Much hay has been made about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the device which just a few weeks ago we were calling the Nexus Prime. If you're new around these parts, this is the big new Android phone for 2011 and at least most of 2012, thanks to it being the first with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and few Android smartphones have had such an insane level of hype to live up to. The Galaxy Nexus is supposed to be the phone that has everything -- a shiny new version of Android, combined with the best internals and display tech Samsung has to offer.
Already Internet discussion abounds, splitting hairs over this spec or that, but how does the phone look and feel in person? Is this really a perfect storm of next-generation Android and top-class hardware? Check out our full write-up and video walkthrough after the jump.
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In the flesh, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is a suprisingly unnassuming beast. Like its predecessor, the Nexus S, the Galaxy Nexus's front is pitch black when turned off, and the back is furnished in a modest grey plastic, with a Galaxy S II-style textured battery door. It's not the thinnest phone around, but it's pretty close, at just 8.94mm. And the screen is curved with the same subtlety as that of the Nexus S -- it's not something you'll notice in normal use.
While we're talking about the screen, let's get this one out of the way -- you don't need to worry about PenTile this or Gorilla Glass that. The Galaxy Nexus' display looks gorgeous -- end of story. It's really, really difficult to make out individual pixels, and even under the bright lights at today's Samsung World Tour event, we could make out small details just fine. At 4.65 inches diagonally, the Galaxy Nexus sounds monstrously huge. In reality, it's barely any bigger than the average 4.3-incher, mostly thanks to the fact that the buttons are now software-based, rather than requiring chassis space below the screen. You can check out our comparison pics showing the Nexus lined up with the LG Optimus 2X, SE Xperia Arc S and HTC Titan to get an idea of its actual size.
Aside from the screen, the real star of the show on the Galaxy Nexus is Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. We've all seen the the exhaustive feature demos of ICS, but what hasn't been commented on all that much is general OS performance. We found the device to be speedy throughout . Task-switching using the Honeycomb-style dropdown was quick and effortless, and the browser is every bit as fast as the Galaxy S II's.
Android veterans are going to have to re-wire their brains once buttonless ICS starts to become the new standard though -- on more than a few occasions during our time with the Galaxy Nexus we found ourselves accidentally tapping below the screen to hit a non-existant home button, or accidentally hitting the task-switching button thinking it was a 'menu' key. We're sure we'll get used to it with time.
The Galaxy Nexus launches in the UK on Nov. 17, with other European territories following shortly afterwards. Stateside, Verizon Wireless has yet to officially announce a launch date for its version of the Galaxy Nexus.