Samsung Galaxy Nexus Hands-on

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.

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.

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.

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.

Related phones

  • Display 4.7" 720 x 1280 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP / 1.3 MP front
  • Processor TI OMAP4460, Dual-core, 1200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Battery 1750 mAh(8.33h 3G talk time)



1. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

WHAT AAAA TEEEEAAASE!!! lol.. i was expecting more.. prelim benchmarks or something!! lol

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

4. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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!!!!! :)

5. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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.

48. Synack

Posts: 688; Member since: Jul 05, 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.

13. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 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.

24. pkiran1996

Posts: 166; Member since: Oct 22, 2011

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

26. Snapdude

Posts: 128; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

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

29. shamu11

Posts: 19; Member since: Oct 22, 2011


27. Leodrade

Posts: 87; Member since: Aug 26, 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

45. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

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

28. Smart

Posts: 76; Member since: Aug 20, 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

35. sgogeta4

Posts: 394; Member since: Feb 02, 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.

40. Matty

Posts: 15; Member since: Jul 06, 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.


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

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

6. som

Posts: 768; Member since: Nov 10, 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.

7. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 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.

8. ivanko34

Posts: 617; Member since: Sep 04, 2011

Has it swype ?


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 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"?

15. roldefol

Posts: 4744; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

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

18. Snapdude

Posts: 128; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

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

19. Snapdude

Posts: 128; Member since: Aug 27, 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

21. Snapdude

Posts: 128; Member since: Aug 27, 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 :/

41. mikerouche

Posts: 14; Member since: Oct 18, 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.

22. warlockz

Posts: 156; Member since: Oct 10, 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.

47. KingKurogiii

Posts: 5713; Member since: Oct 23, 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.

10. Simba501

Posts: 28; Member since: Jul 06, 2011

Really wanted a video

11. bossmt_2

Posts: 459; Member since: Oct 13, 2009


12. phantomash

Posts: 20; Member since: Aug 27, 2011

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

16. Snapdude

Posts: 128; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

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

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.