Verizon Galaxy Nexus

It's hard to talk about the Verizon Samsung Galaxy Nexus without talking about the relative mess that was its road to launch. The Galaxy Nexus was announced (after a brief delay) in Hong Kong on Oct. 18. At the time, no carriers were announced. Verizon finally made it official on Oct. 21, saying the first phone with Android 4.0 "will be available later this year." And that's all we got, until Dec. 15, when it finally and unceremoniously went on sale.

Never mind that we told way back on July 25 that Verizon would get it. But we digress.

And you know what? Now that the phone's out, none of this matters. Old news.

And never mind that for all intents and purposes, we've already thoroughly reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, thanks to Alex Dobie's stellar look at the unlocked GSM version that's been available in Europe for some time and for importing to the States. While the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is new to those of us in the United States, and new in the sense that it's a 4G device with a bit of hand-holding from Verizon in the software department, we're hardly looking at an all new phone from the GSM model.

So here's where we stand: Read on for our complete Verizon Galaxy Nexus review. I haven't yet really weighed in on my thoughts about the Galaxy Nexus and Ice Cream Sandwich. So I'm going to forgo some of the usual spec talk (again, read Alex's GSM Galaxy Nexus review if you haven't already) and concentrate more on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus differences, and my thoughts on Android 4.0 and how it all fits together.

And with that, we present our Verizon Galaxy Nexus review.


The Good

It's a Nexus, so it's got the full weight and attention of Google behind it. I'll get upgrades before other devices. The screen is gorgeous, as is Ice Cream Sandwich.

The Bad

The camera is woefully disappointing. The speakerphone is all but unusable on phone calls. There are some Ice Cream Sandwich UI hiccups.

Conclusion

If you have to have the latest and greatest version of Android, this is the phone to get. If you have to have a phone that's easily hackable, this is the phone to get. If you want the best overall hardware? Might want to look elsewhere.

Inside this review

More info

The video walkthrough


Youtube link for mobile viewing

The hardware

Verizon Galaxy Nexus

Like the GSM Galaxy Nexus, the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is a big sucker, thanks to that 4.65-inch display. It's a tall phone at 5.33 inches. It's a wide phone at 2.67 inches. But it's still relatively thin at 0.37 inches. Yeah, it's a hair thicker than its GSM counterpart -- all of two-tenths of an inch thicker. Or if you're into the metric thing, it's all of .53 mm thicker. A half a milimeter.

Verizon Galaxy NexusVerizon Galaxy Nexuxs

But guess what -- we're also used to CDMA phones being slightly thicker than their GSM counterparts. That's not new. Heck, that's been the case since before Android existed.

Can you tell the difference if you're holding both phones next to each other? Sure. If you're lucky enough to have held the GSM Galaxy Nexus, yes, you'll notice it's a tad thicker. But considering that it's still thinner than Verizon's HTC Rezound or Droid Bionic, chances are you're not going to complain.

The question everyone has is "Is the Galaxy Nexus too big?" Know what? It might well be. I've got small hands, and I've had to relearn how I use phones a little bit. Some of that's because of the sheer size of the Galaxy Nexus, and some of that is because of the way Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has moved things around.

One thing that's a bit more evident because of the Galaxy Nexus' size is the curve in its display. It's still subtle, but it's more apparent with the additional real estate.

A quick word on the display: 720 pixels wide is the way to go, folks. Notice how nobody's been screaming about PenTile this or PenTile that? (Or if they have, they're just wrong.) Doesn't matter. Any problem I've had with PenTile in the past is just that -- in the past. Pixillation is no problem here.

Verizon Galaxy Nexus

Let's talk about the bottom of the Galaxy Nexus for a second. It's got the 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB port and a pinhole mic. It's also fatter than the rest of the device. With the headphone jack down there, you're going to have to stick it in your pocket head-first to use wired headphones. I usually have my phones in my pocket ass-up anyway, so I'm used to it. You might have to adjust. Shouldn't take long.

As for the buttons on the sides of the Galaxy Nexus -- they fall exactly where I like them. The volume rocker's easy to hit with the thumb on my left hand, or the index finger on my right. Reverse that for the power button. That's standard Samsung fare, though.

Verizon Galaxy Nexuxs

Onto the back of the Galaxy Nexus. This is where you'll notice that slight extra thickness. But a tiny bit of junk in the trunk never hurt anyone, right? And it's a good thing, since the bottom of the Galaxy Nexus has that hump. It's actually a nice way for getting it right-side up just by feel.

I've heard plenty of people express concern over the thinness of the battery cover on the GSM Galaxy Nexus, and it hasn't really changed in Verizon's version. Yes, it's very thin when removed from the phone. But it's also very durable. If you've ever used a Samsung Infuse, it feels and fits exactly the same way. Once it's on the phone, it's on the phone. I'm not worried about it in the slightest.

The 5-megapixel camera's still centered in the back of the phone. No change there. (And more on the camera in a bit.)

What's under the hood

Not a whole lot going on here that's not on the GSM Galaxy Nexus. Same 1.2 GHz dual-core processor. Same 1GB of RAM. Verizon's got 32GB of on-board storage (the GSM model has a 16GB base), which is good, because there's no removable storage card.

Verizon Galaxy Nexuxs

One thing that has changed here on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is the battery. Things have shifted quite a bit, meaning you can't use a GSM Galaxy Nexus battery in the LTE version. It just won't work. Verizon has also opted for an 1850 mAh battery, about a 5 percent increase over the 1750 mAh battery in the GSM Galaxy Nexus. That's not a huge increase, but we'll take whatever we can get.

