January 5, 2010

Some phone I heard about

I've now spent the last few weeks messing around with my Nexus One and I've got a few things to say about it. Note that I am speaking for myself only, not my company of employment.

What's good:

- Fast, though I haven't used an iPhone 3GS. I hear it's fast too.
- Pretty screen. I'm a sucker for those things.
- Nice 5mp camera with flash!
- Voice input on all text fields. I didn't know that, except I watched Gizmodo's liveblog.
- Nice Google Maps, Gmail, and gTalk support, but that's nothing new to the N1.
- Weather app is pretty cool. It has a neat display of high/low temps over time.

What isn't:

- Scrolling feels wrong. It's jerky sometimes. When you get to the start/end, there's no indication that you are there. The iPhone lets you drag just past the end and then it springs back, giving you really great feedback that there's nothing more. When you get to the end on the N1, it just stops and nothing happens when you move your finger. It feels broken. The "app wheel" has this feature, but none of the apps themselves do.

- Managing background applications feels like Windows 3.1. If you install anything useful (Twitter, SportsTap, Facebook, etc etc), you will be installing an app that wants to be online 24/7, and on Android these apps can be as long as the phone has juice. And they will continue to do so until they run the phone out of juice. Don't want them to kill your battery? You have to go to the settings of every single app, individually, and tweak the 5+ different settings (per app) on update frequency, etc. It's also very confusing when certain apps run in the background. I have a SportsTap widget that will update me with sports scores, but it didn't start working until I interacted with its widget. Now it's telling me about things from last night (shouldn't it already have?), and now I don't know if I can stop it until it kills my battery (yes yes, there is a screen for that, but it's buried and non-techies would never ever find it). Yes, it sucks having to switch apps and not be able to run background processes on the iPhone, but if this is the alternative, I'll take the iPhone any day. Thanks Steve.

- Want to know what background app killed your battery? Too bad. Once the battery is drained and you reboot, the helpful screen that tells you what ate the battery gets reset.

- Out of the box with a Google account, you're on Gtalk as long as the phone has power, even if the display is off (you're marked as away). Yes, you can change this, but it's a setting, buried two levels deep in a menu. Where'd that battery go, again?

- If you can't tell, I left my phone on overnight and came back and the battery was drained. What did it? Beats me, the info was lost when the phone rebooted!

- Pressing the hard home button takes you to a fixed screen, not the last screen you were on when you launched the app.

- The hard back button is offset from where the actual sensor is, meaning you have to hit the button 3 or 4 times just right to get it to register and take you back.

- On AT&T, it's EDGE/Wifi only. No 3G for that carrier. Most may not care about that, but if you're on AT&T, you sure would.

- Want to silence your phone w/out unlocking it? There's no hard switch to flick. You have to unlock it and interact with it.

- Want all your music sync'd from iTunes? Bzzzt. You need a 3rd party application to do that, or you can manually copy all your music there. Endless fun for all ages!

- When I hold it in my hand for an extended period of time, my hand really cramps up. I can hold my iPhone for hours with no strain at all. I'm not sure what the difference is, but I mostly feel it in my thumb and across the breadth of my palm.

- No multi-touch to zoom. It seems like the obvious default gesture to zoom in and out, yet the N1 makes you double-tap to zoom. It doesn't feel very "direct manipulation", and after years with an iPhone, feels clunky.

With full disclosure that I'm an Apple fanboi, I'm impressed with the phone, but bothered enough by it that I don't have any reason to switch from my 1st gen iPhone. I'm sure this is a really impressive phone if you're upgrading from a 5 year old RAZR. If my iPhone suddenly up and died, I'd use this, but I would still be grumbly about it.

Posted by pinkerton at January 5, 2010 2:23 PM | TrackBack