Experiencing the Nexus, Without Whoopie

Announced in January 2010 and just updated last month to include support for AT&T's network, this is Google's Nexus One manufactured by HTC:

It's got a Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 SoC (more on this later), 512MB LPDDR1, 512MB flash (where apps and the OS are stored), 4GB microSD card (for music/movies/photos) and boasts a 800 x 480 3.7" AMOLED screen.

The design is definitely not as cohesive as the iPhone, but here’s one area where Apple’s ID doesn’t really pay off - for a device that spends most of its life in your pocket, hand or next to your face - styling loses its value pretty quickly. The iPhone looks sleeker, but I’ll take the upgraded functionality of the Nexus One’s camera with flash any day.

The Nexus One is narrower, thinner but longer than the iPhone. The dimensions are as follows:

Google Nexus One vs. Apple iPhone
 
Apple iPhone 3GS (ARM Cortex A8)
Google Nexus One (Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8650)
Height 115 mm (4.5") 119 mm (4.7")
Width 62.1 mm (2.44") 59.8 mm (2.35")
Depth 12.3 mm (0.48") 11.5 mm (0.45")
Weight 133 g (4.7 oz) 130 g (4.6 oz)

The form factor is both better and worse. Making the Nexus One thinner means that it’s more comfortable to hold up to your head as a phone. You don’t succumb to the iPhone conversation fatigue nearly as quickly. The downside is that the virtual keyboard is narrower, making typing more difficult than the already painful to learn (for some) iPhone keyboard. Personally, I don’t think the tradeoff is worth it. While I believe the Nexus One’s form factor is closer to ideal for carrying around, its keyboard (in portrait mode) is worse off because of it.

This is a normal smartphone after all, so you do get a removable battery. The back cover slides off to reveal a battery, micro SD card slot and SIM card slot. The removable battery is an important addition as you'll soon see. The Nexus One ships with a 4GB micro SD card from the factory.

Charging is done using a micro-B USB cable. Google provides one cable, one power adapter and a set of headphones in the box. The packaging is easily comparable to anything Apple ships. Even the plastic wrap around the cables feels soft to the touch.

You get a standard 1/8” headphone jack up top and to the left of it is your power/lock button. Initial boot on the Nexus One does take a while, I timed it at 48 seconds (that's PC-length!).

As with all other Android phones, you need a SIM and a Google account to make the Nexus One work. Simply typing in your existing Google/Gmail account works, or you can register through the phone’s interface. All syncing with the phone is done over the air and with Google’s servers.

Google doesn’t have a desktop OS (yet), and no thick client desktop apps. Rather than rely on building bridges between its smartphone OS and the desktop applications of its competitors, Google relies entirely on its cloud based services for syncing. Gmail, Google Contacts, Google Calendar, these are your new best friends. Already use all of them? Perfect - your Android phone syncs with your account and you’ll get all of your mail, contacts and calendar events immediately. If you don’t already use them then it’s a lane change. Not a difficult adjustment to make, but transitioning from desktop apps to something entirely cloud based does take some getting used to if you haven’t made the jump prior.

Inspiration The Home Bar
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  • Chloiber - Sunday, April 04, 2010 - link

    Sorry for repeating myself, but I really look forward to a test of the HTC Sense UI with either the HTC Desire, Legend (slower though) or Evo. I read several reviews and in every single one they were really impressed by the onscreen keyboard. Reply
  • ol1bit - Sunday, April 04, 2010 - link

    I love the android platform. Now my last smart phone was the first Palm ever, so I could be thrilled with anything.

    The kicker for me was buying my android at Amazon for $49 (3 weeks ago), and now it's only $19!

    It's hard for me to grasp how much power is in my hands for $19. Sure I have to have a 2 year contract, but I'd have that anyway.

    As far as difference between mine and Goggle's? there's some, but the core functionality is present in both, just like an HP and a Dell computer with their built in thingy's.

    Cheers on a great review!

