As you all know I am a technology nut. I love all aspects of the tech world from software to hardware and all in-between. A few years ago I became infatuated with all things Apple. In 2005 I bought my first Apple product, an iPod. In 2006 I bought a Mac Mini and ventured into the world of OSX. In 2008 I bought an iPhone after much desire and begging of Rogers to carry it.
In the past year though my feelings have changed. In September I purchased a new top of the line Dell PC with Windows 7 and have had no regrets. Windows 7 is stable and sleek and works perfect for me and my needs. That was a big leap but the leap I made this past week was bigger. I purchased a Google Nexus One phone to replace my iPhone.
Google announced the availability of the Nexus One in Canada on March 16, 2010. At that point I had been doing a lot of research on not only the Nexus One but Android as well. By that time my iPhone was a year and a half old and was starting to show a little age. It was an original 3G phone with a slower processor and a minimal amount of RAM. I had it jailbroken to allow me to do things that Apple didn’t think I should be doing. Simple things like having 2 Exchange accounts and different backgrounds and arrangements of icons. I was starting to get frustrated with Apples draconian policies regarding apps and the iPhone itself. I have always been one to prefer free and open software and hardware when possible so Apple was really starting to bother me.
So when the Nexus One was available on Rogers in Canada I had to go for it. The only thing that held me back from pushing the “Purchase” button for a few hours was the cost. It sold directly from Google web store for $529.00 USD. The Canadian dollar was close to par with the US dollar at the time so I was not concerned with that. I knew that there would be taxes added as well as shipping and that would bring up the cost.
I did some number crunching and decided that the final price tag was worth it. I purchased that phone online that evening and got an email that the phone had shipped the next day!. Needless to say I was excited.
When I got the phone I was impressed right away. The packaging was beautiful, very “Apple-like”, meaning that it was minimal but effective. The phone itself is by HTC and is very well designed and built. The minimal buttons are nice because it makes it very aesthetically pleasing while remaining functional. The screen is very beautiful as well. It’s bright and very high resolution, in fact at least twice the resolution of the current iPhone.
The trackball is just the right sensitivity to allow scrolling but not be in the way. The four “soft buttons” on the face of the device can be frustrating at times. Sometimes they are not as sensitive as I would like, meaning the need to be pressed more then once. Other times they are too sensitive and I find myself accidentally hitting them and ending up going back a page or going to the home screen. I have a feeling this is because I’m still used to the iPhone layout and need to train my fingers to not touch that area when I don’t need to .
I love the fact that it has a standard mini-USB port to connect to the PC and to charge. The proprietary Apple cable system was annoying and cumbersome. Also the fact that I can remove the battery and replace it at will is a nice touch. The memory is expandable. It came with a 4GB micro-SD but I purchased an 8 GB card so that I can put more videos and music on it. There was even a little Android themed neoprene sleeve to protect the phone in the box, nice touch Google!
In terms of applications I am very pleased with the selection. Basically any apps I was using on the iPhone were available in the Android marketplace either provided by the same company or some open source equivalent. Within minutes of popping in my SIM card and booting the phone I had a Twitter application (Seesmic) installed, along with the Facebook app.
One of the biggest reasons I choose the Google phone was because of the ease that this phone integrates with Google services like GMail and Calendar and Contacts. Again within seconds of entering my Google username and password at boot up the phone has synced my email, calendars and contacts from the web. No further configuration required. Changes I make on the phone are immediately pushed to the ‘cloud’ and any changes I make online are just as quickly pushed to the phone. Perfect sync!
I did make a few app choices that I would recommend.
1) Replace the built in SMS messaging utility with the free Handcent. Its cleaner and allows you to have alert pop-ups similar to the iPhone.
2) Replace the built in music application with Meridian, Its plays both music and videos in one application and will pick up play lists and album art.
3) With an Android phone you need a talk killer app to help save memory and battery. The best I found so far is Advanced Take Killer. Its simple to use and actually works. Just remember to put the apps you don’t want automatically killed in the ignore list.
My next real task is to figure out how to develop for it and make my own applications. I just need to figure out what applications I want to make.
So was the money I shelled out for the phone worth it? I’d say yes. It’s a beautiful piece of hardware running an open and free operating system that allows me to do with it whatever I want. I really truly believe that Android is ready for prime time and that hardware manufacturers and cell phone carriers need to ramp up its production and promotion.