currently the best smart phone for your money as far as we’re concerned. Considering the price difference between an unlocked iphone 3gs and the nexus one, there seems to be little reason to spend more for the apple product.
UPDATE: We finally installed the update to our nexus one and multitouch is working as expected in the browser application, the maps application and in the gallery. As we read in IRC, google will provide API`s to let developers build apps with this new functionality.
UPDATE: Today Google announced a software update for the nexus one which will include multitouch like it is implemented on Apple`s iphone. When our device gets this update, we will update this post again and share out latest experiences with you. Here is the full list of features, which are included in the update:
– Google Goggles: this mobile application will now be available directly on your device by launching it from your All Apps menu. Just use your Nexus One camera to start searching the web
– Google Maps: the Maps application with be updated to a new version, Google Maps 3.4, which will include:
+ Starred items synchronized with maps.google.com – access your favorite places from your phone or computer
+ Search suggestions from your personal maps.google.com history – makes it easy to search for places you’ve searched for before
+ Night mode in Google Maps Navigation – automatically changes your screen at night for easier viewing and driving
– Pinch-to-zoom functionality: devices will now include a new pinch-to-zoom mechanism in the phone’s Browser, Gallery and Maps applications
– 3G connectivity: a general fix to improve 3G connectivity on some Nexus One phones