Over the past few days, I've had a few people ask me why I still use my Nexus One, as opposed to a newer or more advanced phone. Yes, I could get a T-Mobile G2, T-Mo's new HSPA+ device. I could get a HTC EVO, Samsung Galaxy S Variant (Vibrant, Fascinate, Epic or Captivate). I could get a Droid Incredible, Droid X, or even hold out of any of the new WP7 devices that are supposed to make themselves available before the end of the year. There's no end to choices for advanced devices right now.
So again, why stick with a Nexus One? The answer is really very simple – Here are just a few small reasons why:
- NXSense HD ROM by eViL
A bit of a surprise after the release of the Desire HD, XDA Developer’s eViL got his hands on a dump of the native Desire HD ROM and began tweaking it for use on the Nexus One. The ROM has gone through quite a bit of work over the past few weeks, and is surprisingly stable at this point. While it does require special partitioning of your microSD card, and a bit of work with your USB cable and ADB (from the Android SDK), I’ve been using this ROM as my daily driver for over 2 weeks. The only major functionality that’s missing is the still and video camera, and I’m certain that’s just a few more revisions away.
- NXSense Z ROM by eViL
On the heels of an early Desire HD release, eViL also got his hands on a Desire Z dump. He made some tweaks to this configuration and created yet another ROM available for the Nexus One. While its very close to the look and feel of the Desire HD ROM, my experience has been that it’s performance is much better than that of the Desire HD. The still and video cameras are also not functional in this ROM yet. Special formatting and partitioning of your microSD card are also required.
- NXSense myTouch 4G ROM by eViL
This guy is a machine..! eViL got his hands on a myTouch 4G ROM dump and is currently working through the bumps in the road to get it to run on the Nexus One. This ROM is very much like the myTouch 3G Slide screens you see in my review of that awesome device; but sports new skins and the new version of HTC’s SenseUI. While Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and the FM radio work out of the box, the still and video cameras do not. Again, your microSD card will require special formatting and partitioning; as well as the flashing of a special Android kernel in order to get the ROM to boot.
- HTC Desire Port r24 by Paul O’Brien
The big draw to MoDaCo ROM’s is the site’s many custom ROM kitchens. With them, you can basically create your own a la carte version of any ROM they have available for your device. Paul has done a lot of work pulling the kitchens together, and the ability of "roll your own" has a great deal of pull to it. Actually, its really kinda cool.
This Desire Port is, as I understand it, a true port, and sports all the nifty goodness that can be found in a SenseUI device. This will likely be the last in the "TRUE" Desire ports, as Paul is trying to import some of the Desire HD functionality into this port as r25. However, it is kinda cool to see the a FroYo based Desire ROM on the Nexus One. The ROM is stable and usable as a daily driver, with the following small notation – The pin-outs used on the Nexus One Desktop and Car Docks and framework in the stock Nexus One/stock Android ROM are different. As such, when inserted into either of these docks, Bluetooth is not activated automatically and audio isn’t routed to and from the speaker and microphone.
- MoDaCo Custom ROM r23 by Paul O’Brien
Do you want some FroYo FRG83 love; but without the locked down feeling that comes with a locked, stock device? If that’s the case, then MoDaCo’s r23 Custom ROM is what you’re looking for. Again, sporting a build your own, end-user kitchen, r23 gives you the ability to bake in the options you want and throw out some of the bits and bytes you don’t want. While it has a stock Android 2.2.1 look and feel to it, there’s a lot there that’s definitely NOT stock Android. The ROM is solid and very stable, and using it as a daily driver is totally doable, even for the ROM flashing noobie.
- CyanogenMOD by Team Douche
Billed as one of THE PREMIER reasons why someone roots (or jailbreaks) their Android phone, CyanogenMOD 6.x is one of the best custom ROM experiences found on the internet today. This ROM is available for a great number of devices, including (with the release of 6.1) The Samsung Vibrant. This is a near stock Android UI, but has so many different options available to it, that it can satisfy your non-SenseUI cravings while still giving you so many options that you won’t know what to do with yourself. This is an awesome ROM, and the fact that you can get a "Nexus One" or "near stock Android" experience" on a variety of OTHER devices, is kinda cool.
