Google 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.