227 of 232 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2011
I received the Samsung Galaxy Nexus about an hour ago. These are my first impressions & I will add to the review as I become more accustomed to the phone.
I've upgraded from another Android phone (the HTC/Google Nexus). All I needed to do was take the SIM out of the old phone, snap the back off the Galaxy Nexus, install the SIM and battery and refit the back cover (a little bit fiddly on first attempt).
Then I plugged it in using the supplied plug adaptor and micro-USB connector and powered it up. After entering wifi network details and the username and password for my Google Apps account, the phone was ready to use.
It immediately began installing the various apps that I had set to AutoUpdate on the old phone and, after a few minutes of that, it told me that there was a firmware update. This took about 3 mins to perform, including a reboot of the phone.
The screen is gorgeous - large, vibrant, and really easy to read. It's much larger than the Nexus One, but it's lighter too. The phone is much faster than my old Google Nexus - apps spring open, and flipping screens / navigating menus is near instantaneous.
One niggle is that the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android works differently to the previous versions. The app tray is swiped sideways rather than up/down - muscle memory/force of habit means that I've found myself performing the old gestures in this first hour or so. I guess that will fade pretty quickly.
I've taken some stills and video. Both are straightforward to perform, and the picture quality seems good (need to check it on a PC screen) but I seem to have put my finger over the microphone a few times while filming - need to work out the best way to hold it to avoid this in future. I have uploaded some photos to the product page. You can find them under the main product image.
The Gmail app is much nicer than on my old phone. Clearer, faster to use, and the menu options seem to be in a better place than the previous one. Calendar seems to have synched up correctly too, with multiple calendars from my Google apps account showing.
UPDATE: About 2 hours in
I tried out the Portable WiFi Hotspot. It works perfectly - managed to get my iPad 2 connected and accessing the outside world. Also, I've got an integrated Bluetooth hands free system in my car and the Nexus paired perfectly with it.
'Contacts' seems to have been replaced by a 'People' app that pulls together contact info from Gmail, Google+, Twitter & WhatsApp and attempts to consolidate each person's Connections under their contact info. It's possible to tweak this so that you don't end up with everyone you follow in Twitter clogging up your contacts. Noticeably, it doesn't offer to integrate information from your Facebook friends. I'm not sure how useful this is, or indeed if I am correctly understanding what info it is pulling together, but I can see a real danger of your genuine contacts being swamped by the profiles of online acquaintances. Consequently, I've chosen not to view any of my Twitter contacts in the People app.
The auto dimming screen brightness seems too low to me - I'll have to poke around to see if I can tweak it.
Call me a Siri Iriot, but I thought I'd try using the microphone icon to tell the phone to 'Call XXX YYY at home' and the speech recognition worked very quickly to find the correct contact details.
I made a call and the quality was perfect. No volume problems. If you have a picture associated with a contact then it takes up the whole screen background when you're talking. The in=call options (keypad, loudspeaker, hold..) appear at the foot of the screen.
UPDATE: 6 hours in.
I noticed that some of my photos and videos were crystal clear in the background, but not on the subject. The trick is to tap the screen over the item you want to be in focus. [Correction: tapping the screen focuses on a subject in camera mode. Doing the same in camcorder mode captures a still whilst the video is still being recorded. ]
Seek time for autofocus in low light is slow.
UPDATE: 3 days in.
I've got used to the different gestures in Android 4, which is great.
Tinkering around in the settings I found one that disconnects the WiFi connection when the phone is not being actively used - I've selected that as I think it might extend battery life.
Speaking of which, with normal use (more data access than calls for me) the phone has been running for 20h 14m since the last charge and is still showing 34% battery.
UPDATE: 5 days in
Generally I am delighted with the phone but there are some more niggles that are worth knowing about.
1. The phone has crashed twice and frozen once. The crashes were while opening a contact and while using the Facebook app. The freeze was when opening the app tray. I'm not so worried as I'm sure subsequent updates to the FB app and/or system updates will address such instability.
