Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Why the Nexus One is the best phone ever made

and will be for some time

27th April, 2010

If you see me on a somewhat regular basis (or read a few posts on my site here and there) you’re probably sick to death of me harping on about how awesome my Nexus (#2613) One (#2612) is.

If this is you, or you are totally in love with your iPhone and won’t have a bad word said about it (or you have something better to be doing than reading arguments about mobile phones) then this post probably isn’t for you.

For the rest of you, here is a very simple reason the Nexus One is the best phone ever made, and why it will be difficult to knock it from that post.

I’ve already partially covered why Android is quite easily the best mobile phone OS currently available (in its 2.1 incarnation at least). I’m going to take it as read that everyone accepts this (and anyone who disagrees clearly hasn’t used an Android 2.1 phone for longer than 30 seconds), and move on to a slightly lesser-known (but none the less contentious, I should imagine) point about why, specifically, the Nexus One is the best of the best.

Last Tuesday night, I got an over-the-air update (thanks to Engadget for the heads-up on that) that enabled what’s been called “turn by turn navigation” in the Google Maps app on my phone. This was activated on all Android devices in the UK using Android version 1.6 and above. Basically, it has turned any of these phones into a free, satellite-photo, traffic condition reporting satellite navigation device; bye bye, TomTom!

That’s pretty awesome. But that affected pretty much all the Android devices around; here’s why the Nexus One is better than the rest of them.

Sure, you could go buy an Xperia X10 (which still hasn’t made it off Android 1.6 yet, let alone what I’m about to mention), or one of those HTC Desire things (fairly similar hardware to the Nexus One, but with a few small changes), but I am now beginning to hear rumours that Android 2.2 (codenamed “Froyo”, continuing the sweet-themed version naming) will be pushed by OTA (over-the-air) update around mid-May during the Google IO conference.

Except this update will only be available to Nexus One owners, and those who have re-installed their own Android OS on their phone. Why? I have used a number of phrases in the past to describe what HTC, Sony Ericsson and others have done to Android (including “bastardisation”, “violation”, and many other phrases unrepeatable in this context) before fitting them on their phones. Essentially they have made their own little modifications to it (allegedly they were meant to be “improvements”) - software tweaks, UI changes / overhauls - generally unnecessary things.

You can claim all you like that “HTC Sense” is the best user experience ever built, but I’m not going to listen for two reasons; one because HTC Sense isn’t the best experience, and also that it isn’t the Android experience - it is a fluffy layer bolted on top of the platform and HTC and the others who are doing such things really should know better. Way to go, degrading the platform and experience, and all that.

My final point is that apparently Google sneaked a lot of hardware features into the Nexus One that I have no idea whether or not they are in the other phones - and that I really like the sound of them finally getting activated.

So you could buy something other than a Nexus One if you like, but when I’m rocking the new features like FM radio, alleged 802.11n support, new JIT (just in time) compiler, and new kernel, don’t feel too sorry, okay?