Galaxy Nexus

That headline's been written for a week now, but it's certainly taken on new meaning in the past few days. With the announcement of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and a preview release coming out of Google I/O, I've found myself back on the Galaxy Nexus full-time. That comes after couple months on the HTC One X (mostly loved it) and the Galaxy S III (again, mostly loved it). 

For those of you new to Android, the Galaxy Nexus is the third iteration of the "Pure Google" phone. It's an annual project from Google that gives developers a stable hardware platform on which to work, though it probably won't quite be on the cutting edge of the available technology. (That's true from the time of the original Nexus One, as well as the Nexus S.) It also is the one true "stock" experience, meaning there are no carrier or manufacturer customizations. (Here comes another caveat, though: The Galaxy Nexus on Sprint and Verizon has had a couple apps added.) It's also completely customizable from a modding standpoint, which makes it the Holy Grail for those who like to tinker. The bootloader's unlockable with a single terminal command, and gaining root access is trivial.

Returning to the Nexus has been easy enough; I always enjoyed the stock ICS experience in the first place. Jelly Bean really has made it that much better. Here are a few thoughts on coming back:

  • The "Project Butter" improvements have made the phone much faster (or at least the on-screen elements look and act faster).
  • So many apps still have multiple sizes of widgets, instead of taking advantage of the resizing feature. Too bad. (I imagine that's for backward compatibility?)
  • If I wasn't a fan of on-screen buttons before, I am now. It's not that I hated the capacitive buttons on the One X (or even the Galaxy S III, though I'm still not sold on the physical home button), it's just that the on-screen buttons on the GNex are placed toward the center of the phone, making it easier to use in either hand, especially considering that I have freakishly small thumbs, thanks to an accident with some radioactive goo and a spider. Or maybe that was something else. Regardless, I'm back on the on-screen button train.
  • And proper on-screen buttons means proper menu items, as Google intends. You want to talk about Android "fragmentation"? This is it, plan and simple. Different manufacturers doing different things to make up for the fact that they're going against Android design principles. They're well within their right to do so, but it's muddying the waters.
  • Yeah, the display isn't as good as what's on the HTC One X, and it's not quite as good (though close enough for me) to the Galaxy S III. And I've been surprisingly OK with that. I thought it would bug me more than it does. 

All in all, the Galaxy Nexus with Jelly Bean (which, if you must know, I haven't bothered rooting) stands poised to serve me well for the next few months, until the newest latest and greatest phone.

And that brings us to the alternate meaning of today's headline. You can once again trade $349 and in return get a shiny new Samsung Galaxy Nexus from Google. That comes after it was briefly "banned" because of an Apple lawsuit over patent infringement, which at the time pretty much seemed like the end of the world, even if it wasn't

It's a damn shame that Google's going to have to change anything, though it's worth it if it means the phone's able to ship again. And as of this writing, it'll ship in 1 to 2 weeks, according to the product page on Google Play. (It wouldn't surprise me to see that shift even earlier in the coming days.)

The Galaxy Nexus is back, but this much is sure: This shall not be the final lawsuit, and quite possibly it shan't be the final "banning." Something needs to be done. If you've yet to listen, we discussed this one at length in our most recent podcast.

Consider this ...

The stars appear to be aligning for a 7-inch iPad later this year. Pretty soon, by the end of 2013, probably, your device path probably will depend more on which ecosystem you've found yourself invested in, rather than which company makes the product. It's be iTunes (OK, iOS, really) versus Google Play versus (probably) the Windows Phone Marketplace. Sorry, RIM.

What would a low-cost, 7-inch Apple tablet bring to the tablet that a low-cost, 7-inch Android tablet doesn't already bring, in the hardware department? Content and ecosystem are where it's at. Google still has a way to go on the former, but the latter's being built out quite nicely. This should make for an interesting battle.

At least until the lawyers start brandishing their weapons again.

Safety in numbers ...

Every now and then a story will hit the blogs, and I start getting e-mail asking why we're not running it. This is one of those times. A couple weeks ago pictures surfaced of a Galaxy S III that had not so ceremoniously died in a fire. That is, it looked like the bottom part of it had burst into flame. Those always make for great pics. 

