The Samsung Galaxy Nexus continues the trend of the Nexus lineup by showing the best of what Android has to offer with each launch, each time corresponding to the launch of a new version of Android. The Galaxy Nexus is the flagship device of Google to demonstrate their most recent Android version yet, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. While it might not be perfection, it shows that Android has the ability to go head on with the best in terms of a beautiful UI and consistency. I have been testing the Galaxy Nexus for Verizon for a few weeks now and will provide a quick review of the device.
When you open the box, the first thing you’ll be greeted with is a pair of headphones, a wall charger, and a USB cable. The case design is simple and pleasing, and is complemented with a huge 4.65″ Super AMOLED 720p display on the front. The display is curved, which makes for a more comfortable calling experience when making calls. The phone features a button-less design lends to a very sophisticated look. The only buttons on the device are the volume rocker and the power button. There is also the standard 3.5mm headphone jack and micro USB for PC connection and charging.
While I’m not a big fan of huge displays, this device didn’t feel too big. I had no problem carrying it around in my pocket and had no issues with navigation and usage with one hand. The Verizon version features a 1850mAh battery, which is bigger than the GSM version, due to higher power demand from LTE.
There is a “Verizon” logo on the back of the device, which some worry that Verizon’s influence might take away from the Vanilla experience. The device is stock vanilla and the only Verizon influence outside of the logo is that it comes with the “My Verizon” app preinstalled to manage your Verizon wireless account and watch your data usage (which is a great tool for those not on unlimited data), which I don’t mind at all and actually like that it came that way.
Ice Cream Sandwich is a huge update for Android. The first thing noticed is the new UI and how it resembles Android 3.0. It utilizes a new font specifically designed for Android, called Roboto. The Roboto font was created for the HD displays that’ll soon become the norm. There is a new, slicker lock screen, app drawer has been refreshed and also houses resizable widgets as well. Google added the Honeycomb-style multitasking with a dedicated soft key and the ability to drag applications on top of one another to create folders similar to iOS, along with a some additional features like being able to individually clear notifications and improvements to Google services (Gmail, Calendar), Google+ integration, Contacts, etc. The web browser has been significantly improved, with very fast scrolling and zooming and a nice thumbnail view of tabs. Overall, ICS feels the most consistent and refined of any previous Android version. Also, for those who are “hardcore” and don’t want any carrier software on their device, ICS allows you to get the My Verizon app out of your app drawer.
The camera on the Galaxy Nexus is 5MP. The quality is subpar, compared to many other offerings on the market. The camera does have the ability to take pictures in a second or less, but the quality is even worse if you try to take pictures as fast you can. The camera software has been enhanced, giving users the ability change the lens effects, similar to Instagram (though not as many nice options) and also offers basic editing and a panorama mode.
Performance and Battery Life
The Verizon version is complimented with LTE 4G, which is amazingly fast. I was averaging around 13Mbps down and 6Mbps up off Verizon LTE in my area. The call quality off CDMA was clear and loud. People on the other side reported that I sounded clear to them as well. The speakerphone was powerful and loud, with virtually no audio distortion at the loudest setting. The battery life on 3G and WiFi was exceptional, getting me easily through the day with moderate usage; however, when on LTE, expect to get about 4-6 hours with moderate usage.
If you’re in the market for a new phone and are on Verizon, this should be at the top of your list. With the enhancements from Android 4.0, the vanilla experience of the Nexus device, a safe assumption that you’ll get OS updates in a timely manner, and complemented with the nation’s best 4G network, this is the best Android device you can get from Verizon Wireless, or from any carrier. It is currently available from Verizon Wireless for $299 with a two-year agreement with a data plan starting at $20/month for 300MB. Verizon Wireless has also extended their double data LTE promotion, so you can get the 4GB for $30/month, which will be the best deal for most.