The nexus between HTC and Google has finally borne fruit in the form of Nexus One, which was announced amidst much fanfare on Tuesday, January 5. Since, Nexus One is the famed "Google Phone" and the leaked specs had the juice to take on the iPhone head-on, comparisons between the two had begun right from the early days of the Nexus One saga. This dates back to November, 2009 when the first signs of the device had appeared (read leaked by Michael Arrington of TechCrunch). By the last week of 2009 we were told that the phone would be announced at a January 5 event - and that is what has happened.
Now, the reason for comparing the Nexus One to the current ayatollah of smartphones, the iPhone, is only because if there is one device that can match up to the dynamics of the iPhone it has to be the Nexus One. Of course, there are other worthy candidates like the Motorola Droid and the Xperia X10 (both Android) from Sony Ericsson that deserve a second look. But then the Nexus One is THE Google Phone and expectations from it will always remain sky high. Yeah we might sound biased, but no, we are not!
Let's now take a look at things where the Nexus One simply obliterates the iPhone. To maintain sanity and objectivity, we will also list the areas where the iPhone can still beat the crap out of the Nexus One. Fair enough, I presume.
When they launched the iPhone in 2007, a resolution of 320x480 was insane. Remember, these were the days of the N95s and the P1i's, where QVGA resolutions ruled the roost. 240x320 was the best you could get and I remember looking at the N73 once and my jaw dropped when I saw the screen resolution of the now outdated phone. Just when I was sure that mobile phone screens couldn't get any better, they launch the iPhone. If that wasn't enough, they add multitouch to it, something unheard of then.
Fast forward to 2010 and almost three years later, while Apple is still stuck at 320x480, the likes of Symbian S60 have moved to 360x640 and the Nexus One with a 800x480 pixel screen makes the iPhone screen look pedestrian. Add to it the fact that the Nexus One boasts of an AMOLED screen, which further tilts the scale in favour of the Google Phone. Another thing that should not be forgotten is that the Nexus One has a larger 3.7- inch display. The extra few inches does boost your ego by 10x, doesn't it? (Warning: Proximity to HTC HD2 users not recommended for Nexus One users) So, if you bought the iPhone for the sole reason that it had a kick-ass screen, it's time to change your phone!
This was a grey area in the iPhones armour during the time of the 2G and the 3G iterations of the device. In the company of the 3.2 and 5 megapixels of the world, the iPhones 2 megapixel camera was simply outdated. It did not have autofocus or flash and some even termed it a bad job at making a pinhole camera. To add insult to injury, it was incapable of capturing videos unless you jailbreak the phone and defy Apple's command. With the arrival of the 3GS in 2009, Apple played catch-up with the world and managed to cram in a 3.2 megapixel camera. This took far better pictures and supported video recording as well, that too at a very decent VGA resolution.
The first generation Nexus One already boasts of a 5 megapixel camera, with LED flash and autofocus and at least on paper should take far better pictures than the iPhone. The video recording too is better (not by much though). The Nexus One is capable of recording videos in D1 (720x480) resolution at 20FPS. While we are yet to see how the videos turn out, this is still better than what the 3GS can do now.
To start with, this is not an iPhone OS Vs Android battle but why the Nexus One is simply a more open platform as compared to the OSX platform of the iPhone. Apple's policy of not allowing developers to make apps that mimic the core functionality of their own existing apps viz. the calendar, browser and even an e-mail client is not applicable to Android. This throws in a lot of options for the consumer. I don't need 200 different apps to fart online! Give me a better e-mail client or at least the choice to switch between the applications of my choice.
Similar is the case with browsers. Who wouldn't love to see Opera Mobile run on an iPhone? Yes, the existing browser on the iPhone is quite capable, but then, all we are asking for is a choice! Apart from this, from what we hear from primary reports, the Nexus One seems to work a lot faster than the iPhone - even with the phone multitasking. While this might be attributed to the higher Clock speed of the Snapdragon processor inside the Nexus One, we should not forget hat the iPhone 3GS too is powered by a very competent ARM Cortex A8 processor, which by no means is a laggard.
Whats the big deal huh? The iPhone already has it. I can just say in the artistes name and the iPhone will play it for me. I can even call my friend by simply saying her pet name on my iPhone. And that's where it all comes to an abrupt halt. The Nexus One's biggest and probably the most praiseworthy feature is the amazing speech to text ability it possesses. Too bored to type in your e-mail or update your facebook status or even tweet? Simply say it aloud and the phone will type it for you! While watching the launch of the phone on Tuesday, if there was a feature for which there was a collective applause, this was it. Who needs a physical keyboard if this works the way it is supposed to work? However, we will still take the voice commands with a pinch of salt as we Indians tend to have accent issues. If Google has taken care of that part as well (I'm quite sure they would have), this is something that would make even Swype look passe' and so 2009!
