Google’s Nexus (Negative) One

I’ve been reading a handful of posts and tweets out on the tubes about the Nexus One and a clear picture is forming as to what this phone is really like.
Walt Mossberg’s piece at the WSJ is titled, Google’s Nexus One Is Bold New Face in Super-Smartphones.
So it’s a bold new face in super-smartphones? Hmm. Super-smartphone. This sounds like a ridiculous new category, but maybe Walt will prove me wrong.
So Walty, tell me what’s super about the Nexus One?

The Nexus One finally has the right combination of hardware and software to give Android a champion that might attract more people away from their iconic iPhones and BlackBerrys. It has a larger screen than Apple’s phone, and is a bit thinner, narrower and lighter—if a tad longer. And it boasts a better camera and longer talk time between battery charges.

Awesome. Sounds great. Tell me more “super” stuff.

On the Nexus One, only 190 megabytes of its total 4.5 gigabytes of memory is allowed for storing apps. On the $199 iPhone, nearly all of the 16 gigabytes of memory can be used for apps.

Ew. ok. Well, tell me something positive.

In fact, the $199 iPhone 3GS has roughly four times as much user-accessible memory out of the box, though the memory on the Nexus One can be expanded via memory cards. Apple also has a more-fluid user interface, with multitouch gestures for handling photos and Web pages.

I know Walt’s saving all the super features for the end.

The phone also has handsome new visual features, including “live wallpaper,” with waving grass or pulsing colored lines

Wow. A wallpaper capable of animating. Sounds like a big productivity booster. Give me some more upsides to the Nexus One. Hit me!

But there are some downsides to the Nexus One. Like all Android phones, it relies too much, in my view, on menus that create extra steps, including some menus that have a built-in “more” button to display a secondary menu of choices.

So the software is sub-par. Seriously? I can’t believe that, coming from a company run by engineers, not designers. Crazy. But at least the hardware is solid, right?

I also found the four buttons etched into the phone’s bottom panel sticky and hard to press.

Well, it sounds like they’re trying to attract the general consumer, as opposed to the business consumer, so the entertainment software must be good right?

In addition, the Nexus One, and other Android devices, still pale beside the iPhone for playing music, video and games. The apps available for these functions aren’t nearly as sophisticated as on the Apple devices.

Anything else, Walt?

Finally, the iPhone is still a better apps platform. Not only are there more apps, but, in my experience, iPhone apps are generally more polished and come in more varieties.

Wonderful. So it has a few solid features, but Google’s not taking it to a new level.

But, with its fresh phone and bold business model, Google is taking Android to a new level, and that should ramp up the competition in the super-smartphone space.

Walt, what the hell are you smoking?