I recently got the Google Nexus 4 phone for experiments. Its cost was 1/2 lower than the cost of my second-hand bq Aquaris 4.5. I wish to try the convergence features of the Ubuntu touch (and I don’t want to install any experimental stuff on my main phone).
The phone itself looks nicely and more expensive than the all-plastic Aquaris. But it’s glass back is already cracked (this was probably a reason for the low price). The phone is also heavier and thicker – the difference is actually very tiny but if feels much heavier for some reason. Anyway, it’s screen is wider which makes software use a bit more comfortable – the icons in Unity are bigger and the keyboard buttons are wider so I’m able to eliminate most of mistyping. I haven’t tried the camera too much but it seems to be decent. Thus the hardware is nice.
I didn’t tried the pre-installed Android at all and I immediately replaced it by rc-proposed version of the Ubuntu touch. It was easy and without problems.
The Bluetooth support is OK, it just works here. The interesting thing is that connection of the mouse switches the UI to a desktop mode with usual windows – it looks just like a desktop Unity environment.
The surprise was the fact that in desktop mode it is impossible to use the rotation feature – the device is fixed to portrait mode. It isn’t nice. But it may be OK if a big screen is connected.
I have managed to get a SlimPort to HDMI adapter which works with the Nexus. I had one but it didn’t work (I assume that it was a faukty one) so I have got a new one from a local store. And it works nicely – when it is connected to an actual monitor then the phone used the big screen instead of its own one (the screen on the phone states that is is connected to a HDMI screen). From that moment is is possible to use the thing as a desktop, even the Alt+Tab works… but not too much more. One can place and resize windows with a mouse (and a wheel scrolling works, too) but the whole thing is not as configurable as the actual desktop is. The control things like the top toolbar are quite big so even my 24″ screen seems to be a bit small but these things can improve in future. Also the resolution was set to something like 1920×1080 instead of the native 1920×1200. But this may improve in the future, I hope…
After all, one can use the WWW browser and the terminal on a big screen with the keyboard and mouse (among others, but I haven’t tried more, yet) so a lot of work can be done here much more easily.
Actually, I have a problem with the keyboard. At the moment the only way to connect input devices is the Bluetooth. My modern keyboard died at some moment so I have to use an old Nokia one. It’s excellent in terms of portability and battery life but it’s too small and too limited (in term of number of available keys) to be used as a desktop keyboard. And it degrades the deskop experience too much. So I pro0bably have to get a bigger keyboard before I will continue to play with the convergence phone.
I will be very grateful if someone will made a phone with full USB host support and make possible to use USB peripherals (a keyboard, a mouse, an ethernet card and flashdisks at least). I would like to buy such device even for a high price…