But those kinds of stories have always seemed a bit, well, inflammatory. You see them and wonder if your pants are next. But the fact of the matter is that these are very rare occurrences. And in this case, as we kinda suspected from the pictures, the phone had a little help from its owner leading up to the meltdown.

I don't meant to be too hard on anyone who ran that story -- it's an editorial decision. But we frequently talk about "bugs" and "manufacturing defects," and this is just another example of why one phone's problem -- or even a dozen phones -- isn't necessarily indicative of a manufacturing or design flaw.

Or, occasionally, someone sticks their phone in a microwave and posts pictures of it.


Reader comments

From the Editor's Desk: Welcome back, Nexus


of course.

It would probably never happen, but how great would it be if someone managed to get Iphone banned in USA.

that would just be so funny.

They'll ban the nexus 7 as soon as they release the 7" iPad...because they will look too

i'm a purist and a minimalist - hence i choose Nexus. i will never go back to a skinned device if i can help it.

Agree. Even if one isn't a tinkerer and even if one can barely spell root let alone actually do it, the nexus experience is beyond comparison.

That's what's great about skinned devices though. If you like to root and mess around you have the option of AOSP or a skinned devices. Just takes a little longer to get it as you need to wait for the dev community.

Even when I had a Nexus S I didn't run it stock. It lacks too many features stock.

That's what I thought. But ICS source still hasn't been released for my EVO 3D, and we're almost to Jellybean. Are there ICS ROMS? Sure, but no AOSP ones that really work and support all the hardware. Best way to guarantee future updates is a Nexus. Period. Not to mention your are using the reference platform, which will define the standards for resolution, hardware compatibility, etc, for apps in the Play store. I'll never buy a non-Nexus again.

That's why I love this site so much, you don't run stories just to run them.
There was a lot of egg on some of those other sites when it was revealed that GSIII was put in a microwave.
I have been an Android user for two years, and started follwing this site, since getting my first Android device two years ago (a Droid X), and still follow and learn from it.

I don't believe the Sprint version of the Galaxy Nexus has any extra apps or carrier customization. I hope it gets Jelly Bean soon.

I have a Verizon Galaxy Nexus, will my phone receive Jelly Bean when the new phones ship with jelly bean?

OTA? No. We will most likely get it a couple months, or sooner but that's doubtful. Or you can root/unlock your phone and have Jelly Bean right now.

Edit: It's stable btw.

still sooner than anyone else (besides the GSM nexus) gets it. yeah, it could, and SHOULD be at the same time source gets dropped....but we know better. its just the price you pay i guess to be on the largest LTE network. I am OK with that especially since i am already running JB.

No you root your phone like a brave little boy and install it yourself.. My retarded grandmother had jb running with 5 minutes

If you're on sprint then you will probably have to wait another 4 months until you get jellybean for your gnex. I had the nexus s 4g and the wait for ics soured me for nexus devices on sprint. I went with the EVO 4g LTE and am not looking back.

I guess I'll pass the time looking at my vibrant screen and taking pictures with my fantastic camera. Boo hoo.

Enjoy JB!

Onscreen buttons on an AMOLED are great for screen burn in. Give me capacitive buttons on the otherwise unused bezel any day.

Android works very good with recognizing whether your device has capacitive buttons or not so you don't really know the difference anyway with the way menus are designed. It sure is nice using my entire screen for the content I am using rather than for buttons though. Seeing those onscreen buttons while watching youtube videos or playing games is annoying.

A couple of things: I've had my Galaxy Nexus since December. I've never seen any "screen burn in" what so ever.

Also, the buttons on the GN disappear while playing videos and games. The screen enlarges to fill in the space to make a perfect 16 by 9 aspect ratio for watching media. GN FTW!

Ok, why aren't the buttons in these games going away?

Here's hulu...nice fading of the buttons going on I see...

