When the Google Nexus One was first mooted, it didn’t just have Blade Runner fans in a fluster. Google watchers the world over thought that the official Google Phone was here at last. So is this the Google-backed Android phone we’ve been waiting for? Or just another neat step on Android’s path to global mobile domination? Read our definitive Google Nexus One review to find out.
Let’s make it abundantly clear. The Google Nexus One is not the all-conquering gPhone some Google fanatics would have had you believe in the run up to its release. Instead, you’re looking at the most-advanced Android phone yet, built by HTC and chock full of skills to sate those who’ve always want the open-source OS to match the iPhone in the looks department.
See, this is Android 2.1, and while it’s only a small step up from the version on the Motorola Milestone the reason that the Google Nexus One is perhaps more exciting than Moto’s slab of cellular gold is that the Big G gave HTC a hand in getting the software to play perfectly with the hardware. The result is a smartphone it’s hard not to love.
The 3.7-inch, 800×480 AMOLED screen is undoubtedly the best we’ve seen on an Android phone yet, delivering crisp and bright colours and much less glare than the LCD efforts found on HTC’s older Android handsets and, of course, the iPhone. As a result, your eyes won’t start going squiffy after a few hours squinting at it.
Inside, HTC and Google have seen to it that the Google Nexus One’s software runs smoother than a buttered snake. In part, that’s down to the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, although there are still a few performance niggles.
While Qualcomm’s 1Ghz chip looks great on paper and lets you zip through menus lickety spit, it still doesn’t make video playback any better. We’re talking jerky clips and occasional glitches on the homescreen too. It’s faster than other Google phones, sure, but far from perfect.
The Google Nexus One’s build is also varied. The teflon-back is inspired and it certainly feels sturdy in the hand. But there’s the same trackball as the HTC Hero, which just like its cousins on old-school BlackBerrys gets easily stuck and picks up more dirt than a 3am girl at a Big Brother wrap party. However, the 5MP snapper is great, giving us far cleaner, and crisper images than the HTC Hero.
But it’s the UI where the Google Nexus One really stands out. Android 2.1 offers five animated home screens, as well as icons which have clever 3D effects. It’s a small touch but one which pushes the blower right up to iPhone levels of desirability. Admittedly the software doesn’t have the lush HTC Sense skin, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that skinned Android phones just aren’t as efficient as their vanilla cousins. We certainly didn’t miss Facebook integration on the homescreen that much. The Android app does us just fine.
If you are after a Google Nexus One though, be aware that the incredibly similar HTC Bravo is heading to T-Mobile this Spring, replete with HTC Sense and an optical trackpad. While the Google Nexus One is a belter of a blower, we suggest you hold out for the Bravo and stick them head-to-head.