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Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on

Posted: , by Ray S.

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Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on
This week saw the introduction of the third Google phone – the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. As you probably know, Nexus phones are designed to offer a pure Android experience, unaltered by any custom software. They are used to showcase a brand new version of the Android operating system, while also offering top-notch hardware along the way. All of this is true for the Galaxy Nexus – the device comes pre-installed with what might be considered the biggest evolution of the OS until now in Ice Cream Sandwich, while also sporting a mesmerizing HD Super AMOLED screen, powerful dual-core processor and what not. But still, some may argue that not all about the Galaxy Nexus is good in terms of hardware and design. Now that we have our preview unit right here in our hands, let's give it a quick hands-on look, in order to see whether or not these fears are justified.

Nexus smartphones have always been lookers. At least when compared to the rest of the Android crop, Nexus-branded devices have been standing out of the crowd with their more refined and considered design. The same goes for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, although to a smaller degree. The Galaxy Nexus is certainly appealing with its perfectly clean front (after all, the device doesn't even have capacitive navigational buttons), and it also retains the unique curved glass shape from the Nexus S, but  we're afraid that this is all there is to it. Not that it's bad – actually, the Galaxy Nexus is a great-looking handset, but it just won't blow you away.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on
Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on
Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on
Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on
Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on
Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on

One of our biggest gripes with the design of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is with regards to the materials used. Being a typical Samsung slate, the Galaxy Nexus is all-plastic, with a neutral color tone to it. The back side of the handset uses the so-called hyper-skin finish, which definitely feels nice and provides for a good grip, but in the end, it's still just plastic – nothing out of the ordinary. If you want a premium build quality featuring some fancy materials, this isn't the Android handset for you (the Motorola DROID RAZR would be what you need).

The screen is a main selling point for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The handset features a very crisp 4.65” HD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720x1280 pixels (if you're wondering why we are placing “720” first, and “1280” second, it's because, like with 99% of all other phones, the screen has a portrait orientation). Due to the high resolution, images and fine details are indeed very clear, allowing for even tiny text on web pages to be easily readable. When it comes to the curved glass on the screen, well, it doesn't really make much of a difference for us. It's very, very slightly curved and we can't see any real benefit from it.

Next to the Galaxy S II and iPhone 4
Next to the Galaxy S II and iPhone 4
Next to the Galaxy S II and iPhone 4

Next to the Galaxy S II and iPhone 4


The coolest thing about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus however, is undoubtedly the Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS. As you know, the ICS platform is built on top of Honeycomb, rather than Gingerbread, and it has the purpose of unifying the Android experience on both phones and tablets. Not only will the platform look extremely similar on both types of devices, but it will also allow developers to create better apps more easily. Pretty much everything is different, compared to Android 2.* - from the contacts, through the calendar, to the web browser. Unfortunately, our unit has a very early build of the ICS software installed, so won't be able to test all of its functionality in for our upcoming preview.

Anyways, ICS definitely seems like a pretty good thing happening to Android. The operating system does look very fancy, although we're not really sure just how much of an appeal it would hold for the mainstream audience. With its dark, tron-style looks, it's by no means uninviting, but we wouldn't doubt that manufacturers will opt to customize it with their own interfaces down the road.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on
Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on
Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on
Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus looks like an intriguing smartphone, ushering us into the ICS era. We sure are excited about all the technology that's been implemented with its execution, like the HD Super AMOLED screen and novelty software platform. However, there seems to be much more that we could ask for, at least on hardware level. For the rest of it, we would rather wait until we have the chance to play with a final unit. Right now, it's only known that Verizon will surely be offering the device in the States, complete with LTE connectivity. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is expected to hit the shelves sometime in November.



46 Comments
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posted on 22 Oct 2011, 05:42 4

1. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


WHAT AAAA TEEEEAAASE!!!


lol.. i was expecting more.. prelim benchmarks or something!! lol

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 05:54 8

3. ilia1986 (unregistered)


lol remixfa, I think that the GS2 with ICS will blow the Galaxy Nexus away with it's lower resolution, and the exynos processor. Besides, the S2 has the SA plus screen, vs the regular SA screen on the nexus.

Can't wait for the GS3 :P

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 05:56 2

4. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


lol.. thats always in the back of my mind. unfortunately i only have access to the inferior Hercules SGS2. I will not touch it. So unless another phone is announced for christmas/january that has ICS and better features, the nexus is probably my next device.


SGS3!!!!! :)

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 05:57 3

5. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


besides, pentile doesnt bother me.. its more fear mongering hype than it is actual disadvantage. I dont even really notice it on my SGS1 unless im reading red text or stick my nose on the screen.

posted on 24 Oct 2011, 18:35

48. Synack (Posts: 663; Member since: 05 Jul 2011)


Yeah doesn't bother me either but choosing to use the good ol cheap plastic DOES bother me. At LEAST make the phone white or something. The SGS1 Samsung Fascinate looked KILLER in white.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 08:54 4

13. roldefol (Posts: 2858; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)


See PA's "Is PenTile bad for you?" article for a comparison of Super AMOLED (Pentile) HD and Super AMOLED Plus. The resolution gives it enough fine detail to blow Plus away. I'll take HD Pentile over SD RGB.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 09:48

24. pkiran1996 (Posts: 165; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)


@roldefol are u saying the high resolution makes up for the PenTile display?

