Android This Week: Is the Bloom Already Off the Nexus One Rose?


Just a week after the Nexus One launched, the bloom seems to be off the rose, as reports are starting to appear in customer support forums that the phone has problems consistently accessing the T-Mobile 3G network. Users claim that the phone is prone to switching back and forth between the 3G and the slower EDGE network, for no apparent reason. Kevin over at jkOnTheRun talked about having such a problem with his own Nexus One as part of that site’s most recent MobileTechRoundup podcast. So far, neither Google nor T-Mobile has acknowledged the issue. Owners of the iPhone 3G may remember how that phone had a similar problem, which was fixed with a firmware update.

Many were also chagrined to discover that the Nexus One does not have multitouch enabled. Indeed, as more Android phones have come on the scene, the lack of multitouch support on many of the devices is proving to be confusing. Especially with the Nexus One, as HTC has enabled multitouch on some of the other Android handsets it’s produced. In an interview with Laptop Magazine this week, Motorola (s mot) CEO Dr. Sanjay Jha said that his company will include multitouch support in handsets going forward.

In the meantime, Om reported that Google only sold 20,000 Nexus One handsets in the first week after the launch — a surprisingly low figure for such a hotly anticipated device, and perhaps the result of the phone only being available to buy online. We may see the phone start appearing for sale in T-Mobile stores in the U.S., but likely not until the network issue is sorted out.



I would rather that Nexus One had multitouch for all apps, but the fact is that it is available through the (great) Dolphin browser, the B&B Gallery for photos and other apps. That’s where I need it most.

As for the stories on customer support, HTC has picked up quickly both times when I called them for Nexus One support. Both times they fixed my problem quickly. I wish I the calls were unnecessary, but there has been no shortage of support for this product.

There are plenty of things I can’t stand about Nexus One. You can’t test whether it’s on or not without turning it on. Exchange integration blows. The keyboard is occasionally inaccurate. It drains batteries quickly. But multitouch and customer support are not serious issues.


What were your issues that required to calls to support in less than a week?

The lack of a consistent multi-touch interface, which means the lack of a consistent interface, across the primary OS, the built-in Google apps, and 3rd party apps in and of itself represents a serious flaw in the UI, aka look-and-feel, in my mind. Contrast this to Apple, where across ALL of the OS, the built-in apps, and the vast majority of 3rd-party stuff, you have the same basic look-and-feel, and a consistent interface for manipulating the screen

I’m not going to call Android a “fail” as is the popular term these days, but Android 2.1 from Google seems to carry on the Google tradition of throwing beta software at the public. Google’s flagship Android phone, the first true Google-Phone, is on the 5th or 6th release of the OS, and they still can’t get it consistent. Sure it’s free, and it’s “open source” (well, not really…Google’s not entirely open about the code from what I understand on a recent podcast – only HTC gets the 2.1 OS for the time being, giving Google a closed source exclusive version of the OS), but it’s still lacking the finished feel that the phone OSs from Apple, Palm, RIM, and even Microsoft have.

I want Android to succeed; seriously. I want(ed) a Nexus One. I ordered one twice, but cancelled the order both times as well. The NEED for support at all, then the supposed difficulty in getting it, and the fact that it’s locked to T-Mobile, which can’t get a signal inside my house, squelched my desire in the end. (And yes, it is LOCKED to T-Mobile in the US if you want a useful 3G phone. Allowing the phone to use SIM card from AT&T technically makes it unlocked, but not working on AT&T’s frequencies makes it locked in my mind. Why would I want a hot 3G phone that doesn’t do 3G on my carrier?)

As far as only 20,000 sales (if even that many – a lot of those Google phones are being used by Google employees and others who got sample phones), I think this was actually intentional. Think about it, there was practically no mainstream news media coverage of the device. There has been zero advertising of the device on television, radio or in print. The link to buy one on Google’s home page was extremely small, and disappeared after a couple of days. The only sites that get an adwords or banner ad for the phone are techy sites. None of this sounds like a company trying to sell a lot of its product.

It seems like Google wanted to test the waters of order fulfillment, support, and whatever else with a small, low key release, which clearly was a good idea since the word on the web is that the order fulfillment and support have been lacking for a huge number of customers.


I am surprised Google’s many employees across the US wouldn’t have discovered the Nexus One issue with T-Mobile 3G during the time they were dogfooding it. Did Google know about this issue and still release the phone? If yes, what is the point of the much publicized dogfooding?


as android phone proliferate they will be like windows pc’s. we will move away from a culture of the ‘hotest’ or the ‘latest’ or ‘greatest’ smartphone. there will instead be a whole bunch of different phones all with mostly similar functionality. most people will simply grab the one that is offered at the best price that meets all their needs.


“whole bunch of different phones all with mostly similar functionality. most people will simply grab the one that is offered at the best price that meets all their needs.”

Isn’t that the way it has always been – except for those with excessively large amounts of money who are also ostentatious?


it seems to me that starting a couple years ago lots of people are carry phones largely as status objects in to in some sense ‘be cool.’ for youth phones seems to have become what cars were for previous generations in a sense an extension of ones personality.

if we end up with hundreds of models of cheap but very functional android handsets that will all start to change and the apps will become everything compared to the hardware.


Multitouch is critical to this profile of device — large screen requires touch points. A vertical profile such as the BB or Pixi, fine scroll thing… As soon as hands as opposed to hand is involved, time to consider the finger tips.

More problematic is simply the developer processes around these differences. As noted everywhere there is a discussion of touch interfaces, the scenario changes the interaction model completely. You simply do not design the same application for two input methods!

Matt Kanninen

What does Multitouch mean to you such that you would claim its not enabled?

Multitouch!=pinch to zoom

Are there not apps on the market which utilize mult touch? If so doesn’t that mean it is enabled?


The complaint about lack of multitouch is that it’s not in the OS itself, and even more specifically with the built-in Google apps. Developers throwing it into apps is a poor substitute for a unified, globally in terms of the device and its apps) available method of interacting with your device.

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