The Google Nexus One smartphone, based on Google's Android operating system, is getting fans in high-profile tech places even as it battles a reputation for poor 3G service.
Linus Torvalds, the man who created the Linux operating system on which Android is based, purchased a Nexus One and spoke favorably about it in a blog post Feb. 6.
Google launched the Nexus One from its Webstore Jan. 5, offering it for $529 unlocked or $179 with a two-year contract from T-Mobile. When users have 3G service, they generally report great things about the Nexus One, based on the latest Android 2.1 OS and which runs a 1GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm.
Torvalds said he "generally hates phones because they are irritating and disturb you as you work or read or whatever," but is intrigued by Linux-based phones, such as the Nexus One:
""I have to admit, the Nexus One is a winner. I wasn't enthusiastic about buying a phone on the Internet sight unseen, but the day it was reported that it finally had the pinch-to-zoom thing enabled, I decided to take the plunge. I've wanted to have a GPS unit for my car anyway, and I thought that Google navigation might finally make a phone useful."And it does. What a difference! I no longer feel like I'm dragging a phone with me 'just in case' I would need to get in touch with somebody-now I'm having a useful (and admittedly pretty good-looking) gadget instead ..." "
The Google navigation Torvalds enjoys is the Google Maps Navigation turn-by-turn GPS feature so many users have found useful since it launched on the Motorola Droid in November. That's the type of perk Google hopes will help differentiate Android from Apple's iPhone and other platforms. Nokia later countered with it own free GPS tool.
Torvalds said he received the original G1 Android phone when Google and T-Mobile launched it in 2008 but used it mostly for playing games such as Galaga and Solitaire on long flights.
Torvalds isn't the only high-tech luminary to become enamored of the device. Publisher Tim O'Reilly, whose Web 2.0 Summit is the hottest high-tech show that isn't the Consumer Electronics Show, enjoys many of the features.
But the Nexus One has its issues, particularly with regard to spotty or absent 3G service.
Some of this is attributed to T-Mobile, whose wireless network ranks fourth in the United States behind Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint, and some of this is due to a software flaw Google moved to fix Feb. 2.