The Samsung/Google Galaxy Nexus five days in

By December 7, 2011Mobile

My new Samsung/Google Galaxy Nexus phone arrived on Friday and so far my relationship with it has been somewhat like the one I had with my first girlfriend.  To start with I couldn’t figure out how to get it to do anything, then I was all excited as I figured out how to make it dance to my tune, but now frustrations have started to creep in, it tires of me quickly (battery runs out) and I’m wondering how long we will stay together.

In more detail:

  • The out of the box experience was poor – the device wasn’t charged when it arrived, and once it was charged the startup process crashed on the first page.  To make matters worse the page had a message which although slightly ambiguous suggested I shouldn’t turn the phone off during the startup process.  After some waiting, some fruitless Googling and some more waiting I powered the device off and then everything worked fine.
  • Next I played some video – the screen is awesome! I’ve spent more time browsing YouTube in the last five days than in the year before it.
  • Then I used the map in Canary Wharf to get to a meeting.  This was another frustrating experience, largely because the location indicator arrow which points in the direction you are walking is really twitchy.  It changes direction all the time which is a real pain if, like me, you have no sense of direction and watch the indicator to figure out which way you are walking and which way you should go.
  • Things got much better over the weekend though.  The first cool thing was that it automatically picked up the settings from my Asus Android Tablet.  It was neat to be straight onto the wifi at home and my parents house without entering any passwords and to have all my photos and tablet apps on the phone without doing anything.
  • Then I got really excited when I started looking at email clients.  My bugbear with the iPhone is that it is much less efficient than the Blackberry for processing email – putting emails in folders and offline use are both painful, and that’s important for me as I do a lot of email on the move, and a good chunk of that on the London Underground (where there is no network coverage).  On the iPhone you have to use Apple’s mail app, but Android is more open and there are a number of clients to choose from.  I checked out three or four and found that the TouchDown app works really well.  The online-offline experience is seemless, like the Blackberry it just stacks up your actions and messages and automatically syncs to the server when you get online, and it has a neat ‘recently used folders’ feature which makes filing quick even when you have a large folder structure.
  • For the last two years I have carried two phones, a Blackberry for email and an iPhone for browsing and apps and having got the email sorted I decided to take the plunge and consolidate on the Galaxy Nexus as my single device.
  • The big problem since then has been battery life – yesterday I was out of juice by early afternoon after a 3-4 hour email session (I was putting TouchDown through its paces) and then it ran out again when I was out watching the Chelsea game with a friend last night.  The Blackberry has a great battery and I rely on it totally to remember where I’m staying, where I need to go, and I often use it to navigate my way there.  When the Galaxy Nexus ran out of juice last night I had to rely totally on my memory and sense of direction for the first time in a long time.  I had no calendar to check the address, no access to maps and no phone to call for help.  I got home fine, but my hotel here in Paris is near to the huge Stade de France so on this occasion at least it was easy.
  • I’ve also started to see the first evidence of software problems already – nothing major, but some operations have started taking a little more time than they did before and sometimes when I press the home button the bottom right hand quarter of the screen shows first rather than the whole screen rendering together.

I’ve been surprised at how emotional these last five days have been.  If you are a regular reader you will know that for the sake of innovation and startups I would like the Android ecosystem to succeed and so a good sized part of me wants this phone to work out, but right from the start I’ve been open to sending it back if it doesn’t.  Right now I’m still not sure, but I wasn’t expecting the depth of feeling that has accompanies the swings between I will and I won’t.  I’m thinking that the alternative is to continue with two phones, Blackberry and iPhone 4S.

Finally, for those of you that have read this far I’m going to come clean.  I never really got that first girlfriend to dance to my tune 🙁

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  • The battery usage is almost certainly a misbehaving app – once the battery starts to run down, have a look at Settings > About Phone > Battery Use. Unless that huge screen is a battery killer. Or Android 4 isn’t better on battery, despite claims to contrary…

    For comparison my Nexus S (2.3.6) has had reasonable use today (bit of email, long call), 6hrs on battery and has about 80% battery remaining – highest usage is Voice Call. I’d expect yours to show Display way out in front after a lot of email processing – if it’s an app or an app close to Display in % usage then I’d report it as a bug. I was overseas a couple of weeks ago in a new city, having lots of meetings. Damn battery kept running out in 4 hours. Traced issue to an email app, removed it, problem gone 🙂

  • Rich Woods

    Twitchy compass is unusual as even the cheapest phones can get this right.  Have you calibrated it yet?  The calibration tool is in the settings somewhere.

  • Thanks Rich. Will try to do that tomorrow.
    N

  • Thanks. I will try auto profile.
    N

  • Andy

    So you saying if the battery was better the android would offer better email than the Blackberry ? 

    What I find interesting is that how much of the county is on 3G ? Can we all make the most out of these phones…I had a iphone 4 spent if back as I’m not in a 3g area and get kept saying “Network connction lost” As the iphone won’t switch between 2 and 3 g which made it very annoying and not worth having. (Might have changed now but didn’t 6months ago.)
    Have you tried the Blackberry Playbook ?

  • The Blackberry is still better for email, but there isn’t much difference now.
    I haven’t tried the Playbook.

    Cheers

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