2. [This now fixed, as Flash for ICS is available from Android Market] There is no Flash support as Adobe has yet to compile a version for Android 4. This means that apps like BBC iPlayer, that depend on Flash, don't work. This is frustrating, but Adobe & Google recently announced that Flash and Adobe Air support will be rolled out soon.
3. Some apps are not yet Android 4 compatible. Again - this is something that should be addressed by publishers of popular apps.
UPDATE: 13 Jan 2012
There was an Over The Air update waiting to be installed this morning. It is a bug fix release of the phone operating system. Now running Android 4.0.2
If you have any specific questions, add them as comments to this review and I'll see if I can answer them.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2011
I've now owned this phone for around 2 weeks, and I am incredibly impressed with it. Here are my impressions of it:
The build is surprisingly good, I was worried about the fact it's mostly plastic but I'm actually really grateful. It's much lighter than my old Desire Z (which doubled as a paperweight) and also incredibly thin. The curved screen is not very noticeable but just exudes awesomeness when you have it casually laying on a table. I really like that the front has very few features when the screen is off, and looks very understated. A lot of my friends have complemented me on it! My biggest issue with the phone is that the screen is huge and really difficult to operate one-handed unless you have big hands (I don't). There's a lot of hand-shuffling from the top to the bottom, or using two hands.
The screen is really nice. I have had no issues with the auto-dimming feature other people have found, it works great. The screen is pin-sharp and colours are simply excellent. My issue is that, despite lots of people saying you cannot notice the "Pentile" type display, you can. I've found it particularly noticeable on thin cyan lines (such as when typing a message in Messaging); it's not a big issue but is a bit of a shame because otherwise the screen is spectacular.
ICS is really cool and a huge leap in terms of visuals for Android. I really, really like it and I also love having pure Android on it, which makes it easier for me as a developer too. The UI is understated and sleek, and much better than HTC Sense and TouchWiz, which are starting to look really stale. I like having the multi-tasking button there (although I'd love to be able to "pin" apps here), but I really would've liked a search button too. Google has once again really pulled it out of the bag with their apps, which are simply fantastic, although 3rd party apps are *still* lightyears behind (I'm looking at you, Facebook). Contact sync with Facebook is currently broken, which is annoying but not a huge issue.
I've had very few issues with performance. Occasionally, the launcher will trip up and lag a bit, but not very often. Saying that, using a live wallpaper tends to really kill the device and I wouldn't recommend one. I've had a couple of app freezes and total lockups, but nothing major and it's stability is a huge leap from Honeycomb. The browser in particular hasn't crashed once.
Overall, I think this phone is a great one to get if you're looking to get updates as soon as they come. I have a feeling that this phone will be very quickly overtaken spec-wise by HTC and even Samsung themselves, but for now, this is the best phone you can buy.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2012
The other reviews will have covered all of the main points about this phone. I'm just going to list some additional thoughts.
What I like:
So I would call this a developer phone, or a techie phone. It's big, it has a huge screen and there's something about it that makes you want to customize it as much as possible.
I very much like the non-distinct front of it. There are no markings or logos or special designs to make this phone easily recognizable or stand out, and I like it. When the screen is off, it is one dark, black slab. It looks sleek.
Watching videos on this is a WOW experience. The softkeys disappear for proper fullscreen viewing and it's not bad at all.
Good for developing on - it has ICS, it will have JellyBean, and CyanogenMod 9 will be available for it soon. It comes with developer options and adb deploys to it fast, happy with it overall.
What I don't like:
It doesn't mount properly on Ubuntu 12.04 - whether you go PTP or MTP mode - it shows up as a read only folder with your files on it. However, I am using Airdroid (free app) to manage the phone over WiFi, so it's not a big deal.
The phone is big and sometimes feels a bit too big for comfortable use with one hand. I look at other GNex users and I see that they use it two handed. I tend to use the phone with one hand, while walking - no, not ideal, but that's a habit I had acquired from using other smaller smartphones (Nexus1, iphone4s, lumia). I found that it was necessary to get a gel case to improve the grip on this phone for one handed use and it's just working. However, I would still be careful with this in a crowded area for jostling or bumping might cause me to lose grip on it.
