I can’t give you proper reviews of Nokia devices if I don’t try other phones from other manufacturers for comparison. I’ve been using the Google Nexus One in the past 30 days and have been really enjoying it. I’ll share my review of the Nexus One with lots of comparisons to Nokia’s current superphone, the Nokia N900.
Size. The Nexus One is much more pocketable than the Nokia N900. It is thinner, but slightly taller. The dimensions are 119 x 59.8 x 11.5mm compared to the Nokia N900′s 110.9 x 59.8 x 18 mm. One photo below gives you a general idea, but head over to the Google Nexus One vs Nokia N900 photos and first impressions post for more. The Nokia N900 is also a little heavier at 181g versus 130g on the Nexus One.
Build Quality. The Nexus One is well made. A smooth metal wraps nicely around the phone and complements the soft-touch material on the housing. The front is covered by glass on top of the display that looks just as good when it’s off. The battery cover is snug and opens by sliding it up. There are only 3 physical buttons: trackball, volume control, and power button. Tactile feedbacks are fine when pressing these buttons. There’s no creaking or rattling noises when squeezing or shaking the device.
Internals. Inside the Google Nexus is the Qualcomm Snapdragon running at 1 GHz with 512MB RAM. It’s not recommended to compare MHz from different chips, but the Nokia N900 has a 600MHz ARM A8 processor. The Nexus One also has twice the RAM of the Nokia N900. Applications open up quickly and I haven’t seen any “out of memory” warnings that Symbian S60 users may be familiar with. You can definitely multi-task on Android, but it’s not as intuitive as multitasking on the Nokia N900. More on that in the software aspect of this review. Google includes a 4GB microSD card for storage, but you can replace it with another card that can store up to 32GB of data.
Display. The Nexus One has a 3.7 inch capacitive AMOLED touchscreen display with 800 x 480 resolution. It’s really beautiful but it has some flaws. The colors are are crisp and bright, but it’s difficult to see outdoors when it is sunny. Putting the brightness all the way up fixes this problem.
Another complaint I have with the touchscreen is the accuracy of the touch-buttons below the screen. I was initially getting frustrated that my presses weren’t getting registered, but after some usage, I learned to press just above the buttons to make it work. BGR also documented this in a video for their review.
Camera. The camera is one of the most important features to me. If a device does not take “good enough” pictures for sharing online, I disregard it right away. The 5 megapixel camera on the Nexus One does not have that problem, but I have a couple of complaints. I still prefer the photos that come out of the Nokia N900.
The Nexus One takes great photos outdoors when there’s light, but you won’t be able to really see much of the photo quality at the location if it’s sunny. This is due to the AMOLED display. This problem also exists on Nokia cameraphones using this type of display (Nokia N85 & N86).
The other problem is the white-balance. The color seems off on many of the indoor photos I’ve taken. Here is a sample from both the Nokia N900 and the Nexus One indoors. Click here for more photos taken with the Nexus One by Flickr members.
The 5 megapixel camera on the Nexus One is supported with an LED flash. It’s better than no flash, but just like any cameraphone, don’t expect great photos at night.
To take a photo, you hold the on-screen camera button or the trackball to focus. You then release to capture the photo. You have to make sure not to press on the screen too hard because you can shake the camera when releasing the button, resulting in a blurry photo.
The Nexus One records video 720×480 pixels at 20 frames per second (fps) or higher depending on lighting conditions. It’s fine for quick sharing online, but I would have preferred something closer to 30 fps.
Speakers. The speakers on the Nexus One isn’t spectacular, but it is good and loud enough. The placement on the back could be a problem though. I’ve missed a few calls when the Nexus One was on a soft surface like the bed or sofa because the speakers were blocked. My left hand also tend to cover the speakers when I browse the web in landscape view.
The Nexus One runs on Android 2.1. You’ll love Android if you use Google services. At initial setup, you’re asked for a Google account. If you have one already like a Gmail address, it will automatically set up push email, synchronized phonebook, and calendar.
First time Android users will notice the status bar where notification icons show up whenever an application running in the background needs attention. A couple of example notifications are new emails or new Twitter replies. Pulling down the status bar shows the expanded messages from the apps and clicking on the messages opens the related application.
You can place widgets, shortcuts, or folders in the home screens of the Google Nexus One. It’s not like the Nokia N900′s panoramic desktop where you can loop around if you keep swiping in one direction. Widgets also lock into a grid on the Nexus, unlike widgets on the N900 that can move freely and possibly overlap each other.
