So, this weekend I was offline, or at least off-computer. Met with old friends and family. My brother couldn't wait to try out my Nexus One because his Nokia is switching itself off every few minutes at this point so he's dying to get a new phone. He doesn't like that everybody has an iPhone and feels it's "old". He was considering buying the HTC Desire, which is essentially the same thing as the Nexus One. He likes it. He played with it this weekend quite a bit and he was quite enthusiastic. He's not a real gadget guy, or really that much into computers, so it's interesting to see what he thinks. He says he's going to buy one, so we'll see how he likes it. He did find a number of bugs of pinch to zoom to stop working. He was also very surprised that even a workhorse like this phone with a 1Ghz processor can't actually scroll a menu at the pace of you swiping your finger across the screen. But he likes the idea of openness, that you can do with it whatever you want. And I have to agree that that's definitely a good thing.
Then my wife wanted to look up a few things on the internet and check her e-mail. She uses my iPhone from time to time and feels quite comfortable using it. After a few minutes she handed it back to me saying "I can't use this." She encountered similar problems as I did in the browser: if you have a few links close to another and you're zoomed out and try to tap the middle one, nine times out of ten it will pick the wrong one. This is something that works remarkably well on the iPhone. Sometimes it feels like the iPhone _knows_ which link I tried to tap. No such luck on Android, which means you have to zoom it quite far to be able to do a precise link tap.
Alright. So what have I learned the past week. I think there are two ways to look at it.
__The first__ is to look at purely from a user's perspective. Considering only the hardware and quality of the software. Leaving out the politics and the geeky desire to be able to pop open the lid and make changes under the hood. From this perspective I conclude that the Nexus One is a very nice phone, and if there would not be an iPhone, it would have been the best phone I ever used. But the iPhone _does_ exist and I like the iPhone hardware more. Even though the iPhone is heavier and thicker. My brother and wife both like the look of the Nexus one more, but personally I don't. I like fewer buttons. I like the iPhone's simplicity.
The iPhone software is simply more polished. The attention to detail is simply perfect. The Nexus One is a phone designed by engineers. Technically it's very impressive. It has a great processor. The software can do a lot, there's a lot to tweak and configure. But you also _have to_ tweak and configure to make it work the way you want it to. But when it comes to design and sense of style, the iPhone, in my humble opinion, blows Android out of the water, still. There are a few things that the Nexus has that iPhone doesn't, such as speech input, but this is only available in English, so not very useful to me at this point. There is also multi-tasking which is very convenient, but the iPhone will have that as well by this summer. Main Nexus One drawbacks: on-screen keyboard is not great, the registration of taps on the screen is not very precise, and the screen is almost unreadable in board daylight.
It is true that everybody has an iPhone these days, but there's a great advantage to that: everybody is developing for the iPhone too. There's a _huge_ amount of development and innovation happening by third parties on the iPhone, which I find very exciting. In addition, if you own an almost 3 year-old iPhone you can still upgrade its software to the latest release. This summer the first iPhone version comes out that no longer support this 3-year old phone. Compare that to the first Google phone, the G1, which hasn't received any software updates beyond 1.6 (we're at 2.1 now). The G1 came out end of 2008.
__The second__ perspective is a philosophical one. Do you like the way Apple locked down the system. The way they control basically everything that happens on "their" phone. A lot of people don't feel comfortable with that and it just depends how important that stuff is to you. I dare to say that the iPhone software is better designed and thought-out than Android, but the difference isn't _huge_. I can imagine that for philosophical reasons alone you decide to buy an Android device anyway.
But I just switched the Nexus One off, popped the SIM card out.
It's back in my iPhone, where it belongs.