Verizon Samsung Galaxy Nexus with extended battery

We'd recommend springing for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus "extended" battery. It bumps you up to 2100 mAh -- not a whole lot -- and its slightly bulbous shape actually makes the phone feel better in the hand.

The battery still houses the NFC antenna, though. That hasn't changed. Keep that in mind when you're buying third-party batteries. No NFC antenna, no NFC.

LTE on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus

Of course, the biggest difference (and the reason for a lot of the little differences) is that Verizon's Galaxy Nexus has a 4G LTE radio. And you've no doubt by now heard a great gnashing of teeth over this. Poor signal strength. Disappointing battery life.

Welcome to LTE, folks. If it's your first time in the neighborhood, have a look around.

From Day 1 of Verizon's LTE network, a few things have been true: Connections can be shaky. The hand-off from 3G to 4G and back again can be slower than you're used to. And using LTE data -- and undoubtedly trying to maintain a stable connection -- can suck a battery dry by lunchtime.

That's gotten a little better over the months, and it's better still on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus. It also varies greatly depending on how (and how much) you're using the phone. Here's a real-world comparison for you: Leave the HTC ThunderBolt and the Verizon Galaxy Nexus unplugged at night. In the morning, the latter will still be usable, while the former is an uncharged brick. In fact, we're quite happy with the Verizon Galaxy Nexus' standby time. In actual usage, it's also better than the early LTE devices.

One thing that hasn't changed is the speed of Verizon's LTE network. If you've got a good, strong connect, it's fast. That's not going to matter a whole lot on many apps, but it's great for downloading pictures, or browsing full websites. Or, even better is for using your Galaxy Nexus as a mobile hotspot. You'll have to pay Verizon and extra $20 a month for that privilege, but it works, and it supports up to 10 devices simultaneously.

About all that 'bug' talk ...

Here's our take on the whole signal bug thing: Verizon's already said that it's going to adjust the way signal strength is reported to be more in line with its other devices. That means you'll probably see better 4G connections than you are now. If this helps you sleep better at night? Great. We'd rather see 4G over 3G. If anything, it just feels faster.

The fact is that in a lot of daily use -- e-mails, games, Twitter, Facebook, reading, whatever -- you might well not notice. Pure downloading for things like websites and files should be noticable. We're real curious to see the difference in speed test results -- if there are any -- after the update.

We're less concerned about the number of bars we get than we are having a good solid 4G connection that stays connected. That's paramount, for us.

The short version: If it bothers you, Verizon's going to make you feel better. If you're not having any issues, then move along.

The software

Welcome to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. We have no reservations in saying that ICS is the best looking version of Android yet. That's helped along a bit by the Galaxy Nexus' gorgeous screen, but most of the credit needs to go to Google here.

We've already crawled all over Ice Cream Sandwich in Alex Dobie's GSM Galaxy Nexus review. So instead of rehashing all the features, I'm going to pick and choose some of my favorite to break down.

The lockscreen

Verizon Galaxy Nexus lockscreen

This is one of the most used features in ICS, for the obvious reason. And it's nicely redesigned, with the time and date prominent. I love that you can pull down the notification bar from the lock screen to get to new e-mails or whatever even faster. (If you use a security lock, you'll still have to jump through that hoop.)

You unlock the phone by sliding the lock to the right. Or, you can go directly to the camera app by sliding left.

HTC still has this beat in its Sense lockscreen though, which has four quick-launch options -- and is customizable. At the very least, Google should give you the option to reverse things and make slide left the unlock; it can be tough on your thumb if you hold the phone in your left hand.

The notification bar

Verizon Galaxy Nexus Notification Bar

Nicely refined. You can swipe to dismiss a notification, or kill them all at once. Also note the new settings shortcut at the top.

The on-screen buttons

Verizon Galaxy Nexus buttons

I'm still not completely sold on these. They're easy enough to use, and in some applications they disappear, giving you (and the developer) more screen real estate. It's nice having the multitasking button there instead of holding down the home button, we suppose, but the actual act of drawing the list of apps that you can switch to is painfully slow. That needs to be addressed.

Another niggle: I'm not sure trading in the menu button and instead integrating it into apps was the right move. Here's why ...

Google's UI inconsistency

Ice Cream SandwichIce Cream Sandwich

Starting with Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Google started to get rid of the menu button and move that functionality into the app itself. In Ice Cream Sandwich, the menu button is now seen as a little three-dot indicator somewhere in the app. And that's part of the problem.

In some applications, the button is in the bottom right-hand corner of the app. In others, it's in the top right-hand corner. And we're not just talking about Google's apps versus third-party apps that haven't been updated to conform to the new standards. This sort of consistency is prevalent in Google's own apps. Here's an example. In Gmail, it might be at the top (where it's supposed to be), or it might be at the bottom. Depends on what you're doing. If the keyboard's open in Gmail, the menu button is up top. If the keyboard's closed, it's back at the bottom.

This makes our brain hurt.

The death of the search button, and new search bar

Ice Cream Sandwich Search Bar

Hey, look. Google went and got rid of the search button, too, and instead it's added a search bar at the top of the home screens. It's made up for this within applications (its own apps, anyway), by adding on-screen search buttons. We're a little on the fence with this one. From within the ICS home screens, it makes perfect sense. But we still miss our dedicated button. Apps will have to make sure they have search soft buttons.

Customizable dock

Ice Cream Sandwich Dock

Thank you, sweet baby bugdroid. A proper customizable dock. OK, so Google seems to have cribbed form any number of the great third-party launchers here. And that's fine, so long as we can swap out the apps in the dock at will.

The new app drawer - welcome, widgets!

