Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review
Being the very first handset to run Android Ice Cream Sandwich, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus represents a true milestone for the Android operating system. Ice Cream Sandwich is one of the most-anticipated Android iterations ever, since it finally bridges the phone and tablet experience. What this means is that both Android phones and tablets will run Ice Cream Sandwich (and the versions after it), and not two separate platforms, like it has been until now with Android Gingerbread and Android Honeycomb. The case with ICS is that it's built on top of Honeycomb and not Gingerbread. Because of this, ICS brings a brand new experience to Android phone users, equal to a complete redesign of the platform.
First of all, if you have used a Honeycomb tablet, you'll feel right at home with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Most of the UI elements are preserved, and pretty much the whole interface follows the same logic. If you haven't had the chance to work with Honeycomb yet, there'll be a slight learning curve, but very slight indeed - we promise! After all, this is still Android.
As always, your homescreen is divided into multiple pages, on which you can place widgets, app shortcuts and so on. The beauty in this is that you can get instant access to various features of your handset like email, weather, etc., right from your homescreen, whereas on a device with a more static homescreen, like the iPhone, you have to launch a separate application in order to get to such information. Both approaches have their pros and cons though, and the one in Android isn't flawless by any means. More stuff on your homescreen means a more complicated environment and higher demand for system resources, but overall, it basically comes down to personal preference whether you'd prefer a more “open”, customizable approach like in Android or a more streamlined one like in the iPhone. A new element in ICS is that you can create application folders by simply dragging an app shortcut and placing it over another one, just like in iOS. The styling of the new folders is also quite appealing.
No buttons design:
An interesting aspect of the ICS software is that, similarly to Honeycomb, the navigational keys “Back”, “Home” and “Multitasking” are part of the interface, and not separate touch-sensitive keys. So, these buttons do take a certain part from your screen real estate, but the Galaxy Nexus has enough of this with its 4.65” display, so there's still more than enough room for the important stuff. But don't think there's so much of a benefit associated with this all-screen thing, at least for now. It looks cool and is useful for some apps like the video player, where the on-screen buttons disappear to allow the app full use of the display. Unfortunately, not many apps take advantage of this feature right now, as you may imagine. If developers decide to optimize their apps for this feature in the future however, we do see some pretty sweet possibilities.
The notification dropdown is now transparent; and overall, notifications have been improves with the addition of the 'swipe away' gesture to remove unwanted items. They are also accessible from the lock screen. The Settings app has also been enhanced to have a more organized feel, though there are still some unintuitive elements like the way you get into the screen which was previously called “WiFi Settings” (the one where you get to pick a Wi-Fi network).
As a whole, Google has made terrific progress with the beautified interface and stramlined functionality of the Ice Cream Sandwich platform. Using an Android phone has never looked or felt better. On top of this, the handset treats us to a spectacular performance. It just flies no matter if you're swiping through homescreen, scrolling long lists, webpages, or opening and closing heavy applications. The occasions where we noticed a slight slowdown (like when switching to landscape QWERTY) were so few, that we'd go as far as to say that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is one of the fastest smartphones out there today. This is probably due to the ICS software being well-optimized to work with the TI OMAP 4460 processor that's inside the Nexus. The processor itself sports two cores, clocked at 1.2GHz, so you can rest assured that you'll be able to take advantage of the potential performance boost that comes with applications and games, optimized for dual-core CPUs.
The highlights of the new UI start with the brand new People app. This replaces the Contacts app and is a much cleaner, visual solution to showing your contacts. “Visual” because the person’s image occupies a much larger space, and “cleaner” because it gets rid of all boxes and many delimiters, leaving some nice blank spaces between fields, so you don’t feel in a clutter. Contact images borrow a magazine-style UI in Google’s words, but the Windows Phone community cried foul that ICS is borrowing Metro UI elements. The Phone app has also been redesigned allowing you to call contacts with a single tap.
Overall, Google is moving to a simplistic interface, just as the one it launched on its web services. A good example of this are the new messaging and email applications, which are very easy and pleasant to use. Google has also improved some other aspects like auto-completion of recipients, as well as auto-correction, among other enhancements.
on-screen QWERTY keyboard has been vastly improved. The portrait option is very comfortable to use with one hand only, despite the phone's not so compact dimensions. To make things even better, the landscape QWERTY is one of the very best that we've ever used. It's keys are very nicely sized and spaced from each other, thanks to the 4.65” screen, while the haptic feedback is doing wonders to improve the overall experience of typing.
