The idea of a "Google phone" percolated even before Android emerged in 2007. Back then, many wondered if Google would dive into the smart-phone market. As we now know, the search-engine giant waded in – releasing an operating system for others to play with – but didn't go too deep. Yesterday, Google prepared to cannonball.
The Nexus One not only runs Android, but is the first "Google phone" to grow up and remain in-house. While built by HTC, the Nexus One is available through google.com/phone, may be purchased without a carrier, reflects the company's design aesthetic, and sports the newest version of Android. The phone marks a surprising step for Google, even if reviewers aren't blown away by the device itself. Most agree the new phone is great, but so are many of its rivals. Here's what the early reviews say about the Nexus One.
"The phone shape finds itself somewhere between the iPhone and Palm Pre -- taking the Pre's curved, stone-like shape and stretching it into something resembling a more standard touchscreen device," writes Gizmodo. "Still, the shape and size of the phone is absolutely fantastic; even though the surface of the device houses a 3.7-inch display, the handset generally feels trimmer and more svelte than an iPhone, Hero, and certainly the Droid. HTC has managed to get the thickness of the phone down to just 11.5mm, and it measures just 59.8mm and 119mm across and up and down -- kind of a feat when you consider the guts of this thing."
"The Nexus one has four functional touch buttons at the bottom of the screen (back, menu, home, search) and a navigation trackball pointing device," gushes TechCrunch. It also has physical power and volume controls. But most of your interaction with the phone will be through the gorgeous 3.7 inch 480 x 800 OLED capacitive touchscreen. This is the best mobile phone display on the market today, blowing away the iPhone’s 480 x 320 display. The screen is bright and alive, and an absolute pleasure to use."
The new Android:
“Android, including the new 2.1 version, isn’t as smooth as the iPhone," remarks GigaOm. "One needs to make more of an effort on the Google Phone to get things done. I guess you can blame that on the lack of multitouch features. Now don’t get me wrong – Android 2.1 running on Nexus One is pretty darn good. Just not as good as an iPhone. It feels somehow disjointed – much like all the other Android phones. When you install non-Google applications, they don’t quite have the tight integration of Google-based apps. Of course, that’s the downside of an open platform, one not entirely controlled by a single entity.”
"Despite these goodies, the Nexus is missing some important features that iPhone fans take for granted. For starters, the Google app store is much smaller, featuring 18,000 fun little games; there are well over 100,000 for the iPhone," notes The New York Times. "Worse, even if you find a lot of good ones, you might not have anywhere to install them. The Nexus can accommodate memory cards up to 32 gigabytes (a 4-gigabyte card comes with it) — and yet, inexplicably, the Nexus allots only a tiny 190 megabytes of storage for downloaded apps."
The de facto carrier:
"One carrier is ready to support the Nexus One on day one: the U.S. arm of T-Mobile, a longstanding Google (GOOG) partner," says The Wall Street Journal review. "The new Google Phone, built by HTC of Taiwan, will cost $529 unlocked direct from Google, at google.com/phone. It will cost $179 from T-Mobile online with a two-year contract that will set you back $79.99 a month. Verizon Wireless (VZ) in the U.S. and Vodafone (VOD) in Europe will sell the Nexus One eventually at subsidized prices that haven’t yet been announced. All of this will take place on a Google-hosted Web site, a much easier way to buy a phone and service than is typical today, and one that promises to further weaken the power of the carriers."
The final word:
"The Nexus One is an excellent app phone, fast and powerful but marred by some glitches and missing features – a worthy competitor to the Droid, if not the iPhone," adds The New York Times. "The Google phone store is a neat, centralized place to buy phones, but so far, it offers zero advantages over buying a T-Mobile phone any other way."
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