I get inspiration to write from the strangest places. It can be a conversation, an observation or just music. I say it’s from the strangest places because the inspiration doesn’t result in a painting or a photograph, it ends up in the structure or body of a review of some piece of technology. Whether it’s a CPU review, SSD article or even just a cookie cutter article, it all starts with something that gets me in an excited-to-write mode. It’s rarely the product, but rather the thought of writing about it that gets me going. Provided I have the right inspiration.

Most of the time you all scare the crap out of me. I want to impress, I want you guys to be happy with what I write. I want every article to be the most well received thing ever. Every writer wants that. No one ever gets it. So when I see comments telling me that you’re eagerly anticipating my Nexus One review, I get a turtle complex. And not the ninja kind.

Although I’ve used and owned (briefly) plenty of Android devices since the platform launched in 2008, I’ve never sat down to actually review one. Going into today’s review I wasn’t even sure what approach I should take. You’ve been asking for an iPhone or Windows Phone 7 style treatment of the platform, but our coverage of both of those things happened when the platforms were just being introduced - not 17 months later.

Then came the inspiration. I was talking to our newest smartphone editor, Brian Klug, about the review and he gave me the angle. For Brian, today’s review wasn’t so much about exploring every corner of the Android OS but rather properly conveying the feel of the OS and how it differs from the alternatives in the market today. So while I’m going to definitely do the former, I want to tackle the latter early on because ultimately I believe that’s what will determine whether or not Android is for you.

Boxus One

You can't buy a Nexus One in any store, your only route is to go through Google itself. Even though there are versions for T-Mobile and AT&T's networks, those carriers don't sell the phone on their websites either.

The ordering process is very simple and you have the option to engrave two lines of text on your phone at no extra charge (doing so voids your ability to return the Nexus One for a full refund). You have two purchase routes. You can either buy the phone unlocked for $529 (AT&T and T-Mobile versions are available), or you can sign up for a new 2-year agreement with T-Mobile and get the phone subsidized for $179. An AT&T subsidized version isn't available at this time.

Google lists both Verizon and Vodafone versions of the Nexus One shipping in the Spring. For today's review I'm looking at the AT&T version of the Nexus One.

Apple has started a trend of companies spending entirely too much on packaging. We all wrote about how good Apple's packaging was, and now everyone spends much more on packaging just to have it thrown away. I swear someone just played a huge practical joke on us, er or Google, or Apple...I'm not sure.

The Nexus One comes in a pretty white box with a splash of color. Inside you find the usual combination of manuals, more boxes and nice feeling packaging.

The Nexus One ships with a wall charger, earbuds and a separate USB cable for connecting to your computer. You also get a neoprene case.

Experiencing the Nexus, Without Whoopie
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  • Johnmcl7 - Sunday, April 04, 2010 - link

    Very much agreed, I thought far too much time was wasted on Iphone references which given the Iphone generally does everything worse I really couldn't care less about it. Most noticeably multitasking was only given a brief mention despite being being detailed extensively for the Palm Pre reviews.

    I didn't understand the complaint about the notifications either, to me as a non-Android user the system makes perfect sense - it seems entirely logical to have icons for each notification which when tapped show a list with text on each one.

    John
    Reply
  • jamawass - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    Great review Anand. do you think the speech recognition worked well enough to be a complete subsitute for typed entry? I've been averse to touchscreen only devices (gave iphone to my wife) because I hate typing on them. Also did you try gesture search which has a highly publicized feature not too long ago?

    I'm currently using a treo pro windows mobile and even with all it's lack of polish it does feel like I am carrying a portable computer with me. I was hoping Windows7 series would enhance this but it appears as if MS is going to take the Apple approach in this regard. Looks like Android has picked up the windows mobile torch and literally flown to the stars with it.
    Reply
  • Sidharthmodi - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    I liked the Depth in this Product Review. Thanks Anand. Reply
  • has407 - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    Appreciate the depth and that it's based on extended use. Using the 3GS for comparison is spot-on (everything is relative). Thanks again. Reply
  • Chloiber - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    Can we expect a review on the HTC Desire or Evo 4G?

    I know the specs are really quite the same (especially on the Desire) but HTC Sense UI gives the whole thing really a different touch and, according to first reviews, a much better usability.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    We've been trying to get in touch with HTC to get review samples of both of those products. So far we haven't received any response but we won't stop trying :) Worst case, we'll just buy an EVO 4G when it comes out.

    Feel free to write HTC to provide some encouragement if you'd like :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Chloiber - Sunday, April 04, 2010 - link

    Well, I'm waiting for my desire too :P

    Evo 4G will probably take even longer....to test Sense UI one can use the HTC Legend, Desire or Evo 4G - shouldn't make any real difference.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to it :)
    Reply
  • relativityboy - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    If you already have an Android powered phone you can find the Sense UI online, and run it with the appropriate Rom and tools. I just saw it running on a G1 today. It was pretty fast. :) Reply
  • relativityboy - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    A very lengthy and thorough review of the bits, but I didn't come away with a solid understanding of how the device fits together as a user experience...the review feels, disjointed.

    The keyboard is narrow, how does that fit with the voice transcription?

    Sometimes scrolling in the 'app drawer' is slow, but what else was going on in the background? Were you pulling data, listening to music, what else was going on in the phone? The device/os is a true multi-threaded environment for applications. I didn't notice any emphasis there (a major win over iPhone).

    Did you try doing any benchmarking? Use 'Task Killer' or 'Setcpu'?

    Android is OPEN, unlike apple's mobile products.
    You can install apps that aren't in the app store.
    Memory is super-upgradeable (when was the last time a 4Gb or 8Gb iPhone could be upgraded to 32Gb for the price of a micro-sd chip?)

    The comment "It's Mac vs PC all over again" I think is totally missing representing what's going on here. Yet you hit the nail on the head later when you said Apple sees it as a device that's peripheral to laptops/pcs while Google is aiming for what it could be. Apple had a great idea, the iPhone. Google had a great idea a mobile environment/platform to allow lots of people to have great ideas. Google wants to let the world do the creating. The Nexus One as a device is a punctuation mark in a much larger story that includes the G1, Devour, HTC Evo, Droid, and others. Software development kits are available for-free for just about every platform you can shake a stick ate. Google is harnessing the creative powers of everyone who wants to get in on the game... The iPhone is just, well, Apple's 'one thing'.

    A very respected developer friend of mine once said, "In a contest between your software/idea and the real world, the real world always wins." Google knows this. Apple doesn't.

    I'm definitely an Android person, both by UI preference and ideology, but I don't feel like you've really tried, or given yourself enough time to 'get' what this platform is about.
    Reply
  • jasperjones - Saturday, April 03, 2010 - link

    Agree that Android's openness is of huge importance. On an iPhone, you can't even install an app that features a woman in bikini, Apple won't allow it. In this context, I always have to think of Tim Bray's statement that

    "The iPhone vision of the mobile internet’s future omits controversy, sex, and freedom, but includes strict limits on who can know what and who can say what. It’s a sterile Disneyfied walled garden surrounded by sharp-toothed lawyers."
    Reply

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