Hands-on first impressions of the Google Nexus One

Summary:As I wrote yesterday I just couldn't resist another great smartphone on T-Mobile USA and since I use lots of Google services I jumped on the Nexus One bandwagon and placed my order. It arrived via free FedEx overnight shipping at my hotel here at CES 2010 this morning and then had to go through a couple hours of Mirage loading dock processing. My tracking info also showed it as damaged and delivered so I was a bit worried I would have a dead device. As you can see in my image gallery the box was trashed and the plastic air pocket cushions were flat, but the Nexus One was packed in a very sturdy box and all seems to be well with it.

As I wrote yesterday I just couldn't resist another great smartphone on T-Mobile USA and since I use lots of Google services I jumped on the Nexus One bandwagon and placed my order. It arrived via free FedEx overnight shipping at my hotel here at CES 2010 this morning and then had to go through a couple hours of Mirage loading dock processing. My tracking info also showed it as damaged and delivered so I was a bit worried I would have a dead device. As you can see in my image gallery the box was trashed and the plastic air pocket cushions were flat, but the Nexus One was packed in a very sturdy box and all seems to be well with it. There are several other extensive reviews, but I just wanted to offer a few first thoughts and will expand upon them later in a full review. Please also leave comments for things you want me to try and I will respond to them in my full review.


Image Gallery:Check out a few product photos of and the nasty box of the Google Nexus One from HTC.
Image Gallery: HTC shirt modification
Image Gallery: OLED display on Nexus One

Box contents and first impressions

As I mentioned in the intro, thankfully HTC and Google packed the Nexus One in a very sturdy box that protected the device during a rough trip across the country. After sliding the lid off you will see the Nexus One resting in a form fitting section. Taking it out and lifting this up reveals the cool slip neoprene slip case with Android guy on it. Under this is a card with five steps in primary colors to get you started with the device. You will also find a few other quick tips on the back of this sturdy card. Under this you will find the wall charger, stereo headset, USB cable, and 1400 mAh battery.

After taking out the Nexus One I was immediately impressed by the rock solid construction and feel of the device in my hand. It is thinner than I imagined it would be and with it being narrower than the iPhone it feels more like a phone to me. The colors are pretty basic and fit for a business user so I have no problems with it. I do like that they took off the sharp edges around the camera lens that is an issue on the HD2.

Specifications of the Google Nexus One

You have probably seen the stats in various places, but I just wanted to place them here for easy reference.
  • Quad band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) and tri-band UMTS/HSPA (900/1700/2100 MHz)
  • Qualcomm QSD 8250 1 GHz processor
  • 512MB RAM/512MB ROM
  • 3.7 inch AMOLED 800x480 pixels resolution display supporting capacitive touch
  • Google Android 2.1 (Eclair) operating system
  • 5 megapixel digital camera with LED flash
  • microSD expansion card slot with 4GB card included, supports up to 32GB
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • WiFi and Bluetooth radios (Google site shows 802.11n is supported)
  • Integrated GPS receiver
  • Digital compass, accelerometer, and proximity sensor
  • 1400 mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 4.69 x 2.35 x 0.45 inches and 4.59 ounces

The specs are the best we have seen on an Android device and in preliminary usage the processor has definitely shown it is what is needed to fly with Google. With the tri-band UMTS/HSPA you should be able to use this in European countries with 3G too, like you can with the Nokia N900.

Hardware

As I said above, the Nexus One feels great in your hand with good thickness and smooth curves. The front is dominated by the 3.7 inch OLED display that looks fantastic. All Android devices have capacitive displays so this trend continues here. There are four touch sensitive areas on the bottom of the display rather than hardware buttons for back, menu, home, and search. I don't mind having these, but at times today I have noticed some unresponsiveness to my touch so it will take a bit of getting used to. There is also a trackball at the bottom that lights up in different colors for notifications. The phone headset speaker is above the display with a small indicator light to the right for charging status. A proximity sensor must be in the same top area above the display as the indicator light.

Along the bottom you will find the mic opening, microUSB connector, and three small contact points. I understand they are for noise cancellation support. The 3.5mm headset jack and power button are found on the top. The volume rocker is on the left and nothing is on the right side.

The 5 megapixel camera and LED flash are found towards the center upper part of the back with the mono speaker adjacent to them. A Google label is centered on the back battery cover and by removing it you can find the battery, microSD card slot, and SIM card slot. There is the HTC logo on the bottom below the removable back area.

The hardware is quite simple and feels very solid. It fits well in your hand and looks to be just about perfect for a device without a QWERTY keyboard.

Software and capability

The Nexus One has Google Android 2.1 (Eclair) loaded up which is about the same as the 2.0 seen on the Motorola Droid. It is a Google Android system without all the HTC customizations so you get the Google Navigation stuff and some basic Exchange functionality. They showed off Google Earth during the press event, but I can't find it on my Nexus One and don't know if that is something coming soon or what.

There is lots of eye candy on the Nexus One with the Live Wallpapers that look fabulous on the OLED display. I really wonder how much they impact the battery though and will try to figure that out. You also now get 5 homescreens to work with rather than the standard 3 on Android devices. HTC Sense devices have 7 though.

I understand Exchange support was added in Android 2.x and was able to get email and Contacts syncing setup quite simply. However, there is no Calendar sync supported, which I don't quite understand. I will have to install a sync solution on my PC to sync Outlook with Google Calendar now, but wish there was HTC Sense support in this device.

An Office document viewer is loaded by default and after loading up the full Documents To Go application I saw that there was an option for DTG or Quickoffice so they must be powering the default viewer not the Nexus One.

Visual Voicemail is supported with a free software application when you are on T-Mobile USA, but I now have all my voicemail going to Google Voice so I did not load this up. Google Voice rocks on the Nexus One of course and is a big reason for having a Google Android device.

I also loaded up a Star Wars movie I converted for the N900 and HD2 and it played brilliantly on the Nexus One. I actually discovered that the Gallery application has been updated to support movies, Picasa web albums (no separate login required), and photos and it works and looks awesome.

I plan to test out media capability, camera still and video capture quality, 3rd party apps, and more as I use the Nexus One daily. Please do leave a comment with anything specific you want me to test out.

Pricing and availability

The Nexus One is available now from the Google website in four prices from $179 to $529 and is slated to come to Verizon and Vodafone in the Spring. You cannot buy it from the T-Mobile website or at a T-Mobile store and I am not sure if that is the plan forever or if this is just a temporary retail strategy.

Topics: Hardware, Android, Google, HTC, Mobile OS, Mobility, Smartphones

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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