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 Post subject: smartphones are silent
PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:52 pm 
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I recently upgraded myself to smartphone era by getting a Google nexus one and a flat rate data plan. My previous phone was from 2001 (for real).

I've noticed that I've migrated many tasks from my PC to the phone - for instance I do my spcr browsing on the phone nowadays and right now I'm writing this message from the comfort of my bed just before starting to sleep.

This device is completely silent. I can hear nothing whatsoever when I put it against my ear (when the speaker or earpiece is not doing any audio output of course). Also because this has just a virtual keyboard, I can only hear the very soft taps of my thumbs against a flat glass surface.

The power use, while high even for a smartphone, is nothing compared to a PC. When stressing the device for some time, it does become warm, but nothing uncomfortable. Also, not too much resources can have been spent in the manufacturing of a device that weights about 130 grams.

I only have experience on my device, but this probably applies to most modern smartphones. In any case I think there is lots of potential here for seekers of silence. As the phones get better and better, they will let you migrate more tasks away from the PC. For example, today I didn't turn on my PC at all.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:55 am 
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I have some questions for you about the Nexus 1, because it is available in an unlocked version.

What is the battery life? How is it as a phone/speaker phone? Does it interface well with your computer address book and/or calendar? (I would try Missing Sync for this.) Have you used the GPS maps?

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:18 pm 
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Mine is indeed unlocked.

Battery life - well, the first couple of days when I played with it all the time, I had to charge it the same day. If I don't do much on it, it will hold on for more than a day at least. It has this program that tells what is using the battery and 70-80% seems to be eaten by the display so it must be that I just play with it a lot.

So not so good. You can expect to charge it every night if you use it. But I got the official dock and it's easy to just drop it on the dock for charging instead of fiddling with cables. However the dock is not very secure - if you push the phone, it falls off pretty easily.

The speaker phone seems to be bad, unfortunately. Every time I tried to use it, anyone I was talking with immediately complained about lots of echo. On a Nokia E71 on the other hand, I could not tell when my gf enabled the speaker feature of her phone when I was talking to her. So it's definitely not Nokia quality as a speaker phone.

As a regular phone, it seems to have more background noise than a Nokia E71 when the other end is talking, but when the other end stops talking it becomes completely silent while the Nokia E71 seems to have a very, very small but constant background noise.

The phone can locate you by three ways: Just cellular, which gives a very rough location. By wifi, which is quite accurate if there are any wifi networks around. And then of course the gps. Unfortunately the maps fully depend on having a network connection, so if you lose signal you lose the maps. Whether that is a problem or not depends on how good coverage your operator has.

The connectivity aside, the maps are just great. Well, it's basically google maps, just like in your browser, but instead running as an app by itself. I think it's great - and free too, if you don't count your data plan. So if you like google maps on your browser, you will like it the same on the android too. And the big screen is nice for it. I used to get lost a lot, but this definitely helps.

When I booted it for the first time, it asked me my google and facebook accounts, and synced my gmail and facebook contacts and merged them seamlessly. Any updates I do to my gmail contacts either on the phone or on a browser get synced to the other - the facebook syncing of contacts is obviously just read only. So contact syncing is awesome.

Calendar - well, you get pretty much full functionality of google calendar. I view and make calendar events on the phone and see the same ones on a browser and vice versa. I used google calendar already before I had the phone, and always needed to get a browser to actually be able to arrange meetings. So I was really looking forward to getting this functionality on my phone, and it delivered.

Gmail integration is awesome. I get a beep on my phone before my browser notifies me (I have gmail always open on the first tab of firefox on the pc), and then there is a notification bar at the top that has icons for any notifications I have not reacted to yet, and the bar can be pulled down to get details of every event. Then I just click the new mail event and it opens the email for me. And the phone handles gmail labels too.

Didn't need Missing Sync - imo all the above mentioned things sync nicely to the phone without any extra apps.

Haven't tried regular email integration - work email stays off my personal phone.

Some cons I do have to mention:

- Sometimes the touchscreen starts to generate phantom touches just a little below the point I actually touched. Turning the screen to sleep and back on seems to help. However this is quite annoying. It's pretty hard to say if this is just a software problem - sometimes even the way I hold the device makes a difference when I get this phenomenom.

- Today when it rained, I lost 3G completely and the phone reverted to GPRS and EDGE. When the sky cleared, 3G came back with full bars. I don't really know if this is normal or not.

- I have experienced maybe two or three spontaneous instant reboots in total.

- Sometimes, even when 3G shows full bars, the network becomes unreachable for maybe half a minute, during which webpages don't load etc. This is quite annoying too. However this one I expect to be a software problem and hope that an upcoming update will fix.

