Great review! Thanks!
Here’s my review of the Galaxy Nexus from Samsung.
The Galaxy Nexus has 2 big features which are firsts: It’s the first phone to ship with Android 4.0 aka Ice Cream Sandiwch. It’s also the first phone to ship with a 1280x720 display.
I successfully used the Galaxy Nexus with both Rogers and Wind SIM (in Wind Home mode) cards. It has pentaband HSPA support (850/9090/1700/1900/2100). It will be coming to Bell in early Dec while Rogers and TELUS are getting it in Jan next year. The modem in the Nexus supports DC-HSPA+ of up to 21mbps.
Apple iPhone 4s, HTC Raider, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S II LTE, Motorola RAZR XT910
Like many recent Samsung phones the Galaxy Nexus is mostly plastic. The screen measures 4.65” and is slightly curved. The back cover reminds me of the Galaxy S II’s; It’s made from very thin and flexible plastic with an imprinted diamond pattern. The battery has a capacity of 1750mAh - far too small in my opinion but par for the course compared to what you get from the competition.
Motorola RAZR XT910, Samsung Galaxy S II LTE, Galaxy Nexus, HTC Raider, IPhone 4s
I was surprised how usable the huge screen was. While it’s obviously too big for me to use with one hand exclusively I was surprised how much I got away with when I tried. There are 2 reasons for this. Firstly, the menu buttons are now part of the screen, so while the screen measures 4.65” the area that’s actually used is closer to 4.5”. Secondly, since the menu keys are part of the screen the area where the physical menu keys would normally be is freed up. That way you don’t need to leave as much room at the bottom of the screen free. There’s also enough room around the screen to grip the device.
The display is a Super AMOLED HD. It’s basically a much higher resolution version of the screen that came with the Galaxy S and not the one that comes with the Galaxy S II. The difference between the Nexus’ display and the Galaxy S II’s is that the Nexus display’s subpixels are laid out in a pentile matrix. I’ve already explained and photographed a couple of pentile displays up close. Read more about them in here. Pentile displays are supposed to use less power but they tend to be less sharp than regular displays with the same resolution. Regardless, the Nexus’ display is extremely sharp. Just look at the picture:
It has extremely deep blacks - they’re so deep that you’ll think the display is off. I must say; using a Super AMOLED display on the first ICS phone is a great idea, because the area around the on screen menu keys is so black, they don’t look like they’re part of the screen. Other benefits are outstanding viewing angles plus it works well in direct sunlight.
The keyboard is works well. I was able to type with 2 hands quite easily.
In front is a 1.3mp camera, the display along with a status LED at the bottom.
There’s a power button along with an accessory connector on the right.
On the left are the volume buttons.
The headphone jack and micro USB are located on the bottom. It’s unfortunate that the headphone jack is on the bottom.
The 5mp camera, LED flash and speaker are located on the back. The speaker isn’t that loud.
There is 16GB of storage built-in of which 13.3GB is available.. I transferred a 400MB video file to the Nexus and observed leisurely speeds of 6.5MB/s. Read speeds where much more impressive: 20MB/s. Unfortunately, there is no microSDHC card slot.
In previous versions Android’s default camera software hasn’t been up to snuff. It was slow, didn’t record HD and took lousy pictures. In ICS Google is finally taking the camera software seriously. It records 1080p video and focuses extremely quickly. Curiously the Nexus only comes with a 5mp camera while all it’s competitors now come with 8mp ones. Still, megapixels don’t mean much these days as there are many other factors when it comes to how good a camera is.
In practice, while it’s light years better than before, it’s still not best-in-class. It focuses extremely quickly but sometimes it tends to not focus correctly. Still, I think the best pictures are candid ones - so I’d rather have really fast focusing camera that can shoot many pictures quickly.
It appears to have a field of view of around 35mm on a 35mm camera. Maximum aperture appears to be f/2.75. I’m still testing the camera out so I’ll post more impressions about it later today.
Video can be captured at 1080p and looks good. The microphone does a good job.
As I mentioned the Galaxy Nexus is the first phone to ship with Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS); Android version 4.0. The one I have here is actually running version 4.0.1. Lately, on the phone side Android phones have been shipping with 2.3 (Gingerbread) while Android tablets come with 3.x (Honeycomb). ICS is meant to unify both of them.
The lock screen is similar to Honeycomb. There’s a circle with a lock in it. To unlock the screen just tap the lock and move it to the right to unlock the screen or to the left to launch the camera.
The menus have been revamped. You still have multiple home screens which you can populate with program shortcuts and widgets. What’s different now is that you can also add folders. I guess it’s only fair: Apple stole the Android notification area so Google stole the folders.
