Galaxy Nexus

After months of speculation and hype, we finally have the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first device to ship with the brand new Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS. The phone recently went on sale in the UK, and we’re hoping to hear something (anything) out of Verizon about the Nexus’s US availability over the next week or so. We’ve already given you a first look at the device based on pre-release units at the recent Samsung Galaxy Note World Tour, but today we can bring you our initial thoughts on the GSM retail version that’s slowly becoming available across Europe.

We’ll have a full review in due course, but here’s a little spoiler: this is a phone we think you’ll want to buy. Read on to find out why.


Youtube link for mobile viewing

Much has been made of the size of the Galaxy Nexus, and at 4.65 inches diagonally, it’s certainly one of the larger Android phones out there. But it’s designed in such a way that it doesn’t really feel appreciably larger than a standard 4.3-inch device. Screen bezel has been kept to an absolute minimum, and it also helps that the phone is unbelievably light, weighting in at just 135 grams -- that’s a mere four grams heavier than the Nexus S. As you’ll see in our photos, it’s also fairly thin, although the upcoming Verizon LTE variant is reportedly a little girthier.

We’ve covered HD SuperAMOLED before in our Galaxy Note review, but it’s worth re-stating just how sharp and clear this display tech is. Colors are bright and vivid, and black are so dark they fade almost seamlessly into the bezel.

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We’ve also been over the Nexus’s specs countless times previously, but in case you’re new around here, you’ll find a 1.2 GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4460 chip inside, along with 1GB of RAM and (in the UK, at least) 16GB of internal storage. Solid internals for a high-end smartphone. Some were expecting it to be powered by a faster Exynos or Tegra 3 chip (or unicorns and sunshine), but the Nexus line has always been more about the software than the hardware.

Speaking of which, our initial impressions of Ice Cream Sandwich are overwhelmingly positive -- this is the big step up for the platform, and, looking back, on that Android direly needed. Matias Duarte and his team have created a beautiful piece of software with a consistent design language that’s new and fresh, but still very much Android. In addition to the new gallery, people and browser apps that we’ve touched on in our first hands-on feature, the Nexus comes loaded with re-designed ICS-optimized versions of Google favorites like Gmail, YouTube and Google+.

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The overall speed of ICS is striking in almost every area of the software. We’d say that in terms of general responsiveness, it’s on par with Samsung’s excellent Galaxy S II. On the whole, using Google’s new flagship phone is an enjoyable and lag-free experience, with one exception. We noticed that certain live wallpapers still had the potential to slow down the launcher considerably, making things much less responsive than with a static wallpaper. It's unfortunate that this is still the case with ICS, especially when you consider how smooth the rest of the UI is.

We can’t wait to get to know the Galaxy Nexus a little better over the next few days, and we’ll have a full review written up very soon, so keep watching. If you have any specific questions in the meantime, sound off in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them.

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Reader comments

Samsung Galaxy Nexus hands-on video and initial review

112 Comments

Does the stock browser have quick controls similar to Honeycomb browser? settings > labs
Can you hook an otg cable to microusb and verify it mounts and can read sd card, cameras, keyboards,and other io devices?
BT tether to a tablet to share internet?
BT mouse and kb support?

Quick controls and fullscreen browsing are in. No option for tabs. Don't have the hardware to test the other stuff.

Awesome thanks! Are tabs still accessable with Quick controls? How?
And you don't have an otg cable? Hit up Bestbuy!

did i hear or read somewhere correctly that with ICS the user can drop icons on top of each other to create "folders" similar to the functionality on the iphone? If so, I wonder why that wasn't demonstrated in the video walk-through..

Probably because Apple would try to sue if they did, claiming that they held a patent on folders.

(The sad thing is that I WISH I was joking.) :-P

Because there's a crapton of new stuff in ICS, and we'll have more videos showing off little neat features like this in the future.

QUESTION:

The Verge's Review said that the camera wasn't on par with the iPhone 4s'.