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 10:24 5

26. Snapdude (Posts: 128; Member since: 27 Aug 2009)


that is correct, paired with the brightness and contrast ratio of super amoled displays... the pentile imperfections are hardly visible

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 11:30 1

29. shamu11 (Posts: 19; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)


MUSE FTW!!!

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 10:54 1

27. Leodrade (Posts: 87; Member since: 26 Aug 2011)


You are totally right, i was decided to buy the Nexus in January then i thought that around April next year Samsung will probably laung a GSIII with quad core and a HD SAMOLED+ screen so i decided to wait until June to buy a new phone

posted on 23 Oct 2011, 17:56

45. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


dont forget the 6 month delay before korea launch and america launch. your talking next christmas :)

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 11:02 3

28. Smart (Posts: 76; Member since: 20 Aug 2011)


hey buddy long time......
Quite frankly, I was little disappointed with the 1.2 GHz Omap 4460...was expecting the next gen exynos powering the device....
But ice cream sandwich is too much to resist....
And that SGS3 is another 10 months away I guess grabbing the nexus will be the best thing to do now...
Moto Razr is good too but the ics is making me lean samsung way...
But to tell the truth my SGS2 still blows.....Except for the screen resolution I dont see much threat from nexus as it might eventually get to feast on ics soon....or will samsung ditch?....
Exhilarated and little confused....lol....

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 16:22 4

35. sgogeta4 (Posts: 391; Member since: 02 Feb 2011)


For those with uneducated comments about the specs of the phone... The CPU and GPU are very good, definitely among the top 3 of current smartphones. Read the links on PA to see why Google chose TI for their chipset and why the screen is also among the best, despite using the PenTile matrix. The camera is also pretty good, don't let MP fool you since that's pure marketing BS. What makes a camera good is the lens and sensor, not the amount of megapixels. Also, IMO no SD card isn't a deal breaker since 16/32GB should be more than enough for most people. For me, the worst part of this phone is the poor TI audio codec. They should have stuck with the Wolfson DAC from the first Galaxy S, which is untouchable in sound quality by any current smartphone. What makes me not want to choose Motorola is the fact that they lock their bootloader so you won't be getting many custom ROMs.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 21:31

40. Matty (Posts: 15; Member since: 06 Jul 2011)


TBH, I dont think the Google Nexus needs a faster processor. The Google Nexus is running android 4.0 which has hardware acceleration. This will give the phone a great speed boost compared to a 1.2ghz running on 2.3.

The omap processor can easily handle 1.5Ghz so I think for those who will cutomize their phone they may well go ahead and overclock but I think one of the reasons was, if ICS is supposed to be much faster than gingerbread, then, there is no need to clock at 1.5ghz and have people complaining of poor battery life especially since their is no need for it and the phone has a big ass display at 4.65 inches which will take a toll on the battery. To the average consumer (which makes up the vast majority) they need something that runs fast and smooth, they dont care if its 1.2 or 1.5 GHz.

We know Samsung are working on faster processors which are built on a smaller nm, so battery life will be much improved. It will be nice to make your daily phone a gaming console comparable to an XBOX or PS3 and looks like thats where we are heading. ICS already supports USB game controllers and with a HDMI port, plug into to your TV and just think of the possibilities. There are now also 64gb micro SD cards available which I think Samsung will support in their next phone. Galaxy S3 will be badass. I just hope Samsung will move to quadcore CPU's by then.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 05:50 3

2. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2941; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


Patience my friend soon very soon lol AH WHO THE HELL AM I KIDDING!?! I WANT IT NOW!!!!!

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 06:06 2

6. som (Posts: 768; Member since: 10 Nov 2009)


Giant Samsung Nexus phone is competing with smaller iPhone. Good jobs Samsung keep producing new phones every month not 1 phone every year like iPhony.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 06:15

7. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5605; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


@som - every year? Not this time around. Maybe Apple releases the iPhone 5 in less than 12 months from now to make up for the slippage, but they are definitely not on a 12 month cycle at this point.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 06:54

8. ivanko34 (Posts: 617; Member since: 04 Sep 2011)


Has it swype ?

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 07:54 2

9. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2941; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


People need to get over the plastic designs. In the past they did feel cheap but the epic touch feels great and sturdy. If you are worried about it or don't like how it feels, buy a case. Which you should do anyway, so no its not a deal breaker. SGS2 did better are durability than the iPhone. So what's worse? "My phone feels plastic" or "my phone is shattered"?

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 08:55 2

15. roldefol (Posts: 2858; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)


Agreed. Also with phones the size of the SGS2 and Nexus, using metal and glass would make the phone weigh half a pound.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 09:16 1

18. Snapdude (Posts: 128; Member since: 27 Aug 2009)


id rather that honestly, along those lines id like to see an HTC made nexus....

