Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review

Unbox reviews the Samsung Galaxy Nexus from Smart!

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is one of the most anticipated Android smartphones because it’s the next flagship model that packs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich out of the box. It’s now available locally exclusively via Smart Communications and you can actually get it with no cash out if you opt for the Unlimited Data Plan 2,000. So does the Galaxy Nexus live up to all the hype it’s been getting from various technology blogs? We’ve had a unit for over 2 weeks now and we’ve spent enough time with it to give you guys a balanced and fair review.

Hardware and Product Design

If you’re used to the iPhone 4 or BlackBerry smartphones then the first thing that will probably come to mind when you see the Galaxy Nexus is “Wow, it’s big!” Most smartphones come in with displays of 3.5″-4.0″. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus has a 4.65″ display which is almost similar to the HTC Sensation XL (Beats) but still smaller compared to the Samsung Galaxy Note which comes in at 5.3″. The size isn’t a bad thing, in fact I think it’s the sweet spot when it comes to smartphones. The Galaxy Nexus feels wonderful in your hand and the slim form factor makes it fairly pocketable for the average sized human being.

In terms of materials used for the phone it’s your typical Samsung mix of plastic, glass, and metal. It’s not a glossy as the iPhone 4S which has a glass back and a metallic frame. Regardless though the Galaxy Nexus definitely still ranks well in the “looks” department.

You’ll find the lock/unlock button at the side, the volume rocker at the left, and the audio jack and mini-USB charger port at the bottom. The 5MP Camera with LED flash can be found at the back just above the Google logo. There’s no physical buttons on the actual screen itself.

Back, home, and multi-tasking on-screen buttons. Beautifully implemented! Good job Samsung!

Screen
Since we’re on the topic of the screen let’s talk about the display! The Super AMOLED 4.65″ display is stunning. Once you turn the phone on you’ll probably be amazed at how bright, crisp, and detailed the colors are! The pixel density might not match the iPhone Retina Display but it’s definitely near that and it’s on a much bigger screen.

The display is crucial in any smartphone because it’s the window to the soul of the unit. Everything you do on this phone (save for adjusting volume) usually starts with the screen. In this department the Samsung Galaxy Nexus passes with flying colors!

Let’s take a look at the back

Just like other Samsung phones the back case of the Galaxy Nexus is removable. This means you can easily swap in a fully charged battery should your current one get depleted. One thing you probably noticed in the picture above though is the absence of the micro-SD slot. This means uou’ll be limited to the 16GB storage of the unit. I’m a bit stumped as to why Samsung didn’t put in the micro-SD option. That would have rounded this off quite well.

Performance and Software

The combination of the 1.2GHz dual-core processor and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich takes Android to a completely new level. The phone’s user interface is snappier, faster, and smoother! Heck if Google launched Android like this instead of the crappy Android 2.1 Eclair or Android 2.2 Froyo then they definitely would be more successful today.

Here are some of the highlights of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in photos. Please read the captions for the details. :)

Let's start with Face Unlock. You can take a photo of yourself and instead of doing the pattern or PIN you can just point the front camera to your face and it will unlock the phone. However this doesn't work all the time especially in low light conditions. It also feels very awkward smiling in front of your phone while you're walking around in the office. If it doesn't work you'll be prompted to use either the pattern or PIN security locks

The app grid animation is smoother and sezzier.

Widgets can now be added via the App Grid. You no longer can't just press down on the home screen and pick what widgets to select. Instead you'll have to pick what widget you want via the grid. Personally I prefer this method. Much easier.

Notifications also looks much better. You still slide down from the top of the screen to bring it up. You can now clear per line by just swiping to the left. There's also the clear all "X" button. To go to settings click on the new settings icon. That brings up a new menu.

Let's go to multitasking. When you press the third on-screen button at the bottom it will show what apps are running. Just flick up or down to pick what app you want to move into.

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus also has the best on-screen keyboard I've ever used. I rarely make mistakes when I text anymore on this. Two thumbs up to Samsung and Google for this one!

Browsing on the Nexus is also a far better experience because of the bigger phone and the faster speed. The Galaxy Nexus from Smart is HSPA+ compatible (no LTE yet).

There are other aesthetic improvements that Android 4.0 ICS brings to Contacts, Messaging, and even Calendars.

Over-all I’d have to say that I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate Android 4.0. It truly is the best iteration of Android yet and I can’t wait for it to be available for my Samsung Galaxy Note!

Android Beam

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus has Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. This lets you communicate with other devices that have NFC by just tapping or touching. Hopefully in the next few months we’ll see more NFC enabled accessories but for now one cool way of using NFC on the Galaxy Nexus is Android Beam. To explain better watch this video.

Cool right? For now though this is just that… “cool”. Hopefully we get more accessories with NFC soon!

Media Player

Android 4.0 ICS also brought a more user-friendly and sleeker Media Player. There’s a dedicated Music App which lets you create playlists on the fly. There’s also animations to show which songs are playing. Album art is displayed beautifully on the 4.65″ screen of the Galaxy Nexus.

I wasn’t able to find a dedicated video app but I did find the movies I installed on the Gallery app. Everything was smooth and again the interface was intuitive, gorgeous, and very modern. The “Roboto” theme definitely lets you feel how high tech this device is.

If you haven't watched the Sherlock TV series from BBC you're missing out half your life.

To transfer files on a Mac you’ll need to download Android File Transfer. It’s a pretty easy process. Just get the app, open, plug your phone, and transfer files in and out of your Galaxy Nexus.

Camera

At first you’ll shake your head when you find out that the Nexus only packs a 5MP camera. That’s how I felt myself. However they probably sacrificed MP count for a speedier shutter. The Galaxy Nexus takes photos like a rapid-fire machine gun! Sometimes I end up taking the photo three times because I’d click the button a lot only to find out that it already took the photo in less than a second in my first click, lol. In good lighting you can actually get decent pics but don’t expect this to do good in macro or low light situations. Sample shots to follow this Sunday.

Battery Life

I used the Galaxy Nexus as my main phone for the last week and most of the time I’d make it home with a little over 20% left. That’s me leaving the house at 9AM with 100% charge and coming home at around 6-7PM. Not bad considering I usually have 3G activated (HSPA+) and push notifications on e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook. I’m pretty sure that with better resource management I can stretch the battery life to a full day.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is undoubtedly one of the best Android smartphones ever shipped. That’s primarily due to the combination of Android 4.0 ICS (which will roll out to other Android smartphones this year), the specs, and the hardware design. Having NFC prepares it for the future and the faster internet with HSPA+ is another great bonus. My only beef with the Nexus is really the absence of the micro-SD card storage and the low MP camera. If they beefed up the camera some more this would truly be the best in the market today.

Everything considered I think the Galaxy Nexus is still a massive steal if you get it at Smart’s 2000 Unlimited Data Plan (Zero Cash out). It offers the very best of Android right now and feature-per-feature puts up a good fight against the Apple iPhone 4S.

If you liked the Android experience in Gingerbread then be ready to sink your teeth in Ice Cream Sandwich because this is the OS at a completely different level. Congratulations to Samsung and Google for delivering another outstanding product to the market!

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3 comments on “Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review

  1. Judd

    What do you prefer personally, Iphone 4s or Samsung galaxy nexus?

    • Personally I would go for the Nexus just because of the screen, haha! I think I’ve been spoiled already with bigger screens and I can no longer “settle” for 3.5″ displays.

  2. Cai

    Have you tried using Skype video calls on this? Does it use the front camera for the calls?

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