ICS appsICS widgets

We're mostly sold on this. You've got your apps, listed in alphabetical order. (No option to customize the order like some phones give you.) The dock scrolls horizontally -- again, we'd prefer a vertical option. And notice the tabs up top. You've got "Apps" for apps, and "Widgets for widgets."

In fact, that's one of the bigger changes in Ice Cream Sandwich that's taken some getting used to. No longer do you press and hold on the home screen to add a widget. You have to go to the app (and widget) drawer. You can get to the widgets by scrolling through all the apps (keep going), or just hit the tab.

Also notice the icon for the Android Market. That's a nice, easy way to hop on over to get more apps.

We're also digging the way you place apps on the home screen. Continued from the way it's done in Honeycomb, you press and hold the widget in the drawer, then get to drop it exactly where you want on the home screen. No more guessing, or hoping there's room.

Proper home screen folders

ICS folders

This has totally changed the way I use my home screens. Not that folders are new, but they're finally done right on Android. (And, yes, they're done very much like on iOS.)

To make a folder, just drop one app onto another on the home screen. Done. That's it. You can name your folders, too, if you want. Just open a folder, tap where it says "unnamed folder," and type a new name.

I've gone from needing three home screens to only really using one. It's magical.

The camera

There's not a whole lot there that we didn't say in our first Galaxy Nexus review. The camera's pretty disappointing, especially if you're coming from any other recent Samsung device. Sure, the "zero-lag" shutter is awesome. And it's nice to have panoramic photos in an AOSP build of Android, and the time-lapse feature is fun, if you're into gimmicks. But the camera app still isn't as good as Samsung's or Motorola's. And the image quality, well, just make sure you're in some decent light and that nobody's moving. 

The short version is Google would do well to license whatever it is Samsung's been using for the past year, or that HTC has finally started to get into. It took HTC forever to realize the importance of having an above-average camera on a smartphone. While trade-offs always have to be made, that's one we don't want to see skipped on a Nexus phone.

Images open in full resolution in a new window


Youtube link for mobile viewing

The wrap-up

It's a Galaxy Nexus. With LTE. That's really the long and short of it. We actually prefer the ever so slight extra thickness of Verizon's version, and the "extended" battery is a no-brainer, and makes the phone feel even better. 

It's tempting to ding the phone for Verizon's occasionally wonky LTE, and maybe we should. It's an integral part of this phone. On the other hand, there's a GSM Galaxy Nexus, and a Sprint version is on the way, too. So if spotty LTE is a deal-breaker, you've got options. But Verizon does need to get that sorted out, soonest.

Otherwise, we're more than happy with the Verizon Galaxy Nexus. The camera remains a bit disappointing, but we knew that going into this review.

 
There are 80 comments

rem_kujawa says:

Too much Verizon branding.

RaiderWill says:

A Mid-Range Phone with Flagship Prices.. Period.
All current top end phones will get ICS in 90 days or so.. Not to mention the Quad-Core Superphones ready to debut in a few days.. Then what does this phone have to fall back on? If it has 2nd-3rd place hardware now, how far back in the pack will it be once the Superphones drop in a couple of months? at $129.00 on $399.00 off contract cool.. $300.00 on $800.00 off contract? No Way. This is NOT the " Jump in and be Happy for a while phone " IMO its been the most overhyped phone since the Bionic..

Blazing~! on my 1,300 mhz GummyCharged Droid Charge. and Ready to Window Shop the Quad-Core Superphones of 2012 at CES..

Josh515 says:

Quad-core superphones will be debuting in a few days? Who said they will released at CES, it could be months! As for other phones getting ICS, I would rather not deal with any of the custom skins you know the manufacturers will put on them.

Blazing on my superfast 1,200 mhz Galaxy Nexus with more than enough power and ZERO complaints!

Hand_O_Death says:

Over a year ago, I was all excited about getting this awesome Dual Core I heard about. CES they called it the "Bionic" and look how well that turned out. The only reason this is not a flagship phone is because VZW is pushing the Rezound and the Razr even harder. I love this phone and think it is excellent.

And personally, I do not see this as an "Over Hyped" phone because the only people that even know about it are the ones that go to these sites.

Oh, and the nice tweak about having a Nexus and a single free Widget that accidentally gives me free WiFi tethering doesn't hurt either.

mapin says:

You're joking right? You'll be lucky if any top end phones get ICS on schedule if past experience is any indication. Yet you claim "all" will. That's laughable. Quad-core phones may debut at CES, but when will they be in consumer's hands? Again, you're one of these people that doesn't understand the philosophy behind Nexus. My Nexus S is a single core, running official ICS, and smooth as butter. You're the type of person that would have made the same exact comment last year when the Nexus S came out. "Nexus S specs are 2nd rate, blah blah". All you look at is hardware spec sheets and decide that's the end all and be all.

Listen, the Nexus will get updated before any other phone, directly from Google. It won't be loaded with 20+ bloatware apps. It won't have custom manufacturer skins built into it to slow it down and delay OS updates. It wil be a pure Android experience that is more than the sum of its parts. As Apple has shown time and time again, it's not just about the Ghz and the Megapixels, but about the end user experience. If you want the best Android experience, Nexus is the way to go and you shouldn't get caught up on spec sheet details.

15israellai says:

I sort of remember an AC reader who feels very superior and proud of his Droid Charge...

Mr.Froyo says:

I know right. Hate this dude.

meredybanson says:

at lease it now has a 2000mah battery available for it. I got it here http://ow.ly/8PeBz hope it will solve some issues.

Mr.Froyo says:

You again? Didn't we have a talk at th HTC Vivid review? at what did i tell you. you just reply on the first comment so your whiny voice is heard,

has a case on it...dosent matter. Disable the two apps that come installed.

i think the camera on my nexus is 100% better than the piece of crap camera on my x2!

