Google Nexus One: Almost the Best Smartphone

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Want to know about Google's Nexus One smartphone, but don't feel like reading a 10,000 word review? You've come to the right place.

    We've taken the shiny, smooth smartphone on the road, putting it through its paces and testing it every which way. Now we'll give our impressions of the phone in the most succinct manner.

    First of all, just look at it. Although it's that weird color of grayish dog doo, it's designed reeks of derring-do. Every picture we've seen of it makes it look too big, but it's a lot smaller and a lot thinner than those pics depict.

    Its OLED screen is superb. You can dial it up brighter than you'd ever want it to be, and its colors are among the most saturated and glorious in the industry. It's even as good as that Zune HD screen we so adored. This is a huge win for Google and HTC, the phone's manufacturer.

    Its touchscreen is good but not great. Although it has a 1 GHz processor under the hood, it's still not able to scroll its graphics as smoothly as the benchmark of the industry, the iPhone. And unfortunately, in a glaring omission, there's no multitouch capability, something we've grown so accustomed to that it seems weird when it's not there.

    Being a Google phone, all of the Google apps are presented in the best possible way. Gmail's conversations stick together it was designed to. You can place labels and stars just like you can online. Google Voice, as in all Android phones, works perfectly, where you can call from your Google Voice number and use all of its riches as they were intended.

    The Nexus One's Android 2.1 interface has glitzy animated graphics to be sure, the Android Marketplace is beginning to burgeon with apps, and we especially like the turn-by-turn directions that are included for free. It trails far behind the iPhone in number of available apps, but it still offers most of the essentials you'll be looking for.

    There's a trackball that we didn't care for at first, but then after using it for a while we started liking it. It feels just right, and with its white backlight, it seems to have a personality, lighting up or glowing at opportune times. Then there's that subtle haptic touch with some of the button pushes — we like it, but if you don't, you can turn it off.

    Its on-screen keyboard takes a little getting used to, but it's smart about predicting text, figuring out what you're going to type before you've finished typing it. We like the iPhone's keyboard better — and physical keyboards even more than that — but if you must have on-screen keyboard, this one will do.

    Summing up,

    the Nexus One is the bestsSmartphone we've ever tested, except one. Guess which. You're right, the iPhone is still better than the Nexus One, even though its technology is a year older. Still, the iPhone has a bit of catching up to do before it can match the Nexus One's spectacular screen and smaller, rounded form factor. Unfortunately, both phones most important aspect, their networks, are still substandard and undependable with their exorbitantly expensive data delivery. We noticed the T-Mobile service dropping into the EDGE network from 3G far too often. That's too bad, because as a handheld computer, the Nexus One is a joy to use.