Review of the Nexus One

About a week ago, I got my shiny new Nexus One from Google, and I have been happily using it since. While I didn’t leave it on Eclair (Android OS 2.1) for long, here are my thoughts on it under Eclair.

First, the thing is phenomenally fast, compared to a G1 or iPhone 3G. This was definitely the first thing I noticed about it. No matter how many apps I opened, Android handled the phone’s memory allocation very well, and it never slowed down. This even applies to surfing the web.

As I hinted at in a previous blog, I thought 3G was slow on my iPhone, but that isn’t the case at all. It turns out that it was something about the iPhone that caused me to wait 30-60 seconds for a page to load. I’m not sure whether it was processor, memory, OS, or browser related, and I don’t care. Whatever it is, the Nexus One fixes it.

The second thing that really wowed me were the live wallpapers. I chose the galaxy one, and it’s mesmerizing (click here for a video of it). If Google would put a ‘fire’ live wallpaper on it, people would stop doing anything else entirely, and just stand there mesmerized by the phone. Anyway, though it’s a pretty stupid thing to be wowed by, everyone else who has seen the phone has also been wowed by it, so I guess I’m not alone.

Next, the unlock mechanism is pretty awesome. Instead of a PIN (which you can revert back to in FroYo), you have a swipe pattern to unlock the phone. While, at first, I was annoyed by this and wanted to use a PIN, after using it for a day or so, it became second nature. Now my phone is secure and it doesn’t take me any longer to open the phone than if it was unlocked.

Also, the interface for the camera is pretty nice. You quickly have access to the focus mode, white balance, flash mode, and zoom right on the interface. The pictures themselves are about average for a phone, which was pretty disappointing to me. That being said, I don’t take pictures with a camera phone much anyhow. It will also take 720×480 video right from the same interface, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Wrapping up the apps, the weather/news widget on the Nexus One is really cool. On the weather side, you can have it follow you around as you change location, or statically point to one place. On the widget itself, it shows the current temperature and the conditions (sunny, raining, overcast, etc.). If you click on the weather portion of the widget, it opens up a page that shows the daily and weekly forecast. If from here, you click on the info icon, it shows the daily temperature as an hourly chart (here’s a quick demo).

For the news portion, the interface shows the headlines from a bunch of sources, grouped by topic. It’s pretty configurable, and you can choose which topics to follow and whether or not to DL the topics in the background. I’m not much of a news guy, but I have read more news since getting this thing than I have in the last year.

Finally, the hardware itself is very nice. It’s much thinner and lighter than my iPhone 3G, the fit and finish is excellent, and it feels very solid. This is a far cry from the N1, which feels very ‘loose’ and flimsy, and the iPhone 3G, which feels very plasticy to me. That being said, I messed around with an iPhone 4 this week, and it feels very classy. The glass/steel is a good feeling combo, even if it does break easily, have backwards buttons, and drop calls when you “hold it wrong”.

Also, the screen is gorgeous. Specs-wise, it’s a hair below the iPhone 4’s, but in a side by side comparison (with equal brightness levels), you’d be hard pressed to actually see the difference. Other then the iPhone 4, it blows every other smartphone out of the water.

Overall, I think the Nexus One is a great little phone, even on Eclair, and definitely worth the $529 sans-contract that Google charges for it.

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