But I don't currently have an iPhone 4s, and I'm wondering how it compares to my current phone, the NEXUS S.

I know the shutter is faster, but I would love to know how it compares in terms of picture quality. ESPECIALLY IN LOW LIGHT.

Thanks.

The shutter is crazy fast. Right now I'd say that the camera is decent, but not outstanding by any means. Phones like the SGS2 and Xperia lines have way better cameras. I'll be testing the camera some more today, but those are my first impressions.

I can't believe wallpapers still slow the phone down. I thought hardware acceleration was supposed to fix all that?

I can, they are gonna keep upgrading the software past what current hardware can handle instead of optimizing the software to run as smooth as possible. It has always been like this on android. I have owned a Hero and a Moment when they were the best android phones available. They lagged like crazy. I owned the Evo when it was the best to be had, lag lag and more lag. Now I have a Nexus S 4G that I purchased at release, it too lags with as little as 3 widgets on the home screen. There looks to be a pattern here. Google keeps updating the software past what the current device standard for Ram and Cpu can handle. I have no idea why they do this, but it would be nice to one day own an Android device that can actually scroll the launcher (all 5 pages filled with widgets and a live wallpaper) smoothly with no lag. If a device can not handle 5 screens with widgets, then don't give us 5 screens.

I disagree. I don't think this is an issue with the OS as a hole. Just the stock launcher. On my galaxy tab 10.1 i use adw ex with a hubs theam that has at least 3 widgets on each of the five screens and mutipicture live wallpaper. With zero lag. I rarely use widgets on my nexus s 4g so i cant speek for that. They need to fix lag on there stock launcher but with options out there it not a deal bracker by any extent.

Gosh this is making me sick! I am DYING to drop money into Verizon's lap and bolt from Sprint if they would just release this phone!!

I know it has two microphones. Anyone know where the second one is? And does the Verizon version use a micro sim for LTE?

I have been waiting for this phone for a year. Wasn't blown away by the Nexus S so I waited.

Is there any official word on how much of the ICS interface supports and uses GPU acceleration? This is one of the biggest areas where Android is lagging behind iOS.

Its my understanding this phone does not have a micro sd slot, is that correct? Also with the 16 GB model, how much of the 16 do you get to store apps?

Correct. 13GB for apps, photos, etc. Everything seems to be lumped in together, as opposed to being split between app storage and USB storage.

I hope the Verizon model comes with the 32 GB sd card. Let's face it 16 just doesn't cut it IMO. I have 10 complete older movies on my Thunderbolt right now and that would just about kill all 16 GB of internal memory. Hopefully there is some memory in the cloud that is set up for saving Movies, files, music and other things. Just wish it came with the sd card. Lame, Lame, Lame.

Jesus guys, fix the damn lag! I've been hoarding live wallpapers that I will someday use on some phone when they finally fix this problem. I thought Google was full of geniuses?

If u believe that the nexus line was always about software than you are kidding yourself. N1 was the Superphone of Superphones. But its ancient history in tech terms.

Can you try "Rays of light" live wallpaper? Itssmall and doesn't eat battery. Any response on laggyness will be appreciated. I have had that live wallpaper since they day you guys reviewed it and love it!

I know it's entirely subjective, but I have to say the hardware itself and ICS are kind of ugly. The display looks beautiful though and the size of the phone is good. But the back of the device looks very cheap and ICS seems kind of toyish, not to mention it looks a lot like Touch Wiz. Also, I think I'd really miss the capacitive buttons and a removable SD card. :( What's up with that lag too? Thought this wasn't supposed to be a problem on vanilla Android, not to mention hardware acceleration?

I would like to know if you can set a proxy per wi-fi profile, and if you can set proxy authentication credentials for each network.

This is a known limitation that makes me mad, it becomes very hard to use a stock Android in a corporate network.

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Other feature I want to see, is how it handles DivX and Xvid movies, especially H.264 with high profile, movies in 1080p, please test it.

