Just one day after its official launch in Googleville, California, we got our mitten-clad hands on the Google Nexus One on the snowy streets of London town.
After our first look at the HTC-built Nexus One, we came away feeling that this could be the best Android phone yet, thanks to its stunning screen and smooth, fast user interface. Despite its size, it feels comfortable to hold and it's very thin.
If you've used an Android phone before, everything will look familiar -- there are no massive changes in version 2.1 of the software. But it runs beautifully on the Nexus One, with menus popping up instantly and transitions sliding smoothly.
The voice-recognition option, which allows you to dictate everything from text messages to Web searches, worked very well in our short test, capturing every word but not capitalising 'I' correctly -- good work for a notoriously difficult feature. The on-screen keyboard was also excellent, prompting us with full words after two or three letters were entered, which made typing quick and accurate.
This wasn't the exact same phone you'll get from Google's Web site -- it's the version given out to Googlers a month ago, so it has some special graphics on the back, for example. But it has the same 1GHz Snapdragon processor, slim 11.5mm body and gorgeous AMOLED screen, so click 'Continue' to read more of our first impressions of the phone Google is calling the 'superphone'.
The animated wallpaper touted by Google looked fabulous on the bright, vivid 94mm (3.7-inch) AMOLED screen, but we're told that using one will slightly affect battery life. Its longevity is apparently similar to other smart phones, such as the iPhone 3GS -- so you get about a day's use out of it.
The back sports a 5-megapixel camera with an LED photo light, and a tiny hole where HTC has hidden an extra microphone to give the Nexus One noise cancelling -- a first for an Android phone. We tried it out by standing in a fridge (they have big fridges at the Googleplex) and it does reduce background noise, but caused the voice to sound warped.
The Web browser on the 2.1 version of Android used on the Nexus One felt the same as other Android phones, and had no Flash support. Nevertheless, combined with the big screen and fast processor, surfing the Web was a pleasure in our short test.
You also get the simple, large icons for using the Nexus One in your car. An easy link to voice commands helps keep your eyes on the road, but Google's sat-nav, Google Maps Navigation, won't work in the UK.
The photo gallery is jazzed up with 3D transitions -- if you tilt the phone, the photos move over on the screen, for example. It's pretty pointless, but it looks cool and Google hopes it will inspire developers by showing what the phone can do.
Compared to the iPhone, the Nexus One is slightly slimmer -- 11.5mm versus 12.3mm -- and the screen is narrower. We found the bevelled edges make the Nexus One feel easier to hold, but its grey plastic body doesn't have the design flair of the iPhone.
We found colours on the Nexus One's AMOLED screen deeper and more vibrant than on the iPhone 3GS. This photo struggles to show the difference, but we found the images of the red and pink laptops looked more washed-out on the iPhone 3GS compared to the Nexus One.