It's now been 60 days since I made the transition from a loyal BlackBerry user (I had been using BlackBerry devices exclusively for the past five years) to a Nexus One user. Since I'd grown quite accustomed to the BlackBerry keyboard, I thought it'd only be fair to spend some time with the Nexus One virtual keyboard before I shared my thoughts.
So here goes.
First off, if you're hoping for a technical review, I'll spare you now. There are plenty of other reviews available to get better information than I can provide. I'm simply sharing my non-techie user perspective based on what I've experienced so far.
Second, I chose the Nexus One because I expected the "integrated Google technology" to produce a better experience with tools that I was already using regularly — namely Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps.
Lastly, I'm using T-Mobile, which doesn't have the greatest coverage where I live and work (Diamond Bar, CA), but I travel quite a bit and have experienced the benefits of 3G performance, when available.
I purchased the Nexus One directly from the Google website (along with the desktop dock) and it was delivered a few days later. It really is an elegantly designed phone, borrowing styling cues from both the iPhone and the Pre. It's lightweight (4.59 oz), feels substantial, and is impressive to touch.
When placed on the desktop charging dock I noticed the brilliant colors of the OLED screen and a cool user interface. When in the charger, the phone switches to a handy clock mode, which is great because I don't have a clock in my office (yeah, I know there's one on the computer desktop). It also allows you to set and clear alarms, play music, or play a slideshow of your photos.
After I figured out how to navigate the menus, setting up my Gmail, Hotmail, YouTube, and Facebook accounts was a snap – I was up and running within a matter of minutes. Connecting to our company Outlook Exchange server proved to be a bit more challenging, and after several tries I handed it over to our IT department who returned it working in less than a minute, shaking their heads at me as if I were an idiot.
As suspected, the keyboard took some getting used to. I consistently hit the wrong keys, and the word predictor ability didn't do much to help. Once before making a presentation at a trade show, I sent a Tweet in which I meant to say "About to present a social media panel at HRR" but what I actually sent was "About to crash a social media party ghetto." Not exactly the impression I was trying to make.
In any case, it's getting better – or more precisely, I'm getting better – as I go. I still won't be writing anything more than a paragraph or two until I get back to my desktop, but my co-workers have noticed a lot less foul language directed at my handheld lately.
One feature that's cool and sometimes useful is the speech-to-text engine that, at least in theory, translates your words into written text. I'm able to get about 60% of what I'm saying into a note and then edit it, so it saves a bit of time but still needs some work. I've found it more useful when looking for something on Google Maps, and now I rarely type in directions.
The navigation feature in Google Maps works well, so much so that I'd never buy a portable GPS unit while I have it on my phone. I just purchased the car dock, and am looking forward to being able to use it without holding it in my hand.
Areas to Improve
I can't conduct searches within the Outlook Exchange application, or at least, I can't figure out how. With a BlackBerry, I could easily find a message that someone might bring up in a meeting and read it back to them… now it's impossible.
The microphone jack doesn't work with all headsets or audio connections. The recessed design doesn't allow all connections to seat properly, so what you get is audio on one channel only.
The speaker sounds really tinny and weak. Not that I use the speaker phone all that much anyway, but it really could be a much better.
The apps that Google provides with the phone are useful and pretty slick. Gmail, Google Maps, Messaging, Calendar, and Gallery work great. Goggles, Google Earth, and Google Voice are available in the Droid Marketplace and work just as well.
Currently there aren't nearly as many third party applications available for Android phones as there are for the iPhone, but the number is growing quickly.
I've been using DroidSense Lite, Foursquare, GoWalla, Kayak, mAnalytics, PktAuctions, Pandora, TwitDroid, UrbanSpoon, WordPress, Yelp, and many others with virtually no problems.
Unfortunately, there aren't as many cool automotive applications like Viper SmartStart (remotely unlock and start your vehicle), REV by Kiwi (vehicle data logging and performance monitor) or goLINK (diagnose vehicle problems), but I know that all three companies are looking at solutions for Droid phones.
Battery life is not bad, not as good as a Blackberry but I also didn't use the BlackBerry for as many applications or Web surfing. I can usually get a few hours of heavy use and eight hours of light use without a problem.
I've done my fair share of crash testing the unit, accidentally dropping it three times on concrete. The case is a bit scuffed now, but the phone is no worse for wear. To prevent further damage, I ordered a protective case and lens cover.
Overall, I'm quite happy with the Nexus One and only miss the BlackBerry occasionally. As the functionality of the email applications improve and more applications are brought to market, I think it will grow on me even more.