Wed, May 12, 2010 - Page 14 News List

Nexus One gives the iPhone a run for its money

HTC’s Nexus One, which runs on Google’s Android v2.1, is a legitimate challenger to Apple’s iPhone

By Gareth Murfin  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

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Google made a wise decision when it decided to release an open source mobile operating system — it has allowed it to quickly infiltrate the smartphone market because of the business model: it’s free and open source like Linux.

Despite this, most of the Android devices on the market today are not really true competitors to the iPhone, due to the immaturity, sluggishness and the availability of apps. But with the release of the latest device, the HTC Nexus One running Android v2.1, Android is finally becoming a threat to the iPhone, which has held its own for almost two years as the most desirable mobile device.

The Nexus One is an extremely slim and sleek touchscreen device that sports a trackball and the obligatory Android keys (back, menu, home, search). It uses a virtual keyboard so it’s much smaller than previous Android phones we have reviewed, such as the flagship G1. In fact, it makes the iPhone look quite bulky by comparison.

Under the hood lies some serious computing power, the likes of which powered our desktop computers less than 10 years ago. The Nexus One is actually more powerful than some of the older computers we are still using today. It packs an astonishingly high 512MB of ram, 1GHz Snapdragon ARM CPU (central processing unit), 4GB of internal storage and a huge screen resolution of 800 x 480. Finally, true multi-touch ability has hit Android devices and the Nexus One can do most of what the iPhone can do in terms of touchscreen gestures: you can pinch to zoom in on a map for instance, or slide a menu up with a simple flick of your finger. It still can’t, however, perform the most advanced iPhone multi-touch functions, such as touching and rotating your hand around to also rotate

the map.

Apple claims half of the great features the Nexus One sports — or 20 of its patents — have been infringed upon, and not just the touchscreen. The list of alleged infringements contains things like “Object-Oriented Graphic System,” “Unlocking a Device by Performing Gestures on an Unlock Image,” “List Scrolling and Document Translation, Scaling, and Rotation on a Touch-Screen Display” as well as power-saving patents like “Conserving Power by Reducing Voltage Supplied to an Instruction-Processing Portion of a Processor.” Either way, once the Nexus One is in your hands it’s extremely unlikely Google would issue an update to remove features based on the current legal situation, but it does raise concerns that Apple holds such broad patents that could effectively give it a competitive advantage for years to come.

One of the beautiful things about the Nexus One is its vibrant high-resolution 3.7-inch screen with an extremely bright backlight. The camera is decent, too. It’s a 5.0 mega-pixel camera with autofocus, capable of taking near-perfect shots during the day and not so bad shots at night using a better-than-average LED flash. Video can be recorded at 720 x 480 resolution, the same resolution as that of an ordinary TV and a very rare feature for mobile phone cameras right now. The usual array of features are all included: Bluetooth, WiFi, microSD slot, GPS, mini USB, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensors, and — a real deal-breaker for some — an ordinary-sized headphone socket that can link the Nexus One directly to your sound system or headphones like people have been doing with iPods for years.

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