Review – Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Samsung Galaxy Nexus
Samsung Galaxy Nexus

About a month ago I was due for a phone upgrade with Verizon.  I’ve had my Droid Incredible for over 2 years and, while I love the phone, it was certainly time for an upgrade.  After spending a few days talking to people and researching different phones I decided to go with the Samsung Galaxy Nexus LTE.

Lets go ahead and get the primary specs and features out on the table:

  • 4.65″ HD (1280×720) Super AMOLED Curved Display screen
  • 32GB internal storage (No SD Card expansion slots)
  • 1GB RAM
  • 5MP Auto Focus rear facing camera/1.3MP front facing
  • CDMA/LTE 4G Network
  • Preloaded with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)
  • 1.2 GHz Dual Core Processor
  • NFC
  • 1850mAh battery (removable)
Two major reasons factored into why I ended up picking the Nexus instead of another phone or holding out for the SIII.  The first would be the huge development community surrounding the Nexus.  There are loads of ROMs, themes, and MODs out there as well as a crowd of great people propping it up.  Along with that, is the removable battery.  Anyone who’s done more than a little modding or flashing ROMs has had to pull their battery at least once.  Not having that ability makes me a little nervous.

First impressions of the phone was, “Wow, the screen is huge!”  Coming from the smaller 3.7″ screen on the Incredible, this was a huge step up.  The screen was very clear and the resolution looked simply amazing.  The phone itself was extremely thin and very light in my hand.  ICS was zooming and I couldn’t see any discernible lag moving through the OS.  When it comes to Android, I’ve always been a bit of a minimalist, so having a nearly vanilla version of ICS already installed was a welcome feature.  With the memory, dual core proc, and ICS combined, it made for an extremely fast and smooth interface all around.

The phone itself has no soft buttons on the front of the screen and opts for software icons instead.  This allows the screen to use nearly all of the phones huge screen real-estate by removing the buttons completely, or adding buttons (i.e. the menu button) depending on the application currently in use.  I love this setup as it just feels so much more….futuristic (my inner Trek is showing).  It also opens up possibilities for modding: changing the button colors, shapes, icons, etc.

I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea of not having a SD Card slot to add extra memory, but 32GB was a  decent amount of storage and I haven’t filled up the 32GB I had with my Incredible, so I figured it would be enough.  I’d still feel a little safer if there was a card I could pull if necessary to retain my data, but with proper backups and the ever growing capabilities of cloud apps, it makes things a little easier to deal with.

This was my first venture into the world of 4G and it was certainly is as fast as advertised. The difference between 3G and 4G is night and day, but comes at a price: battery life.  The 1850mAh battery is pretty solid and would probably last me well throughout the day if I manage to turn 4G off and only enable it when I really need it.  If you have the extra money, I’d certainly spring for the 2100mAh battery upgrade.  It adds almost no additional bulk and weight and adds a few much needed hours to the life of the phone.

The camera is great and can take some really sharp pictures.  The continuous auto focus setting is generally pretty useful, but can sometimes lose it’s mind if you’re trying to take a picture of something small and detailed like text.  The front facing camera is nothing spectacular but certainly works well for doing video chats, which I’ve had loads of fun with.

Some of the other smaller features include a three-color LED used for notifications when the screen is off.  The NFC (Near Field Communication) for use with Google Wallet type setups, which I did not have the opportunity to test, seems interesting and I can’t wait to use this more in the future.  The phone also has three pogo pin connections on the right side which are supposed to be used for fast docking and charging of the phone.  As of yet, I’ve only seen one dock with this connection, and it was pulled shortly after release due to the charge not being sufficient.  Hopefully we’ll see more accessories for this connection in the future.

Overall, I love this phone.  The screen is just the right size before it starts getting too big and you just have a small tablet.  It’s super fast and runs ICS brilliantly.  If I had any complaint it would be, as usual, with the battery life.  I’m a tinkerer, so I’m always playing with one thing or another on my phone during the day.  This tends to drain the battery pretty fast and I find myself having to plug in at least once if not more during the course of the day to keep the phone alive.  The 2100mAh battery helps, but just barely.  Thankfully, there are larger batteries out there that save the day, which I’ll be doing a review on later. There are a plethora of cases, docks, and other accessories out there for this phone, so you shouldn’t have any shortage of choices there.  Finally, as I said at the beginning of this article, there is a very healthy amount of delvelopment out there for this phone.  So if you enjoy flashing ROMs and changing the look of your phone, you’ll have plenty of options here too.