    Reply
  • LongTimePCUser - Sunday, April 04, 2010 - link

    Today on Amazon the Motorola Droid is $19.99.
    Amazing. I bought mine about 3 weeks ago at $49. I thik that it is great and a bargin at the price I paid.
    They are practically giving it away now. That tells you how profitable their $30/month data plan is.
    Reply
  • naalex - Sunday, April 04, 2010 - link

    Wow, I've got to say: Super Job! Not only did you review the Nexus One, but you managed to simultaneously review Android, review the iPhone OS, compare the two's strengths and weaknesses, and describe ARM's role in the smartphones and microprocessor business (which I never understood). Long yes, but every page was well worth it.

    After reading all the hyperbolic tech news coming from Engadget, CNET, and PhoneArena, I was under the mistaken impression that Snapdragon was a clear smartphone platform champion, so I found it rather interesting that Snapdragon's integrated GPU was inferior to the PowerVR solution on the iPhone 3GS. If I'm not mistaken, this is the GPU that is used in the TI chip in the Droid, so does this mean that my Droid may be able to keep up with Nexus Ones/Snapdragons with 3D gaming apps, or will there be too much hardware and OS fragmentation for any app developer to create any optimized 3D gaming app for Android.

    This is going to be my go-to resource to provide to people who ask, "What is that strange object pressed to your face that isn't an iPhone? Does it cure cancer like the iPhone?" Trying to explain to my clueless tech friends that there are other viable smartphone options out there is an uphill battle, but one that may go a little easier now.
    Reply
  • ExodusC - Sunday, April 04, 2010 - link

    Anand, I'll admit, this is the gist of what I expected from your article (I don't mean that in a bad way, mind you--). I own an iPhone 3G, and have for almost a year now. I like it, but I don't particularly love it. I imagine the 3GS would be a more fluid (and therefore more enjoyable) experience. For some reason, tech reviewers tend to not want to get rid of their iPhones for some reason. Even with a device like the Nexus One at their fingertips. I type this from a Motorola Droid right now, and I love it.

    I agree, I love the fluidity of the iPhone compared to Android devices (why must they be so powerful, but so choppy? That's my biggest complaint), but I love the feature set of Android even more.

    I also really want to know, why do you feel Android's pull-down notification menu is awkward? The first time I picked up an Android device and used it (never knowing about the feature), I felt it was very intuitive and a wise design choice.

    I completely agree with your general consenus that Android needs some polish, however.

    I absolutely love your website, reviews, and attention to detail. Keep up the good work! I just thought I'd share my honest opinion with you. Hopefully you'll have time to respond.
    Reply
  • ExodusC - Sunday, April 04, 2010 - link

    Excuse my extra "for some reason" in that post. I was a bit distracted while typing up my reply... Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 08, 2010 - link

    It's just an odd construct in my opinion. It's the only place in the entire OS that you pull something down to reveal more notifications. If anything I'd expect a tap to expand sort of deal, but the pulldown seems strange to me.

    I will say that after using it for a while, it has lost it's weirdness in my opinion :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • DukeN - Monday, April 05, 2010 - link

    Love the slide out keyboard - if only this was like the original G1 but with all the new horsepower.

    The G1 is the first phone that has tempted me away from a blackberry (well...almost) in 5 years.
    Reply
  • EazyVG - Monday, April 05, 2010 - link

    I have been a WinMo user for past 3-4 years, but I have to agree that Android, not WinMo7, is the replacement for Windows Mobile 6.5, and hence I will be jumping to Android phone (as of today I like the HTC Desire, but want QWERTY) from my current HTC Touch Pro 2. Reply
  • Pitne - Monday, April 05, 2010 - link

    wow I cant believe how biased this article is towards apple. Almost every word you used when talking about the Nexus One had a negative connotation. Most of your 'negatives' towards the nexus one are completely false.

    The notification area for one--this implementation is 100% better than apple or palm and you think its a poor way of handling it? Wtf are you smoking.
    Reply

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