Smartphones

Google Nexus One: Very promising but perhaps not "super"

Google hopes the Nexus One will open a new category of mobile device--the "superphone". Bill Detwiler offers his take. What do you think?

Credit: Google

As Google wound down its Nexus One press conference on Tuesday, the reviews began to hit the Web. Watching the live blog coverage of the press conference and reading the reviews, I see a lot to like about the new Nexus One. I'm just not sure it's a"superphone" as a Google presenter described the device during the press event.

Positives include:

  • Voice support for all text fields. You can now dictate your Tweets, Facebook Updates, and emails. I've been using Android 2.0 on the Motorola Droid for several weeks, and I really like the Voice Search feature. I'm glad to see that Android 2.1 will expand voice recognition to all text fields.
  • Solid technical specifications. Google's Web portal provides a complete list of the Nexus One's technical specifications, but I am particularly impressed by the 3.7-inch (diagonal) AMOLED touchscreen (800 x 480 resolution), Qualcomm QSD 8250 1 GHz processor, expandable memory (using Micro SD Cards), and its thin, lightweight design.
  • 3D capability for soon-to-be-released Google Earth. Although the Nexus One doesn't have Google Earth (yet), the OS and hardware provide a 3D framework that will be used to offer the mapping application in the future.
  • Available with our without service. You can buy the Nexus One directly from Google without a carrier contract for $529. If you purchase the phone with a 2-year, T-Mobile contract, the prices is $179. Verizon (in the U.S.) and Vodafone (in Europe) will get the Nexus One in Spring 2010, although pricing hasn't been released.

Despite all the positives, the Nexus One isn't without limitations, for example:

  • Limited internal storage. Although the Android OS and the Nexus One will eventually let you store applications on the Micro SD card (expandable to 32 GB), the current device only stores apps on the internal memory. There are conflicting reports of how much space is available for storing applications--Walt Mossberg reports that 192 MB are available, while Ross Miller indicates the number is 512 MB. (Both reviews are linked to below.)
  • Number of apps. According to some, the Android Market has around 18,000 apps, compared to the more than 100,000 apps for Apple's iPhone. As more Android devices enter the market and developers get a feel for the hardware that will standard on these devices, this will likely change. But for now, Apple still rules when it comes to mobile apps.
  • No multitouch support in the Android UI. Although there is information that Android 2.0/2.1 and both the Motorola Droid and Nexus One can support multi-touch input, Google has not included multitouch gestures (such as pinch-to-zoom) in the Android UI. This is likely a decision based more on legalities than pure functionality. Apple has applied for several pattens involving multitouch and in April 2009, Elan Microelectronics sued Apple for infringing on two patents related to touchscreen and multitouch technology. Hopefully, the patent issues will be resolved, and we'll see multitouch gestures in the Android UI soon.

Overall, the Nexus One appears to be a solid mobile device with a lot of promise. I'm just not sure it lives up to the "superphone" moniker.

Here are links to several Nexus One reviews:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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