For consumer, everyday use, I would recommend the Galaxy S2. For developer-centric use, I recommend the Galaxy Nexus.
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Having owned a Nexus One for two years I was ready for a phone upgrade, so when I saw the Galaxy Nexus in the flesh at a Google developer event I was immediately smitten. Leading edge hardware combined with Google's latest version of Android was always going to be hard to turn down.
Starting with the hardware, Samsung have put together a stylish and distinctive device. The front consists of a Super AMOLED display, an earpiece and a front-facing camera (1.3 Megapixels). The front of the phone, and the display itself, is slightly concave (although this may just be the outer surface rather than the functional component) and at 4.65" it is a nice big size. The technology used gives fantastic colour and this phone can play 720P HD video natively (1080 will also play but is downscaled to fit).
Around the back is another camera (5 Megapixels) and a flash together with the speaker and microphone; the left side features the volume control, the right holds the on/off button and the bottom edge the MicroUSB socket, another microphone and headphone socket. This phone is slim and lightweight and fits comfortably in the hand.
Moving on to the software and here for me is the first big plus of this phone. The newest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, is installed in its original form. There is no Samsung Touchwiz, there are no Samsung applications preloaded, and all the software updates (as is the case with all Nexus branded and unlocked phones) come straight from Google themselves. My old Nexus One is bang up-to-date with Android 2.3.6 and I know that the Galaxy Nexus will also receive software updates promptly with no interference from my mobile network. Mine already has the phone call volume bug fix, for example.
All the usual Google applications are pre-loaded - this now includes Google+ - and some of the core applications (most notably the contacts application) have been updated to feature better social integration. I'm not going to spend time reviewing these here, lets just say that Ice Cream Sandwich is a well-executed refresh and update to Google's mobile operating system. The Galaxy Nexus feels sprightly and the attention to detail on the visual effects is excellent.
Having used it for a few days now (and being a long-standing Android user) I feel comfortable highlighting some strengths and weaknesses of this new device, before highlighting reasons that may make this a "must buy" or a '"can't buy" phone.
The primary strength is simply that the hardware is well-executed and good looking with an excellent display. Battery life is better than I saw on my Nexus One although I couldn't at this stage give you hard numbers. The screen is bigger, but so is the battery. People who've seen it like what they see without exception.
Bluetooth I have found to be miles better than older phones - I had to be picky where I carried my phone when using bluetooth headphones, but not with this device. WiFi equally has improved - I get better signal strength throughout my house.
The software is of course right up-to-date and very impressive. Signing on to my existing Google account I had all my gmail data on the phone within a couple of minutes - email, address book and calendar - while in the background the majority of the applications I had installed on my old phone were automatically downloaded and installed. Fantastic. Even my WiFi settings came over so I didn't need to re-join my home or work WiFi networks.
More importantly, if you purchase a SIM-free and unlocked device, your software updates will come direct from Google over the air and won't be blocked by your mobile network.
The weaknesses are, I will admit, subjective.
First I've been used to a phone that has a MicroSD card slot with 32Gb of memory in it, 75% of which is usually in use. No MicroSD card slot is present on this device, and it appears (for now) that Samsung are only manufacturing the European model with 16Gb of memory (the LTE version in the USA has 32Gb but won't work in Europe). However... only 13.3Gb is actually available for use when you first turn the phone on. I've had to slim down the amount of music I hold on it as a result to still make room for the other things I store on it. This is a mistake by Samsung in my opinion - I think there is enough room in the market for both 16Gb and 32Gb models.
The second weakness is related to this but has nothing to do with Samsung - you can't plug the phone into a USB port and use it like a memory stick. Google have instead implemented a media transfer protocol called "MTP", so there is also a good chance you'll need to install some software from Samsung or Google to transfer stuff over USB at all. I understand some of the technical reasons behind this but it isn't something I'm terribly happy about. I use a lot of computers in my job and have got used to treating my phone as my memory stick too. Large files take a long time to transfer over WiFi by comparison.
