Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus reviewed

The love child of technology giants Samsung and Google and the showcase smartphone for Android’s latest OS, the Galaxy Nexus is not just best of breed, but the best reason yet for not buying an iPhone.

Features

The last smartphone of 2011 and the first handset of Android 4.0, Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus is a joint effort between Samsung and Google to make the showcase for Google’s next-generation of Android OS.

Featuring one of the largest screens appear on a phone, the Galaxy Nexus takes advantage of a 4.65 inch display with a 1280×720 resolution.

The new Android operating system raison d’etre for this handset, running Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) out of the box. So unlike the other Android handsets, you don’t have to wait for the upgrade to become available.

And while it’s made by Samsung, there’s none of Samsung’s TouchWiz Android modifications. This means it’s stock Android, so you’re likely to enjoy a faster experience, and an authentically Google one.

A new way of switching between open apps (left) and the new look phone interface (right) in Ice Cream Sandwich.

Under the hood, the technology continues, with a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, graphics provided by a PowerVR – a company that used to supply high-end graphics solutions to Sega and arcade companies – as well as 1GB RAM and 16GB storage.

Surprisingly, the Galaxy Nexus lacks a microSD slot, meaning you’re limited to that 16GB capacity.

Connections are pretty standard here, with a microUSB port at the bottom, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, DLNA, and Bluetooth 3 with A2DP. Downloads are handled over a 21Mbps downlink from your telco, with uploads at 5.76Mbps.

Much like the Nexus S before it, Google has put Near-Field Communication technology into the handset, making it possible to support Google’s contact-less payment technology whenever it’s rolled out in Australia. At the moment, NFC can be used to transfer files, contacts, and other files between users of the Galaxy Nexus.

For the camera side of things, Samsung and Google have opted for a model lower in specification than what we expected: a 5 megapixel rear camera supporting 1080p Full HD recording, and a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera with support for 720p HD video. The microUSB port at the bottom of the handset also supports TV-out functionality through HDMI, and there’s an optional cable for that.

Outside of the microUSB, there’s very little to see, with a 3.5mm headphone jack sitting at the bottom to the right of the microUSB port. A volume button sits on the very left of the handset while the power button sits on the right. There are no buttons on the front.

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2 Comments

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  1. Tim Nicholas
    January 06, 19:36 Tim Nicholas

    I’ve had my Galaxy Nexus for a month or two and my one major disappointment has been the GPS. After the wonders of the HTC/Google Nexus One GPS experience (consistently fast and accurate) I couldn’t have been more disappointed when attempting to use Google Navigation this holiday.

    The GPS took significant time to lock on a location but more irritatingly, it consistently had much too large a radius of area I might be in. This led to it getting confused about which road I was on, with corresponding bad audio instructions. Horrible experience.

    I’m not sure how much my frustration came from the Nexus One being excellent at this and how much it comes from the samsung being bad. I’ve got no idea what ‘normal’ is, but for the sanity of the general population I really hope the Nexus One experience is more typical.

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    • Leigh :) Stark
      January 08, 12:19 Leigh :) Stark

      I think all phones can have teething issues with various features. Google’s normally pretty responsive when it comes to updates to problems with its showcase phones, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a patch or Android update that addresses the GPS – and even possibly the camera – in the coming weeks.

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