It should also be noted, that while many of the other SenseUI ROM’s noted here offer a GREAT deal of eye candy, this particular ROM and ROM series is perhaps the most complete (offers the most functionality, especially for the Nexus One and other supported devices), the most stable, and the easiest to implement (read flash, update and use) especially for the rooting noobie. It should be noted that the ROM comes in 2 different parts, the actual ROM and then all of the Google Apps and associated device Setups. Both are installed via the customer recovery module you installed when you rooted your device, or through ROM Manager (see below) You don’t have to flash the Google Apps piece, but if you don’t, you’re going to have a harder time configuring and putting applications on your device (the Android Market is part of the Android Google App suite…)
- MIUI ROM
Straight from China, came an awesome Oriental surprise in the form of a complete FroYo UI overhaul. MIUI is a small, light, highly functional ROM that was specifically made for Chinese Android devices. The latest version as of this writing, version 0.10.29, is available via the link above, and also has links to a number of different language translations. Interestingly enough, this is NOT a theme laid down on top of a stripped down version of FroYo; but UI enhancements built right into the heart of the ROM. You’ll notice from the screen shots below that this is VERY iPhone-like in appearance. All application icons are placed on one of the available home screens. There is NO application tray. In order to help you keep things tidy and organized, Miui does give you the ability to create folders, allowing you to move application icons to these folders. The most interesting thing about this ROM is that it uses a standard Nexus One framework, and as suck native support for both the Nexus One Desktop and Car Docks are built in.
As this is a native Chinese ROM, there may be parts that are not in any Western or Romance language, and therefore not recommended for the inexperienced ROM flasher. There are, however, some REALLY cool capabilities in here, and despite the language issues, is DEFINITELY worth exploring.
- ROM Manager
ROM Manager is one of the key components that makes all of this wonderful stuff possible. In conjunction with the custom recovery module that integrates with it, ROM Manager allows you to backup and manage backups for your flashed ROM’s. It allows you to automatically update and check for updates for the ROM your currently working with. It allows you to choose the ROM you want to switch to, will backup your existing ROM, wipe your device and then automatically install your new ROM of choice. The application comes in both free and paid versions, and is worth the premium cost for the extra capabilities it offers.
Let’s Talk Cookies and the Nexus Two
Gingerbread, or Android 3, is still supposed to be released by the end of the year. If the Nexus one doesn’t get a native OTA or other upgrade directly from Google or T-Mobile/AT&T here in the States, then I can guarantee that one of the development teams noted above WILL get their hands on a system dump and WILL cook a ROM for the Nexus One. I hear that some members of the Android Dev Team at Google are running Gingerbread on their Nexus Ones right now.
When you join the Google Android Developer’s program, you have the opportunity to purchase a Nexus One. Not any other phone on the market today (including the G2); but a Nexus One. What the above article (and the availability of the Nexus One through Google’s Developer Program) implies is that there’s untapped hardware potential still lurking in the device. That a native Gingerbread ROM is headed for the Nexus One…
Now what about the Nexus Two? Great question. There’s a LOT of speculation out there, and not all of the pundits in the know are agreeing on what they are seeing, hearing and saying.
What I have heard that is consistent is the following (but NONE of this is confirmed)
- The Nexus Two will be built by Samsung
- The device will look like a Galaxy S phone; but will be Google branded
- The device will have a Super AMOLED (or equivalent) screen
- Google will control the software on the device (so no TouchWiz interface unless you root and flash something like that)
- The Nexus Two will run Gingerbread as either Android 2.3 or 3.0. No one seems to be able to get a good handle on the rev level of the OS just yet
While this is all speculation at this point, it all seems very logical and very probable (if not likely…), at least from my perspective.
So, that, kids, in a nut shell, is why I am still using my Nexus One as a daily driver device (even though I am hearing the call of the G2, I haven’t pulled a trigger yet…). I won’t pick up a Nexus Two until I understand if and when it will be released, and what it can and cannot do. In the meantime, there’s still a lot of life left in the Nexus One; and while I do expect that Gingerbread will likely be the last native OS version that Google releases for it, there’s still a lot of life left in the phone.
What device am I going to get as my next daily driver? Very simple – what ever phone Google is offering as part of their Developer’s Program. If that’s the Samsung version of the Nexus Two or some other device is of no consequence. The goodies that are going to be around for IT as sure to keep me glued to it for quite a while.