So why would you buy the Galaxy Nexus? If you want a stylish phone, bang up-to-date hardware and software with software updates not blocked by your carrier - and you can deal with the storage limitations - then this phone should be on your list. If however you need more storage, or USB file transfer without going through third-party software (MTP also restricts the types of file you can transfer), you may need to reluctantly cross this one off your list.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2012
Personally I thought there must have to be a catch for this phone to be sold at £330 (when I purchased it) but no it is just an outright massive bargain. I looked in carphonewarehouse to see what they were selling the phone at and it was £200 more! this phone is brilliant its quick does everything under the sun and can keep you entertained for hours. the battery life is great in my opinion (it lasts a day generally). this screen is far higher quality than the likes of the iPhone 4s it can be extremely bright if you want it to be which is very useful, but personally I tend to keep it on auto which works a charm. the camera is excellent it really shows that mega pixels aren't everything do not be put off by the fact it's 5 compared to the iPhone's 8 because the nexus gives amazing quality photos. any questions just comment
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2012
I bought this phone a couple of weeks ago and immediately updated to Jelly Bean.
It's an absolute steal at what I paid for it. Rather than describe everything, the highlights for me are:
The OS in general:
FAST. Very responsive UI. Clean, simple menus. Looks the part. Widgets are great. With Jelly Bean, the oft heard criticism that Android is complicated, doesn't hold water.
Hugely detailed information. The ability to click on a bus stop or train station and see transit information. Clicking on a restaurant to see reviews and direct access to phone numbers and contact info. Surprising search capabilities; for example, searching for 'best frites in Bruges' and having the search come back with a selection of restaurants. Offline maps - incredibly useful. I used this feature whilst abroad recently and it made navigation in a strange city a lot easier. 3D maps. Caching of searches made on other devices. Turn by turn directions (beta). Check ins. My Places. Just an awesome allround suite of mapping functionality.
At worst, a fun distraction. At best, a genuinely clever and useful go-to app that will aggregate information Google thinks is useful to you. It cool to go to new places and see what Google Now offers up as its local suggestions. At a swipe from anywhere in the OS I can see the latest result for my footy team (works for English PL), the weather, local train station departures, local pubs and restaurants and directions to stuff that I've searched for on my desktop. Whilst using this abroad recently it displayed time at home and a currency exchange rate based on where I was. Superb. Will be interesting to see how this grows.
Slick, smooth, well designed. Looks great. The ability to expand some notification to reveal more info. The ability to action stuff straight from the notification menu. The fact that the screen doesn't switch on when you receive a notification, thus preserving the battery. You get a coloured LED instead. Blue for Facebook, white for an email or chat message. Nice touch!
The one thing lacking on the phone is the camera. It's decent, but not quite on a par with the iPhone 4S for example. However, as a Picasso user, it's great for my photos to sync to the cloud as I take them.
My previous phone was an iPhone 3GS, this phone spanks it in every category apart from the build quality of the phone and the camera. I'm not looking back.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2012
From the minute I held this phone in my hands I was in love, its incredible, I can't remember the last time I was so excited about a phone (got first phone in "98 and normally Flagships and upgrade every 12 months or less)
Now I won't say it's the perfect phones, Samsung saw to that.
Android 4.0 is very beautiful and functional, phone is very fast, plays games wonderfully, web surfing is possibly the best on this phone due to its size and HD resolution
Watching movies be it SD or 720p HD, it's great.
Another very cool and very useful feature is built in SIP (VoIP) calling in to the dialler, now I know there are many apps for this, however with this phone its integrated so supports Bluetooth headsets when making a VoIP call. I have a 0161 local number set up, so my friend can call me from landlines for free.
Now it is impossible to list everything I like about this phone here.
Now some bad points:
I believe Samsung have tried to cripple this phone for their own gain, the hardware is only little better than the Galaxy S2, S2 also has newer screen in the form of Super AMOLED Plus, it has Corning gorilla glass, and the 5MP camera although very good, the 5MP bothers some people (S2 has 8MP) for me it's not an issue.
And the built quality is good without a doubt, however for me it fails in this department, in comparison to Apple or HTC flagships.