TerryMasters says:

That awkward moment when you bash the camera and then show the really awesome pics it took

alcor34 says:

I think android central should choose their words a little more carefully when writing a review because the truth is since the day of purchase i've not had the woes that other people are experiencing. coming from being a mainstream moto guy it took a little getting used to but i love the phone. As per the in call speaker mine works like a champ and my camera though 5mp it works like a beast taking better (faster) pics that the majority of phones i've had in the past and i've had a few.

The Bad - i think this should be a disclaimer with reference to the device 'you' reviewed because the next thing because of the comments in your review people starting walking around giving the device a bad rap, and it's a beautiful piece of performance.

Actually, better yet: the bad on our reviewed unit (disclaimer)

mustangboy88 says:

Are you talking about the speaker on the call (personal) or the speaker loudness when using speaker phone. Phil is talking about the speakerphone volume. Also consider the fact the person has more phones to compare to then you have in your inventory. Although it's good to you, it may be poor compared to other comparable hand sets.

balthuszar says:

anyone with a half a brain knows to go out and try the device for themselves...if they don't, just like if they rely on reviews to decide which movie to see, they're missing out on a ton of really nice devices

alcor34 says:

oh well

Murph5150 says:

There should be an additional extended battery option for this phone that's output is higher than 2100 mAh. Some people need close to 2800 mAh such as myself.

icebike says:

Knowing the camera is bad going into the review and that the LTE is even worse, how can you end with being happy with a device who's only claim to fame is that it runs ICS?

Does ICS trump bad hardware?

RETG says:

No! At least not in my book.

budwizer says:

The camera on mine is fine and I've had no issues with LTE beyond the few Verizon outages of recent.

ICS adds to the great hardware of the phone.

Hand_O_Death says:

The camera in mine is much better than my DX. I never have a problem with 4G (I work in a 4G area, but do not live in one, le-sigh).

I have been streaming video and video chat now for a week and I love the phone. I have no clue what "Bad hardware" or "Mid line specs" people are complaining about but I think this phone is awesome.

Note: A friend I work with did not want to wait for the Nexus and ended up with the Razr. Excellent phone, but he is very jealous of the Nexus.

JeffDenver says:

"Knowing the camera is bad going into the review and that the LTE is even worse, how can you end with being happy with a device who's only claim to fame is that it runs ICS? Does ICS trump bad hardware?"

THIS ^^^

Seriously...this review totally downplayed the LTE signal issues, and that is a very big deal IMO, especially on a phone with "premium" pricing. Its hard to take AC reviews seriously when they sugarcoat serious stuff like this. Some of the biggest threads in their own forum are complaints about this issue, and it is actual Galaxy Nexus owners(!) doing the complaining.

AllThumbs says:

Comparing this phone to AT&T's Galaxy S II Skyrocket leaves me scratching my head. Both have 4G support. The size and design of the phone is almost identical. But the Galaxy Nexus lacks a graphics accelerator, a microSD expansion slot, a superb 8 megapixel camera, and a much more durable back cover. Plus you can root the Skyrocket in a couple of minutes. So why would Google want its branded flagship device to be such a second-class citizen? It's one thing for a phone to be obsolete a year or two after its release. It's quite another to start out that way.

TurbineTech says:

It took me 7-10 minutes to unlock my boot loader and root my Nexus. I don't see how the Skyrocket could be any quicker than that? Can you even unlock the Syrockets bootloader?

As far as the back cover on the Nexus it is plenty durable. Once in place it becomes a solid part of the phone with no creaks or movement. It might be a tad flimsy while off the phone, but who leaves it off for any length of time?

Also you can only buy the Skyrocket on a network which consistently receives the worst rating imaginable.

Did I forge to mention Ice Cream Sandwich and no OEM skin?

All in all sounds like a bunch of fails.... For the Skyrocket...

planoman says:

How many times has Verizon's LTE network gone down in the last month? Funny, my skyrocket LTE had not gone down once.

lumpy211 says:

At least I can get LTE from Verizon where I live.

planoman says:

me too and most of my homestate on ATT! And I fall back to HSPA+ when no LTE how about you?

icebike says:

Graphic accelerator
Expansioon Microsd
Camera.

You failed to mention his major points, dwell on a minor issue, then declare yourself winner!

What color is the sky in your world where bluff and bluster settles all discussions?

iknownothing says:

I'm not sure what you mean by graphics accelerator, but the Galaxy nexus sports a powervr sgx540 graphics processing unit and the software supports hardware acceleration. Generally considered to be an excellent gpu. It's true that the skyrocket will likely get better gpu performance, but that's because the the nexus has a full 2.5 times better resolution. So if watching movies or videos is for you then the nexus is a much better choice. If you prefer better performance on games and don't mind sacrificing resolution, then go with the skyrocket.

Internal memory typically performs better than sd and 32 gigs is likely more than enough for most people, but if this is a deal breaker for you so be it.

The camera is a genuine weakness. It's pretty clear that Samsung wanted to leave something on the table for their own stuff.

Hand_O_Death says:

Now I can not comment on the graphics acceleration, because I know next to nothing about it.

The extra MPs are for the SIZE of the photo and since I usually take photos of my kids, I am not stressing since the Zero Lag Shutter is the most important thing to me (try getting three little ones to not only LOOK at you at the same time, but smile as well and then factor in a shutter time and your screwed) The camera works great from what I have used it for.

The Back is a moot point, it feels silly coming on and off, but it is on and it crazy secure. Hell the damn thing fastens itself to the phone in like a dozen places, my DX cover had the single plastic clasp pin break and I had tape holding it on for over a year.

