Google Nexus One review: A week with the superphone

Our reviewer spent a week living with the Google Nexus One to see if it lives up to the reviews. Read on to find out what he thought.

On the downside there is still no word from Google tech-support.

UPDATE:We received a reply from Google six days after we initially made contact with it regarding the Wi-Fi and signal problems. The response time itself does give some cause for concern but what the technical department had to say regarding the signal drop-off when the device is in the hand left us feeling far from comforted:

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"concerning signal and data connection fluctuations when you hold the device, please note that the Nexus One's antenna is near the bottom of the device, and it's natural for signal quality to be affected if the antenna is directly blocked. Further, there are a variety of factors, which feed into the quality of 3G connectivity on mobile phones, a number of which are dependent on the environment rather than the phone itself. For instance, a software update cannot address the experience of users on the edge or outside of 3G coverage areas."

Potential 3G issues aside (there weren't any with other devices we tested in the same area) this could be a serious design flaw. Many users hold their device at the bottom and what Google seems to be saying here is that if you hold your Nexus One where a vast number of users tend to, you can expect to have no signal. We contacted Google's press office with this concern and their reply was as follows:

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"As we reported in early February, the Nexus One over-the-air software update provides a specific fix that will improve 3G connectivity for many Nexus One users. However, there are a variety of factors, which feed into the quality of 3G connectivity on mobile phones, a number of which are dependent on the environment rather than the phone itself. For instance, a software update cannot address the experience of users on the edge or outside of 3G coverage areas. We continue to track 3G performance closely with HTC and T-Mobile and will post any updates to the user forum."

Whilst Google's diligence is evident we didn't feel that this was a satisfactory response to what is potentially a serious issue. Our device was updated to the latest software revision but still suffered from the problem on a regular basis, so much so that we had to return the unit. What we would like to see from Google and HTC is a solution, so that we and others - can enjoy our Nexus One experience without limitation.

Verdict

At the time of writing, the Nexus One sits firmly at the cutting edge of mobile technology. Its build quality, specifications and performance are streets ahead of even its nearest competitor and there are very few things that it can’t do.

As a tool for business we have no doubt that it will increase productivity and will afford the user opportunity to carry their working world with them without the need for a netbook or laptop for all but the longest of periods.

Its email and messaging features are top notch but those of you who can’t get by with only a touch screen (regardless of how good it is) might be best served waiting for the Nexus Two, which is rumoured to feature a hardware keyboard.

We would also like to see more care paid to Exchange users if Google is truly serious about overtaking Microsoft Windows Mobile devices and Blackberry as the business users’ choice. Also there’s the issue of support. Or lack thereof. Google cannot hope to succeed in the business market if it doesn’t think its end-user support strategy through before the device hits the UK proper, reportedly in April.

All things considered, the Nexus One is a fair upgrade from anything on the market. Although the Nexus One’s ludicrously named but similarly spec’d cousin, the HTC Desire is due to make an appearance in April, which should give the Google device a run for its money with the flashy Sense UI overlay and Flash 10.1 support.

The real clincher for users will be price and support. If HTC, together with the networks, can bring the Desire in at a lower price point and fix some of the issues found in the Nexus One it will be a simple choice as they already have a support infrastructure in place. Watch this space, as it truly is shaping up to be the year of the Android.

It’s just a real shame our intense love affair with the Nexus One ended somewhat abruptly when we couldn’t put up with the signal issues anymore. We’d certainly be keen to get our hands on one come the official UK launch to see if the situation is any better.

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