Please refrain from calling people retarded. It is very disrespectful and childish, especially when you don't know what you're talking about. People with mental disabilities did not ask for them and we should not use their condition to try to put others down. You should be ashamed.


not sure why he said they go away while playing games...i haven't come across a game that gets rid of the buttons.
With that said, i am still a huge fan of the on screen buttons.

they are there, i have not noticed any burn in at all.

on videos such as youtube,videos you have taken on the device, videos loaded to the device, streaming videos, netflix ect) the buttons go away giveing you the entire screen.

virtual buttons are also great if you are into hacking....the AOKP ROM allowed you to change the order of the buttons, change the buttons completely, longpresses ect. absolutely great for the "tinker'er" in all of us. not to mention we can even make the buttons smaller giving us even more screen realesate

the problem i see with physical or capacative buttons are that the newer phones are not coming with physical menu buttons. if you go physical, go with a physical menu button. having an ugly on screen bar pop up when you open an app is worse than having screen realestate taken up by all the buttons.
older phones are just fine though since they all have menu buttons.

what i really like about the Gnex, is that i have a 4.65" screen that is pretty much the same size as a regular 4.3" device. I am a fan of the on screen buttons so much so, that i think capacitive buttons are a step BACK in functionality.
that is just my feelings though

I don't believe it's possible for Apple to make anything low cost. Even their accessories are over priced.

I was thinking something similar ever since I saw the rumoured price. Surely that can't be true since Apple has a law in house that denotes they must have a minimum of 200% profit margin (preferably 350%) ;-P

I bought the Nexus 2 weeks ago, I don't exactly hate it, but I sure don't love it either. Every time I use it I miss my Galaxy S2. The screen on the Nexus looks grey and washed out compared to the GS2 and the battery life is horrible.

2 weeks later it definitely feels like a downgrade, not an upgrade.

Stock Android is over hyped and since it has to use all open source components the end results are often meh at best . Not sure what Cartier you are on but you will be happier with a One series phone even the GSIII. Once the novelty if the newest android android is over its a pretty mediocre device at best and those of us on Verizon have to deal with the crappy radio.

I also went from a GS2 to a Nexus. I was surprised that the screen did not look better as well. Overall, I am glad I have the Nexus. I do not have Jelly Bean flashed yet but I hear that makes a lot of difference. I like the Nexus more and more each day. Google definitely needs to step it up on the next Nexus when it comes to screen and camera.

Great article Phil. Im all in the pure Google experience. I'm loving my Nexus and can't wait for the next one.

Everything about the GN appeals to me except the camera. I have a one year old and the saying "the best camera is the one you have with you" holds so true in my case. Keeps me on my Dinc2 hoping some varient of the One X will eventually hit vzw.

Not looking forward to Jellybean being forced on me. Becuase then they are going to remove the old browser, which can reflow text, to that Chrome crap which does NOT reflow text.
(I guess the kids at google have perfect vision and don't give a crap about who the discriminate) #GoogleIsEvil

I love what Google is doing. I want to enjoy all their awesome services and devices (that I'm interested in). I understand that even though they're big and powerful, they can't play alone and sometimes have to compromise with other companies and governments. But the messages like "Sorry! This bla-blabla IS NOT AVAILABLE IN YOUR COUNTRY" just make me want to cry. And while there's a workaround to get access to certain geo-restricted software services, there's no way I can buy a Galaxy Nexus for $350 or Nexus 7 for $250 in my country. Pisses me off so much... I guess it's cool to live in California or at least somewhere in US...

Well all i can say right now is thank god for ROOT!!! Lol yes Stock Android is the mothership of all ui skins, it may not be as customized and have many features as the other ui skins its still the cleanest, simplest, sexiest and of course fastest ui's of them all!!! Since the beginning i started with the game changer T-Mobile G1, and since then ive had HTC and Samsung devices with extra bloat, clogginess and fast but not as smooth as stock android, i always decided to root my device just because i wanted PURE stock on it and right now ICS and soon to try/flash Jelly Bean is the best of them all:) Right now i own a HTC Sensation 4G and no matter how many times i try a Sense 3.0/3.5/6 or 4.0 rom i always find myself back to Stock ICS with less headaches:) lol So i can definitely agree with Phil on this story and already got my mind set that my next phone(s) will be #Nexus all the wayyyy!