Micro SD would be very nice but I never removed or even came close to filling the 32GB card on my DX and at least the Nexus has 32GB built in.

If you want to really get into rooting, you have no foot to stand on when comparing to a Nexus. I have never rooted a phone before (never needed to) but had my bootloader unlocked in minutes just for whatever sways me in the future with this phone.

AT&T and VZW - Well I am loving my unlimited LTE on VZW. Now that I have a 4G phone I have used almost 2 GB of streaming in just a week. That is only at work since I am all WiFi at home (I live in the hills and have no delusions of getting 4G of any kind near me any time soon, very sad) and my 4G works perfectly and is crazy fast.

Now I believe I have shared my personal opinions on all the points you made. I would also like to raise you a funny glitch where you download certain WiFi hotspot widgets and get free wifi tethering which is pretty sweet.

Now with all that said, the Skyrocket is a fantastic phone as well, but i do not see it making the GN a "Second class citizen" any time soon.

15israellai says:

As far as I know ICS natively supports graphics acceleration, does that make the Nexus superior in terms of that?

dyinman says:

"But the Galaxy Nexus lacks a graphics accelerator"

Ugh. No it doesn't.

"a superb 8 megapixel camera"

It's only superb if it takes good quality photos.

Megapixels generally don't matter as much. BUT, I will say that on a phone, a device that lacks an OPTICAL ZOOM, megapixels definitely do matter. How much of a difference from 5 to 8? For most things, not much. But if you're going to a concert or some other event where things are further away, having 8MPs can make the difference in a big way.

dcdttu says:

What Verizon is going to do is make the phone show 3G reception (with the bars) while the phone is in 4G, like its other phone. That will mask the fact that their LTE network isn't quite as strong / built out as their 3G, which is understandable. Personally, other than constant loss of 4G and 3G data, I think that the Nexus' 4G reception is fine.

What I whole-heartedly think is not fine, however, is 3G reception. I have 5 friends with the Nexus. I have tested their Nexus' against mine and each other. I have tested them against an iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, Droid Charge, original Droid and Droid X. I compared, side by side, the reception of the Galaxy Nexus in dBm while in 3G-only mode. The phone is consistently 10-20dBm less than every single other phone I have compared it to. I have a friend that has an iPhone 4s, and when at his house, his reception is in the -90dBm range. My Nexus, and my friend's also (so it isn't just my phone) had ZERO signal. No 3G. None at all. I couldn't even get texts. Meanwhile his phone had full data, text, calls - you name it.

This happens to me all over Austin, not to mention piss-poor call quality. When I call someone, even the sound of the phone ringing can't come in clearly. Calls are always breaking up and hiccuping, it's like I have an iPhone on AT&T in 2007 all over again, but this time it's not the network.

On an odd side note, I travelled to Lubbock over the holidays and, while I still had consistently worse reception than my mother's iPhone 4 (as did my step-dad's Nexus), call quality was superb. What can possibly cause this phone to be so bad in one city, and then just fine in another???

Either way, 3G reception is horrendous. Try it yourself. Set your phone to 3G only and compare it to another Verizon phone in dBm. Always 10-20 less.

I'm returning this phone before the 15th if they don't fix it, and getting an unlocked one on T-Mobile.

usbrasil says:

I'm seeing the same thing. I know they are rolling out a "fix", but doesn't sound they are actually acknowledging any signal problem. I have the phone sitting here next to an iphone 4 on verizon and the nexus is 15dBms weaker than the nexus. I'm seeing this all over the place. I'm also considering taking it back before the 15th. It would be nice to know if this is something that that an update can fix, or if its something inherently wrong with the nexus.

Come to think of it, I'm not hearing much about the issue at all. Yours is the first post that I've seen that nailed the issue.

dcdttu says:

It amazes me that reviews like Android Central's don't pick up on something like this. I suppose everyone is running around thinking 4G reception is the issue, when it's not. All Verizon's fix is going to do is swap out 4G bars with 3G bars when in 4G or 3G. They've mentioned nothing about fixing the reception of the device while in 3G. As a matter of fact, they've said that the reception of the device is fine on multiple occasions, making me even more worried the phone's reception is not going to get any better.

3G is responsible for calls, texts and data when 4G is not available. It's kind of important.

I ask anyone else with access to another Verizon device to do the same test. Put your phone in 3G-only mode, set it next to the other device, go to Settings, About Phone and then find the section with the Signal in it (rated in dBm). In my findings, the Nexus is 10-20 dBm LESS than every other phone I've compared it to, which is huge by the way.

A phone that has zero reception in many areas of a city like Austin while other phones are just fine (incl. the Droid Charge with the same hardware inside) is ridiculous, and unacceptable. I waited 6 months for this phone and am sorely disappointed.

jminne says:

I am also having call and signal reliability issues on my galaxy nexus here in south/central Austin. I can't believe that several times a day I get the message "No Network" when trying to make a call.

I don't care how many bars are showing up, I just want to be able to make and receive calls that are reasonably clear.

My iphone wife is mocking me and my android troubles. I might have to switch back to iphone if things don't get better in the next week days.

I wish windows phone was a reasonable alternative. But it's not - yet.

horseshoe says:

Its speaker is like using a tin can with string?

Hand_O_Death says:

Now I came from a DX where the speaker was CRAZY AWESOME so I may be spoiled but it seems like the speaker is really low. I think they could tweak it software wise because the ringer can get pretty loud. I have been looking into FM Transmitters or mini speakers for $15 for when I watch movies and TV on it though, which is really sad to need an attachment.

gozirra says:

Wow, great review of this phone. After reading it I scrolled back up to the top to see who wrote it so I could tell Phil "give this guy a raise" :)

Kimo91 says:

Well so much for the greatest phone since sliced bread...way too much hype for a phone well before its release

Litt says:

I though when Google first announced this device, that people were excited about the camera sensor. Could the low light issues be fixed via a software update?

