N900 vs Nexus One: Confessions of an Android user

I wrote this post back in April earlier this year. I’d say around the 10th. Time got the better of me and I never got ’round to publishing. After much deliberation I thought I’d throw it up. Just in case it still holds weight. Your comments, as ever, are welcome…

The N900 and the Nexus One. My two main phones at the moment. Both brilliant in their own right. The former still proving the model of awesome content consumption while the latter still manages to surprise with the quality of its creative skills.

There isn’t much I can say about the Nexus One that I haven’t already said in my HTC Magic review of old. But, to recap –

The phone is nearly perfect and for the month that followed Mobile World Congress (where I came to own said device), it was my only phone.

That’s right, my ONLY PHONE.


The N900 has done this for me before too, so what’s the difference? These past few days I’ve come to realise exactly what; the Nexus One isn’t a phone. I don’t use it as a phone and I don’t think it was ever truly going to be a phone.

Slowly but surely the shortcomings of the device have revealed themselves. None more so than a recent excursion to see Frightened Rabbit. I left the office and wanted to travel light, deciding to only pack one phone (heresy, I know). A quick glance at my two devices revealed the N900 was running low on the battery front. I grabbed the Nexus and left.

Miss Vikki Chowney joined me en route, herself (at the time) testing out the Nokia E72.

Both devices sport a 5MP camera with an LED flash so you would think that the results would be quite similar. Right? Wrong.

Here are two photos from the night – can you guess which one’s which?



That’s right, the top is the Nexus One and the bottom is the E72. Shocking. Note; the lower effort is FROM AN E-SERIES! Jebus. At this point, a Google/Android/HTC zealot might argue that the E72 pic was timed just right to hit the lights and was perhaps just a lucky shot. Not so.

As you can probably tell from this N900/Nexus One comparison set I took in March.
Nexus first, N900 second –

Tree - Nexus One

Tree - N900

Staggering. A content creator’s handset of choice, the Nexus One is not. But, as a dedicated INTERNET device, it’s not too bad at all. Content consumption = WIN

So to the nub. The choice. The point of no return. If, given the choice of only having one device for the rest of my life, which would I choose?

The Nexus One with its brilliant web service consuming skills OR the N900 with its heavy data processing and content creation awesomeness?

This is, without doubt, the closest I’ve ever come to giving up my Nokia. The Magic was three steps from perfect, the Nexus it would seem is only one.

It is close but Nokia, because when I use your handsets you inspire me to create more, you still have it.

Since writing this post I’ve swapped out my N900 back to an N86 and then again recently to a C6. For me, the creative aspect of Nokia’s devices is why I keep choosing them.

Disclosure: James is Engagement Director at 1000Heads, who count Nokia amongst their clients. However, this is his own opinion and relates to the devices he chooses away from work, for personal use. His love of Nokia’s content creation abilities long precede his current role – it all started with an N95 a long time ago… But we thought we’d let you know, because that’s how we roll ’round here.

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Author: James Whatley

Experienced advertising and communications strategist working in brand, games, and entertainment. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

31 thoughts on “N900 vs Nexus One: Confessions of an Android user”

  1. I’m confused, while I generally agree. the two examples the nexus one photos both seem superior. The E72 concert photo is blury, the nexus one has captured the concert in a darker setting really well. and theres no way the E72 can claim to be a photo king.

    in the street photo the N900 has bleached out most of the details – the nexus one has not over exposed it.

    both (or all three) are capable but not amazing. and results vary in conditions that suit the auto settings.

    James Whatley Reply:

    Perhaps it’s a matter of opinion. The Nexus One has consistently disappointed on so many levels when it comes to content creation (the above photos included). Blurry or not, the E72 (for me at least) beats the HTC hands down.

    The full set (clickable above the second comparison) hopefully goes into more detail. Failing that, take a look at these photos I shot with the N900 in November last year –


  2. If the Nexus is failing only in the camera department in comparison to the Nokia’s then it’s not such a major issue. We all know it takes a little partnership with a decent lens developer to sort that out.

    What you are saying in this post then is:

    Nokia is good at taking pictures and sharing, but lacks in every other department. This is something I’ve painfully had to watch happen over the years. They’ve been listening to the wrong people asking for the wrong features. For that they’ve paid a price in the last 2 years ( on the top end anyway).

    They’ve won the camera race, but lost the smart phone war.

    James Whatley Reply:

    Perhaps it isn’t *just* the camera department. I’d say there’s an underlying confidence element too. The Nexus One takes crap photos, only has touch (so not as quick and easy to upload) and overall provides a poor content creation experience. I wouldn’t say the big N lacks in *every* other department but, in comparison, it does in some. Finally, to declare the smartphone ‘war’ lost or won by anyone right now would be foolish and short-sighted (at best). Are you saying that there will be no more smartphones after today? Doesn’t make sense chap.

  3. when people see my N900 they always ask “so what’s it like”, and my answer is “it’s a physically small linux computer with a phone added, so it is perfect for me”.

