Google Nexus One Review

The Nexus One is made by HTC, and as such, build quality is fantastic. The device is lightweight in hand, and at just 11mm thick (the width of a pencil according to Google), it easily slips into your pocket. The body of the phone is made from a soft plastic material that offers a nice non-slip feel. The glass screen, which is 3.7″ and WVGA 800×480 resolution, uses capacitive touch. While it doesn’t support multitouch out the box, there are some applications that can take advantage of pinch to zoom, such as the Dolphin browser (available for free from the Android Marketplace).



Speaking about the screen, like the iPhone and HTC HD2, the Nexus One’s display has an anti-grease/fingerprint coating which goes a long way in helping to keep the screen clean.

The screen uses AMOLED technology meaning that it doesn’t have a traditional backlight. We’ve seen AMOLED used in other devices like the Samsung Omnia II. The advantages of AMOLED are lower power consumption, and best of all, high contrast. On the Nexus One, blacks appear as true black rather than a slightly gray color found on traditional backlit LCD displays.

In terms of hardware buttons, the Nexus One has the typical buttons for Android: Home, Search, Back and Menu. Like the screen, the buttons are capacitive. In our testing, due to the close vicinity of the buttons to the screen, it was sometimes tough to avoid accidental button presses when using the onscreen keyboard. Below the buttons, the Nexus One has a trackball that is awkward to use with one hand. The trackball also acts as a notification beacon and will blink white if you have a new message.


You can get a sense of how deep the blacks are in the image above. Also unique to the Nexus One is that it has a very wide viewing angle.


The back of the device has a two-toned design. The area with the silver strip can be engraved like an iPod when bought through Google’s Nexus One website. Back here we can see the 5.0MP autofocus camera which also has a flash. More on camera quality later.

The speaker on the Nexus One offers a sub-part speakerphone experience, with distortion occurring even at medium volumes. Beyond the speakerphone, call quality on the Nexus One was fantastic. The device features two microphones to supposedly cut down on background noise, but our tests didn’t prove that the Nexus One cut down on ambient noise more than say, an iPhone or HTC HD2.


Opening the back battery cover we reveal the 1400mAh battery (more on battery life below), plus the slot for the microSD card. The Nexus One comes with a 4GB microSD card, which is nice. Sadly, you must remove the battery to replace the microSD card.


The Nexus One has a bigger (and much higher resolution screen) than the iPhone, but compared to the HD2, the Nexus One seems somewhat miniscule.

Here’s a closer look at the hardware features of the Google Nexus One. Also of note is the proximity and light sensor at the top of the device.


Let’s talk a bit about specs. The Nexus One is running Qualcomm’s blazing fast 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, the same that is used in the HTC HD2. It has 512 MB of RAM and ROM, plus 4GB of included microSD storage. For syncing and charging, the Nexus One uses microUSB, and for audio output, it has a 3.5mm jack. It also includes radios for GPS, WiFi, and Bluetooth. It’s a quadband GSM phone (850/900/1800/1900) with dualband UMTS (900/2100) and HSDPA/HSUPA. For full specs, check out


In this video we unbox the Google Nexus One. The unboxing experience was fun and interesting and similar to that of the HTC HD2 or even HTC Hero. The device comes with a fabric case.

Homescreens and Live wallpaper

The Nexus One has a neat feature called Live Wallpaper that lets you place animated wallpaper onto your homescreens. Yes, this does use a bit of battery life, but it really adds an interesting dimensions to the device that you just don’t get with other phones. In terms of homescreen widgets, HTC hasn’t added as many as we would have liked.


In this video we cover the built in applications of the Google Nexus One. Unique to the Nexus One is the photo browsing application which graphically organizes photos in stacks.



Photo quality on the Nexus One is pretty great. It does a terrific job at focusing in on close objects and illuminating dark areas, although sometimes the flash is far too bright, so you often have to toggle it on and off manually.

Here’s a sample of video taken from the Nexus One (unprocessed). The quality is not so great with grainy video and poor audio.

Battery Life

The battery life on the Nexus One was quite good for a smartphone with such a fast processor. With heavy use, expect to get through the whole day, and with moderate use, you’ll need to charge every 1.5 days.


The only way to get a Nexus One is through Google’s website. There, you can pay $529 for an unlocked device, or you can get it with T-Mobile for $179. Verizon is expected to get the Nexus One in the Spring of 2010.


Overall, despite the Nexus One not being revolutionary as many thought it would be, it’s safe to say that the it is the best Android phone on the market right now. It has a fantastic combination of speed, screen quality and software that makes it a true joy to use. While many are dissapointed by its inability to do 3G on AT&T (hint: me), we have a feeling that if we don’t see the Nexus One in an AT&T flavor, it’s only a matter of time before we see some sort of Nexus device (Nexus Two?) hit each and every major carrier in the US and around the world.

Want more Nexus One?

Below is a list of other videos we’ve published for the Nexus One…

Settings tour

Web browsing test 1

Web browsing test 2

Google Goggles

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About The Author
Brandon Miniman
Brandon is a graduate from the Villanova School of Business, located near Philadelphia, PA. He's been a technology writer since 2002, and, in 2005, became Editor-in-Chief of Pocketnow, a then Windows Mobile-focused website. He has since helped to transition Pocketnow into a top-tier smartphone and tablet publication. He's so obsessed with technology that he once entered a candle store and asked if they had a "new electronics" scent. They didn't.