Any chance they may boost the camera in the Sprint version? The leaked ads make is sound like Sprints GNEX is going to have a performance boost in the processor, why not also improve the camera?

voghan says:

Good review. Using split activity bar is one of the options in ICS. http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/ui/actionbar.html#SplitBar

planoman says:

As a GSM user, I will take my skyrocket and galaxy note over the nexus. In fact, I opted to buy the gnote over the nexus unlocked. You can give the others ICS and once they get them, the nexus is left behind. Way behind in my opinion. While the screen resolution is nice, it does not overcome several other shortcomings IMO.

balthuszar says:

even with ICS the nexus has been left WAY behind...from the day the word "Samsung" and "Galaxy" preceded the word "Nexus" it was left WAY behind

icebike says:

My thoughts exactly.
Ive officially decided to give this phone a pass. As well as all future Samsung offerings. Two chances to deliver a nexus and they blow both, the second way worse than the first.

HTC poured their heart and soul into the NEXUS One. It exceeded all others on release.

Samsung used leftovers.

Let moto try next time.

stanlm2 says:

agree, I thought the galaxy player wouldn't be premium, but leftovers is a good word to use. I got that impression for their software tweaks too, got hit with the galaxy 10.1 brick update among other more minor things.
I'll look to htc and moto from here on out. galaxy nexus might be good, i won't find out.

gomezl7 says:

although the screen is gorgeous the phone it is just too big.. yeah I know that's what she said...I know... if it was the size of the s 2 on at&t it would be the dream phone... not tIthe sky rocket the regular s 2. the camera the speaker phone n the back cover are bad on out. what makes the phone great is that it's a nexus and it has ice cream already

Am I the only one that thinks Google should release a Nexus showing off top-of-the-line software and then, few months later, release another pure Google phone with that latest updated software (so all the bugs would be fixed) and top-of-the-line hardware...?

Like a more bad-ass version of the Nexus! ...with a real nice camera like on the Nokia N8, 1.5Gz quad-core, 4.7" hi-def screen, 64 Gigs of storage

ballison78 says:

I have the unlocked GSM version. I can't put my finger on what it is but I absolutely love this phone. I know that that camera and speaker suck but I don't care. I can live with that. Even though it is entirely made of plastic it feels soooo much better in the hand than other Samsung phones I have used (Captivate, Focus, GS II)

Nond904 says:

Really torn. I love Android..Love my Droid X but I want a good camera on my phone because most of the time my phone is what I use to take pictures because it's always on me. To know that the Nexus has a disappointing phone makes me wonder if I should go iPhone (I know I know) just because the photos I've seen are amazing looking.

As far as good camera-phones, MyTouch 4G Slide and any of the Galaxy S2 versions have great cameras.

deadpenguins says:

Take a look at the photos in the review, they look great to me. I'm not sure what more can be expected of a PHONE camera, but to me the photo quality is amazing. I haven't even experienced bad dim light photos that some complain about. The flaws on this phone are WAY overhyped. I came from a charge and the Gnex has surpassed every expectation I've had of it. Zero lag, opens all apps instantaneously (besides games, which is still fast and have all run flawlessly), easy to navigate. Sure there are minor software issues, but being software issues they will be addressed in the near future. You can actually spend a few minutes finding apps that fix these issues anyway(volume+ on the market as an example to fix the speaker volume issue).

Hand_O_Death says:

I came from a DX, I really like the GN. I love ICS and yes others will get it soon so you can always wait, there is not rush. The screen is fan freaking tastic which it a huge plus. 4G is a gigantic difference if your in an LTE area. The phone is scary fast on everything I put it to do (I am big on games, movie streaming from sites, a networked storage device from my home as well as a Hava streamer also from home and video calling). But the Razr and Rezound are good phones as well. Your not Ansel Adams with the camera, but I have no clue what all the bitching is about, it works great for me as long as you don't have MS and shake your hands all around. But if your not sure, Android phones are like the weather in New England. If you don't like it, just wait a few minutes.

Anev says:

I went from the Incredible to the Nexus and the camera is loads better and faster. I haven't played much with the speaker phone but then I rarely use anything but bluetooth headsets - their cheap and work well - I have three always around so who needs a speaker phone or even to use the handset ... that's just so 1990's.

The only problem I've had is text messaging. It works with some people and not others so I switched to Handcent and haven't had any problems - though I hate the ads, need to find a paid version.

This thing is fast, fun and truly a step up in the game of smart phones.

wow, please take some comparison shots between those two phones. No way is the gnex camera 'loads better' than that of the dInc.

I went from a dInc to the gnex also, and overall if felt like a step back. No way should my almost 2 year old phone stand out more than androids latest and greatest. Two days later I returned it, and I'm happy to have upgraded back to my dInc..

I compared shots from the dInc, the gnex, and a canon 60d. Yes you can get fair shots, and some people might be impressed, but please take comparison shots, and its flaws will be obvious. more detail in shots taken by dInc, and of course the canon showed the most accuracy. The only thing the gnex improved (or is it part of ICS?) was the zero lag. But it's worthless if the shots are bad.

also, speaker volume and quality/clarity of the dInc DESTROYS the gnex joke of a speaker. Navigation in the car is half the volume of the dInc. Couldn't have the car radio slightly on or it drowns out the nav.

testing the gps, dInc was more accurate and locked faster.
Two other common gnex complaints online, that I noticed as well,
- the volume rocker sits slightly loose, and rattles just slightly if you shake the phone.
- the speaker clicks after playing any audio. play any audio, after it stops, 2 seconds later the speaker shuts off, and there's a rather audible pop. Once you notice it, you'll soon hate it.

these shouldn't be issues on googles latest greatest device..