While this does not have anything to do with the iPhone and the Nexus One directly, the eco system in which both operate are important. iPhone's app store was a revolutionary initiative. Whatever we see now in the form of the Android Market and the Ovi Store and the BlackBerry AppWorld are nothing but copies of Apple's idea of a centralised app store.
While the app store has been a roaring success, it still suffers from a "fascist" app approval process. The Android Market on the other hand has lesser apps and from a developer point of view, the process of approval is far less tedious. Also, thanks to the open platform, Android guys have a lot less to bother about than the ones who affix the stamp of approval at Cupertino.
So you love your iPhone very much and use it 24/7. But one fine day you realise you haven't turned off the phone in two years and that the battery inside it (yes there's one in there) needs to be replaced. Under normal circumstances (read, if you use a normal phone), you buy a new battery, open the lid at the back and replace it and continue what you were doing. But hey, this is Apple, we do things differently here. If your battery goes kaput on the iPhone all you need to do is to drag yourself to the nearest Apple Store (or a dealer in India) to have the battery replaced. This is because Apple thinks batteries are immovable objects and should remain inside till it meets its fate. The Nexus One happens to fall under the "normal phones" category and if you ever feel you've had enough of its battery, go ahead and get a new one.
It's 2010 but iPhone cannot send files via Bluetooth. That's a serious shortcoming from Apple. Not good when you see the chai wala transferring song after song on his 4k Chinese phone. How many iPhone users might have shied away from a mass Bluetooth file sharing session? If you're an iPhone user, haven't you experienced that at least once? C'mon, tell us the truth! Also, unlike in the Nexus One, the Bluetooth and the WiFi menus are separate in the iPhone. Maybe Apple doesn't want you to use Bluetooth says the little conspiracy theorist in me.
iPhone Gets Back at the Nexus One
Now for the bits where the Nexus One still doesn't match the iPhone and unless Google (or anyone else for that matter) doesn't make something outright revolutionary, every other "killer" phone will remain a wannabe iPhone. Hell, there are some who believe that even Apple cannot bring in anything more revolutionary now.
For some strange reason, folks over at Google think that all of the humanity who has access to emails only use Gmail and for the same reason, will not need to sync their calendars with Exchange. The Nexus simply cannot do it - and for many, this feature is crucial enough to make it a deal breaker. Then there are issues with syncing contacts with exchange according to many users. Not good, especially for a smartphone of this calibre. The iPhone does this all with aplomb.
Let's face it; this has to be the most revolutionary feature ever to arrive on a mobile phone so far. The Nexus One is capable of doing it, but it does not, in its current form. Also, the way multitouch has been implemented on the iPhone is right up there amongst the best you will ever see on any computing device. The Nexus One has a long way to go before it achieves the sophistication and the user friendliness of Apple's famed multitouch. To be fair to the Nexus One, its current UI is nothing short of spectacular - but with multitouch, it would have been much better!
With over 90,000 apps to choose from, the iPhone App Store by far dominates anything that tried to come close. The overall quality of applications too is said to be better on the Apple App Store. For sheer size and freedom of choice, nothing beats the Apple App Store. The Nexus One on the other hand has its very own Android Market that boasts of over 20,000 applications. The Nexus also has this rather crippling "feature" that allows users to store applications ONLY on the ROM memory. You cannot as of now install it to your memory card. This can limit the number of applications you can install on the phone. What is the point of having 20,000 apps if you cannot install most of them? This issue, a piracy protection feature according to Google, would be disabled in a future firmware update.
The Nexus One is a great phone. In terms of sheer features and the things you can do with it, the iPhone is no match to the Nexus One. However, contrary to expectations, the Google Phone doesn't present anything revolutionary. Except for the great speech to text feature there is nothing "new" that would make us term the phone an iconic device.
The iPhone on the other hand is still the best at what it does. The Nexus One might be faster and better equipped, but the iPhone doesn't trail by much. Even though Google's superphone is right up there at the forefront of the iPhone killers of the past, Apple's iPhone, with all its flaws still stands tall. If that wasn't enough, they're already working on the fourth generation iPhone, which should be out in a few months. If the NEXUS One obliterates the iPhone now, the roles could well be reversed in a matter of a few months!