Setting up and operating with email (and Gmail) is a trouble-free process. While straightforward in their nature, the Email and Gmail apps are still equipped with lots of options to let you customize and refine your mail usage. Strangely, you can pinch-to-zoom in the Email app for a better view of the content of an email, but you can't do that in Gmail, which can make viewing of certain messages (some picture-rich newsletters, for example) a bit cumbersome.
The Calendar has been swipe-enabled, so you can now use gestures in the Calendar. Here, though, by swiping you switch between days, weeks and months. You can also pinch-to-zoom for a more detailed view of your agenda, which can be really helpful when you have set lots of appointments.
1. SuperAndroidEvo (Posts: 3394; Member since: 15 Apr 2011)
Wow the best phone this year, KILLS the Apple iPhone 4S. Great job Google, this is an amazing phone!
61. The_Miz (Posts: 1496; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
Don't kid yourself. the GN is a nice phone, for a Samsung phone, but it pales in comparison to the 4S.
66. roldefol (Posts: 2855; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
Leave the cat alone. There's no point arguing specs and features and bugs with a dedicated iPhone user.
The truth is that BOTH the iPhone 4S and Nexus are great devices. Which one is the better phone is up to the customer. The Nexus doesn't "kill" the iPhone, nor does it "pale" next to it. They're different devices for different users.
79. rayjones09 (Posts: 149; Member since: 16 Dec 2010)
Thankyou for the rational and logical comment. I was thinking something similar.
70. The_Miz (Posts: 1496; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
Lol, you mean like the signal issues people were reporting with the Epic Touch 4G among other things? Get off your high horse, Android phones have more problems in the end than iOS phones do.
76. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
the epic4g touch is a singular SGS2 variant. what happened with that was not indicative of all SGS2s. What happens with one i4s is happening with all of them. And that was still one issue. And do you really wanna compare connection issues between devices? lol. Antennagate anyone? :)
no phone is perfect miz as they are just electronic devices built as fast as possible on an assembly line. but dont try to call out kettle, when you are definitely the pot.
96. The_Miz (Posts: 1496; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
Oh bringing that one up again are we? It's always nice to grasp at the straws when your argument has been crushed. Apple knew there was a problem and rather than sit on their asses like some OEMs do with Android phones, they took steps to correct and fix it. How long has it taken Samsung to fix the problems with the Nexus S phone lol?
And don't even get me started on HTC phones, to whom I think lacks a quality control department.
Oh and btw, keep thumbing my comments down and getting them a low rating. Prove my point. It doesn't hurt me in the least bit lol as you're not hurting my feelings.
114. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
what exactly did apple fix on the i4's antenna problems? you mean telling customers they are holding it wrong and issuing free gel skins for all of 3 months?? they let that phone ride forever with that issue, even after being launched on VZW 6 months later.. heck it STILL has the problems even today. If you buy an i4 right now, it will STILL have that issue. They didnt fix a darn thing with the i4.
Android phones get recalled and fixed.. apple phones are never bad, its always the customer's fault.
Kinda seems like everything opposite of what people learn in customer service.. lol
BTW, i havent thumbed down any of your comments today. would you prefer i did? :)
129. The_Miz (Posts: 1496; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
Oh you m ean like HTC sitting on their asses with all of the problems their Thunderbolt had? Or what about Samsung and the notorious signal issues? And how could we ever forget the phones that never got GB or even Froyo that people are still stuck with lol? Apple supports their products.
130. The_Miz (Posts: 1496; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
Lol 28 thumbs down, a new record. Keep it coming lol
134. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
just for you, i thumbed you down so you would break 30 reds. lolol
131. HTCiscool (Posts: 449; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)
Miz! congrats! you broke the record for the number of thumb downs right below SuperAndroidEvo broke the record for thumbs up!
64. Muhannad (Posts: 455; Member since: 20 Sep 2011)
Very true, the best Androids are the Nexus phones, nothing can beat the stock experience at all, not TouchWiz, HTC Sense or anything else. Even if you'd offer me a Quad-Core Android, I would still go for a Nexus any day!
118. ThisIsaPOS (banned) (Posts: 10; Member since: 28 Nov 2011)
The Nexus Galaxy:
OLD A$$ GPU
ugly pentile display just as the reviewer said its cool and all but until you at certain "stuff" in a certian "way" than... well... dum dum dum
these are FACTS
only idiot gawk at POS devices just because it's new and someone ELSE says it's great
I bet PA just gave this phone a 9.5 to shut everybody up
hope you all feel better now
124. RageQuit (Posts: 41; Member since: 05 Sep 2011)
You dont need the best specs to be the to make an awwesome phone, its all about how they come togather.
To make an epic phone all you need to do is make the some parts of the phone so good the bad parts become negletable. look at the origonal iPhone, no mms or 3G even though they were in many of the compeditors devices, the Stunning UI allowd for these short comings.
80. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)
She immediately compares it to the iPhone. Well now we know who you think is the best.
83. roldefol (Posts: 2855; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
I really wish people would drop this comparison. iPhone is iPhone, Android is Android. It's not 2009 anymore, can we please stop questing for an "iPhone-killer" and enjoy our Androids in peace?
104. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)
The funniest thing is that android fans started this "iphone killer" battle so they shouldn't be suprised that iphone lovers bashing their newest and greatest beloved android phones which supposedly are "new iphone killer".
Each time we saw new a android powerful phone it was announced as a iphone killer. Do I smell some complex?
I don't like IOS. I don't like Android.
But let them be as they are.
Seriously guys. Can't you just enjoy your phones without comparing and bashing each other and try to convince which is the best?
This crazy race should be over.
And Nexus...looks like a great phone but I still prefr RAZR. When it gets ICS it will be even better. And rooted:))))))
126. rayjones09 (Posts: 149; Member since: 16 Dec 2010)
You have some really good comments on this website.
100. roldefol (Posts: 2855; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
Yes, PA clearly favors the Nexus over other new Android phones. Moving on...
115. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
you smell favortism from the guy that was just yesterday called an itroll and all sorts of names for his i4s vs nexus browser comparisons?
lol, poor ray can never catch a break.
111. greathero1 (Posts: 399; Member since: 13 Jun 2008)
This phone definitely looks great but why the need to talk about the iPhone? That Android inferiority complex held by fanboys is mindboggling. You guys hate all the news, comparisons, and mentions that the iPhone receives but love to comment in iPhone news posts. Stop feeding the beast lol.
143. gunnerlixa (Posts: 3; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)
LLOOOLLLL You´re funny, "kills the iPhone 4S...", that´s not what PA says... Read the final conclusion:
"A decent, but not as good alternative is the Motorola DROID RAZR, which is constructed much better, using higher-quality materials, but is also wider and not as comfortable in the hand, and runs Gingerbread (though it will receive an update to ICS later). The HTC Rezound is another suitable alternative on Verizon. And, if you feel like trying something non-Android, feel free to check out the iPhone 4S – it will present you with similar performance and rich ecosystem, but a significantly smaller, 3.5” screen as well."
2. LewsTherin006 (Posts: 140; Member since: 18 Nov 2011)
good review guys, it lines up with all the other reviews out there. Now if we can only get the best phone of the year released......
3. Mr.Mr.Upgrade (Posts: 373; Member since: 30 Aug 2011)
Flawless victory, now get over here, nexus prime,
4. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
Very fair review. Good job :)
complimented for the good things, and knocked for the actual bad things (not some of the more odd things that we've seen on other final reviews). More final reviews like this please. :)
This just makes me want to see what the SGS2 looks like with full ICS on it, as its even stronger and has the better camera. (ps, i cant believe you didnt mention the SGS2 as an alternative.. it is the highest selling android phone and phone of the year as well :) )
7. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
Agreed...would love to see a "vs" video/article with SGS2 vs Galaxy Nexus.
9. andro. (Posts: 1890; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)
Agreed most people i see my store are weighing up their options between the sgs2 and the galaxy nexus so the sgs2 is the biggest alternative.
Just looking at what a top phone the galaxy nexus is we can only imagine how advanced the sgs3 will be!
12. Mr.Mr.Upgrade (Posts: 373; Member since: 30 Aug 2011)
The at2 is not on Verizon ,turtle boy
18. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
whats an AT2, who is a turtle boy?
BTW, the Nexus will be available on more carriers than just VZW in america. They just get an exclusivity period. So for everyone else in the world (and those that are in the mood to switch carriers), the SGS2 is the top alternative to to the nexus prime.
101. robinrisk (unregistered)
turtle boy is andro
at2 is sg2 mispelled.
He meant to say that customers could not be deciding between SGS2 and the Galaxy Nexus because it is not on Verizon.
Andro, however, probably is on Europe.
5 minutes figuring that out.
116. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
what 5 hours for a response though!! :) lol j/k :)
31. Ivan6479 (Posts: 241; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)
I had those exact same thoughts about the SGS2!! I couldn't believe they didn't even mention it as an alternative. Once the SGS2 gets its ICS makeover I truly believe it is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
5. kpfirefighter (Posts: 157; Member since: 20 Sep 2011)
WHY? why give this review if the phone isn't released or even has a release date. Sure the phone sounds awesome! I want it. But hurry up and wait is getting old. We hear all the great features but no launch date! Just give it a rest until we can play with the phone our selves. I'm saying here in the U.S!
