Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the first smartphone to run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and because of that it is easily one of the most important Android devices available today.  Currently, we see Android 2.3 Gingerbread powering most Android smartphones and Android 3.0 Honeycomb on the bulk of Android tablets, in the future we will just have one OS version for both. Ice Cream Sandwich is Google’s attempt to unify their smartphone and tablet operating systems into one that is designed to work equally well on both types of devices. Ice Cream Sandwich is the future of Android, which makes the Samsung Galaxy Nexus a pretty big deal.  Read on for our full review.

 

Hardware:

Perhaps the first thing I noticed after unboxing my Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy Nexus was it’s giant 4.65″ display. The display found on the Galaxy Nexus uses the same SuperAMOLED+ technology as the Galaxy S II, but with drastically improved screen resolution (1280×720 compared to 800×480). The Galaxy Nexus display is simply stunning. It’s bright, vivid, and sharp.

The body of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is made up of a high quality plastic, which makes the device feel deceptively light for how large it is. The design is very minimalistic, with only the power button and a volume rocker poking out of either side of the device. Samsung claims that the phone is only 9mm thick, but it tapers at one end into an 11mm bulge. The light weight and slightly curved screen makes the phone very comfortable to hold.

Internally the Galaxy Nexus sports a 1.2GHz TI OMAP processor, 1GB of ram and a PowerVR SGX540 GPU, which work together to provide a fast, mostly lag-free experience. Unfortunately there is no expandable memory slot, instead you will have the choice of either 16GB or 32GB worth of built in storage.

 

 

 

Software:

Ice Cream Sandwich is a considerable upgrade from Android 2.3 Gingerbread,  thanks to a wide range of new features. ICS feels like an entirely fresh and new experience. Perhaps the most noticeable change is the new interface which was designed to be used without hardware buttons. There are software buttons for Recent Apps, Back, Home and the Menu. Also new is the merging of the Apps and Widgets collections into one interface, you can now cycle through the trays of Widgets to get a preview of how they will look when added to your home screens. Overall Android 4.0 is by far the best version of Android to date, It is not only more user friendly, but also faster than Gingerbread.

 

ICS runs fast and smooth on the Galaxy Nexus, rarely did I encounter any lag or stuttering. Sadly the one situation where lag was most common was while using the keyboard in landscape. My Verizon Wireless Galaxy Nexus is running Android 4.0.2 and the issue still hasn’t been fixed yet. It can be made better by disabling the auto correction feature, but that didn’t cure the typing lag completely on my review unit. This problem isn’t unique to the Galaxy Nexus though, it happens on other devices running ICS as well. That leads me to believe that it is just a temporary problem that will be fixed in future software updates.

 

Camera:

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus features a front camera for video chat and a 5 megapixel rear camera which is capable of recording full HD in 1080p. I can’t help but wonder why Samsung didn’t put a better camera in this device.  It’s not to say that the Galaxy Nexus has a bad camera, it doesn’t. In fact the rear camera is very good, but the cameras found in some of the other Samsung devices are better.

The included camera and software are incredibly fast, the Nexus effortlessly snapped photos as quickly as I could push the shutter button. It is almost as fast as my DSLR.  Unfortunately the speed seems to effect picture quality negatively. Most of pictures I took while rapidly shooting appeared blurry and I believe this is because there simply wasn’t enough time for autofocus to do it’s job. Outdoor photos had good color saturation, but didn’t deliver as much detail as some of the other smartphone cameras I have used. Indoors, the camera flash often gave a yellow-orange tinge to images.

A few sample photos and a short video shot in 1080p:

    

 

Call Quality, Reception and Data:

I found the call quality and reception to be excellent, everything worked as it should with no issues and I haven’t had a single dropped call during the month that I have used the device. No complaints when it comes to voice calling at all.

 

The Galaxy Nexus can take full advantage of Verizon’s amazing 4G LTE network.  I experienced internet speeds on this phone that were almost as fast as my home internet connection, it is something I still struggle to wrap my brain around.  The only downside to using 4G LTE is that it will drain your battery much faster than a 3G or Wi-Fi connection will.

 

Battery Life:

I was really disappointed with the battery life on my review unit. I knew the large screen would use up a lot of power so I wasn’t expecting great battery life, but at the same time I never thought it would be as bad as it was. Using the Galaxy Nexus for my normal daily tasks (sending emails and texts, voice calls and light browsing) with 4G off resulted in a low battery warning in around 4 hours. I admit to being what most people would consider a heavy user. I am on my phone a lot, but even on days that I barely touched the Galaxy Nexus the battery needed charged before the end of a full 8 hour work day. Might want to think about picking up the external battery charger and carrying around a few spare batteries if you are a moderate to heavy user.

 

Also, keep in mind that battery life is a hard thing to gauge by a review, there are a lot of factors involved that can cause different results for different people. I personally know someone that claims to get 13 to 15 hours out of a single charge with her Galaxy Nexus and that is using the included 1850 mAh battery. However, I wasn’t able to get those kind of results on my review unit.

 

Pros:

  • Pure Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Not loaded down with bloatware
  • Amazing display
  • Fast performance without a lot of lag
  • 4G LTE is faster than most people’s home internet
  • Records in full 1080p

Con:

  • Battery life could be better

 

Conclusion:

The Galaxy Nexus isn’t the most powerful Android phone available, it isn’t even the most powerful Samsung phone available. The main thing that sets the Galaxy Nexus apart from other Android phones is the software. Ice Cream Sandwich is a great OS, it is very polished and refined. It is powerful without being intimidating and It makes the previous versions of Android feel old in comparison.

In my opinion, the Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the best Android device currently available. It isn’t perfect, but it does offer the most attractive combination of hardware and software found on an Android device today.

The Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy Nexus can be purchased here