Josh515 says:

I have the LTE Galaxy Nexus and I love this thing! I haven't experienced any problems with it and coming from AT&T, this phone's signal and call quality is superb. I'm extremely happy and impressed with this phone and see no reason to take it back. Sure, quad-core is right around the corner, but when will those phones actually be released? And after seeing ICS in all of its vanilla glory, I do not want any custom skins on top of it. The developer support is incredible and will remain strong for a quite a while. Quad-core will be awesome and yes, those phones will be more powerful than the Nexus, but even for a power hungry person like me this phone blows me away and has more than enough power!

Hand_O_Death says:

Wow another person not bitching about a phone they don't have. Sweet thanks Josh, glad i am not alone.

mattbrich says:

i either have not experienced any of the issues mentioned in this review or I don't care about the preferences and "inconsistency " in the UI. The only thing that bugs me is not being able to long press on a dedicated searchbutton.

Sure, I'd like a few features/hardware options from other phones out there but it just works and feels good both from a hardware and software perspective. BTW the otterbox commuter case makes the phone feel very sturdy and it looks great too.

safetybay says:

Don't know how you came up with 2/10ths of an inch equals ·53mm

mhardwick says:

I absolutely love my Galaxy Nexus and have zero regrets with the phone. I think its funny when people find the few minorly negative things about a device and make them extreme majors. As someone who has had a PDA since 1998, and a smartphone since Motorola released the original Q with a large plethora of different devices between then and now I can honestly say this is the best device I have ever owned.

Some things to think about:
You don't need 4G on all the time. I turn it on when I need it and back to 3G when I don't. I can get 20 hours out of my device with 2+ hours of screen time doing this.

The camera is great, granted its not the best, but honestly if you want DSLR quality then buy one and use it. You don't see people like Trey Rattcliff taking his professional images with a phone camera.

At first I thought it might be to big from just looking at it, but when i'm wearing basketball shorts it doesn't try and drag my pants down like my Moto Droid did. It also fits nicely in my pocket with a case.

I have had no signal issues. It gets better reception than my droid did.

The phone is smooth all the time, runs the apps I use great with the exception of Slacker Radio randomly FC, but that is Slackers issue. Other than that I almost never see an FC.

It was a great upgrade from the Droid and I think it will do my well for this cycle. I don't change phones every 5 minutes like I use to 5 years ago. It just gets to expensive.

I'm sorry but I have to say you are absolutely wrong about the speakerphone being bad. I've used it many times and it's amazing. Nobody can tell that I have them on speaker and they sound great to me. Maybe you got a bad phone.

sansenoy says:

Well, for those really into that whole metric thing, 2 tenths of an inch are far wider than something you can thread through a needle head, 0.5mm????

LOL as usual, couldn't disagree with this review more. Complaining about the hardware in a field like mobile tech, where hardware becomes outdated and obsolete in a matter of months is pointless. Let's wait to see what's announced at CES. Let's wait to see what's announced at CTIA. Let's wait to see what's announced at the Mobile Tech Expo. Let's wait to see what's announced at Mobile World Congress. NOW let's wait to see what's announced at CES 2013!! It's sad to see how Android devices are only being measured on their hardware, and not the overall experience, support and APP COMPATABILITY. The Galaxy Nexus hardware is absolutely fast and just fine IMO and the camera shutter release is extremely fast and when it comes to taking pictures, it's not the arrow , it's the Indian. By the time you see any current phones get an Ice Cream Sandwich update, it'll be warm enough outside to actually MELT an Ice Cream Sandwich!! And let's not forget, how's ICS gonna run along with MotoBlur, Touch Wiz or Sense?! Yea , ok good luck with that. The GNex will be around for a while and will continue to get updates from the source.....and FIRST!! Without the Blur, Wiz and Sense.

I've gotten really nice results frombthe camera. Some bad ones to but still more positive than negative. As far as the battery goes, i bought the extra battery and charger. Use it when i am traveling but since i got back home i havent had the need to swap them out. Good to have the option though, but with 14 to 16 hours on a cbharge I'm not complaining a bit.

On a side note just got back from VZW with the Otterbox and am surprised that it doesnt add too much bulk to the phone. It feels less bulky than my Charge when it was Otterboxed. Just FYI. Enjoy

rpacheco120 says:

I am a fan of android, but I have to accept that there is no more sophisticated equipment in the market than the iphone 4s. If you could put Android 4.0 on an iphone 4s, you would have the perfect smartphone.

soXratys says:

I quite disagree. If you put ICS on iPhone 4S, eventually you'll just be left with a wet tampon.

rpacheco120 says:

What I mean is that Google should create a hardware as good or better than the iphone 4s for its new version of Android to take pictures and videos of good quality, speaker quality and video capture quality sound.

The best phone. Bought this phone after having the original Incredible. GN is easy to unlock the bootloader and root. Best part about rooting is the ability to tether.

My speaker isn't as good as my DINC but seriously who uses a speakerphone anymore?
BT all the way.

Camera photos were better on my DINC, buy it took forever in a day to load the darn app up and it's not a huge difference.

Every device has bugs and issues.

I don't think you could go wrong with any of the three devices out there on Big Red.

using the nav will be a step back from the dInc (much quieter)

I lock on faster with the nexus then I do with my dinc.
I use the motorola t505 and transmit via BT so the sound hasn't been a big issue for me yet.

soXratys says:

Bravo review and thanks for reaffirming my decision not to wait for the Galaxy Nexus after testing it at the Samsung store in TWC here in NYC on December 4th.

