Gadgets & Apps

Google's Nexus One: A Hands-On Review

Google is expected to show off its Nexus One on Tuesday, a much-anticipated smartphone that's going to run with the latest Android 2.1 operating system. There are plenty of pictures and rumors on the web about it. But, this intrepid reporter managed to actually get her hands on one. My verdict: I really like it. I even think it's a competitive alternative to the iPhone.

The new operating system is really fast. I glided from one application to another. The screen, about the same size as the iPhone's, actually appears to have slightly higher resolution. The camera is really pretty darn good for a cell phone. It has also has a flash, unlike the iPhone. And when I compared a picture taken with an iPhone to one taken with the Nexus, the Nexus won hands down.

I like the feel of the Nexus One in my hand. Unlike the other Android phones I've seen, this one feels really nice in the palm of my hand.

Then, there's the battery life. In a previous entry on this blog, I listed my reasons for hating the iPhone and high on that list was battery life. Well, the Nexus One beats the iPhone no problem. It holds at charge for at least 24 hours, and maybe more.

According to my sources, customers will be able to buy the phone and then choose between T-Mobile and AT&T. Neither competes with the Verizon network, in my experience. But at least you have a choice if you happen to like the Nexus One.

Buying the phone solo, however, is likely to cost big bucks. If you want to get it at a lower price, you'll probably have to sign up for a two-year contract with one of those providers. Still, Google is making a move to divorce phones from providers, an idea that some call device neutrality.

Like the iPhone, the Nexus One has a virtual keyboard. But, I found it easier to use because, like past Android phones, when you type a word the phone makes several guesses as to what the complete word will be. Then you can click on the right one. I prefer this to the way the iPhone just fills in with one guess. That guess can often be wrong about whether you want a plural or an adverb. This is a feature in all Android phones, but it plays out better on the Nexus One. I think it makes this phone more competitive with the iPhone than any other smartphone I've seen.

The Nexus One can store videos and music. But it doesn't have a connection to iTunes and that is likely to make it unappealing to many people who want that convenience. It also doesn't have access to Apple's app store. However, there are a growing number of applications being built for the Android Market and I predict that this phone will inspire many more.

Although I really like the Nexus One, I suspect it is still going to be very hard to pry away the coolness label from the iPhone. The Nexus One is nice to use and pleasant to look at. But it certainly doesn't have that je ne sais quoi that Apple gives all its devices.

Still, for those who don't like the limits of the iPhone battery or the totally uncool quality of a Blackberry, I think that the Nexus One is going to offer a really nice alternative.

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