Google Nexus One Review

Multimedia:

The biggest change here is a 3D overhaul of the Gallery thanks to the developers over at Cooliris.  Much like the live wallpapers and slick animations, this amounts to little more than eye candy, but we still appreciate it very much.  It now sorts files by both date and location, which is a nice functional upgrade indeed.  Videos looked absolutely amazing on the AMOLED display, but it was not able to play any  of our H.264 test files.  H.263 videos were problem free (we tested up to 720x304@1524kbps) and looked fantastic, and our test photos seemed to leap off the display.  Unfortunately there is no support for the DivX and Xvid formats.  Viewing on a normal display and then viewing with the Nexus One is as night and day as watching Terminator 1 followed by Avatar.


Camera settings are relatively barebones, and almost identical to the DROID except that the Nexus One lacks the Scene Mode option.  Camera performance was typical for an HTC device, which is to say good, but not great.  Indoor images had noticeable graining and some distortion, more noticeable in the background than foreground.  Outdoor images were better for detail, but still lacked sharpness.  The single LED flash is somewhat harsh, although we cannot say that is unexpected.  Video recording is quite respectable with a 720x480 max resolution and 20fps recording rate, although this can go higher in the right conditions.  It is no Nokia N95, but the videos are just fine for personal use.  The overall performance could be better, but then again the Nexus One is not touted as a high-end camera phone.

HTC Nexus One sample video at 720x480 pixels resolution



Unfortunately we did not get any major announcements on the music front, such as a partnership with Spotify.  The player remains basically the same, which is to say it gets the job done just fine even if it isn’t the prettiest thing out there.  One of the few things that is holding Android back from being great is a great music experience.  This is at the core of the iPhone experience, and until Google can figure out a way to strike at that core effectively users will still be hesitant to switch.



Connectivity and Data:

The first Google Nexus One that got launched is a quad-band GSM device with tri-band UMTS support for 2100/1700/900MHz, bands meaning 3G for T-Mobile USA customers and Europe. Just recently customers got treated to a new version with support for the 2100/1900/850MHz 3G  bands, which added support for AT&T's 3G network. It is expected that Verizon and Sprint will  also get their Nexus One variants. For those without 3G you can always fall back on Wi-Fi.  Originally official specs said the “n” protocol was supported, but this has been updated and users are left with just b/g.  To further confuse the matter an ifixit teardown not only reveals an “n” chip, but also an FM radio.

As we stated earlier the browser is very fast.  Pages loaded faster over Wi-Fi than they do on the DROID, and perhaps thanks to T-Mobile’s recent 7.2Mbit/s network upgrade they loaded faster over the cellular 3G connection as well which we were quite impressed with.  We sorely miss multitouch however.  We know that it is supported natively in Android at this point, and HTC was not afraid to implement it with the Hero, so there is no good reason for it to be left off of a flagship device.  At this point it’s no longer an inconvenience; it’s hampering the Android experience.



Software:

The HTC Nexus One comes preloaded with everything you’d expect an Android device to have.  The notable newcomer is Google Voice, which no longer needs to be downloaded from the marketplace.  We used it exclusively for voice calls, voicemail and messaging.  It’s a very solid concept that offers some nice features, but the messaging is a bit frustrating since they come from a different number.  The Market is growing rapidly, at last count it was over 16k apps. Unfortunately, users still can't install apps to the memory card rather than to the phone’s internal memory.

The 1GHz processor is complimented by 512MB of both Flash and RAM, and the Nexus One ships with a 4GB microSD card installed.  This is expandable to 32GB, which is plenty of room for music and movies and rivals the iPhone’s capacity.  It would be nice to have a significant amount of onboard memory complimented by microSD expansion, but we’re being picky here.

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