After a long night of updates to the Nexus 6 Wednesday to get it up to Android 5.1.1 and all of my apps loaded and ready, Thursday was Project Fi configruation day, while Friday and Saturday were about trying to use it all in a normal way. Mostly it's been very good news. The Nexus 6 rocks an amazing screen, the antenna is decent and it's wonderful having access to the most up-to-date LTE networks locally. However, near my house there appear to be the usual deadspots that even Project Fi cannot help: that proposed antenna down the road really needs to happen from that perspective. But up the road a ways, where there was once so-so services, LTE is booming through, perhaps thanks to Sprint's additional coverage on top of T-Mobile's.
As a former Google Voice user used to using Hangouts, there has been good news and bad news in the break-in period. The good news is that my style of doing phones really hasn't changed much at all, and mostly only in good ways. Incoming calls ring on my Nexus 6 and my Chromebox or Chromebook at the same time, just as with Google Voice, and outgoing calls in the Hangouts app on Chrome are now labeled as being sent via the Project Fi network. Calls coming in to my Nexus 6 will fire up on either WiFi or mobile, depending on what's available, and same for outgoing calls. I haven't tested the continuous wifi-to-mobile capabilities of Project Fi yet, but everything else in this department seems OK.
On the not-so-OK side, opting for Hangouts as my default message and voicemail manager on my Nexus 6 caused a few hiccups. Somehow the right flags in the Android settings and apps settings left text messages and voicemails going to the wrong places at the wrong times at first. Apparently most people opt for the Messenger app on their Nexus phones, but having walked away from the telco style of doing things this far, I was not about to go back. Some patient on-phone support from the Project Fi team walked me through the right settings. Mischief managed - as far as I can tell.
Also, the caller ID for my Google Voice was never updated to my new hometown when we moved a while back, and although the Project Fi onboarding process is supposed to overwrite that info, something is still amiss, and they're looking into it. Project Fi seems to be using the same infrastructure for managing its voice services as Sprint did for its Google Voice services (not clear if it's the same servers), so for those of us willing to be the "cool kids" on Fi phones, there will be a few teething problems like this. Hopefully these get ironed out, and some of the nice features left behind on Voice like tailored voicemail greetings come back. So all in all, voice is working grand.
So Fi is pretty much a done thing, and I am starting to get used to the Nexus 6. What a blessing to have a phone that actually works with the advanced features that Google and apps-makers offer on Android these days. I had used Android 5.1 Lollipop on my Nexus 7 already, but this is my first time using the dialer features. They're much nicer overall, much more visible, but as always anything different takes a bit of getting used to. The Hangouts dialer had a brief burp on an outgoing call while on the road, but other than that, all is go on the software end.
On the apps end, it's a marvel to use Google Now features whilst mobile on a unit that can keep up with you. I find myself using the voice activated features of Now with much greater confidence, and already its reminders and notes have helped to save by butt a few times. The camera is good, and I am enjoying the virtues of its spot metering, good enough for most snapshots. You could ask for more, but it's delivering, so far. The screen is large and crisp enough to make ebook reading a pleasure, so much so that I find myself not reaching for my Nexus 7 so far since I've fired it up.
On the down side, the ergonomics of the Nexus 6 take some getting used to. Parked on the sofa, I find that typing can be somewhat tiring as you reach a little further than on a smaller phone and you have to grip it a little more just-so than a tablet. I think that this is mostly adjusting to a new form factor. Also on the adjustment agenda: note to self, when holding a phone for a phone call, move your hand down, because where you used to park your finger is the off button. Tried the Project Fi earbuds headset for a phone call, most of these bud/mike setups aren't great for phone calls, and this one is no exception - too much echo on the receiving end, so noise cancellation needs some help.
Batteries and charging on the Nexus 6 is mostly good news also. Normal charging won't get this puppy's battery full in any reasonable time, so its QuickCharge capabilities are a must. The included QC adapter fills it quite quickly, and so far the projected use time of 13 hours that the Android battery monitor claims seems reasonable. A big boost from my old gear. As a plan B there is the 6000 mAh external battery pack included in the Project Fi welcome kit, which includes a QuickCharge USB outlet to re-power your Nexus 6. When all else fails, there's always Battery Saver mode in the Android Settings. The Nexus 6 packs a pretty good battery, so it's not a featherweight, but neither does it feel ponderous with its gently curved case back.
So all in all I am through the break-in period none the worse for wear, and enjoying many of the great benefits of Project Fi. Tomorrow evening is my first trip through the no-man's-land zone of coverage problems that may be bridged by the combo of Sprint and T-Mo more effectively now, so I'll let you know how that goes. Also coming up - an air vent-mounted phone holder, which I hope is sturdy enough to do the job. Happy Fi-ing! #ProjectFi
- SyberSquad.comSuper Geek, present
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