Nexus one in Canada. It works. Very well thank you

It's been less than 48 hours. My mobile life was lived on an humble but reliable, extremely well designed, but somewhat archaic Nokia 6301. I loved the form factor (small candy bar). I loved the pragmatic layout one could achieve. I loved the affordable data plans offered to a so-called "feature phone". Gmail, Google maps, Opera mini for just a few $ per month. But it took 20 seconds to get from zero to Gmail's first page. Probably as long for a map. No Gps. Eyes straining on a QVGA screen. WiFi capabilities restricted to UMA…

My wife has an iPhone (no link needed here) and is very happy with it. Several years ago I talked to audiences saying that this phone would revolutionize the mobile industry. Yes, but not for me. The iPhone is locked — I spend months abroad and cannot fathom the idea of roaming. It is extremely expensive (easy to run bills in excess of $1,000 per month without any video or heavy mapping). It is uncouth to ask your foreign partners to call long distance if they want to reach you. So I had to have an unlocked phone. Jailbreaking an iPhone is not fun. Plus, there is the battery issue. you can't swap batteries in an iPhone (I carried 2 spares for my N6301). And the screen has too few pixels. So I wasn't frustrated nor jealous of iPhone users. Great device, just not for me. (Berries are worse on the run; Nokia's N900 is just too large. Might as well carry a laptop.)

Just so I make it clear: for me the Nexus One has four definite advantages making it the dominant choice:

1) it is available unlocked. Telephony works on any GSM network. Data on any GPRS/EDGE and most non Canadian 3G. EDGE is good enough for me — I do not care about video streaming.

2) it runs on 480×800 pixels. That is roughly five times as many pixels as my N6301's QVGA and twice as much as the iPhone's 480×320 screen. Reading a pdf file that was not formatted for a mobile is not easy, but feasible on a WVGA screen. Hell, this was the laptop's screen not so long ago. Reading on an iPhone is ridiculous. Impossible on a feature phone.

3) batteries can be replaced on the fly. This may sound trivial, but power is a major issue for the smarter phones. Not so much the CPU, mind you, but those 400,000 pixels or so are a major drain. The usual home-work-home routine is not a problem, but the occasional out-of-town activity requires more care, and the transcontinental journey means that you must use your phone sparingly, until you get to your room. No music/podcast, no catching up on reading, no planning of your trip, no editing of your expense records. Spare(s) are a dealbreaker for me. I used to carry up to three on some occasions (i.e. a week's autonomy)

4) it is reasonably small. Very thin, it disappears in your shirt, pant or vest's pocket.

You'll read excellent reviews all over the Internet, so let me share just a few (initial) thoughts

A) Form factor is above expectation. I dreaded replacing my N6301 with a "puck-like" device. The small candy bar shape of feature phones is great for texting. Easy to keep in your hand when you walk (typical scenario — I send an SMS and walk phone in hand wating for the reply). The larger iPhone is too conspicuous for my tastes. Same with the Nexus one. But the feel of the casing and the way the edges are rounded makes this transition less annoying than expected. Plus, the Nexus one feels a tiny bit slimmer than the iPhone (11.8mm vs 12.mm — I guess I am like the proverbial princess and the pea 🙂

B) I walk from home to the office. It takes the better part of an hour, during which I like to listen to podcasts (CBC's Ideas, TVO's Search Engine, UChannel, and so on). I would carry and iPod, synced to my podcast's base. BeyondPod on Nexus One is arguably a better solution. I've subscribed to a few sources and automated the downloading process (at night, when the phone is recharging and can connect to a WiFi access point). Which means one less gizmo to carry.

C) I've read negative reviews wrt the Nexus One's trackball. Well, I like it. How else to move the cursor to fix a typo (most people seem to have to backspace all the way) or click on a tiny link? You may try to use your finger to relocate the cursor, but my fingers are too clumsy. Plus, the trackball glows to provide a visual cue for notifications. Very useful as I often miss the audio signal.

D) Entreprise-grade security for WiFi access. I can connect at the office, meaning that my data usage on the phone network is quite light.

E) Great push and sync. GMail pushed eMail. Notifications can be audio, visual or both. Same for calendar; same for Facebook. Out of the box, took less than a minute to set up. If I sit at my desktop, like now, mails are notified just as fast on either device. The best thing is that messages read on the computer will deactivate the notification on the phone. Again, may sound trivial and obvious, but most devices I know will keep notifying you until you activate the application.

F) The motion sensor can be used to silence ringtones during a meeting or at night. Place the phone face down on the desk and an app will shut-out the audio. Which brings me to my first gripe.

G) I haven't figured out, yet, if or how one can set profiles. I was used to Nokia's "normal", "meeting", "silent", etc. profiles. Very useful because you could change several settings at once and more importantly, set an expiration time. It quickly became some kind of an habit for me to set the meeting profile at the start of a meeting, for the duration of the meeting, which meant that it was easy to program an alert at the end of a meeting so we'd all realize that time was up; or more importantly, that I would not forget to turn the ringer back on at the end of the meeting.

H) I often miss the reliability of a phone hardware keypad with T9 predictions. I work in French Canada, where we use a qwerty layout and often correspond in English. The Nexus one, if configured to French language, uses the azerty layout. To make a long story short, I was probably a more efficient typist on my N6301 than on the Nexus one. There is probably a learning curve here. I'll eventually update. I see no real solution as I would no go for a slider (too thick) nor a split face with small screen/small keyboard combo.

I) the voice search command pops out of nowhere from time to time. I'd like to completely disable this feature that I am very unlikely to use. I wonder if there is a hidden (to me) trigger or if this is a bug. I'd guess the first, but since the system appears to lag (unfrequently), it could well be a bug.

J) and could someone explain to me what was the idea behind the "Amazon MP3" application, that one cannot disable unless one wants to root the OS? I would have understood that Android's marketplace promote this aggressively, but an embedded store like this looks like a very lame iStore to me. No mr. Google, I will not purchase the latest hit from Amazon, and if I did, it would not be from a mobile.

For a little while I felt anxious, after purchasing "by mistake" (I was, after all, just testing the bidders in preparation for my "real" bidding :). Reviews on the N1 are, how to put it, disconcerting. Most dedicated sites would write that this is the "best android handset by a mile" but not a "game changer", and that one would go iPhone if embedded in Apple's echo system and N1 if embedded in Go
ogle's. And I could not not notice the dismal sales figures (80 000 sets during the first month vs 1M for the iPhone). And the complaints about multitouch and 3G, and the fact that the 3G antenna might not work here nor there…

This device does its thing with minimal effort, if by "thing" we
mean calls, mails, SMS. And it can do much more and this requires some
trial and error.

All in all, I am extremely satisfied with this device.

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