The company calls
the new phone a member of a new class of devices called "superphones"
-- ultra-capable, web-ready phones. Mario, VP of Product
Development at Google took the stage to personally introduce the
phone. He describes, "[We're often asked] what if we work
even more closely with our partners to bring devices to market to
showcase the great software technology we’re working on at
He says the N1 is the answer to that question
and the "exemplar" of what can be done with Android.
He also revealed the hardware partner, stating, "The Nexus One
was designed in very close partnership with HTC."
Chou, CEO of HTC, then took the stage to fill in the hardware
details. The phone features a eye-catching 3.7" 480x800
AMOLED display (bigger than the iPhone's 3.5" screen and higher
resolution than the iPhone's 320x480). The phone is also
powered by the 1
GHz Snapdragon QSD 8250 processor from Qualcomm, as rumored.
That makes it on paper faster than the the current generation iPhone
3G S, due to the latter's underclocking (which is powered by a
Samsung S5PC100 ARM Cortex-A8 833 MHz CPU underclocked to 600
Whereas the iPhone features a plain nondescript home
button, the Nexus One's bottom interface device doubles both as a
trackball and a button and a multi-color LED notification device.
The phone also features a wealth of sensors to enrich the
performance, including light and proximity sensors, compass, GPS and
accelerometer (it draws the iPhone in this category).
phone is 11.5 mm thin and a mere 130 grams (narrowly beating the
iPhone 3G S in both categories). It features a 5 MP camera with
LED flash, MPEG4 capabilities, and one-touch YouTube uploads.
The phone features stereo Bluetooth, a 3.5mm headphone jack (four
contact points for microphone and remote), and active noise
cancellation. A second microphone in the back of the phone
provides active noise cancellation during phone calls. To top
off the sweet hardware package, you can get custom engraving on the
metal bezel on the backplate.
The 1400 mAh battery is expected
to deliver 290 hours on standby, 10 hours talk time or 5 hours while
browsing the internet.
The phone's only serious weak point is
app memory -- currently you can only store apps on the 512 MB
internal ROM, though soon you will be able to copy apps to the SD
expansion. Considering iPhone apps run as large as 10 MB, this
is a serious shortcoming.
The phone also features Android 2.1,
the latest version of Google's mobile operating system. The new
OS is compatible with Facebook, Google Maps, and all the other apps
from past versions of Android. The phone features five home
screens, so you have a fair amount of room for your favorite apps.
The phone features a rather nice news and weather widget that helps
you get your info fix on the go.
Arguably the phone's single
most impressive feature, though, is its incredible voice-to-text
interface that allows you to literally read email messages and texts
to your phone, which the N1 faithfully transcribes. All text
fields on the phone can be given text by voice.
The phone also
offers a rich graphical environment, including some pretty sweet
looking "interactive wallpapers". The one demoed was
a fall lake, with leaves falling into it. Touching the screen
would create ripples in the water, as did the falling leaves -- pure
eye-candy, of course, but nice touches, nonetheless.
The phone also gets a special tilt-driven Cover Flow-esque photo
interface that automatically syncs to your Picasa account if you have
The phone's powerful graphical capabilities also power a
new mobile version of Google Earth that allows a 3D "flight"
mode, that lets you explore the world in full 3D magic.
can purchase the N1 through Google's new Google web store, which aims
to offer a "simple purchasing process" and "simple
offering of plans from operators". Currently, the N1 is
offered through the site, but more phones, including some from
Motorola are coming. Once you select a phone, you can check out
or select one of the available carriers for a discount on the device
and new contract. The N1 is currently only
offered on T-Mobile, but will be available on Verizon and
Vodafone sometime in the spring (though it's unclear whether this
CDMA-ready version will retain its GSM capability). The phone
will currently work with AT&T, but only on the slower EDGE
network -- rather disappointing.
The T-Mobile phone can be had
for $179 for new customers (or $280 if you're a returning customer
w/out a data package, or $380 for returning customers with a data
package), while an unlocked N1 retails for $529. T-Mobile's
plan runs $79.99 per month and includes unlimited texting/MMS, web
data and unlimited minutes. The purchase web form allows you to
specify your custom engraving (2 lines), if you want it. The
store current ships to the U.S., UK, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
The new online store idea seems like a great one -- you can get your
new smartphone and not have to worry about being accosted by
phone store sales staff.