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Choosing the World’s Best Mobile Phone… Again!

Up until now, we’ve resisted the temptation to wade into the iPhone vs. Nexus One battle. And there have been many thought-provoking contributions on both sides of the discussion. Our take on it is that, for many folks, it’s now come down to the Ford vs. Chevy debate. We know lots of Ford enthusiasts that would never set foot in a GM vehicle. And vice versa.

In the cellphone world, there are some differences between Apple and Google philosophically that you really don’t see in choosing between Ford and Chevy. If you’re looking for a cellphone that just works, that requires little involvement on your part, and that basically functions as a phone, a music player, and a handheld game device, then you’ll love the iPhone. Apple controls the entire user experience end-to-end, and they’ve gotten it just about right after three years of evolutionary development. If you’re looking for a cellphone that functions more as a mobile office, then the choice comes down to Blackberry vs. Nexus One at least in our book. The Blackberry still is the hands-down winner if your business runs on Microsoft Exchange although the Nexus One performs admirably. For everyone else, the Nexus One is your baby. That’s where we are today. But what about next year, and…

It’s Integration, Stupid! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Cloud Computing should not be a new concept. The whole corporate world is moving there. Why? Because it’s too damn expensive to manage the complexities of modern data processing technology in house. And when it comes to Cloud Computing, there’s no one better at it than Google. The tight integration of email, messaging, voice communications, directories, calendaring/scheduling, and maps in the Google universe is legendary. And Google is damn close to Microsoft on the document preparation and spreadsheet front. Google’s search technology is simply the icing on the cake. But what icing! It ties all of these components together in a way that others only Bing about.

What the Nexus One brings to the table is a mobile computing platform that is fully capable of taking advantage of all of Google’s integration strengths. Email is always synchronized with your Gmail account. Your Address Book is always synchronized with your Google Address book. Your calendar is always synchronized with your Google Calendar and those of your coworkers. Your phone rings on your Nexus One at the same time it rings in your office or home. And your outbound calls, including your CallerID, can be processed just as if you were placing the same calls from your office or home. Simple, isn’t it? Can Apple do the same thing? To some extent, certainly. But the Apple MobileMe sync technology is archaic compared to the Google model. With Apple you’re synchronizing Address Books and Calendars from Apple-only desktop machines to a central server (for a fee) on a scheduled basis. That leaves 90% of corporate America out of the loop. With Google, there is only one Address Book and Calendar, and they’re both already stored in the Cloud. So you don’t have the endless problems associated with keeping a dozen or a hundred or thousands of users’ information in sync.

Long Live the Soup Nazi. For Seinfeld fans, no one can touch the Draconian deeds of the Soup Nazi. But Apple comes close: pushing out updates that reportedly bricked the iPhones of users that sought a bit more freedom in their software choices, telling the FCC that unlocked iPhones threaten the security of the national cellphone network, ruling the Apple Store with an iron fist. This is not acceptable corporate behavior in our book. For the average cellphone user, this conduct may not matter, but it should. The choice really comes down to spending your dollars with a company that fosters and encourages open source development versus a company that treats you as if you’re too dumb to know what’s good for you.

Our Pick: The Nexus One. We’ll leave you with our Baker’s Dozen reasons for choosing the Nexus One over the iPhone. YMMV! For the best and most balanced technical review to date, visit Ars Technica.

1. Google Apps Integration (see above)
2. Navigation integrated with Voice & Google Maps (video)
3. Phone-wide Speech-to-Text Voice Integration
4. Multitasking and Recent App Switcher Button
5. Back Button to non-destructively back out of anything
6. One-Touch App Directory plus 5 Custom Screens
7. Goggles & Dolphin Multi-Touch Browser
8. SIP and Google Voice integration with WiFi and Cell Nets
9. Intuitive store without corporate content control
10. Unlocked phone, easily rooted, Cyanogen
11. Replaceable battery
12. Expandable storage
13. Flash

In the immortal words of Bernie Mac, "Whatcha gonna do, America?"

