When Google decides to push out a new revision to their Android operating system, they’ve always made it a point that there’d be a “hero” device that went with it to demonstrate the capabilities of the new version. That’s how it went for Android 2.1 with the Nexus One and Android 2.3 with the Nexus S. With the release of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, comes the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. One of the first things you’ll notice with the Galaxy Nexus is its sheer size. With dimensions of 135.5 x 67.9 x 8.9mm, its overall size is pretty substantial, and almost the same size as the HTC Sensation XL we reviewed earlier this month. The device sports a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED screen that’s capable of 720 x 1280 resolution, which is quite higher compared to other devices we’ve reviewed in the past.
There’s a 5-megapixel camera located at the back, with a lower resolution front facing camera for video calls.
Despite the Galaxy Nexus’ size, it’s pretty easy to hold and sits in the palm of our hands nicely. The Galaxy Nexus screen curves slightly inward, which makes it more comfortable to use when calling. As is with Samsung’s previous offerings, the device is primarily made out of plastic. That doesn’t mean that it feels cheap, actually it’s quite the opposite – the device feels solid, with no flex or creaks anywhere on the body. One major departure from the typical Android devices is the absence of the four Android keys (capacitive or otherwise) on the bottom of the device. These have been removed and replaced by the three main keys that we’ll tackle in more detail in a bit.
The Galaxy Nexus is powered by a dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9 processor with 1GB of RAM. It’s also equipped with NFC right off the bat, so it’s pretty much future proofed for Google Wallet and other cash-less payment system that pops up later on.
We’ve seen quite a few Super AMOLED equipped smartphones in the past, but to be honest, we never get tired reviewing them. That’s because Super AMOLED panels are simply beautiful – colors just pop, black levels are truly black and everything is just mind bogglingly gorgeous. Even if you put up a picture of a toothless hobo on the screen, you’ll still be mesmerized at the color, quality and clarity of the picture, right before you realize you’re staring at a picture of a toothless hobo on the screen.
Of course, the real star of the show here is Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich. There’s quite a lot to take in so we’re only going to talk about the most important ones. First off is the color scheme. Google’s gotten rid of the default green on black color scheme and replaced it with a light blue on black motif instead. Android 4.0 also uses Google’s brand new Roboto font liberally across the device, which is great, as the typeface feels way better than what the firm used before. Users will notice that there are only three capacitive buttons on the bottom instead of three – back, home and recent apps. The first two are pretty self-explanatory, while the third is a bit of a departure.
Basically, recent apps display all the apps you’ve used recently with a little thumbnail of the app. You can switch to the app directly by pressing on the thumbnail, or flick it to the right if you want it closed. For legacy apps, a small menu button will appear on the far right (represented by three stacked dots).
Once you go into the app tray, you’re greeted by a slightly tweaked interface. The app tray no longer scrolls vertically, and doesn’t stop once you reach the end of your apps – It’ll simply switch to the widgets page.
Another nice feature of ICS is the integrated data monitoring app – basically, you’ll be able to monitor the amount of data you use, and set upper limits as to how much data your device is allowed to consume. Once those limits are reached, your data connection automatically shuts off.
Performance-wise, we were expecting the Samsung Galaxy Nexus to perform at least as well as the Samsung Galaxy S II as they have roughly the same processor in them. Unfortunately, our standard benchmarking tool AnTuTu isn’t optimized for ICS, and as a result it was showing lower than expected scores for the Galaxy Nexus which to be honest, did not match our experience with the device. Our time with the Galaxy Nexus is, simply put, the best we’ve ever experienced on an Android device, period.
Battery life is pretty good, and with moderate to heavy use, the Galaxy Nexus managed to go about a day and a half on a single charge. The Galaxy Nexus is able to do this because of its power efficient Super AMOLED display, a trait that it shares with its older brother, the Galaxy S II. Calls were also pretty clear across the board, with the Galaxy Nexus consistently getting excellent reception.
Possibly the only thing that we would have changed with the Galaxy Nexus is the camera. In a world where high-end smartphones have 8 megapixel cameras at a minimum, it was odd to see a 5-megapixel deal on the Galaxy Nexus.
Should you get one? Short answer is yes. The sheer beauty of the 4.65-inch Super AMOLED screen alone is well worth the price of admission, and when you combine that with the improvements Google has done with ICS, then the Galaxy Nexus becomes one of the best smartphones to become available this year. If you do decide to get one however, you’ll have to go through Smart to get it, as they’re currently the exclusive carrier for the Galaxy Nexus here in the Philippines.
Super AMOLED 4.65-inch screen
Fast, responsive, boots up web pages quickly
Excellent battery life
Camera is a bit underwhelming
No microSD card slot
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is one of the best phones we’ve tested this year. Grab one if you can.
- Operating System: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
- CPU: Dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9
- Screen size: 4.65-inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen,
- Physical Dimensions: 135.5 x 67.9 x 8.9 mm
- Weight: 135g
- Band: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100
- Internal memory: 16/32 GB