    My view on the current high end smart phone market is;
    Apple == iPod + phone (the apps and browser help extend this though)
    Nokia Symbian == phone + *BASIC* other devices (MP3 player, camera, web browser etc), with brilliant battery life
    Nokia Maemo/Meego == Mobile computer with other gadgets built in (phone, camera, gps)
    Android == mobile Google platform + phone (so needs always on data!!)

    James Whatley Reply:

    Forgot to mention; that always on data is a KILLER on battery life. Jeebus.

  4. I agree with Mac here but would also like to point out that you can’t compare those four photos.

    In the band photo there are clearly differences in the lighting making this an unfair comparison. Even so, with the low blue lighting the Nexus One handles the darkness reasonably well with some noticeable but not unacceptable noise while the N900 in much more favourable conditions (big white spotlights) still has noise in the photo and doesn’t capture the band with the same sharpness as the Nexus One.

    With the street view you’ve focussed on the buildings in the Nexus One shot and the handset has performed valiantly in the face of a very difficult shot (half of the shot is dark while the other half is relatively bright) – the exposure is just right to capture the sky without it being overexposed and yet still have some detail on the tree without it being underexposed (albeit out of focus). The N900 shot is focussed on the tree and so isn’t a directly comparison but even so the sky and buildings are washed out and the colour balance leans too far towards yellow for my liking.

    With all due respect I think this post says more about your ability to scientifically take and analyse a photo than it does about the cameras themselves 😉

  5. Whether the Nexus One has touch or a physical keyboard is down to preference. There are those that prefer physical keys to those that don’t. Whilst there are those that could use both. That issue is solely down to pure preference and the ability to adapt.

    Nokia can lose the smartphone war for the next 5 years and it won’t have an impact on their share figures that drastic. They’re the Microsoft of the mobile world. Because their low end and mid range handsets sell like no one’s business. But for the high end smartphone segment they’re lacking now and will be for the next 2 years. Whilst Nokia plays catchup, they’re rivals aren’t exactly going to sit around and wait for them to catchup.

    In the short term yes, Nokia have lost the smart phone war, won’t stop them from “making” handsets, they’re obliged to from a business point.

    Nokia can be out of the running for smartphone supremacy for the next 5 years and then catchup and become profitable and back in the game, because they’re so big. Google aren’t chumps either, but for now Nokia isn’t up to par.

  6. A thought… It’s a bit OT, but if you can’t do that on your own blog, where can you?

    It’s not a smartphone ‘war’… Wars start, are won / lost and finish. They’re abnormal… an exceptional time of conflict. Technology is more like an ecosystem with a few dominant species, a few bottom-feeders (tee hee), evolution, inter-breeding (tee hee) and the occasional extinction, plus pollutants and environmental changes to tip the balance from time to time.

    OK… back to arguing about pictures 🙂

  7. Replace the word War in this case with the competition for smartphone supremacy.

    Are you implying that Technology is just like, wait, us? Makes sense once you look at it that way. Different levels of intelligent devices aimed at their intended audiences.

  8. Tsk, these social media types… they know all the modern acronyms but none of the old stuff… I bet he’s never even used IRC or usenet let alone a BBS.

    I remember when the world moved at 9600 baud and consisted mostly of very slow scrolling text… Try telling that to kids these days with their facebooks and their textings… they won’t bel$^!%*!£%^£$^@^*&NO CARRIER

    James Whatley Reply:

    Bugger off, I was founding gaming forums and scouring the learning new languages for grey imports before I finished my GCSEs!

    (I just haven’t used any of it for bloody ages – and this is a blog, not a blinkin’ forum)


  9. I do not use my phone for blogging etc. so i would like to now what exactly it is you mean with content creation.
    Please elaborate on that because i don’t have a clue.

    James Whatley Reply:

    Content creation = Snapping photos and shooting videos. Sometimes it covers basic things like writing SMS + Email too.

    Pieter Lammerse Reply:

    Thanks for the reply, now i can much more understand your choice for devices.

  10. if it is just the camera that is holding you back i would suggest you try the samsung galaxy s devices. the camera takes better pics and better videos vs the nexus. i just put my nexus up for sale after spending two weeks with a galaxy s, and the nexus one has been my favorite phone to date

    James Whatley Reply:

    I’ve not played with any of the Samsung Android devices but I have read a LOT about the S in particular. Ben was playing with one recently, maybe I’ll nudge him and see if he get his hands on one again 🙂

  11. i have loved using the nexus for the last 6 months but a it could be improved in a few areas, namely battery life, screen viewing in sunlight, screen and capacitive touch button sensitivity, and camera. all of these issues are fixed with the samsung. i also think that 4 inches is a perfect screen size for me.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8181257/the%20specials/video-2010-08-28-22-48-29.3gp here is a video i took from a concert last weekend so you can see some video footage in a difficult conditions. turn your volume all the way down as the sound is messed up (i didnt sheild the mic at all). i didnt take any pictures as the slam dancing started and the galaxy s is a slippery little sucker!

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