As a very happy user of the G-1 back when it was the only Android phone available, I was keenly looking forward to what HTC and T-Mobile would do for an encore in the G-2. Especially when T-Mobile promised it would run stock Android with no skin and no unremovable crapware. I was seriously planning a first-day upgrade when the G-2 came out, just to get the higher data speeds.
Great was my disappointment when they shipped a crippled phone. T-Mobile kept the promise not to add crapware, but they disabled tethering and hotspot – two absolute must-haves for me. By the time these features were un-disabled in a firmware update, I’d discarded my plans to upgrade. The Nexus One is still a very nice phone and a pleasure to use.
But, quite by accident, I now have a G-2 for evaluation. No, T-Mobile didn’t send me one; I ran into a friend at the Philadelphia Science Fiction convention who’s replaced his G-2 with an Android tablet and wants to sell the former. So he lent it it to me to try for a while; the theory is, if I like it after a couple of weeks, I’ll give him fair market minus 15% for depreciation and we’ll both be happy.
The surprise is that, rather to my own bemusement, I’m leaning towards giving it back.
Oh, it’s chock-full of Android goodness. And the higher-speed browsing on the HSDPA network is nice. But I find that one feature I was really looking forward in the G-2 isn’t such a win after all, and that a misfeature I didn’t think would be a big deal is bothering me more than I expected.
When I was using my G-1, the thing that griped me most about it was the crappy physical keyboard. Still, my biggest issue in moving to the Nexus One was the screen-keyboard-only design. One of the things I was most looking forward to about the G-2 was having a physical keyboard again, and with good fortune a better one.
Now I’ve got it…and I’m barely using it at all. I got used to tapping the screen on the Nexus, and seldom find that I enter enough text to make the delay while I rig out the G-2 keyboard worth incurring.
What that keyboard does do is exacerbate the G-2’s size and weight problem. It’s about an ounce heavier and half-again as thick as the Nexus, and quite to my surprise I find this makes a significant ergonomic difference. The Nexus feels slim, elegant, and is a good fit for my hand; the G-2 feels a bit clunky and oversized and brick-like.
It’s actually an index of progress that I notice these differences. Both phones run stock Android 2.2, so they’re not differentiated much at the software level and the software ergonomics is good enough for anyone not a fully-inducted fanatic of the Apple cult. This means that small differences in the hardware platform matter more.
Jury’s still out on whether I’ll keep the G-2 – I’m leaning against, but more familiarity could change my mind. I’ll post reports here.