I know that Galaxy SII can handle that, but many other phones, including Tegra 2 phones, can´t handle that.

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Thanks in advance!

I can't find anything to do with setting a different proxy per SSID in the Wifi settings.

Xvid works, h.264 @ 720p works but w/o sound for some reason. Didn't test 1080p, but it'd be wasted on the 720p display anyway.

I'm not really a big fan of android (I read this site to be up to date with the competition), but I have to admit I'm quite impressed with this phone. If I weren't going to buy the iPhone 4S, this would definetely be the first on my list.

Sure would be nice to get a damn release date. I mean really verizon delaying it because supposedly the 2 vzw apps aren't working. Maybe that is a sign they don't belong on a nexus.

How does the screen compare to the Rezound? I just got one but I want to return it for a Nexus when it's out. The only thing that would keep me from getting it is if the screen isn't as good as the Rezound's. It's the first phone since the iPhone 4 that looks as good as my OG Droid.

The razor display its good but I feel nobody will beat htc on the display and camera department. I don't count the iphone because the display is so small of course it will look good. If you are into camera, display and front facing camera the rezound is the device you should keep.

I fear you are incorrect, the SGS2 line has, though not by much, superior cameras compared to HTC. And AMOLED screens are just damn sexy.

Phil I have to disagree also. When nexus1 came out it was more about hardware and. Less os. Today its more about os and less hardware because everyone all ready has those specs. This should have been a quad core ics phone. But it is less about making it a developer phone then a ordinary phone.I wish nexus would go back to its roots.

I WANT A GALAXY NEXUS!!

To replace my Nexus One.... yeah, I'm still rocking it. Won't trade it for the world, except of course for a Galaxy Nexus.

What's the big deal about this phone?????
Ok nice screen, thin design,
but a dissapointing camera, and what's all the hype about ICS? What's so special about it and laaag, flagship device???? Really?
I think the GS2 Kick his asss

The only lag is with certain live wallpapers. Everything else is buttery smooth.

The Nexus and SGS2 are both kickass devices :)

I can't argue much about the hardware - although it is a damn nice piece of hardware.

But to ask why ICS is significant is plain ignorant. It's not only a complete overhaul visually, it also has a ton of new features.

And GPU acceleration is a software thing, and will be turned on everywhere in 4.1

I like ics, but people make a big deal out of it. The new moto new interface is nice and so is sense. RAZR and gs2 will be the best device on 2011.

At this point I would say everyone know as much as you do. But it is most likely a feature to toggle LTE

I will be sorry to see my og dinc go. I love that little phone and I have rom'd and modded it to death. It will rest well with my wife and I am sure the devs will power it for a long time to come.

I see this nexus as an OPPORTUNITY. I hope monday.

I read that the Galaxy Nexus is lacking Flash & that it's not available in the Android Market for ICS... is this true?

Wifi is pretty much the same as other phones. GSM (particularly HSPA) reception is stronger in weak signal areas than most other phones I've used.

I don't like 7 buttons at the bottom, is there an option to make them go bye bye? Ie; phone, app drawer, browser, messages, contacts??

That's just in the launcher, but yeah, you can drag all of the icons out of there if you want, with the exception of the app drawer icon.

Can't wait to see the full review, I hope you guys will give us some information about the battery life.

Also, how different is it to transfer files via USB to the phone since it doesn't support USB Mass Storage?

You plug it in and it immediately connects in MTP (media transfer protocol) mode. No need to mount as USB storage or any of that nonsense. Really easy.

Ok so it can Sends and receives arabic do you know any think about the RTL problem for arabic and when can we buy it

Is the screen type similar to the nexus S ? is it plastic? I find my Nexus S screen suffers from smudges way more than my iphone 4's . kind of a deal breaker. How would you compare the S and G screens?