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  1. I am waiting for my order of Nexus one to arrive. It will be fun but can you explain some more about SIP integration? Is it possible to connect it my PIAF system? I am outside USA so I cannot use Google Voice 🙁

    [WM: SIP works great. Just download SipDroid from the Google Marketplace. With Android 2.1, you can permanently configure your FQDN into SipDroid and it still works fine with WiFi on your local LAN behind a NAT router.]

  2. I too, think that the Nexus One looks like a great phone. The Google Fanboys are about as annoying as the Apple fanboys though.

    [WM: No argument there.]

  3. I agree — the Nexus One is an amazingly good phone. Unfortunately I just put mine up on eBay today. My problem is the same issue I had with the iPhone – battery life. Yesterday was my final straw – I had already turned off wifi and GPS, and I didn’t use the phone any more than normal (unlike over the weekend where I couldn’t keep my hands off it). Flat dead by 8 pm.

    It pains me that I can’t use it. Until battery technology takes another significant leap ahead it’s back to Blackberry for me.

    [WM: If your phone made it ’til 8 p.m., you had a good day. Everyone will have charging cradles with these new superphones, I’m afraid.]

  4. As to SIP integration, I took your previous advice and am using Nokia E71. Now with an integrated VOIP client, and an Internet package I can use as a default VOIP over Cellular network when I make a call via my Asterisk server, either calling a number or from my contacts.

    Does that kind of integration works the same with SipDroid? It doesn’t work that way with external applications like Fring for instance..

    [WM: You can choose whether to make a cell or SIP call by adding a + to the number for SIP. Not quite as polished as the Nokia E71 implementation, however. Google Voice on the other hand works almost exactly like the Nokia E71 to place outbound calls through GV.]

  5. "The choice really comes down to spending your dollars with a company that fosters and encourages open source development versus a company that treats you as if you’re too dumb to know what’s good for you." Good article with an unfortunately emotional conclusion. As someone that has spent their career in telecom the choice for me is more of an architectural issue. Google’s cloud approach and limited device memory make it highly dependent upon wireless connectivity. Customer forums are already reporting problems, and the AT&T/iPhone issues are well known. It’s really too soon to tell, but Google’s cloud, which was developed in the wireline world, may have trouble delivering on a reliable basis. It’s not clear if the wireless cloud will continue to be a very bumpy ride and not being totally reliant on the cloud is more practical for the near-medium term. Waiting and watching at this point is the best approach, but that is coming from someone that’s had to live with telecom problems. At least it’s now an interesting race. Disclosure: RIM BB owner – for the present

    [WM: Your quote is a little out of context, but folks can read the article and make their own judgment. As for reliability and support, it’s interesting that everyone seems to have forgotten the early problems with the iPhone and AT&T. Customer service was non-existent then, too. And, with AT&T at least, it really hasn’t changed much in three years. As for Apple support, you might want to take a long look at this thread on Apple’s support forum before choosing Apple based upon their fine customer service. 🙂 Bottom Line: They’ve all got their crosses to bear.]

  6. I’ve seen a number of reports of horrible voice quality on VoIP calls. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s over WiFi or 3G, or whether it’s sipdroid or fring. Have you experienced this?

    [WM: We’ve had great VoIP calls and lousy ones. It all depends upon available bandwidth.]

  7. I will only ever buy HTC phones because of xda-developers. Android + xda-developers is going to a very powerful combo. When your phone has a weakness or a missing feature … check out the xda-d team and they’ve made a custom ROM to deal with it … it’s amazing.

  8. This is a good article and a reasonable review. (Disclaimer: I actually used your entry for HTC Magic to make a decision and am now a proud owner of one; so, thank you!)

