Dave Winer doesn't like being described as curmudgeonly but the famed web developer and critic isn't shy about sharing his dislikes with the world. Unfortunately for me, Winer's latest toy is the Samsung Nexus S "Google" phone, aka the same phone I have.
There's nothing inherently wrong with Winer sharing his various and sundry negative impressions about the phone. He thinks the screen is "pretty bad," the feel is "light, cheap plastic" and, compared to the iPhone 4, the Nexus S is like a "McDonald's happy meal toy."
It's certainly Winer's right to voice his off-the-cuff opinions and it informs the conversation to some degree. But in isolation, I don't find his critique sufficiently balanced or useful for people making their own purchasing decisions. In fact, I recently lost my Nexus S and went through a fresh April, 2011, phone purchasing decision. And I ended up buying another Nexus S.
So I'll write this entry as a short rebuttal and link back to Dave and see if that doesn't more fully inform the greater gadget consciousness online.
Look and feel may be the most subjective and personal of phone traits. The Nexus S is very light and sculpted to fit nicely in the palm. Unlike the iPhone 4 and many others, it is not symmetrical and thus you know just how to orient it right side up in your hand without looking at it. Very handy when grabbing out of a pocket. And the screen is detailed and bright and readable in all but the harshest sunlight.
And the build quality is also extremely high. I have dropped my phone, carried it in pockets with keys and generally whacked it all over and there's not a scratch on it. It's far more robust than my iPhone 3GS which took a licking and just stopped ticking.
Some things I wonder about Winer's reactions:
- Is the automatic brightness setting, which defaults to less than 50% in most situations, tripping up Winer's screen assessment? [UPDATE: In comments below, Dave says this isn't it]
- Winer paid "almost $600" at Best Buy because he wasn't getting the phone with a two-year contract, which also seems to have influenced his evaluation ("For a $600 piece of hardware..."). Most people buy at the subsidized price, which is down to only $100.
- Will his opinion change after weeks, not just hours, with the phone? The merits of the superior virtual keyboard, integration of Google Voice and other Google services and many more bits of the OS that I use hundreds of times a day only became clear after some weeks.
- How much does he use his phone for watching video? That's not one of my primary uses and it's one of Android's biggest weaknesses. If he, or any other potential buyer, are focused on watching lots of first run movies and TV shows, the iPhone is the far better option right now.