Google’s ‘superphone’, the Nexus One, was announced to great fanfare back in January. With its HTC-built chassis and Google’s own Android operating system, it was designed to be the phone that would revolutionise the handset retailing process. Since the release of the HTC Desire and the slew of other Android smartphone offerings, we put the version running Flash-toting Android 2.2 (aka Froyo) through its paces to see how it measures up.
What we like
The Google Nexus One is now available with Android 2.2 (aka Froyo), which means it comes complete with Flash 10.1. We watched a number of trailers on mobile-optimised sites, where the quality was brilliant, if a little slow to load over the 3G network. On the BBC News website, it was super handy to be able to watch embedded videos as you would when surfing the web on a PC or laptop.
Froyo itself is also lovely – noticeably nippier than even Android 2.1 with an improved browser, compass in online maps, ability to install apps on to SD card – although the software to do this in Settings was a little buggy – it crashed a couple of times before it would let us move the app to the SD card.
As with all Android phones, we love having the ability to multi-task, and didn’t notice any major lag with more with three or more applications running at once; obviously for your battery life you’d be wise to exercise at least a little self-control.
As we were big fans of the design of the HTC Desire, it’s no wonder we’re also in favour of the look and feel of the Google Nexus One – although we’re not such advocates of the rollerball. However, we’re happy to concede that it is easier to edit documents, messages and emails using the roller ball than an optical trackpad.
Of course, the Nexus One comes with all the features we’ve come to associate with most Android phones – quick and easy syncing of contacts with your email and social networking contacts, live wallpapers, easily customisable home screens and the like. We’re particularly enamoured of the widgets – particularly the power manager widget which lets you turn down screen brightness or turn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G on and off to save battery life.
The 3.7-inch AMOLED touchscreen is lovely – really bright and nice to use and it’s capacitive so it’s also very responsive as you swipe between screens.
Active Noise Cancellation, something the HTC Desire lacks, meant that phone calls made with the Google Nexus One were very clear from both ends of the call, as well as being great for voice services – like dictation and voice searching.
What we don’t like
We found typing emails and messages in touchscreen mode a bit of a pest – we kept hitting the navigation keys at the bottom of the screen and having to re-open the message. Pretty easily avoided by using landscape mode, but something to note if you’re a portrait fan.
Another pesky button issue is the screen lock/unlock button – this is only done using the power button on top of the screen, which isn’t massively convenient if you only have one hand spare. We’d at least one of the buttons on the front of the handset to bring the screen back to life.
We had a bit of trouble getting voice services to recognise our commands – particularly on place names for navigation. We suspect this might be down to our English (as opposed to American) accent.
Although the Google Nexus One isn’t the revolutionary handset we were half expecting from Google, there’s no doubting that it is a great phone.
With Android 2.2 rolling out now for Google Nexus One users, though, the software may well be the cincher – additions like Flash 10.1 and installing apps to the SD card are such handy little features you’ll soon be wondering how you ever lived without them on your Android handset.
Google’s own handset is always going to receive Android updates sooner than any other brand; but if you’re a fan of HTC’s Sense interface, with its animated weather icons and the like, you may be better off with the Desire.