Google Nexus One Review
*The review has been updated on March 25.

This is a global GSM phone, it can be used with
T-Mobile's 1700MHz 3G band, and with AT&T without 3G.

HTC Nexus One Release Date - January 05, 2010


When we first caught wind that Google had something in the works for the mobile space everyone assumed it was a phone, but as we all know the big announcement revealed it was much more, an open-source mobile operating system.  The commercial launch of Android was important, but on the nation's fourth largest carrier it was also relatively quiet despite selling well.  Last summer a second device- the HTC Magic/My Touch 3G- was added to T-Mobile's lineup with a major marketing push behind it, and Motorola made its Android debut with the CLIQ.  In the fall Sprint became the second carrier to support Android with the launch of the HTC Hero followed quickly by the Samsung Moment.  Android was gaining momentum, but what really pushed it over the brink was the launch of the heavily-hyped Motorola DROID by the nation's largest carrier, and alongside it the Hero-esque DROID ERIS. But amid the avalanche of new device launches and public awareness there again were whispers that we would see a Google Phone after all.

Say hello to the HTC Nexus One, sold exclusively through Google.  This phone shouldn’t be new to you however; we first spied it way back in October as the HTC Passion.  The Nexus One is indeed manufactured by HTC, and while the packaging makes no mention of this fact HTC has managed to get its logo directly on the phone.  Specs are impressive: a 3.7” AMOLED display, 5 megapixel autofocus camera with flash, 3G and Wi-Fi and- most importantly- a 1GHz Snapdragon processor.  Oh, and it’s the first device to run Android 2.1 as well.  In the box you’ll find a neoprene carrying pouch, cool-looking stereo headphones, microUSB data cable and AC adapter and an included 4GB microSD card installed.


We’re going to be upfront about this: the instant we unboxed the Nexus One and picked it up the first words out of our mouths were “We want this.”  After about five minutes with the device we had changed our minds, and here is why: at least in our normal-sized hands it’s just not comfortable to hold.  This is most apparently when navigating the menu in portrait mode, because the device is top heavy and the natural position is to hold onto the bottom half of the phone when using it.  While on a call, where one is more prone to extend the index finger along the length of the back the thing feels great, two-handed use in landscape mode is as comfortable as can be and even holding the device upside-down is pleasing.  But, the truth is that we use our phones most often with one hand and the Nexus One has a tendency to almost jump out of our hands.  We got laughed at for literally dropping it while sitting stationary navigating the interface, but when we handed the phone over the same thing happened and the laughter quickly turned into confusion.

So, that is our main gripe with the Nexus One, let us move on.  The screen.  Oh my God the screen.  Not since Rachel Bilson’s big brown eyes lit up the OC have we gotten lost staring at something so easily.  It is massive, and it is beautiful.  The colors jump out at you, and while no official spec is listed we have to believe it is capable of 16 million colors.  It has a 480x800 pixels resolution with a 100,000:1 contrast ratio, and a superfast 1ms response rate.  Everything is so vivid and bright it’s almost like looking at a picture frame.  It is without a doubt the best display we’ve ever seen, though like the Samsung Moment the whites have a noticeable blue tint to them.  The display is gorgeous enough when viewed straight-on, but its brilliance really shines when viewed from awkward angles.  Everything is still super sharp, whereas the great displays on the DROID and iPhone lose their mojo.

You can compare the HTC Nexus One with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Visually the HTC Nexus One looks very similar to Sprint’s Hero, but uses the touch-sensitive navigation keys like the DROID ERIS.  The layout of these keys are identical to the DROID, but the Nexus One adds a trackball (again, the smaller one like the ERIS) for added navigational options.  In terms of feel we prefer the larger ball of the Hero but aesthetically we understand why HTC chose the smaller ball.  The touch sensitive keys worked mostly ok when held in the typical position, though we did find ourselves having to hit the back key multiple times on several occasions.  When sitting on a table in front of us we had issues with all of the keys, leading us to believe that the sensor is closer to the top of the keys than centered or on the bottom.  This was mildly annoying.

