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Google Nexus One

Nexus One

Nexus One

Yesterday saw the much-awaited launch of Google’s phone the Nexus One.  There has been a great deal of speculation leading up to the launch and the phrases “super phone” and “iPhone killer”.  The speculation as to the technical specification has been accurate – probably due to the fact that Google employees were given phones for testing in the weeks leading up to the launch.  Well the phone is here, has it lived up to the hype? Well, very few products do.

What will make this phone success, or not, is not the hardware, but the integration of the software and new ‘functions’ it will bring.

However, first, the hardware.  The screen is 3.7 inches, which is not the largest available, but certainly one of the larger screens.  The OLED screen has a resolution of 800×480 with a contrast of 100 000:1 and a 1ms response rate.  It is only 12mm thick, about the same as a pencil, and incorporates a 3.5mm headphone jack.  It also has a mini USB socket.  The phone uses a very fast Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor, which makes everything respond in a very nippy manner.  It has a 5 megapixel camera with auto flash and focus, Video captured at 720×480 pixels at 20 frames per second or higher, depending on lighting conditions.  With regard to wireless connections it supports UMTS Band 1/4/8 (2100/AWS/900), HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 2Mbps, GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and A2DP stereo Bluetooth.  With regard to the locations capabilities, it has an assisted global positioning system (AGPS) receiver, base station and Wi-Fi positioning, a digital compass and of course an accelerometer.  With all this hardware built in the immediate question is what is the battery life like?  Well, Google claim that its removable 1400 mAH battery provides talk time up to 10 hours on 2G, up to 7 hours on 3G, a standby time, up to 290 hours on 2G up to 250 hours on 3G, internet use Up to 5 hours on 3G, up to 6.5 hours on Wi-Fi, and video playback Up to 7 hours.  The keyword here is ‘upto’.  Pointing is enhanced by a navigation trackball pointing device  similar to Blackberry’s ‘pearl’.

Now, to the software.  The OS is Android 2.1, and it was stated at the launch that this would be released to the Open Source community within days. The screen has ‘living’ wallpapers (which will react to your touch, or other elements on the phone, such as music playback) to menu opening and Gallery browsing, everything moves instantly under the touch, as you’d expect it to on a high end phone like this.  The screen has conventional menu button, is nice enough, with a strange ‘falling away’ motion for the icons at the top.  As Google are using the tag line “Web meets phone” the question is how does it perform when rendering web pages?  It does not fail to impress, being at least as fast as the competition over both 3G and wifi.  Does it support Flash?  This is currently unclear, although it looks like Flash Player 10.1 is due to make an appearance.  Pinch-zooming is still not available on the 2.1 firmware of Android. However, double-tapping will zoom in.  However, the good news is that the Hero-style smart fit text algorithm is back on the internet browser, so no matter how much you zoom in on the text, it’s always going to stay within the confines of the screen.   It comes complete with Google’s much-touted ‘voice to text’ function, where you can speak any words you would normally write down on the device.  Every text field in the device is now voice enabled.  In most apps you can choose the microphone button and talk into the phone, which then converts your speech to text.

Costs?  Pricing in the USA is $529 in sim-free mode, or $179 with a two-year contract with T-Mobile.  It is due to come to Europe within the next few weeks, with Vodafone, and prices at €450 for a contract free device and a two year contract via Vodafone with a price of €200.

Is this the best smartphone on the market, probably not.  Is this the best Android phone on the market – yes,  probably.

Categories: Gadgets, Mobile Phones
  1. Ross Jones
    06/01/2010 at 7:26 pm

    That Nexus One phone looks really interesting!

  2. Jack Rowe
    06/01/2010 at 7:27 pm

    I really like the look of the google nexus. bit pricey by the looks of things. but are google just following the same fad set by apple with the iphone and the blackberry?… personally, i’d get an iphone, because i can get personal feedback from other people with regards to what it’s like. for example, ipods and iphones boast a 24hr battery life (yeah right!), and this is something i wouldn’t be able to get from the manufacturers website. i’m not saying don’t bother with the nexus, but i’m gonna play safe for a while.

    • 06/01/2010 at 7:32 pm

      Jack – I agree with your comment re manufacturer’s claims for battery life. I currently own both an iPhone and a Blackberry – the latter having, by far, the better battery life. The iPhone can last less than a working day – if you are bold enough to use wifi or GPS. One of the advantages of the Nexus is the use of Open Source software, which gets very quick updates when problems are identified, and also many of the Apps are free. My contract on my Blackberry expires later this year and I will give the Nexus careful consideration as a replacement.

      • Jack Rowe
        06/01/2010 at 7:44 pm

        ah ok… thanks for that, i’ll keep this in mind, especially about the software.

  3. Jos Walker
    07/01/2010 at 11:45 am

    Hiya, I’m the one who got Adam to ask you to do the bit on Space Elevators. It was very interesting. I had no idea that the Japanese govt was considering them I shall have to google it.

    You should have a look at the concept of Nuclear Pulse Propulsion: that’s another of my favourites. There is a very good book on the US govt’s consideration of the plan in the 1950s called “The Orion Project” by someone Dyson. It is well worth a read if you haven’t already!

    Nuclear Pulse Propulsion may not be politically feasible as it involves a lot of nuclear bombs, but it raises the possibility of craft weighing thousands of tons launching directly from the ground. I have never heard of any other technology which claims to be able to make this possible.

    What is fascinating about the Orion Project is that it describes space travel from a ‘1950s perspective’ envisaging very large permanent off-world colonies. The author suggests that had the technology become a reality then, culturally speaking, the 1960s would never have happened because the 50s would have just “carried on forever”.

    I’d be interersted to hear your views on the idea…

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