Phone feels very light for its size and loud speaker could be louder.
It also suffers poor battery life of any phone of this type; they could have provided a lager battery.
Given all the GOOD, BAD and the UGLEY points, I would still say it's the only phone I would buy as of Feb 2012.
If you buy this phone, do consider a SGP Hybird neo case, its very good.
Also this phone will almost certenly be 2nd phone to recive android 5.0 when it comes out later this year and 1st for anything in between :D
62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2011
**UPDATE** - Android 4.1 Jellybean practically makes this phone brand new. Despite it being "last gen", I would recommend this over the Galaxy SIII and the iPhone 5 every day of the week.
I recently found myself the owner of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Google's hero device for Ice Cream Sandwich (the latest iteration of Android). What you'll find in this review are comments both about the device itself and the software found upon it. But first, a quick recap. The Nexus One debuted in early 2010, the first of the Nexus line, and was designed to become a benchmark that all other Android phones are to live up to. Later that year, the Nexus S was released to champion Android 2.3 Gingerbread and also be the first of it's kind to support NFC. Now we see the third in the Nexus line, the Galaxy Nexus. Manufactured by Samsung (like the Nexus S), the Galaxy Nexus finds itself on par with current smartphone offerings, but sporting a couple of unique features including the OS.
The first thing you notice about the Galaxy Nexus is the size of it. I've been used to a 4.3' Desire HD for the past 12 months and thought that was giant, but this is on another level. The 4.65' screen makes it large indeed, not Galaxy Note large, and not even HTC Titan large, but definitely up there as one of the more monstrous handsets. To look at the shape of the Galaxy Nexus is to almost see the result of a Nexus S and a Galaxy SII having a child with a recessive gene coming out to make it larger than both. The Galaxy Nexus comes out at a smidgen under 9mm in thickness and 135g in weight. The thinness mitigates some of the lateral size to the phone and the weight means it doesn't drag down on your pockets much. The colour is a satiny grey that leans over towards a gun-metal hue. The removable back panel is the same shade with a diamond textured feel to add to the grip on the back.
The front sees complete coverage by an unknown type of reinforced glass (most top end handsets use Cornings ubiquitous Gorilla Glass). Samsung explained that Gorilla Glass was not used as GG could not achieve the very slight curvature the fascia has to it, creating a concave effect. There was much backlash at this revelation by the consumer technology community (especially among fans of the fruity cult who would see this as a huge threat); however a key scratch test proved that this unnamed glass was every bit as good as Cornings offering. Physical and capacitive buttons are conspicuously absent, see the software section of the review for further delineation. Just below the bottom of the screen is a notification light. The rear facing camera is a 5MP unit with an LED flash in the center-top portion of the rear of the device. The front facing shooter resides about a centimeter to the right of the earpiece at the top of the front fascia.
Connections are fairly par for the course. There is nothing on the top of the device, the right edge plays home to the power button and an unknown 3-pin connector, presumably for some sort of proprietary charging or car connection (Nexus One owners will be able to draw a parallel here). The bottom edge houses a 3.5mm audio jack on the right hand and a Micro-USB connection in the center. The left edge has the volume rocker on it, the top edge of which is roughly in line with the bottom edge of the power button on the opposite side. Removing the textured back panel reveals a 1750mAH battery that is also (and interestingly) NFC enabled. The standard size SIM card slot is located on the right side above the battery section.
The GN can be described in a few words. Understated, demure, modest (save for the size, perhaps). The whole aura about the GN is one of sleek sophistication that ultimately says it all because it's design doesn't really say anything at all (yes, I am aware of the very loose Ronan Keating reference there). This, however, is while the screen isn't on. You see, the GN with the screen off is like a beautiful tulip on the cusp of flowering. And when the screen turns on, that little tulip flowers like an utter boss. Sporting a 1280 x 720 resolution Super AMOLED display, this screen is undoubtedly the best screen on a phone to date. Colours are vibrant, fonts crisp, blacks deep, viewing angles wide and aliasing is all but gone. There is only one display that may currently match this one in beauty and that is the one found on the 4.3' HTC Rezound sporting a 720p TFT display, but Super AMOLED just snatches the biscuit in vibrancy.