'If you want the best overall hardware? Might want to look elsewhere.' Agreed; the very next day I went and bought the RAZR™… I have strong and consistent 4G and overall very good battery life, even today when I downloaded about 3GB of video (not to mention heavy web browsing).

Got the HD Dock and Lapdock 100 (will open this w/e) :)

Word to wise: I've been with VZW for over 8 years, whenever a phone's release is delayed (time and time again), usually is a strong indicator and precursor to a host of technical bugs (be they software or hardware).

15israellai says:

Everyone's saying the camera is disappointing and poor or whatever...I'm a bit worried now

vinny jr says:

My rooted thunderbolt is at 95% battery in the morning. The Samsung Nexus is crap. How can Google put that out after all the hype and put their name on it. Shame on Google and shame on the Android sites for not telling the truth about the phone. Why the he'll can't Google put a great product? Their is no freaking excuse, I am thoroughly discusted with Google and will not buy this poor excuse for Android.

Nosferatu524 says:

my friend has this phone. We both agree it's an awesome phone but agrees on paper my phone is the superior phone (Galaxy S2) :)

trivor says:

I really wanted to like this phone - I'm in the WAY TOO BIG camp. I'm hoping next year the Inc 3 will have a 4.0" qHD display, dual core (say 1.2 or so), 2nd Gen LTE Chipset with good battery life, 1GB ram, 16 GB onboard memory, SD slot, all in the same package as my Dinc 2 along with a polished version of ICS. Pretty happy with Sense so whatever HTC adds to ICS I'll probably be fine with it also moving up from my DINC 2.

dyinman says:

I got this phone, mostly because it's a "developer phone".

Here's my take.

I came from an Evo4G. So, to me at least, the camera is pretty stellar. Seriously. I love it. Yes, I know it's not the bestest of the bestest but gimme a break, you can't call it crap. It's still easily in the top 5% of all smartphones. I don't know why he calls it disappointing unless he was expecting SGS2 quality. But my god you're comparing to #1 quality here. You're just setting yourself up for disappointment if you do that.

It all comes down to this: does it take good photos? Hell yes. Does it take good video? Two thumbs up from this guy. The mic even seems to handle insanely loud noises fairly well (rock concert). Maybe that's just the software (probably) but it still says something when that happens stock.

The screen is indeed beautiful, but this review neglects to mention you can tell it's pentile on dim brightness levels with solid colors. Especially grays. I'm still looking through a screen door sometimes. If I up the brightness I either don't notice or it's so minor I don't care. But it's definitely there. No Phil, I'm not making this up. However, the blacks on this screen are downright amazing. When the phone boots up and you see the all-white Google logo, and it seems like it was literally etched out of an all-black surface, it dawns on you how far screen tech has come in just a few short years.

LTE? I mostly turn it off until I need to download something big. Verizon's 3G is more than fast enough for most things, and if it's not I'll just enable 4G for a few minutes. It's not worth the battery life sacrifices and radio troubles by having it on 24/7. If you do that, this thing won't give you any problems. Hell, I didn't really notice problems the first few days when it was on 24 hours a day.

I actually don't like that Verizon is changing it to display more bars than it should actually represent. Catering to people's misconceptions is a pretty lame move. The fact is the LTE radios will receive less signal, period. Don't like it? Don't buy an LTE phone or just turn it off. It's really a very simple matter. Wishful thinking won't make anything better.

As far as everything else goes: people bitch far too easily. I know it's not the absolute fastest phone but who gives a shit if it's not #1? I'll take #5 no questions asked. Nothing else I buy is the absolute top #1 so why should it be so different for my phone? The truth is the 1.2ghz dual core OMAP is packing plenty of power. I've tried graphic intensive games and it seems to handle those fine too. Web browsing is smooth as butter. So why isn't 1.2ghz dual core fast enough for some people? I'm all for pushing the tech envelope with newer, faster devices all on the same amount of juice but if you measure your device by comparing to others all the time and not if it performs as well as you need it to then you'll be disappointed all the time. You're never ever going to have the fastest device, and if you do, it's only going to last a couple months.

What would you do with a 1.4ghz dual core phone, or a 1.2ghz quad core phone that you couldn't do with your GNex? 1% of people legitimately will find something but 99% will be doing the same old shit and just as well on the GNex.

I dunno. I think if you hid people under a rock and gave them a GNex without seeing what else there was, they'd be more than satisfied. But hey, I guess the grass is always greener, right? It's a petty human condition.

Davest says:

Can I just ask, what problems is everyone who has the GNex seeing with the camera? The pics that are posted here, like all the ones I've taken, look great. Plus, as anyone with any knowledge of photography knows, the MP number is one of the least significant specs of any camera. Basically, all it describes is the maximum acceptable enlargement size that can be made from an image file. How many of us will be making 11" x 14" prints of our camera shots? That's what I thought. The speed of this camera is unlike any other I've used, and the color quality is great...I've yet to see any faults.

cbbartley says:

Okay, I have the wife's IPhone sitting right next to my Nexus, and the IPhone has -92 Dbm while the Nexus has -93 Dbm on CDMA.

Seriously, feel like some of these issues are localized, or there were a batch of bad phones that made it out.

ktooty says:

Camera's not a huge issue for me personally. Love the fact that the app drawer swipes left/right. HATE THE BLUETOOTH issues I am having. Other than not being able to hear audio 60% of the time through my bluetooth headset, it is the first android phone that doesn't have me reaching back for my iPhone 4 anymore.