First off, let me declare my bias right up front. I like Apple products. I’ve had an iPod, iPod Nano, MacBook, MacBook Pro, iMac and iPhone. I like them because they let me do what I want to do with the minimum of fuss.
Up until December last year, I’d been using an iPhone 3G. I had been planning on getting an iPhone 4, but really wanted one in white (my wife always has black, I always have white). As they became more and more delayed, I decided to give up waiting and buy a similarly priced iPad (since I was going to get an unlocked iPhone direct from Apple) and simply upgrade to an iPhone 5 the next year.
I really had no interest in getting an Android phone because the Nexus One was old news and all the other phones had Android versions that had been munged with. If I was going to get an Android phone, I didn’t want to have to wait for the manufacturer and my carrier to decide when I was going to get an update.
Then the Nexus S came out and I figured I’d get a SIM free unlocked version, see if I liked it, if I didn’t I’d just throw it up on eBay. That was back in December and here we are at the start of Februrary and the phone is on eBay. I’m going back to my iPhone 3G for a few months.
So why am I selling it? There are a few reasons.
First off, the browser. Considering both MobileSafari and the Android browser are based on WebKit, I really don’t know why the Android browser is so terrible. First off, double tap to zoom doesn’t work. You have two options here; first, double tap on something, then it zooms in on it, then it reflows the text to fit into the space it zoomed to, which looks terrible and annoys me because I don’t want the browser to fiddle with page content. Second, you turn off the text reflowing and it zooms in the same amount as before but the text you double tapped on doesn’t fit on the screen. Opera and Dolphin Browser HD suffer the same problem. Tap target detection seems off as well. If there were two links next to each other, one above the other, more often than not I’d end up hitting the lower one. These problems are pretty much deal breakers on their own for me. Apps are nice and all, but I spend most of my time on a smartphone in the web browser and Android’s experience here is terrible.
There are couple of completely maddening things on the Nexus S. Across the bottom, it has these four touch sensitive “buttons”, which are, from left to right, “Back”, “UI elements we couldn’t fit on the screen so we crammed them in here” aka “Menu”, “Search” and “Home”. The problem with them being touch sensitive it that if I’m holding the phone one handed and pressing something on the screen with my thumb the palm of my hand hits the “Home” button, exiting the app. Then there is the “where the fuck is that option?” button. Some apps are worse for this than others, but some developers seem to use the “Menu” button as a dumping ground for controls they couldn’t be bothered to find a sensible place for in the UI. Here’s a hint, if I have to think “hmm, where is the control for that, perhaps its in the menu drawer”, you blew it.
The battery life isn’t great. By default the phone has “Live Wallpapers” enabled, which destroy the battery life. I tried running Skype, it destroyed the battery. Having wi-fi on destroys the battery. You can add a little widget to your home screen to turn on and off various power hungry features and you can dig into Settings to shut down draining applications, but I’ve got better things to do with my time. By having wi-fi off most of the time, live wallpapers off, nothing running in the background, it’ll last about the same time as my iPhone 3G, which considering that is 2.5 years old now, isn’t good.
There have been a number of other little annoyances as well. It doesn’t pick up wi-fi very well. I keep having to turn the whole thing on and off because wouldn’t connect to the phone network. There is no decent media management solution (doubleTwist is a waste of money, don’t bother). It doesn’t ship with standard web fonts.
There were a few things I did like – the voice input is cool and works pretty well. If it didn’t immediately get what I said then what I did say was usually one of the other options. The free Google Navigation worked well when I tried it out when visiting Stratford-upon-Avon to see a play. The portable hotspot was great for using my non-3G iPad on the move. None of these are features I use regularly though that outweigh the annoyances in day to day use, which is why I’ve put mine up for sale.