The Google Nexus One is the search giant’s first proper foray into selling its own phone and comes as the Android revolution is gathering real pace. Built by HTC, it has the very latest Android 2.1 software and is billed as one of a select few high-end offerings which Google believes can see off the iPhone and become mobile number one.
There’s no escaping the fact that this is the HTC Desire under a different name. The differences between the two are minimal: the Desire has an optical trackpad, while the Nexus One uses a trackball. The latter also lacks that slight lip on the mouthpiece, making it easier to stuff in your pocket.
And, most importantly, the Nexus One runs vanilla Android rather than HTC Sense. That’s not such a disaster, as this is a phone that runs at breakneck speed thanks to a 1Ghz Snapdragon processor and squeezes in Android 2.1. It’s hard not to love the Nexus One after your first play.
The teflon-coated Nexus One is straight out of HTC’s standard smartphone stable. The grey backing doesn’t attract any fingerprints and despite the 3.7-inch screen it’s pancake- thin at 11.5mm. However, it doesn’t have anything like the design charms of the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 or HTC Legend. It looks functional, with the focus firmly on what’s going on inside.
The biggest design quirk is the trackball. It doesn’t compare favourably to the trackpad on the HTC Desire. And like that effort, it feels needless on a phone which has a remarkably tactile multi-touch panel.
The Nexus One’s features are very much focused on what’s going on under the hood. This is a phone that lets Android do all the talking, and as such it doesn’t have the social networking skills seen on the HTC Desire or Xperia X10. The five megapixel camera is ostensibly the same as that on the Desire. But somehow it doesn’t feel as specced-out as that particular snapper, with less control over how your snaps are taken. Shots are sharp enough and fine for Facebook, but you’ll want a compact to-hand for proper pics.
Software is the Nexus One’s standout feature. Android 2.1 is inarguably the best mobile OS on the market right now. It’s remarkably intuitive and incredibly powerful, all while keeping things straightforward. Merged Gmail inboxes are excellent, Google Goggles provides hours of novelty searching and the more stable keyboard means this is much better for typing out text than older Android 1.6 phones such as the X10 and HTC Magic.
Ease of use
One of the best things about vanilla Android is how easy it is to use. The prompts to enter your Google account info appear at the start and will give your phone added powers from the get-go. Gmail is a breeze to use, the menu system is foolproof and the ability to drag icons around the homescreens is great for incessant tinkerers. This is a phone for those who don’t want fancy looks, just amazing power at their fingertips.
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