Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nexus One vs. HTC Hero

Revision: 4 (see bottom for changes)

I had an HTC Hero for quite some time now, then I bought the Nexus One. This post is a comparison between the two, but highly details the falls and pits of the Nexus One.

If you find this version of the post ugly, click here for a neat HTML version.

  • Phone & Charger Design
    • USB Port: Micro-USB. Got to carry my own cable around now :/ (Hero uses the common Mini-USB)
    • Soft amber light when charging unlike Hero's bright amber LED. The charger does not have a light
    • Nexus's trackball light is brighter than Hero's. It has a blue-ish light
    • Hero's activation buttons (as I call them): answer, home, menu & hang up/power are no longer buttons on Nexus but are touch-buttons. They also no longer activate the screen. The power button on the top does
    • The charger has a chin that takes space from either left or right, which is quite inconvenient since you have to put it on the edge of a power distributor
    • No place to hang a phone pendant! Where am I supposed to put my gold-plated 1 fils now? :(
    • The screen is amazing! Its colors are way better than that of an iPhone 3GS
  • Dock Station
    • Doesn't transmit data. Must not connect to computer USB ports!
    • The phone transmits music to the dock via Bluetooth
    • Tacking the phone off the dock takes you to the unlocked home screen
  • Battery & Power
    • Charging Time: ~2:30 hours
    • Battery Statistics: Shows battery usage and which components use it mostly: Display, Cell standby, Android, Wallpaper, Phone idle, Voice calls and a few more
    • The default live wallpaper consumes the least power. Even less than still ones!
    • The screen shows the charging percentage when on the dock station
    • Power Off Options
      • Hero: Power Off, Silent mode, Vibration mode, Airplane mode, Mobile network
      • Nexus: Power Off, Silent mode, Airplane mode
  • Booting/Startup
    • Boot time: 35-40 seconds (to unlocked home screen)
    • Booting animation: Fastens as it loads
  • Dialer
    • Nexus
      • Calling is a 4-step process: Click contacts icon > search > click contact icon > call
      • Punching numbers in the dialer will not search for neither phones nor names
      • Search is limited to names only. Phones cannot be searched
      • During a call, you can easily switch to speaker or add another call by clicking buttons on the screen. Hero requires you to click the menu button to get these options
    • Hero
      • Calling is a 3-step process: Click phone icon > dial/search > click to call
      • In Dial/Search you input numbers and is interpreted as both numbers and characters of names
  • Privacy Issues & Options
    • Search History: Enabled by default to save all your searched terms and shows custom results based on your previous search queries (tied to your email account)
    • Browser Settings: Sending your location to those requesting it is enabled by default. This might be used by targeted ads
    • Both previous points were enabled even though I had My Location service disabled
  • Widgets
    • Control: wireless, bluetooth, GPS, data sync, brightness
    • No quick contact dialing widget. Specific to HTC's Sense UI
  • Contacts
    • Nexus syncs with the gmail account groups but doesn't have an option to create groups from the phone
    • Newly created contacts on Nexus get added to "My Contacts" group in the gmail account and cannot be added to a specific group inside the account, unless done from the web. Horrible!
    • When logged in to gtalk and browsing contacts, aa status indicator shows near the name
    • Clicking a contact's icon shows in a small bar all contact possibilities: phone, sms, gtalk, facebook, email & view info
    • On Hero, it was possible to link contacts to their Facebook profiles when the names in your contact list & Facebook didn't match. This is not possible on Nexus & names have to be the same for them to merge and become one
    • Contact Shortcut: Adding a shortcut to a contact on the screen provides these icons: Contact Info, Email, Facebook, Phone, SMS, Gtalk
    • When adding a new number through the call log, using the search function won't add the number. You have to scroll to the contact and click it to see the new number
  • Usability & User Interface
    • Muting the Nexus doesn't require unlocking its screen. Press power button then the speaker icon. Hero requires unlocking then holding the power button then choosing silent
    • Keyboard: Nexus has no new line button for SMS in neither landscape nor portrait mode!!!!
    • Date & Time: Hero had more options like showing the name of the day. Not included on Nexus
    • Empty space menu: Hero required 2.5-3 seconds to bring up the menu. Nexus brings it in 1 second when clicking in an empty spot
    • Tiny dots on the bottom of the screen each representing a screen. Clicking the dots changes to the screen either on left or right (depending on which dot was clicked)
    • Still no option to have no wallpaper. I prefer my screens blank but seems like it's a far fetched dream
    • Keyboard doesn't include numbers when long-pressing keys. One must click on "?123" to get numbers and special characters
    • Calendar: Looks ugly compared to Hero's
    • When sending an SMS, a clock icon shows near the message meaning that it is being sent, then the clock goes when it is sent. Hero didn't have that and you wouldn't know if it was sent or not, and if there was a failure you'd find out after 3-5 minutes with a failure notification
    • Hero would vibrate once when a pending call is picked up. Nexus doesn't (part of HTC's Sense UI)
    • Notifications: Only sound and trackball light. Hero had a green LED that lit when emails or SMS were received, in addition to the trackball light
    • System update: No option to notify before download. It'll always download by itself then notify you when it's ready to install the update
    • Has voice input to write SMS, call people or perform search. It requires an Internet connection
    • No profiles. I have to use 3rd party apps to get this basic functionality, which an 8KD Nokia phone provides...
  • Applications
    • GMail app is better than Hero's. Undoing actions is now possible (like when archiving an email by mistake)
    • Can't save attachments from either the gmail app or the mail app. You can view them only (tried a PDF file)!!
    • In the gmail and mail apps, we cannot see who is sender of an email unless we click on the contact circle. There is no way to copy that email without adding to contacts first!
    • Software update: Caught it automatically downloading Update1 (15.2MB). Personalized settings or data won't be affected, it says.
    • Gtalk signed in with the same mode I used in the web chat
    • Browser takes less than 1 second to load! It's freakin' fast! Hero's take 3-5 seconds of not more sometimes
    • Youtube app is newer on Nexus. When viewing details of a video, you get to copy the URL by clicking a button
    • App installation: Apps install very fast! 2 seconds installation for the same apps on Hero. Hero used to take about 6-10 seconds
    • Exchange sync: Does NOT sync exchange account calendar(s)!!!! Major blow D:
    • Picture sharing: The following aren't available on Nexus: Flickr, Twitter, Youtube
  • Connectivity
    • PPTP VPN: PPTP VPN works! I use VPNoD and they enforce high-security (MPPE 128)
    • A friend had issues with PPTP VPN not working on his VPN. It worked after rooting the phone
    • Turning off 3G data Internet takes 6 steps. One has to create a shortcut to avoid the mess. Also you have to define a dummy access point with no configuration
  • Limitations
    • Nexus One has a Broadcom BCM4329 WiFi/FM transmit/receive chipset, but there's no option to use the FM receiver!
    • WiFi detects up to 11 channels only. My AP was on channel 13 and it wasn't seen till I changed it to 11. Hero supported 13 channels
    • Ringer speaker volume is very low. The same issue was there on the Hero. HTC seems to be using cheap parts!
    • Alarm's volume is very low and should NOT be used for important things (certainly not to wake you up)
    • Reminders suffer the same problems of alarms and it is not possible to define a value manually

