I really don’t know if Google’s Nexus One is the “best Android phone yet,” but Om seems to think it is after 10 days of use. He points out some glaring challenges with the software keyboard and lack of seamless interaction after you leave the native apps, but I decided to take the plunge anyway.
Yesterday, I ordered an unsubsidized, unlocked Nexus One for $529 and it will arrive here in Vegas tomorrow. I’m heading to a local T-Mobile store later today for a SIM card. Here’s a couple of thoughts of why I went this route, based on some reader questions.
- Why unlocked? Although the term “unlocked” doesn’t have much value here in the U.S. thanks to two GSM carriers using different data frequencies, it should help with the resale value of the handset itself. Not everyone wants a contract, so I paid the full price, thinking that if I don’t keep the phone it will be easier to sell later, and for more money than a locked phone.
- Isn’t $529 a lot? Yes it is, but aside from the freedom of using any SIM card, there’s another benefit to pay the full price if I keep the phone for 18 months or more. Here’s the math: it’s a $350 difference between the subsidized phone and unsubsidized price. The T-Mobile plan for the subsidized, contract phone is $79.99 a month. That same plan with no hardware purchase is $59.99 a month. Both net you 500 minutes of voice and unlimited texting and web access. So my contract-free SIM will save me $20 a month over the same plan if I paid less for the phone up front. That means I’d be ahead of the game in the 18th month.
- What if Palm brings big news for webOS at CES? Great question since I’ll be dumping the Pre for the new Nexus One. Hey, it’s not like I didn’t give fair warning. Buying the unlocked phone gives me cheap insurance in case I decide to keep the Pre. I can still sell the Nexus One and only lose a little money. I don’t anticipate this happening, but I’m covered. In fact, I can even return the phone to Google for a minimal fee if hot webOS news breaks this week.
- Why now? Although I reviewed the T-Mobile G1 when it came out, I haven’t bought an Android device yet. I wanted to see how the platform evolved and I’m now comfortable with where it’s at and where it’s going. It didn’t hurt that T-Mobile is in the process of making their network faster either.
- Why not wait for the device on Verizon? That’s probably the best question since I’ve always found Verizon’s coverage to be top-notch. In fact, I’ve used their EVDO service since my first CES in 2005. But T-Mobile’s coverage in my area has expanded quite nicely and I don’t do too much traveling beyond the sticks I live in. And then there’s the SIM vs no-SIM argument. By going with T-Mobile, I have the flexibility to use one SIM card in any number of devices. I’d lose that flexibility with Verizon and I’m also anticipating that the device won’t be contract-free when it arrives.
Although I don’t have the device in hand yet, I already know it’s not perfect. But it is Android evolved and I think there’s enough software and other tools to make it part of my daily productivity kit, based on my needs. Plus, I’m inclined to agree with Om — on paper for now, anyway — that in my opinion, this might be the best Android phone yet.