    However, one thing struck me about this piece: you make no mention of the incompatibility of Nexus One with the AT&T 3G! (Although, you did mention this band discrepancy for the HTC Magic overview and recommended the Rogers version of HTC Magic.)

    This, in fact was the deal-breaker for me. I don’t want to deal with T-mobile’s network and coverage issues, thankyouverymuch. I would choose AT&T with their problems (at least for now). I am sure that there are others like me.

    Until Nexus One becomes 3G triband (like the iPhone, which already is), I would hesitate getting this phone.

    Otherwise, thanks for pumping out quality reviews. I will keep reading.

    [WM: We’re actually using the Nexus One on AT&T’s 2G network. To be honest, we can’t tell any performance difference between the Nexus One at 2G speed and our iPhone at 3G speed. That speaks volumes about AT&T’s 3G network performance. 🙄 But, you’re right. We should have covered it in the article.]

  9. You need to ask yourself, "Self, do I really want to become an itard?"

    You will be derided harshly in secret and subtly in public. I, too, will mock you into helping you escape from yourself.

    Cloud computing it not a new concept: Beowulf + NAS.

    Google will have another dimension of frightening with which to profi… interact with you: GeoIP location + GPS + tower triangulation. What could possibly go wrong there?


    try to remember google is an AD serving company first.. now think really hard: why might they encourage people to use as many "free" google services as possible?

    Apple, through non-itard users, few though they are, is learning about the fun of class action lawsuits.

    Locking a device to a particular mobile provider does not appear to be in the spirit of FCC mandated Open Access does it?

    Verizon has already lost a phone claim class action lawsuit (v710).

    Why would I want to buy a "smart phone" that I have little or no intention of using email- or web on SINCE they MANDATE a $30 upgrade penalty (required data package)

    What if a parent didn’t want a child having internetty phone? Too bad.. still "get to" pay the verizon smart phone data penalty.

    Yeah… that’s going over oh so well

    Can I haz free markt?

    Want games and junk: PSP

    Isn’t the word "phone" in the title of this article?

    _differences between Apple and Google philosophically_

    The latter hides behind the ever evolving "do no evil", bearing more similarity to witchcraft than the Hippocratic oath. The former makes the notion of "walled garden" seem like a hallucination.

  10. SIPDroid on my G1 works perfectly fine. I even tried it on my HTC Fuze (A WinMo phone, but XDA-Devs are in the process of porting Android to it. It’s actually fairly complete.) You can configure it to only use SIPDroid when you’re on WiFi, or when you’re on 3G, or both, or when you’re on EDGE, or to use it if there’s a + in front of the name, or when there isn’t… It works great. I do suggest using it with PBXes, though. They bumped up the TCP timeout values so it saves lots of battery life when idle.

  11. Wow, not a single person mentioned the Nokia N900. Comes with built in SIP client, Google integration AND you can write your own apps for it. I’m still laughing at all the iPhoners and even the Droid. The N900 might not be the perfect phone for everyone, but if your reading nerdvittles, its probably the perfect phone for you

  12. I am still using Moto Q with Sprint. No complaints about its 3G but never could get any SIP client work well with it. Now, I’m ready to upgrade but am confused about choices of phones that support Android (upgradable to 2.1). Can some point me to a table comparing phones that support Android?


    PS: Is T-Mobile 3G really that bad that I should stay away from it?

  13. It’s tough to keep up with the marketplace.

    Apparently the Nexus One is dead.

    I compiled an incredible pbx here at home, now I’m looking for a good wifi/cellphone (that is not an iPhone) to take advantage of it. Any new suggestions?

    [WM: Nexus One will live on. Just won’t be marketed by Google any longer. Sprint’s HTV Evo 4G would be our next pick. And, there’s a new one from Samsung coming soon.]

  14. I have my iPhone connected to 15 calendars on Google Apps along with seven email accounts and syncing my contacts to google apps. This is all over either 3G or WiFi, no plugging into my Mac. Works like a champ.

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