Info before update:
Firmware version: 2.1
Baseband version:
Kernel version: 2.6.29-gad36b87, android-build@apa26 #1
Build number: ERD79

Info after update:
Firmware version: 2.1-update1
Baseband version:
Kernel version: 2.6.29-01117-g4bc62c2, android-build@apa26 #1
Build number: ERE27

Pictures of the phone and the dock station are here.


Coming out of the simple & intuitive Sense UI, I find the vanilla (standard) Android quite lacking. I could live without the simple dialer, but not being able to create groups, adding a contact to a specific group or syncing the Exchange calendar is unacceptable!

I was moments away from selling the phone until I found out it's possible to use Sense UI on Nexus One by rooting the phone and using HTC Desire's ROM, which I'm going to do when it finally reaches a stable version in a month or two.

I was hesitant about rooting the phone before, but I clarified a piece of info that had me take the decision: You can unlock the bootloader, root your phone and use custom ROMs, but you'll only receive over the air (OTA) updates on the original ROM. For the custom ones, you'll need to redeploy as updates are released.


4: March 8th: Added a new bug to "Contacts" and an entry under "Connectivity"
3: March 7th: Added link to picture gallery.
2: March 7th: Added an entry under "Phone & Charger Design" about the screen. Two points under "Limitations"
1: March 6th: Initial post