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 09:18 3

19. Snapdude (Posts: 128; Member since: 27 Aug 2009)


EDIT: minus the use of qualcomm chipsets and htc screens and batteries....sooo maybe more like an HTC designed nexus? built with other manufacturers parts? i just like their chcoice of materials, they feel and look great

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 09:25 3

21. Snapdude (Posts: 128; Member since: 27 Aug 2009)


FINAL EDIT: HTC styling and chassis materials, samsung cpu, dual channel ram, multi core gpu, 4.7 hd NOVA display, motorola battery and antenna...wishful thinking :/

posted on 23 Oct 2011, 10:41

41. mikerouche (Posts: 14; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


lol thatd be like becoming apple and using 500000000000000000000000000000000 different companies to make one phone. but i do agree htc's styling is superb yet their constant use of qualcomm failure snapdragon processors is holding them back. xyenos 1.2ghz > qualcomm 1.5ghz.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 09:27 2

22. warlockz (Posts: 156; Member since: 10 Oct 2011)


Sg2 I tested it out at a sprint store and it feels very good. I wasn't sure if it was fully plastic if that's the case that's fine wit me it was super light I will prob just buy a heavy duty case.

posted on 23 Oct 2011, 23:52

47. KingKurogiii (Posts: 5559; Member since: 23 Oct 2011)


( < Thump3rDX17 getting you used to the change) i agree the Epic 4G Touch is an exception, if i had to have a plastic phone that would be the ideal one but plastic is plastic.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 08:01 2

10. Simba501 (Posts: 27; Member since: 06 Jul 2011)


Really wanted a video

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 08:01

11. bossmt_2 (Posts: 430; Member since: 13 Oct 2009)


Sploosh

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 08:27 3

12. phantomash (Posts: 20; Member since: 27 Aug 2011)


the hands on unit is an old unit, notice how the button icons look different (more like honeycomb)

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 09:06 1

16. Snapdude (Posts: 128; Member since: 27 Aug 2009)


this doesnt look like final production unit ive seen (minor differences)

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 08:54

14. remyrz (Posts: 184; Member since: 28 Oct 2010)


where's the video?!?!

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 09:15 1

17. Galaxy (Posts: 1; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)


Beautiful Display

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 09:24

20. warlockz (Posts: 156; Member since: 10 Oct 2011)


Not sure how bad is a fully plastic phone is the article seems as if its really bad. The razr is an option since its not fully plastic. Again not sure if a fully built plastic phone is durable. My droid 2 has fell numerous times and its still in great shape. I guess I will wait until I can hold both untis.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 09:40 1

23. Habib (Posts: 114; Member since: 26 Feb 2011)


Is this article regarding wat GALAXY NEXUS has and has to offer or is it just this guy's(who wrote the article) tryin to opinionate the whole phone????

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 09:56 1

25. Cyd07 (Posts: 83; Member since: 03 Oct 2011)


Some don't agree, but this plastic bore me. BUT I'm don't make a final judgment, because you always should wait to have the actual device in our hand to jedge how its design is.

But still, I'd prefer the Droid Razr, or the N9. Okay, N9 is plastic, but even in photos it looks absolutely gorgeous. The grey brilliant plastic here...well, can't wait to have it in hands, have a real statement.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 13:29

30. xenover (Posts: 171; Member since: 27 May 2011)


-.- still lags more than SGS II
I blame the processor.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 14:28

32. bucky (Posts: 1341; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


i agree! I see more hype around the actual android 4.0. I dont think the phone is anything above the international sgs2

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 21:04

38. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2941; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


Yea and big foot exists right? This phone doesn't lag so sheep shut your mouths and get over that your iPhone is exactly the same as it was 5 years ago.

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 15:27

33. willardcw4 (Posts: 169; Member since: 01 Oct 2011)


I didn't notice much lag from the hand-on vid.. looks just as responsive as my dad's att sgs2. What did you see to make you think it lags?

And the screen res is still a pretty big deal :)

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 13:37

31. mukrenol (Posts: 90; Member since: 03 Sep 2011)


You can tell the guy don't like this phone at all
He only press three major bottons
Did not even give tour of the hardware

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 21:05

39. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 2941; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


Ray loves the iPhone, don't need to say anymore than that lol

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 15:55

34. kshell1 (Posts: 1143; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)


finally a stock android phone that is actually worth my money -_-

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 16:38 3

36. kingkoopa765 (Posts: 14; Member since: 22 Oct 2011)


I like my ice cream sandwiches vanilla, not touched by wiz

posted on 22 Oct 2011, 18:24 1

37. Skidro13 (Posts: 58; Member since: 27 Jul 2010)


that was the most annoying video ever! stop moving the phone around

posted on 23 Oct 2011, 13:10

42. henrickrw (Posts: 403; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


I rather keep using my GS2 for a while... Nexus is not my favorite.

posted on 23 Oct 2011, 14:53

43. DigitalMD (Posts: 226; Member since: 17 Feb 2010)


Yawnnnnnn.... Blip blippp.
Hey ve-rrippoff... show us a real unlimited data deal and we will be excited. otherwise it's just a shiny new paperweight. Blah HUmmbug.

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