As far as internals go, we've got a strange one here. Being a Samsung creation, you'd expect there to be an Exynos SoC in there like that of the Galaxy SII. Instead we find a Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 dual core processor clocked at 1.2GHz (downclocked from 1.5GHz). On the graphics side, we have an Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX540 GPU. Both of these are paired to 1GB of RAM and are supported by 16GB of in-built storage. Unfortunately for any of those used to removable storage in the form of Micro SD, there is no slot for it here, you've got what you've got here. As a side note, and in a rather weird twist of irony, ICS only supports USB Mass-Storage transfer protocol for Micro SD cards. This means that the in-built storage on the GN can only be transferred to and from using MTP (media transfer protocol); so when you plug your GN into your PC, it will register as a media device, not a USB mass storage device. You've got the usual gamut of radios in the GN, a penta-band HSDPA radio handling 3G connections, quad-band EDGE radio for 2G connections, Wifi B, G, A & N, Bluetooth 3.0, A-GPS and NFC. Like the radios, sensors are par for the course with an accelerometer, magnetometer (compass), gyroscope, photometer, proximity and barometer (air pressure).
The battery life is incredibly good. This is both due in part to the optimsations made in ICS and in the larger-than-usual battery included. Referencing Engadget's standard battery run-down and normal usage tests, the GN will last you 5 hours 15 minutes on a torture test and 28 hours "normal" usage. Their conclusion was that "it's unlikely most people will have to worry about running out of juice with the Galaxy Nexus."
The camera is rather par for the course, which ultimately is disappointing. The GN is the hero phone that ultimately goes up against the iPhone 4S which has been widely praised for its near professional quality camera sensor. In this arena, the GN sorely loses however. The 5MP unit is somewhat bolstered by a better-than-usual sensor, however pictures taken are mediocre. Why on earth Google didn't get Samsung to put their awesome 8MP module found in the Galaxy SII inside the GN is beyond me, but unfortunately it wasn't so. The overall experience finds its saving grace in the vastly improved Camera app that includes a number of cool features including zero shutter lag, that is also seen on the iPhone 4S. Video recording is in 1080p on the rear shooter and 720p on the front facing one. The last cool feature is the panorama shot mode that appears to record like a video and waits for you to pan round before saving the completed product as an image file. Overall, the camera experience is okay, but at the level it's competing at, this mild praise ultimately damns it.
Ice Cream Sandwich is probably the most major and important update to Android that's ever existed. It is the amalgamation of 2.3 Gingerbread and 3.0 Honeycomb (the tablet centric OS debuted earlier this year). This unified code base means you will be seeing ICS on both phones and tablets without requirement for seperate operating systems. This will come as a boon to developers who will only need to code for one API level in the Android IDE and only need to worry about XML layout differences among the different screen sizes. Running alongside the unified code base is OS level GPU acceleration of the UI with a revamped API for app developers tapping into the GPU acceleration. GPU acceleration is something that has been sorely absent from stock Android for a long time now and was one of the biggest detractors for potential users in the face of the very smooth Windows Phone 7 and iOS. But even with 1280 x 720 pixels to process, 2D rendering is as smooth as Androids two biggest competitors. Like iOS and Windows Phone 7, ICS makes Android addictive to use. I find myself going into my phone to just have a swoop around the UI it's that lovely. The new API allows developers to tap into this baked in acceleration by inserting just two lines of code into their app. 3D applications like high end games will still require manual tapping into of the Open GL 2.0 API's available in Android. But for the majority of app developers who primarily work in 2D rendering, this is an excellent addition.
