Month with Nexus S

During Linaro/Ubuntu platform rally in Dallas I went to Best Buy and bought Nexus S as a phone which has to replace Nokia N900 which I used for over year. It was first time when I paid full price for such device — previously I took phones from operators or had some kind of discount (like DDP one for N900 year ago).

Switching from Nokia N900 to Nexus S was not easy task. First I lost calendar entries when tried to sync contacts to Google account using Mail for Exchange functionality of Maemo. Good that I had a backup… Copying of data from internal storage from one device to another was easy — microUSB cables are good to have thing. And then I took SIM card from N900, put it into Nexus and so far did not took it out yet.

Then came Market — after installing AppBrain application I had all applications, which I selected before or had on N900/Nitroid, installed properly. Then installed some more and removed some, added others etc. Common routine when you change operating system — finding which application suits best.

For Twitter I checked few and now I have official one and Plume installed. First one only to have contacts synced and do all tweeting in second one. For Facebook I use their default app — so far did not found replacement. Best situation was with e-mail client — installed K-9 Mail and added all my IMAP accounts into it. Now my phone tells me when do I have to check for new messages before my desktop one will notice ;D

Basically when it comes to applications Android shines (especially compared to Maemo). So far I found many programs for things which I did not had on N900: TV programme, public transportation guide, ATM finder and so on. And games! Dungeon Defenders, Gun bros and several others… Angry Birds has more levelpacks then Maemo version (but I never was a fan of that game anyway). Lot of things to choose from. Not to mention that installing of software is not so painful as it was on N900. You can use online Market, AppBrain and probably there are some other ways. Ok, I will probably miss APT but so far I am fine with what Android does. The most impressing thing is that during package installation device is not slowing down — it just adds one more entry to notification bar.

Notifications… I like how it is done. One place for icons on status bar which expands to whole screen list of what is going on. Nice stuff. Especially after installing some extra apps which will add there switches, weather informations etc.

Desktop looks different and has lot more customizations possible then hildon-desktop gave. And user can use other launcher then default one (I use ADW Launcher). Then just put widgets, icons, contacts, live wallpapers etc and you will be done. Business calendar which I use now can not be compared to Maemo parody of calendar (this is with most of apps anyway).

Do I miss some applications from Maemo? Yes, I do. Nokia did good job on Contacts and integration of IM/VoIP/Skype accounts. Under Android I did not yet found out how to get it in best possible way. So I have to run separate IM client (IM+ for now), Skype is also external (but contacts are synced into addressbook) and did not yet setup SIP accounts (but this is integrated). Good thing is that after first week of use I was able to use SkypeOut for calling my family in Poland.

But let’s get to hardware. Nexus S is light and small compared to N900. I like it’s look and feel. Screen works nicely for me everywhere. Before buying I was not sure how will I adapt to capacitive touchscreen after 8 years of using resistive ones but there was nothing to adapt to — it just works. Bigger problem is other direction — I need to press my TomTom harder now ;D Other issues? Lack of any kind of LED is a bit annoying. But NoLED helps a bit with it. Also WiFi reception looks worse then N900 had. But this one I need to check one day.

Overall I am satisfied about this change. I have phone which has latest version of popular operating system, have access to application market where there is a problem which app to install instead of “there is no application for this”. For some time I will have system updates provided by Google, then will switch to alternative firmware and will have current software.

10 thoughts on “Month with Nexus S

  1. Dawid Lorenz

    Most of things are spot-on, maybe apart from hildon-desktop bit. I actually liked N900’s way of customising desktop content more, Android is too “stiff” in a sense – forces me to use imperative 4×4 grid where I put icons, widgets etc. With N900 I had grid of 800×480 pixels (well, sort-of ;) with total freedom of putting my stuff around.

  2. Jo Mill

    I got a Samsung Galaxy S after losing my N900. Two months later I bought another N900.

    Sure there are more apps for Android, but most of them are relatively simple. On Maemo you get real desktop applications developed over many years by teams of developers, ported to work on the N900. Maemo is a full operating system, whereas Android is just a Java virtual machine running on a Linux kernel.

    1. Marcin Juszkiewicz

      On Maemo I will not get good applications for basic tasks: calendar, e-mail. Nokia calendar is cruel joke, modest can not be compared to K-9. And then goes other things…

      And sure, Maemo is full operating system. Too bad that it is compatible only with Maemo. You need to recompile any application you want to use from Debian (on which nokia based their system years ago). And sorry but many of those “real desktop applications” starts to be hard to use when squeezed into 3.5″ screen with Hildon theme applied. Been there, did that.

    2. Dawid Lorenz

      It all depends what you really want and expect from the device in the first place. I truly love(d) my N900 for the exact reasons you mention (among few others), however the main factors that pushed me into hands of Android were overall UI responsiveness and usability. Namely, N900 was dead slow at times and that made me frustrated way too often. If N900 was at least half that responsive as my HTC Desire Z is, I probably would never think of switching.

        1. Dawid Lorenz

          Well, no wonder Maemo5 was slow when it was pretty much full Debian-based distro running on top of 600 MHz CPU and just 256 MB of RAM – with the latter being the key to disaster, as most of the times UI slowness was side-effect of huge swapping action behind the scenes. Android on the other hand has quite well optimized Java-based app layer running on top of relatively thin and equally optimized Linux OS. I think that makes the main difference between Android and Maemo.

  3. Walter Jevack

    How are you getting along without the hardware keyboard? I too am looking to go Android from N900 but hate how onscreen keyboard takes half viewing area.

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