Customer Review

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hot new version of Android wrapped up in a stylish hardware package and a screen to die for. Android phone of the year?, 3 Dec 2011
This review is from: Samsung I9250 Galaxy Nexus Sim Free Mobile Phone (discontinued by manufacturer) (Wireless Phone Accessory)
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.
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Dec 2011 01:12:47 GMT
Tyke says:
I am truly amazed that any manufacturer would launch a cellphone with no SD card capability and am very glad that you mentioned the lack of this feature, as I would have taken it for granted and felt jolly disappointed when it arrived. I shall await another model or make:)

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Dec 2011 10:51:38 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Dec 2011 15:12:55 GMT
Afficionado says:
The Nexus I have from O2 has 32GB on board (* see below) but, despite the spec on the O2 site, no card slot - but with 32GB, it's not really needed.

This is my first Smartphone, so I am not qualified to comment at length, but the thing that *really* annoys me is the positioning of the volume rocker, it is right where I hold the phone and all too frequently the volume gets turned down to zero without my realising.

Otherwise delighted with this first experience of smartness!

* I got that wrong, 16 GB on Board.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Dec 2011 23:52:48 GMT
Mr. P. HAIGH says:
Pretty much all smartphones put the volume rocker on one of the long sides and regardless of the side (left or right) and position it tends to draw criticism.

Having upgraded after two years I find myself really enjoying the galaxy nexus experience more each day. There are shortcomings but I can live with them.

Posted on 23 Dec 2011 12:28:15 GMT
S J says:
The 'MTP' mode, also found on the Samsung S2, it's the mode used by Samsung to connect with it's Syncing software, Kies. You can however go into SETTINGS> WIRELESS & NETWORK> USB UTILITIES and connect via Mass Storage USB mode.

Posted on 23 Dec 2011 12:32:13 GMT
S J says:
You can also buy a USB OTG (On The Go) adaptor (about £2 on Amazon or a certain auction site) and connect any USB device/storage directly to your phone without a computer! Truly amazing tech.

Posted on 24 Dec 2011 15:14:17 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Mar 2013 00:25:27 GMT
Afficionado says:
One problem with my Nexus - it crashes and as far as I can see, the only way to get it going again is to take the battery out.

While this was true when I wrote this, after at least 2 major OS upgrades to Jelly Bean, all is now well. Love the phone.
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Mr. P. HAIGH
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Location: London, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 889