ICS' main changes and refinements come in the UI. Google has tried many different styles with Android over the years but you now start to see in ICS where Android really needs to get to in a style point of view. ICS sports a very clean, demure and minimal black-on-light blue look. This is persistent across the whole OS, Google have clearly put a lot of thought into this style and it has paid off. After going through the familiar Android setup process, you're greeted by the new lock screen. For those familiar with Honeycomb's standard, un-protected lock screen, you'll know it instantly. For those who aren't, you're presented by two concentric circles, one small, one large. Simply drag the smaller circle out to the edge of the large one and you've unlocked your phone. In a rather obvious tip of the hat to HTC's Sense 3.0 customisation, you may also unlock straight into the Camera app by dragging the small circle onto the Camera app icon. From there, you're not taken to the home screen, but straight to the app. As a side note, you're also greeted by Androids brand new font, Roboto. It's a very lovely font that is everything Google said it is, crisp, clean and clear. I hope that Roboto's stay is an extended one as ICS progresses forward into the next iterations. The remaining two big changes to the lock screen experience include firstly now being able to directly access notifications from the lock screen by dragging the notification bar down as you would do on the home screen. The second is Google's new unlock feature they call Face Unlock. It's fairly self explanatory, show the phone your face, it remembers it, and whenever it see's it on the lock screen it unlocks for you. It's rather gimmicky and is prone to fall down should the angle or lighting not be just right, but it's a cool party trick to show friends and when it does recognise your face, it does it damn fast.
Heading passed the lock screen you are soon greeted by ICS' next biggest surprise, it supports a complete lack of front keys, both physical and capacitive. 0.15' of the GN's screen at the bottom is taken up by a black perma-bar, much like that of Honeycomb, where there are three software keys, back, home and recent apps. If you're familiar with Honeycomb, you'll be familiar with this setup. Back is back, obviously, Home returns you to your center home screen from whatever you were doing and Recent Apps pulls up a list of your recently used apps in order of when they were last used. A screen shot of each recent app is included too. Swiping left closes the app down completely, removing it from memory; swiping right keeps the app open but removes it from the list of recent apps. As is with Honeycomb, legacy apps that don't support an `on-screen' menu system will see a fourth software button appear in the perma-bar for menu functions. In ICS, this appears on the right hand side as three vertical dots. Honestly, this is less than optimal, but until apps start making ICS optimisations, it will do. The notifications tray sees a cleaner refinement from previous iterations. In keeping with the ICS style, it mainly features a semi-transparent pull down tray with the ICS signature blue text denoting the date at the top left, a system settings icon in the top middle and signature blue text on the bottom of the tray telling you what carrier you are currently using. This text moves with the tray. When items begin to occupy the notifications tray, they appear as mini icons in the typical black bar at the top of the screen. When in the notifications tray, you may now swipe left or right to dismiss the notification individually. To do a wholesale dismissal of multiple notifications, simply tap the small `X' to the right of the system settings icon.
The home screen itself is a perfect balance between Honeycomb and Gingerbread. You have the typical 5 home screens that are scrolled between horizontally. ICS takes the TRON like holographic effects of the Honeycomb home screen, trims them down a little bit and integrates them in. This is seen when attempting to scroll passed the right most or left most home screens. Like it or lump it, the search bar is now a persistent thing just under the notifications bar yet it is still strangely a widget to be put on the home screen too. Speaking of widgets, ICS, like Honeycomb and a couple of custom skins for Gingerbread (we're looking at you, Touchwiz 4.0), makes widgets re sizable as standard. Of course, developers will need to tap into the re sizing API to make this happen, thus leaving a lot of existing app widgets the static things they've ever been. However, the vast majority of widgets that are parts of their respective Google offical apps are re sizable to show off this capability. Most useful is E-Mail and Calendar widgets being re sizable. You can have them side by side or each having a home screen to themselves. The widgets are now placed onto the home screen via the new apps tray, which integrates apps and widgets into one. When tapping the app tray icon, you are initially presented with your apps that can be swiped between horizontally. Using the tabs at the top, you can move between apps and widgets; moving into widgets then lets you tap, hold and drag your chosen widget onto your chosen home screen and re size from there (if applicable).