The business-friendly gray comes in two different shades and the pattern strangely reminds us of Motorola’s ic502 hybrid CDMA/iDEN device.  Physical buttons are limited to the volume rocker on the left side and power button up top.  These both have minimal travel but enough to know that the button has been pressed.  The trackball can also be pressed to select items.  The microUSB (finally) charging/data port along with some dock connectors are on the bottom.  We’ve yet to see a dock accessory, but it is no doubt coming as it has passed the FCC (with Bluetooth, no less.)

The back of the HTC Nexus One has a large 5 megapixel camera with a single LED flash to its right.  There is a small cutout for the ample speaker, and almost hidden along the left side is a second microphone used for active noise cancellation.  The housing is Teflon-coated to resist dirt and grime, a trick we first saw on the white GSM Hero.  No “with Google” branding here, the Nexus One is simply branded “Google.”

The Nexus One is a beautifully boring phone.  There is no emphasis on style, yet it still remains an object of desire.  If HTC had evenly distributed the weight, or even made it bottom-heavy, the Nexus One would likely be our favorite phone out there.  The iPhone isn’t the most comfortable thing to hold either, but at least it doesn’t jump out of our hands.  We have a feeling that with a few weeks under our belt this will become less of an issue, but it still holds the Nexus One back from being truly great design-wise.  Still, we do kind of want one.

HTC Nexus One 360 Degrees View:



1. barmalei

Posts: 20; Member since: Dec 08, 2009

Certainly a very decent smartphone, but I can't get past the uninspiring design of both exterieor and the UI (I totally agree with this conclusion: "The enhanced UI is nice, but we still want Sense"). When I am paying 530 dollars plus tax for a phone that I am planning to be using daily for the next 3 years, I want something more aesthetically pleasing like HD2 or Xperia X10 - even though it takes both forever to reach U.S. markets, and they will also be more expensive than N1. I also prefer to have some physical buttons on the phone (programmable if possible), and the trackball sort of looks useless. In any case, the more competition - the better.

2. DontHateOnS60

Posts: 872; Member since: Apr 20, 2009

How is it that you guys have never once mentioned the fact that Android phones do not truly go full screen in the web browser, since that status bar is always there?

3. Legacystar

Posts: 131; Member since: Dec 31, 2009

i'd rather keep the notification panel that way im not inturrupted while web browsing

4. nak1017

Posts: 328; Member since: Jan 08, 2010

The Dolphin browser on android has that option

5. rishibawa

Posts: 4; Member since: Jan 13, 2010

agreed, love the notification bar, I'll sacrifice a few pixels of browsing for that

8. uk786

Posts: 47; Member since: Dec 30, 2009

I've got an Android phone [HTC HERO] and the browser definitely goes full screen!

6. vzwman

Posts: 385; Member since: Oct 26, 2009

Nexus 1 sucks!!! DROOOOOID

18. Galen20K

Posts: 579; Member since: Dec 26, 2008

nope, you suck

21. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Haha. The Droid is done already. If I was to go Android, the Nexus One would be the one.

7. runner4life928

Posts: 2; Member since: Jun 27, 2009

This reviewer is def in Columbus, OH haha

9. DNA

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 13, 2010

Why doens't phonearea know this? The only reason multitouch isn't enabled, is because Apple has a software patent on it. In Europe software patents aren't allowed, so companies can use it. Blame it on Apple...

13. mr. anderson

Posts: 92; Member since: Apr 16, 2009

thats not true, look at the hero and the pre/pixi. it may very well be true that google doesnt want to get into it with apple, but there are two htc devices currently available in the us (pre and eris) with a third one coming (hd2) that have multitouch.

15. Hlorri

Posts: 40; Member since: May 07, 2008

Apple has U.S. Patents on specific interactions (e.g. pinch to zoom etc), not on multi-touch technology itself. That predates Apple's interest. Even though software patents are not (yet) honored in the E.U., companies that manufacture cell phones for the US market must honor US patents. Conversely, it is also true that U.S. companies doing business in other places (e.g. Europe) must honor patents in markets they are present. This often leads to cross-licensing agreements between several patent holders, or alternatively, court battles.

22. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

But what about other phones that have multitouch like the Palm Pre and G1 (I believe). How come they don't have to pay any attention to the patent?

31. supermarioshirt

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 20, 2010

that's not it at all... they just came out with a software update supporting multitouch and it works just fine.

10. Sufcc

Posts: 33; Member since: Jul 28, 2008

Yep, what DNA said. Multitouch works fine in third party apps, like Dolphin Browser and Picsay Photo editor.

11. rigo

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 13, 2010

totally agree, HTC can do a lot better than this, of course google is paying for what they want (options) just got it a week ago and my hero (chin) still beats the N1 when it comes to fun, also quality of calls and even power buttom, my phone sometimes it goes on while in my pocket when I have just turned it off, no bueno...I mean how expensive is to have some cool animations, apps security, and original design.. notice how most android phones have several options that are all the same, not sure if this has something to do with the OS but come on these phones are not cheap, google could not even afford to have a different clock widget than the o.g. android phone, give me a break Xperia x10 that's a step up, hopefully it will have some privacy settings in general, and hopefully it will be withing the Tmobile USA frequency for 3g. sorry guys get emotional about phones looking alike in models, just like the cars, after 5 years they only change head lights and tail lights haaaaaaaaa haaa

12. Galen20K

Posts: 579; Member since: Dec 26, 2008

you're way off, your hero is WEAK. Nexus One BLows it out of the water in EVERY respect.

14. mr. anderson

Posts: 92; Member since: Apr 16, 2009

ive got both. the nexus one is way faster and the screen is amazing, but ill be keeping my hero at the end of the day.

16. BeBoo

Posts: 12; Member since: Apr 13, 2009

What is everyone's obsession with SenseUI? Just because it's made by HTC doesn't mean it _needs_ SenseUI. Not to mention, this is a Google Experience phone, like the Droid...

24. Hytch

Posts: 2; Member since: Nov 02, 2009

Being completely impartial to the various camps here (i.e. I just don't care), I really do think the UI looks a bit 'meh' and clunky, compared to Sense. It's reminiscent of the Symbian OS, and doesn't seem as visually rich or streamlined as a phone with a 1GHz CPU in could have. Thoughts?

17. dandv

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 23, 2009

WTF "top heavy" and "slips out of our hands"!? I've had the Nexus Once since the day after it was launched, and never have I felt that it slipped or jumped anywhere.

26. darthray

Posts: 72; Member since: Nov 04, 2009

because the spokesman has fat hands with sausage fingers.

19. Galen20K

Posts: 579; Member since: Dec 26, 2008

I love how jealous people have to hate lol TOo funny!

20. gomets15217

Posts: 38; Member since: Jul 13, 2008

ok, just throwing this out there: voice recognition that works THAT well is obviously extremely awesome. however, if you are going to talk to your phone to text, MAKE THE PHONE CALL.

23. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009


25. vmatikov

Posts: 55; Member since: Jan 28, 2009

i'm kind of considering replacing my iPhone with the Nexus One. and i'm a die-hard iPhone user... so that's really saying something. lol.

27. darthray

Posts: 72; Member since: Nov 04, 2009

I cant wait to get this on verizon! my first smartphone.. ready to get rid of my lg dare. Love it but ready for a new adventure.

28. bigfoots

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 21, 2010

I got this phone but it was locked to tmobile. after searching forever I finally found a thread in the forum saying you could get unlock codes for it here got my code and am now using an att 3g sim card! thank you. I love this phone!

30. diz1211

Posts: 1; Member since: Feb 14, 2010

Hey there!! I also have att! I see you got the I hearing you right that you whent to the web page and are able to use the phone now on the att 3g system?? Please respond to my e-mail if you can share this with me. Thanks coz this is the phone I want but not if it is stuck on 2g for att. Thanks in advance

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Nexus One US
  • Display 3.7" 480 x 800 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon S1, Single core, 1000 MHz
  • Battery 1400 mAh(7.00h 3G talk time)

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.