So somewhat of a mixed bag in total. As I said in my previous post, there's MASSIVE potential. It would be the most awesome of my gadgets ever, but the cons I mentioned might even be deal breakers.

My original message however is that as this potential is realized, smartphones in general have a lot to give to the silent enthusiasts :)

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:07 am 
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Awesome review -- thank you very much. I feel like I know a fair bit about it now.

I have a friend who recently got an HTC Hero, which is the same company as the Nexus 1, I think? His comments were very similar to yours is many ways; like the battery life. The sound quality of the phone and the speakerphone seem disappointing. I have a Palm Treo 700P, and I do not use any data streaming. Palm only makes smartphones, now. Unfortunately, Verizon will not let you have a Smart phone *without* buying a data service.... :x

So, my wife and I have to make some decisions: get a basic phone, and a GPS if we need that, and have PDA (like an iPod Touch) for those functions... nothing seems to integrate things very well (on Verizon, anyway).

Again, thanks for the thorough rundown on the Nexus 1.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:08 am 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
Unfortunately, Verizon will not let you have a Smart phone *without* buying a data service.... :x

So, my wife and I have to make some decisions: get a basic phone, and a GPS if we need that, and have PDA (like an iPod Touch) for those functions... nothing seems to integrate things very well (on Verizon, anyway).


Yet another reason to abandon Verizon and its control-centric CDMA technology. On GSM, no one tells you what devices you can't and cannot use once you have the SIM card.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:47 pm 
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Unfortunately, while I agree with you, Verizon has the best coverage around here -- it is not perfect, but it is better than the competition.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:30 pm 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
I have a friend who recently got an HTC Hero, which is the same company as the Nexus 1, I think? His comments were very similar to yours is many ways; like the battery life. The sound quality of the phone and the speakerphone seem disappointing. I have a Palm Treo 700P, and I do not use any data streaming. Palm only makes smartphones, now. Unfortunately, Verizon will not let you have a Smart phone *without* buying a data service.... :x


That is correct. The Hero and the Nexus One are both made by the same manufacturer, HTC. For the record, I have used all current "next-generation" (for lack of a better word) smartphones: the iPhone 2G and 3G, the Pre, and the Droid Eris which is a Verizon Hero.

For awhile now HTC has been basically coming up with phone platforms and creating a zillion phones out of it each catering to a different market. Hero and Nexus One are two different platforms.

Hero is an older ARM11 design. This is the platform from the first generations of Android phones - the G1, myTouch and Hero. The biggest reason this was used is because Android had the best support for the ARM11 Qualcomm SoCs. This has changed.

The Nexus One uses a brand new design with the Qualcomm Snapdragon chip. Snapdragon is an ARM Cortex-A8 variant, the same used in the iPhone 3GS. The difference between the official A8 and Snapdragon is that Qualcomm has pulled a trick similar to the one Intel did with the Pentium 4: deepen the pipeline for higher clock speeds. That's how they're achieving the 1 GHz speeds. Realistically, I'd say a 1 GHz Snapdragon would be just as fast as say the ~500 MHz (can't remember the actual speed) 3GS.

N1 has dual microphones and a voice processor which filters out ambient noise and from what I've heard, does so very well. It also uses an OLED panel, and the thing with OLED screens is they emit light. They draw different amounts of power depending on the image being displayed. Black screens use the least amount of power - it's why the Zune HD and certain other OLED devices have mostly black interfaces.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 4:58 pm 
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Hello and thanks for the additional info! I wonder if the high clockspeed of the Snapdragon has the same issues that the P4 did -- good for things that require stream processing, but lousy when the CPU has to "jump around" from this to that?

An OLED is more efficient than a backlit screen, right? And ironically, and backlit screen takes the most power when displaying black, IIANM.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:37 am 
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Neil: Curiously my S-IPS LCD display draws more power when displaying a white screen than black. I've never understood why.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 12:10 pm 
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OLED's have very good black color reproduction because those pixels that shows black are actually OFF, or standby, ie they pretty much don't use any power at all.
So a black background can be useful for OLED, although IDK how much difference it makes.

I've been reading a lot about N1/Desire/Legend, and they seem to get the best performing battery output after 25 charging cycles.
They also seem to have a few preinstalled apps that needs internet connection, it's up to you if you really need it..

Juice Defender is useful for getting the most out of your Android battery, do a search.

The CPU in N1 and Desire is a 65 nm Qualcomm Scorpion 1 GHz, later this year we'll see its successor, made in 45 nm and with higher clock speeds.


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