Google together with Samsung, has brought to us the Galaxy Nexus to deliver the Ice Cream Sandwich. The Galaxy Nexus packs an impressive spec sheet, but yet again the OS is the device’s main highlight. After all, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is widely expected to put an end to the fragmentation, which currently plagues Google’s mobile platform.
Unlike its Nexus S predecessor, which was essentially a rebranded Samsung Galaxy S, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is a completely different device from the current flagship of the company, the I9100 Galaxy S II.
The latest Google phone sports a different GPU and chipset, which are still not as powerful as those found inside the Galaxy S II.
Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone has the latest and hottest hardware feature is its Super AMOLED screen with HD resolution – a first for a Samsung smartphone. The display combines amazing contrast ratio and superb viewing angles, with eye-popping size and resolution – a perfect match for the spanking new OS on board.
With measures of 135.5 x 67.9 x 8.9 mm, the smartphone has loads of presence. Thankfully, its slim profile and modest 135 grams of weight bode well for its pocket ability.
As far as the rest of the hardware is concerned, Samsung has intentionally omitted a couple of Galaxy S II features such as the microSD card slot and a superior 8MP camera unit. The superior screen of the Galaxy Nexus, while giving it a touch of exclusivity hardware-wise, will not be enough to cannibalize the strong sales, which the I9100 still enjoys.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus has retained the impressive curved screen of its predecessor – a good idea as it is currently a feature found only in the Samsung made Nexus Devices.
Galaxy Nexus is only a little bigger than the Galaxy SII, despite its monster of a screen. This can be contributed to the fact that the phone has no hardware buttons at its front, thus saving precious space. As an advantage for some, it has more screen.. and for others its a disadvantage that it does not have a hardware buttons. Don’t look for buttons under the screen as there are none present
The smartphone has merely two hardware buttons. Combined with its dark gray color scheme, the device is a celebration of understated design. The slightly curved screen, while paying homage to its predecessor, does not make the Galaxy Nexus look overly familiar – it is simply like nothing else on the market in terms of design.
The back of the Galaxy Nexus is made from grippy plastic (intriguingly called Hyper Skin), while the display has gotten the oleophobic treatment. Both features leave absolutely no room for fingerprints. While many might frown over the lack of any metal in the device’s construction, we do believe that the weight benefit from this step is well worth it.
The 4.65” Super AMOLED screen with HD resolution is nothing short than a thing of beauty.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is easy to handle, despite its massive size. The Hyper Skin material on the back is great in preventing accidental drops. It even allows you to operate the device with one hand without worrying about accidents.
Remember, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the first phone to feature the latest major version of Android - 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS).
Ice Cream Sandwich brings major changes to how Android's UI on phones works; the biggest change being that the interface is completely free of hardware buttons.
A row at the bottom has been reserved for three on-screen buttons - Back, Home and the Recent apps. Occasionally, a Menu icon button appears to the right of the Recent apps button, but only for apps that need it.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus packs two Cortex-A9 cores running at 1.2GHz inside its TI OMAP 4460 chipset, so in terms of CPU performance we expect to see it somewhere around the Galaxy S II (which uses two Cortex-A9@1.2GHz cores too), save for any optimizations brought about by the new OS.
The good news here is that all phones that get Ice Cream Sandwich will enjoy a major boost to web browsing performance.
We should note that while Facebook came preinstalled on the phone, it wouldn’t add its contact list to the phonebook. That's a move Google made for its Nexus phones as far back as Android 2.3.3 citing the way Facebook stores contacts on the phone.
That seems to be the case that Google has some problem with the way Face Book contacts are stored on the phone, android is preferred for connectivity and sharing.
There is also a generic email app for all your other email accounts and it can handle multiple POP or IMAP inboxes. You have access to the messages in the original folders that are created online, side by side with the standard local ones such as inbox, drafts and sent items.
Unlike its Gmail counterpart, this app supports a combined inbox view. It color codes the inboxes so you can easily tell where each message came from. Unfortunately, there's no moving between messages with sideways swipes here.
Google Talk handles the Instant Messaging department. The GTalk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus can record 1080p. Under good lighting conditions, the videos have decent detail, although the combination of noise and compression take a lot of that away. In poor lighting however, the results are pretty poor. As far as synthetic resolution goes, the Galaxy Nexus does very well. There are no signs of artifacts, which is good too.
The web browser on Android has always been excellent and the Ice Cream Sandwich version is no exception. Its interface has been revamped to fit better with the new ICS style.
The browser chrome is quite minimalistic - you get the URL bar with a tabs shortcut and the more button that brings up several more options.
Browser include Refresh, Forward, Save to bookmarks, Share page, Find on page, full settings and a couple of more - Request desktop site (no more hunting for that "Desktop" option buried at the bottom of the site) and Save for offline reading.
One major advantages is that now we can set our search provider to be Yahoo or Bing, we can adjust text size and the level of which double tap will zoom in.
We have one complaint about the interface - the URL bar and only two controls auto-hide when you get zoom or scroll into the page and you have to pan slightly to reveal them again. You used to be able to hit the menu key to do that (which was easier) but now that key is gone. Other than this, the browser works very fast and smooth and had no issues with website compatibility. Flash also worked just fine with YouTube 1080p videos and Flash games running smoothly.
Galaxy Nexus discharge the battery quicker even with minimum or no use. However, that manufacturers claims of 240+ hours on standby are very different than real life use!
Note: Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries can be charged anytime without affecting its performance. Li-ion batteries are different from Ni-MH, Ni-Cd batteries, and charging the battery more often between uses actually helps maintain the battery's good health.
Here is a quick recap at what the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has to offer:
- Quad-band GSM; penta-band 3G support
- HSDPA 21Mbps; HSUPA 5.76Mbps
- Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS with stock UI
- 4.65” Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with HD (720 x 1280 pixels) resolution;
- 16M colors; oleophobic surface
- Slim profile at 8.9mm
- Dual-core 1.2GHz Cortex-A9 CPU; PowerVR SGX540 GPU; TI OMAP 4460 chipset
- 16/32GB built-in storage; 1GB RAM
- 5 MP camera (2592x1936 pixels) with autofocus, LED flash; 1.3MP front-facing unit
- 1080p video recording @30fps; touch-to-zoom while recording
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- DLNA; Wi-Fi hotspot
- Bluetooth 3.0 with ADP
- Charging MHL microUSB port with TV-out (1080p) support
- GPS receiver with A-GPS support
- NFC connectivity
- Accelerometer, gyro and proximity sensors; compass; barometer
- Back cover made of Hyper Skin material for increased grip
- Excellent audio quality
Here is a quick look at the main disadvantages of Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
- Camera resolution is not on par with the rest of the high-end dual-core competition
- Below average battery life
- Lacks a dedicated camera key
- No microSD card slot
- No mass-storage mode (some files don't show up in MTP mode)
- Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is yet to be fully compatible with all apps from the Android Market
- No FM radio
Samsung did an excellent job with the hardware of the Galaxy Nexus and Google didn’t disappoint with the execution of Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
It's probably only the second Nexus phone (after the Nexus One) that is really attractive to customers at large, rather than mostly to developers.
The camera resolution is the one department where the Galaxy Nexus falls short of the competition, potentially being a potential deal-breaker.
Not more of the smart phones have Android Ice Cream Sandwich yet. In fact, no other phone has it - some of them will be getting it at some point sooner or later, but you can't have it now.
In short, finding an alternative to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is proving tough.