It’s not an important feature, but Live Wallpapers stand out to many people. It’s cool to show off and it doesn’t seem to slow down applications. I really like the one with moving grass.
Multitasking. As you can tell by now, there’s multitasking on Android. Holding down the home button shows the 6 recent apps used. This could be confusing to Nokia’s Symbian users where holding the menu button shows icons of current running apps. The Nokia N900 handles multitasking best with the dashboard showing thumbnails of current running apps. It’s far quicker to exit or switch between apps on the Nokia N900.
Google Voice. Google Voice (GV) users will love how nicely integrated the service is on Android. You can dial or send SMS out to any number or anyone from the contacts list, and the phone work in the background so that the call or SMS comes from the GV number instead of the number linked to your SIM card. The current GV apps for Maemo (DialCentral and The One Ring) have potential, but the Android solution is way better.
Email. I have a better email experience on the Nexus One than the Nokia N900. My main account is Gmail and push email is not supported on the N900. This is due to Google Sync (email, contacts, and calendar) not being compatible with the Nokia N900 through Exchange. A workaround to get push email is to use Gmail through Nokia Messaging service, but it’s currently broken if you are also trying to sync contacts and calendar.
On the Nexus One, I enter my Gmail address and then my email, contacts, and calendar are all setup for synchronized updates. The Nexus One is also noticeably faster than the Nokia N900 at showing the list of emails when opening the mail client. Both support HTML email.
Browsing. I’ve mentioned in my Nokia N900 review that it had the best web browser on a mobile device. I still believe it holds that title, but that doesn’t mean the browser on the Nexus One sucks. There’s no flash support, but the Youtube player works well and offer better video quality than the N900′s embedded flash videos. One thing I really like about the Nexus One is portrait browsing. No matter how much you zoom in via multitouch pinch-to-zoom, the text can wrap around the screen so you’re not required to scroll left and right again and again to read text.
Music. I prefer to stream music rather than download songs on my computer or mobile phones. I use Pandora on my Macbook so I’m glad there’s a Pandora app on the Nexus One. There’s also a widget that I can leave on one of the home screens for quicker access. There’s a Pandora app for the Nokia N900, but it’s currently in development and still look very rough. I depend on internet radio like TuneWiki for the N900.
Google Maps Navigation. When it comes to navigation, the Google Nexus One beats the Nokia N900 hands down. It’s really amazing. Searching for places is exactly what you can expect from Google and the maps look great. Actually hearing the names of the intersections while driving is cool since this is included without extra fee. Other features I like are the pinch-to-zoom, automatic switching to night mode, and street view when reaching the destination. Unfortunately, not everyone with a Nexus One can take advantage of this service because Google Maps Navigation is currently only available in the United States.
3rd-Party Apps. The Android Market holds much more apps and games than the younger (& still beta) Ovi Store for Maemo. There are apps in repositories from the Maemo community too and while many may be functional, the UI aren’t very pretty. There are good choices of Twitter apps for the Nexus One like Twidroid, Seesmic, or Tweetcaster, but the native Twitter apps on the Nokia N900 aren’t on the same level yet. I still rather use web apps like Hahlo or Dabr for my Twitter needs on the N900.
Cellular call quality is pretty good on the Nexus One. There are two microphones that work together to keep your voice clear for the other line while suppressing the background noise. I was surprised it actually worked in real life. I received a call at a bar while I still had a good amount of beer in my glass. The bouncer didn’t let me bring the alcohol outside, so I answered the call near the exit. It was still pretty noisy where I was standing, but the other line heard me pretty well.
The Nexus One packs a removable 1400mAH battery. I’ve been used to leaving my phones connected to the charger before I head out and I haven’t noticed any significant battery issues to report. Just like the N900, the Google phone typically survived until the night.
There’s a lot to like about the Nexus One, but I find myself going back and forth with the Nokia N900. As a Nokia Blog reader, your big question is if the Nexus One is better than the Nokia N900. My quick response is that I like both. If you had to choose one, I’ve listed some of the Big IF’s:
Get the Nexus One
- if you already use many of Google’s services like Gmail, GSync, & GVoice.
- if you like apps, apps, and apps.
- if you want a powerful, yet very slim device.
Get the Nokia N900
- if you want the best mobile web browser
- if you want a great camera
- if multitasking is important to you
Which one are you choosing?