The main menu is now split into separate screens which you can navigate by swiping left or right If you keep moving to the right you’ll access the list of widgets. The process to add widgets has changed. Before you’d press and hold the home screen and then choose widgets. Now you select them from the main menu.
As I mentioned earlier the hardware buttons (usually: menu, back, home and sometimes search) are now part of the screen. The advantage of this is that it clears up space on the bottom of the device. It also allows programmers to add extra menu buttons there. The buttons themselves have also changed. The default ones are now: back, home and multitask. The search button is no longer needed because the Google search bar is persistent across all the home screens.
The menu button has been replaced with a context sensitive button with 3 small boxes on it that you can tap. There is also a ribbon that sometimes runs along the bottom with options that you can tap.
I’m happy that Google kept the main menu button in the middle of the bottom of the screen instead of Honeycomb’s idiotic setup where they stuck it in the top right corner.
In the past you’d switch programs by pressing and holding the home button. Now there is a dedicated multitask button which shows a thumbnail of the program you’re switching to. It’s a much more visual approach and a good use of the Nexus’ processing power. To close a running program just swipe the thumbnail to the left.
The Calendar now has a pinch zoom feature. The way it works is that you can zoom out to view more entries or in to view more details. It DOESN’T allow you to zoom from a monthly view into a weekly one - that’s what I figured it would do when I read about the zoomable calendar.
I suspect one reason why Google decided to bring out Honeycomb is to help push their Google+ service. Besides having the Google+ and Google+ messenger apps there is also Google+ integration with the camera. After you take a picture you have the option to have it automatically upload it to Google+. What’s more interesting is that the option to stick it on Facebook is now gone.
Turns out that the Facebook app is no longer preloaded. You'll get the Facebook options back if you install the official Facebook app from the market.
I like the new look for the Gallery. I also like how it sorts your galleries by the date they were created like it did on Gingerbread. The image editor now has a few more options beyond crop and rotate.
A new feature is the video editor. It’s pretty straight forward to use: You take videos and images and put them on a timeline. You can trim the clips and add music to them if you want. Movies can be exported as 480p, 720p or 1080p. Watch out, exporting videos as 1080p takes a long time and will obliterate your batteries so stay close to a charger when you’re doing that.
The only USB modes in ICS are MTP and PTP modes. There is no mass storage mode. MTP lets you both read and copy files. MTP’s advantage over mass storage mode is that a) you no longer have to pull the notification area down and select mass storage mode and b) you can still view the contents of the card on the device while it is still connected to your computer. The disadvantage is that mass storage allows you to copy and read multiple files simultaneously.
While you can view your videos from the Gallery app there is also a Videos application. You can use it to view videos you’ve taken with the Nexus, it’s really more so you can view videos you’ve rented from the Android Marketplace. It’s able to see other videos stored on the device. While it was able to show thumbnails for a 720p mkv and a 480p avi movie I loaded from my computer it wasn’t able to play them back.
The browser now supports up to 16 tabs plus it can sync bookmarks with Google’s Chrome browser. Closing tabs is much easier now, instead of clicking the ‘x’ you just swipe the page to the left.I like how you can open up private browsing windows - they’re useful if someone want to use your phone to check their email or Facebook. I also like how you can request a full version of a website rather than the mobile optimized one.
The settings menu sees a lot of changes too. The battery meter now has a graph plus there is a new data usage monitor.
The new data usage monitor allows you to see how much data you’ve used each day, how much data an individual app has used, and even how much data the app has used each day.
There is built in NFC with a new NFC beaming feature. I also have a Galaxy S II LTE which has NFC. I don’t think the II LTE supports this feature so I didn’t get a chance to test it out. You also get WiFi direct support which I also couldn’t try out.
RF performance is average. I tested the Galaxy Nexus next to a Motorola RAZR on Rogers. The RAZR was rock solid In areas where the Galaxy Nexus was really cutting in and out a lot. Besides a little bit of background hiss incoming sound quality is fine. Outgoing
Predictably, battery life is awful. I’ve only had the Galaxy Nexus for a few hours but at times I swear I can see the battery meter moving. Then again, awful battery life is par for the course with other dual core Android phones nevermind one with a 4.65” display.
I’ve never liked stock Android. It’s ugly, the keyboard isn’t that great, the camera app sucks and the main menu is a mess. Ice Cream Sandwich addresses all these shortcomings. the keyboard is a little better, it’s no longer an ugly mess, the camera app is decent and the main menu has been completely overhauled.
