Galaxy Nexus Review – Best Smartphone yet?

I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on the Galaxy Nexus since it was announced. I’ve had the device for a few weeks and I have a pretty good feeling of the phone. The model I have is an unlocked HSPA+ model that you can purchase online. The LTE model is available on Verizon Wireless for $299.99 w/ 2 year contract. Let us know what you think about the Galaxy Nexus in the comments.

Specs

4.65″ HD Super Amoled (1280 by 720) ~ 316 ppi
1.2GHZ TI OMAP Dual Core Processor
1GB RAM
5MP Auto Focus Camera
records in 1080p video
1.3MP front camera
1750mah Battery (LTE model 1850mah)
Android 4.0.1, aka Ice Cream Sandwich

Hardware/ Design

The first thing you will notice when you look at the Galaxy Nexus is the display. It’s a 4.65″ Super Amoled HD display. It’s true 720p resolution (720 by 1280). The display is drop dead gorgeous, the colors are vibrant, texts are crisp and blacks are deep.  This is probably the best display on the market today. The Galaxy Nexus was built by Samsung with Google right at their side. Just like what we have seen on Samsung Devices, the phone is made completely out of plastic.  Despite being a big phone, it’s fairly lightweight, .03 pounds, measure 8.9mm thin at it’s thinnest. There’s a gunmetal finish on the plastic which looks nice, and the back cover has a textured pattern. The front of the device is minimalistic, you will find the earpiece and 1.3mp front camera. There is also an LED Notification light along the bottom face on the Galaxy Nexus. The left side, you will find the volume rocker, nothing along the top, on the right side is the power/ lock button, and at the bottom is the micro-usb port and 3.5mm headphone jack. Finally on the back is a 5mp camera with LED flash, at the speaker port lies along the hump on the device.
Overall the Galaxy Nexus has nice design, it’s nothing spectacular, if you seen the Nexus S and the Galaxy S II, put them together and you have the Galaxy Nexus.

Software OS
Android 4.0 Ice Cream sandwich

The Galaxy Nexus is the first device is run Android 4.0, Ice Cream sandwich. ICS bridges the Honeycomb (3.0) and Gingerbread OS(2.3) to create one universal operating system for tablets and smartphones. ICS is more polished and a lot more user-friendly than previous versions of Android. Some new features include an all new font called Roboto, Face Unlock, improved keyboard, Android Beam, on-screen navigation buttons, and visual changes in the status bar, notification tray and app drawer. Overall the OS has been very smooth, there was hardly any lag using the device. I did notice that transitioning between portrait and landscape mode takes a few seconds. I was concerned about the on-screen navigation buttons, but now I prefer it over physical buttons now. When your watching a video on Netflix or YouTube the Navigation buttons quietly disappears and the video fills up the whole screen. A menu button will appear at the bottom of the navigation bar depending on the app. The navigation bar has the home button, back button and a button showing your recently opened apps. If you used an Android Honeycomb Tablet, then you should feel right at home. A neat feature google has done is you can swipe away applications you do not want to run(hello webos?). I also download an unofficial Google Wallet Application on the device. Using the NFC technology built into the phone, I was able to pay with the phone at select retailers. You can also use Android Beam to transfer contacts, pictures, directions to another Ice Cream Sandwich Devices by facing the phones back to back( as of now, the Galaxy Nexus is the only Device running ICS)

Keyboard

One of my biggest peeves of Android was finding a decent keyboard to use. I used everything from, the gingerbread keyboard, sense kb, touchwiz, motorola’s kb, swype, swiftkey. Nothing really seemed to be comparable to the iOS keyboard on the iPhone. The Android keyboard on Ice Cream Sandwich is a huge improvement over previous keyboards. Auto correct is much more accurate and the layout of the keyboard has improved. Also considering the screen is massive at 4.65″ also helped. A few things I would have like to see was a dedicated .com button when entering the URL address in the browser and a return key to skip a line when sending a text or email. Google has also updated their voice to text feature. It can now type out was your saying as you are speaking, which is a neat feature.

Browser

The browser is simply great on the Galaxy Nexus. Web pages load very fast. Scrolling and pinch to zoom on pages is smooth. It’s slightly faster than the iPhone 4s’ and Galaxy S II’s browser. Opening multiple tabs is pretty simple and elegant, you can also swipe away tabs you are not using(similar to the multitasking gesture). Of course you do get the advantages of using Adobe Flash Player(adobe is discontinuing flash on mobile devices). Two features I did enjoy a lot is the option to require pages to load the desktop version and not the mobile site. This came is handy when I always wanted to view the full site and not the mobile site and it saved me the time from having to scroll to the bottom of the page and click desktop site multiple times for multiple pages. Another feature I did like was to save a web page for offline reading. Let’s say you wanted to read multiple web pages before you boarded your flight. You can simple go to the web pages and click the option to save it for offline reading. It will save the entire page for you and no internet is required for you to view the page again. If you browse the web a lot on your mobile device you will not be disappointed in the Galaxy Nexus.

Camera

The Galaxy Nexus has a 5mp camera on the back and 1.3mp front camera round the front. To be honest, I was very disappointed in the Galaxy Nexus camera. It did not perform well in low light condition and I had a lot of trouble getting it to focus for quick shots. Considering I was using an iPhone 4S and Galaxy S II, I was using one of the best cameras on a mobile phone. When the conditions were right(natural lighting) The Nexus was able to pull some nice shots. I did like the feature to quickly access the camera from the lock screen. I did like all the options to edit your photos (crop, face glow, red eye,rotate, saturation levels, effects, shadows, etc). The Nexus does include other features like instant capture, continuous focus and panorama. Overall it’s a decent camera with great features but doesn’t take breath-taking shots.

low light with flash

Battery life and Call Quality

Battery Life on the Galaxy Nexus varied. Some days I was able to get through the day and others I would need a charger late day. I was able to get about 9 hours of usage on the phone. The battery life is about the same on other high-end android phones. If you use the phone moderately you should be able to get through a full day. If you’re gonna use the phone to stream video, call and text for most of the day. I would invest in a second battery as the phone does take a while to charge up.
The earpiece on the phone was nice and loud. I was able to hear my callers pretty well its pretty much on par with other smartphones. The speaker was pretty low considering the Galaxy S II has a much louder speaker and both phones were manufactured by Samsung.  If you use the speaker phone a lot, you will be disappointed and it would be wise to get a jambox by Jawbone.
As for Network speeds, I was primarily using the phone on AT&T’s HSPA+ network. Speed varied from 3-5mbs and peaks at 6mbs. I did get a T-Mobile Sim and speeds averaged about 8mbs. The LTE model of course runs on Verizon. Verizon says speeds range from 5-12 mbs, but with a Droid Charge I did see speeds of 25mbs in my area.

Conclusion

The Galaxy Nexus certainly set the standard for future android devices. From its 720p Super Amoled display to its Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. It impressed me enough to ditch my iPhone 4S (for now) and use this beauty. It is arguably the best smartphone on the market today. If the camera is the most important thing to you and you’re not looking for a monster phone then a phone like the iPhone 4S or smaller Android Device may better suit you. Also consider the price of the Galaxy Nexus is $750 for an unlocked HSPA+ version and $300 for a subsidized Verizon model. If you’re looking for a change or wanting to try Android, I say go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

Let us know what you think about the Galaxy Nexus in the comments. 

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About Wasim

I'm a college student. I'm all about technology. It's something that comes natural to me, like breathing. I like to watch sports, football and baseball. Thanks for checking out our Blog.

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