System settings has received an overhaul alongside some useful new features. Wireless and connectivity settings are now at the top as they are often the most used. Security & privacy settings are found in the middle and other system settings are towards the bottom. The most useful new feature is the mobile data monitoring Google has added into ICS. This lets you set both warnings and shut off points for your 3G (or 4G) connection every month. So if your data plan is capped at 1GB per month, you can potentially set a warning at 800MB and then have the system completely shut off your 3G radio at 1GB to stop you running over and being charged through the nose like most carriers do. This feature is incredibly useful and even provides you with a break down of the most data hungry apps (much like the battery section of system settings provides a similar power consumption based break down). Googles official plethora of apps have all received UI overhauls, taking advantage of ICS and generally providing an updated experience. It would take forever to go over every single detail that's been changed in these apps, but the whole experience has simply been stepped up by Google across the board.
In honesty, this review really doesn't cover ICS adequately to give it proper justice. However, the conclusion is, no one can now say that either iOS or WP7 is in any way sexier than Android. ICS is very beautiful. The UI overhaul in all of the places makes it easier to use and much more friendly to the eye while retaining that signature Android depth that has earned it much love from the tech-geek community. Would the completely smart-phone uninitiated still feel a little intimidated by this depth? Yes. Unless Android were to completely forsake this depth (one of Android's core conceptual roots), you will always have that caveat to negotiate. But should Android actually do that, by that point you may as well just go over to iOS or WP7 who do the idiot proof "so-simple-a-monkey-could-do-it" way so much better as they've been doing it longer. As well as the UI, ICS adds a number of neat features like the revamped unlock features, mobile data monitoring, revamped apps, OS level GPU acceleration & code base unification that push the OS forward as a whole. ICS is a solid improvement on just about everything, all that's left to be said now is, bring on Jelly Bean!
As for the Galaxy Nexus, if this phone isn't the best on the market currently, then it's definitely in the top 3 (the Galaxy SII and iPhone 4S filling the other two spots). The only real detractors I can think of for this phone will be the mediocre camera experience in the face of both the GSII's and 4S's excellent sensors & software and the fact that the GSII provides a similar processor, similar GPU, Super AMOLED display & the promise of ICS very soon, all for £120 less than the GN. You really are buying the GN for the unadulterated ICS experience, the 720p screen, the design and NFC. Of course, as prices fall so will that gap, but it's incredibly hard to ignore as it stands now. But just to re-iterate the start of this conclusion, the GN holds a place in the top three smart phones currently available, if not the current top spot.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2012
I have had the Nexus S and the SGS3.
I recently purchased this, in anticipation of Jelly Bean update.
This OTA update arrived a few days ago and this excellent handset is now even better.
Very smooth UI, notifications updated, better camera UI etc etc.
Battery life is ok. It lasts a day for me which is much less than the SGS3 but it's a compromise I'm willing to take for a better OS.
I thoroughly recommend this handset, until the next Nexus handset is released.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2012
This is my 3rd Android phone and easily the best. I chose this as it has Android Jelly Bean and is not full of HTC or Samsung's bloatware. The phone comes with no additional software apart from some of Google's own like YouTube, Maps and Chrome.
The interface is really smooth with some great features like expandable notifications in the bar, screen grab and face detection to unlock. The screen is beautiful to look at and the camera produces good results, quick start, instant shutter, HD video, time lapse and panoramic photo mode. Chrome browser that can sync with the browser on your PC or Mac. Battery life is much better than I expected, about 30% left at the end of the day. This is with WiFi on, GPS on, Bluetooth off, Exchange email, Hotmail and 2 Gmail addresses all set to push, Eye-Fi, WhatsApp, eBay app, Fliboard, Facebook, Twitter and more all doing their thing all day, plus browsing, calls and texts.
Downsides: Flash is not and will not be supported. Will cause problems with some websites in the short term but in time most will move to HTML5 which is supported. BBC iPlayer uses Flash so isn't supported yet.
I really recommend this phone, I can't fault it. I nearly bought a Galaxy S3 because of the extra processor power but I'm glad I didn't. Jelly Bean a big step forward and to have it pure as Google intended is the best way. The build quality is good (I've already dropped it twice onto tiles without damage) and the screen is exceptional. The camera is good though not quite up to the 8Mp of the S3. But £300 for the Nexus or £440 for the S3 made the decision for me ;-)