Whenever there’s a new version of software I find myself missing certain features and paradigms from the previous version. A good example of this is Honeycomb which I hated.
So, it’s a good thing that I don’t really find myself missing anything when I use Ice Cream Sandwich. It’s a testament to how far Android has come. It’s catching up with the hardware.
The device itself is solid. It’s fast and has a beautiful screen. After using the display on the Nexus is going to be hard to go back to other phones. It’s quite easy to use despite the over-sized display.
My only big complaint is the lack of a microSHDC card slot. With only 13.3GB of usable space this may be a deal breaker. Minor complaints are that the RF is merely average, the battery life is terrible and that the built in speaker isn’t that loud. On the software side I’d like to see an orientation lock like Samsung includes with their Touchwiz overlay.
improved camera app
menus are much cleaner
supports all North American HSPA frequences
only 13.3GB storage
RF is merely average
built in speaker isn’t loud
no trace of Facebook (wonder how Facebook likes that)
Last edited by howard; 11-17-2011 at 06:07 PM.
New Infinity Blade character
My iPhone 5 ringtone: Bah, Bah, Black Sheep.
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Great review! Thanks!
Thanks for this. The screen does look beautiful. I especially like the close up of text between the SuperAmoled Plus and the SuperAmoled HD. It will put lots of rumors to bed about the Pentile display being a poor choice. I also find it interesting that the white balance is very nice on the Galaxy Nexus vs the weird blue hue that Samsung's phones have. The nasty hue is what turned me off from the Nexus S (compared to a normal looking Nexus One).
Great stuff. Could you reiterate on the WiFi Coverage compared to the SGSII. Supposedly the Galaxy Nexus has the same WiFi Death Grip that the SGSII has... with puts me in a bad situation. If the WiFi signal is good, I might purchase this. If WiFi isn't reliable, I will likely pass.
One thing I noticed was their iffy feelings toward the headphone jack at the bottom. And I can say that there is no perfect solution. On one hand, I like the jack to be at the top, so the jack can be connected while in my pocket. With CM7 and the jack at the top, it allows me to easily reach the Volume keys to switch tracks (VOL UP) without even pulling the phone out of my pocket.
On the downside, while in my car, listening to my Music via the headphone-to-AUX port, it is awkward to have the USB power plug on one side, and the headphone jack on the other. It would be best to have them on the same side. On the OTHER hand, it is nice to have them on opposite sites when listening to music at my house because the Power outlet makes a linear connection to the wall, phone, headphone jack, to Surround System. So in essence there isn't really a perfect placement.
Last edited by player911; 11-17-2011 at 10:18 AM.
Thank you, sir!
It looks awesome, and I'm still on the fence about getting one. I plan on doing a pre-order at Future Shop on Monday (hopefully they let me, even if I want to get it at full price. I guess I could always open an account with Bell then cancel the same day. Viva la Bill 60).
Depending on the price point, I may end up cancelling the pre-order, however.
Battery life is terrible? Guess google will never catch apple in the battery life department. Was hoping ICS would improve battery life.
So is this the BELL version of the Galaxy Nexus? So I assume all the Canadian versions of the Galaxy Nexus can be use on different carriers such as; Wind, Rogers, Telus, Mobilicity?
Sent from my HTC Sensation 4G using HowardForums
Is there any info on the 32 GB version? with no SD card support, I must have the 32 GB of storage.
thanks for the review......RF and the battery is deal killer for me...
Does the Galaxy Nexus ship unlocked like the Nexus One and the Nexus S?
Yes. All Nexus devices come unlocked.
Man I was swearing up and down that it would be nothing but Nexus devices for me from now on but it seems there are just a few too many cons here.
16GB as the only option with no SD slot is flat out too small.
Battery life sounds terrible (although I'll wait for some more info and quantitative tests to compare with performance I get with SGS).
Weak GPU sauce. Clocked 2x faster than the SGS is OK...until you look at iphone that is ~3.5x faster. Also the next round of GPUs (Tegra3 and powerVR 6 series) is supposed to a multiple like 5x of even the sgx543mp2 in the apple a5.
No LTE (I almost could have accepted this if battery life had been good).
It all adds up to a device that is going to feel very dated in a year. For things like LTE and the GPU, it's just bad timing. The timing on the Nexus S was weak too, coming out with the same hardware as SGS but later, pretty much right before dual-core devices with higer-res screens started coming out. Maybe a cutting-edge Nexus device just isn't meant to be, even though I am sick of delayed updates something like the galaxy S3 this summer might suck me in. Or wait another year and see what they do next.
Already reserved this with Rogers but I am having second thoughts now because of the battery life...