Release the phone I'll pay $300 today just like millions of others! So what's the hold up verizon!
11. andro. (Posts: 1890; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)
Depends on your location for release date,Ive personally sold galaxy nexus phones to customers for about two weeks now
13. ph00ny (Posts: 529; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Um world just doesn't revolve around the good ol US.
Blame google/carrier for your delays
67. AndroidNext (Posts: 4; Member since: 05 Oct 2011)
Verizon has stake in the moto razr and wants to milk that as long as possible. The Galaxy Nexus makes more money for Google / less money for Verizon, so Verizon is holding it back.
The bigger question is, why release with exclusivity? Release the phone on all carriers and Verizon would have it out right away, or stand losing customers.
Google / Samsung / Verizon are all taking us for a ride on this one.
6. elite monkey (Posts: 21; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
Well done, really good review, worth the wait. Can't wait to try out this phone for myself!
8. theoak (Posts: 311; Member since: 16 Nov 2011)
Its big ... I am not sure if I would want a phone that big.
I absolutely love the clarity on my iPhone 4.
With the pixel density on the Nexus on that big screen ... it must be beautiful.
10. ph00ny (Posts: 529; Member since: 26 May 2011)
Unlike the posts above, nexus galaxy is somewhat of a letdown for me in terms of hardware selection and camera performance. We will see in a few months whether google made the right choice when ICS gets rolled out onto other handsets.
ps- i understand that nexus devices have never been the highest performing devices but this time around, i expected a bit more.
15. bucky (Posts: 1095; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)
Fully agree with you. Apart from the screen its a downgrade from the sgs2 in everything. Im honestly not trolling either. I was really thinking of upgrading with bell for this phone but there is no point.
22. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
the nexus is a showcase phone. except for the first nexus which showcased the new 1ghz snapdragon chip, it was never really the strongest (the nexusS was the strongest single core chip with the hummingbird, but was quickly outclassed by dual core chips that came out like a month later).
The point of the nexus is that you get a huge development community and first access to all updates and trials from google. They are generally among the best behaving handsets out there. And as a bullet point taco would bring up, their resell value stays high.
26. bucky (Posts: 1095; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)
yea resale value always stays pretty high on nexus devices. But seeing as how most people already went out and bought a sgs2, its going to make it really hard to find a reason to upgrade. The Sgs2 dev community is absolutely massive as well.
29. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
yup. but remember, though the SGS2 is a massive seller, its still just a drop in the bucket compared to potential customers. plenty of room for more great devices to sell like wildfire. I completely expect the nexus to be a top selling device of the year once its finally released in store to multiple US carriers... top of the line or not.
42. bucky (Posts: 1095; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)
good point. I think the screen alone will bring in sales for this device as the majority of people dont even know what rooting or custom roms are.
BTW, im not the one giving you the thumbs down.
48. roldefol (Posts: 2855; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
Nah, even Taco and Gallito drop a trollsome line.
50. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
you would be surprised. Normally by the end of the day I will constantly have 3 or 4 thumb downs no matter what I say. I bet you can name 3 or 4 itrolls that just hate on anyone that doesnt agree with them 100% of the time that would do that.
51. roldefol (Posts: 2855; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
But I imagine there are lurking trolls too. You're just the troll magnet. :)
14. Alantef (Posts: 278; Member since: 14 Sep 2011)
couldn't give it a 10 huh?....just 9.5?...boooo put it over the top
21. roldefol (Posts: 2855; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
Can't very well give an imperfect phone a perfect score! With a better camera (not that the camera is bad, it's just not the best) and more innovative design or materials, it would be a 10. Maybe the SGS3...
23. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
its not perfect. then again, what phone is. 9.5 is an excellent score especially considering its not the strongest smartphone on the market. That score was mostly on the back of ICS, so that's really saying something about the new OS.. I cant wait for the roll out to other phones.
30. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
Interesting point remixfa (that the 9.5 is mostly for ICS).....makes me wonder what score the SGSII would get with ICS. The first perfect 10 score?
The other point is that as objective as PhoneArena tries to be, phones always have a hint of subjectivity. For example, not all people want a large phone (for portability reasons, working out, etc.) So a "perfect 10" is really a mythical beast.
33. roldefol (Posts: 2855; Member since: 28 Jan 2011)
I'm not even sure ICS on the SGS2 would be a slam-dunk. Depends what they do with TouchWiz. You'd have to combine the following:
- Premium materials of the RAZR
- Camera of the N8
- LTE, of course
and somehow charge less than $400.
36. remixfa (Posts: 13882; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
the only TW improvements i hope they bring to the ICS SGS2 is a few widgets and the camera improvements that it brings... and leave everything else stock ICS.