I feel like discussion of the Galaxy S III story buried the lede: Some fool dropped a phone in water, and *put it in the microwave* to dry. It wasn't a prank. It was supposed to help.

This title gives the impression it is up for sale again. Even though you state that is not the case in the article. Perhaps you could rework the title, it's a bit confusing upon first glance.

Phil/AC Users,

Bought the Nexus One and really felt like I had the best phone on the planet for about 3 months. People were astonished when I would pull that thing out of my pocket and show them what it could do.

Then I got my Nexus S. Meh at best. Horrible GPS, suspect build quality and clearly just a Galaxy S in stock form.

Galaxy Nexus is nice but I couldn't resist the One X.

I still feel like when the Nexus One came out it was designed to show the world what Android could do. This is why they came out with the God phone - it really seemed that good. Then Sammy got a hold of things and ever since the Nexus phones have been cutting edge software and mediocre at best (some would argue handicapped) hardware.

I am NOT an expert. But early on in this story there is this quote:

"It's an annual project from Google that gives developers a stable hardware platform on which to work, though it probably won't quite be on the cutting edge of the available technology. (That's true from the time of the original Nexus One, as well as the Nexus S.)"

I disagree with the above in that I only think the above is true AFTER the Nexus One. I am disenfranchised with the Nexus line and as a result am now an owner of 3 HTC One X's. My only complaint with the One X is when I want to share a V Card I can only really do it via text. Other than that all good (not taking into account slow software updates which will drive me nuts).

If the rumours are true and they do bring in multiple Nexuses (Nexii?) and we see some competition in that space I will be a Nexus phone person for life. Love the Nexus 7 - phone will be much less important soon.

My 50 cents.

I own a One X and Galaxy Nexus. With 4.1 on the Nexy the One X has been relegated to collecting dust on my desk. I love the Nexus all over again.

I wanted a Nexus device 2 months ago but it was to expencive for me to get for free on contract. But now the nexus is 350 euro's here also so it's the best mid renge phone available. I'm going to pick it up in het next days (maybee today) first i need to find a shop in my town that sells it.

The device is just a dream come true after the HTC desire i have now.

I'm going nexus and i hope that i stay nexus in the next couple of years. But now the galaxy nexus is about 1/2 year old. Can we start to think/dream/fantasise about the next nexus phone itteration. Quad core 2 GB 32/64 GB intern... or is google staying "small" thith 16 GB and this nexus for the next year...

I don't care the galaxy nexus is nice enough to furfill my needs in the next 2 years (of my contract :)) and it's unlocked so no more irritating non root locked device shady website en weird "unknow" programs (that maybee contain terrible backdoors etc.) to run just pure google fun...

Three words: Sony Xperia Nexus. Actually I hope fot the next Google version they picks anybody else besides Samsung athis rate. After comparing Samsung's hardware for their Nexus versus what they offer on their SGSS SGS3 it seems pretty obvious that they have no intention of letting the GNEX interfere with their flagship Galaxiy S sales.

THANK YOU for not running with the "Your pants are going to explode!!!!" story. Android Central has more journalistic integrity that 90% of media outlets in America. It's nice to be able to respect your news source and the fact that Chicken Little doesn't get a byline at Android Central is a huge contributor to that respect.

That won't stop me from whining about the layout, but your content absolutely, reliably, predictably rocks.

I'm a self-admitting Apple fanboy when it comes to their computers, but after being issued an iPhone at work (while carrying a low end Android device at home) I realized that Apple just doesn't have it right from a user experience standpoint, overall. This is particularly true for any of us who rely on Google services.

This problem, teamed with being on Sprint's 3G network presented my wife an I with a choice. I looked at the options and we decided to try Straight Talk as a solution. Even with their "limited unlimited" plans, I activated my wife's new Galaxy Nexus over the weekend. The pure Google experience is flawless, so I just ordered mine. My sticking points were the display and the camera. The display is more than adequate and the camera, well, I'll learn to live with it. It's better than my Optimus S and on par with the iPhone 4.

Thanks to Phil, the guys and the Android Central community for providing lots of information for me along the way. It made rooting my Optimus a breeze.