Picked up galaxy nexus yesterday. Overall impressed but have had a couple of issues with ics and third party apps like dolphin hd and opera. When i try to opwn these apps, particularly dolphin it force closes or worse on certain sites do not load. Another issue i have, but irs not a major one, is there are only 5 homescreens. And expose style pinch like on the htc sensation or the s2.

When comparing the screen to the s2 i find my s2 screen alot brighter. Also the battery, in the day and a half i had the device, is alright. Standard i think.

Overall when i compare to other top tier phones (s2, sensation and the 4s) its right up there. However i think people will make a natural comparasion with s2. If someone was to push me to say which is the better out of the two....i still say the s2 is still top dog.

May i ask you can you please look for arabic writing only see if it support writing and about RTL problem for arabic please

Is it laggy when multiple apps are open? If so-does the lag cease when swiped away?

Also, did u experience any force close issues?

I am yet to see anywhere if the Galaxy Nexus has it's wifi tether crippled. Can you confirm or deny if it is working? Thanks.

Tethering is present and correct on the international version. Dunno whether that'll be the case on the Verizon version, though...

Thanks Alex. I just might have to import that thing to get my hands on the HSPA+ version to use with my AT&T Sim. Great review and thanks for answering all of the questions.

Mr. Dobie, I am interested in how certain apps perform with and without the force 2D GPU acceleration option in the developer menu on the phone. Could you test and comment on how Netflix, the Comixology app (Comics in Android Marketplace) and the B & N Nook app (using magazines preferably, the books work ok now under 3.2) plz.

I'm trying to figure out if that's why those apps have noticeable scrolling lag and general performance issues on my Galaxy Tab 10.1.

If you don't have an account with any of these, just let me know how to private message you my account details for those services and I will. Those apps in particular are very important to me and I need to know they'll work well moving forward.

Hi im new to nexus devices and I was wondering what are those three brass/gold looking dots on the side of the device?

Talk about MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT WOW…I have to recollect myself and remeber why I switched from sprint to verizon and that was related to service issues with sprint as well as signal weakness. As far as that was concerned verizon has covered that problem 150% so I am extremely happy from a 4g LTE signal standpoint service is great. Now from a device standpoint I came to verizon DROOLING FOR THE GALAXY NEXUS even jumped on the double the data promotion 5gb for 50 dollars which was normal plan now I have 10gb for 50 dollars to me that is unlimited since I never went over 4gb when I had unlimited data on sprint. I came to verizon on November 11th with my 14days coming to a close on November 25th I took a gamble hoping the Galaxy Nexus would land between Nov 11 to Nov 25 rumor wise I was on course but reality wise looks like December 8th now. So what is a man to do I refuse to be stuck with the Lg Revolution as my main device when I had the EVO 3D when I was on sprint so what I will do is get the best HTC DEVICE on any carrier and yes that is the HTC REZOUND. So come this Monday since I know now there will be NO galaxy nexus before November 25th which ends my 14days I will trade in my current Lg Revolution for the Rezound and will be happy. The overall reviews of the rezound have been great and with 16gb of internal storage as well as 16gb sd card that can be expandable to 32gb I will have plenty of storage. Plus with all the current problems and issues with the Galaxy Nexus ie 16gb of internal storage INSTEAD of the 32gb, NO FLASH, and SOFTWARE issues I will ride it out until all these issues are resolved. The Galaxy Nexus will have to prove to me it’s worth adding a line to my current verizon account and based on what has been going on recently I seriously doubt the Galaxy Nexus can come strong regardless od ice cream sandwich. I will leave that possibility open but as of tomorrow I will be walking into a verizon store to exchange my Revolution for the Rezound and will continue being a happy verizon customer…..http://www.vzbuzz.com/2011/11/google-updates-galaxy-nexus-tech-specs-ver...……http://www.droid-life.com/2011/11/19/galaxy-nexus-roundup-only-16gb-vers...

Is the calculator any better in ICS? iOS's calc app is really nice when you compare it to Android. I'm hoping this will change.