Review of Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus

I picked up a Galaxy Nexus (GN) a few weeks ago after finding that Verizon had my account upgrade eligible. I figured that I might as well take advantage of this upgrade and get the phone that will have the latest and greatest that Android can offer over the next couple of years.

Main Features:

  •  Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) OS
  • Super OMLED 720p Screen
  • Near Field Communication (NFC)
  • Zero lag camera
  • 4G LTE

The Nexus line of devices are considered to be developer phones. These “Google” devices and are not supposed to have bloat (Verizon!?) that the carriers typically add to their devices and are ‘pure’ Android and do not have modified software such as HTC Sense or Moto Blur for example. The results of not having this extra bloat is a fast and smooth experience. The Nexus line is also supposed to be the first to get OS updates from Google versus having to wait until the OEM or carrier to get around to updating a device.

Build Quality

The build quality of this device is on par with other Samsung phones that I have played with. This is my first Samsung Android device so I do not have much to compare. The device is light in weight and feels of plastic as that is what the phone is constructed with. I would say that my HTC Rezound and EVO’s before it have had a more solid feel. I  am not worried about the construction of the phone and its ability to hold up over time.

I do not usually get caught up in how a phone looks but I will say that I do admire the look of this device and the deep black front of the phone and screen that blend together very well.

Performance

This phone is fast! The browsers run very smoothly, especially when using the new Chrome Beta browser. While Android in its current state will never be as smooth as iOS, the GN performs very well. Transitions are smooth and I find the rotation of the screen to be pleasant. Movies and games all play very well and multitasking is never a problem.

The signal reception is weaker than other Verizon devices that I have experience with. The phone, for talking (who does that anymore?) is not the loudest phone that I have used. Also, the speaker quality could be better.

Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0)

I really like the polished look of ICS. When I switch back to my Rezound, I instantly notice the difference. All of the Google based applications look very nice and the navigation is much better with less hidden navigation. The colors and fonts are very clean. Unlike previous Android versions, the applications are not bland with dull buttons and instead have nice icon buttons that can be long pressed for labels. The calendar even provide pinch to zoom for the single day view.

Gmail inbox and single day view in calendar

People application and Gmail composing

Camera

Other than the radio performance I would say this is the only other big weakness of this device. When compared to the Rezound or iPhone camera, the GN is lacking. The features in the camera software are a lot of fun, there is a new panorama mode which I do like to use along with a built in stop motion mode which I plan to use this summer at the cabin. At the same time, I can download third party apps to perform these tasks for my non ICS devices but it is nice to have the native functionality.

Screen

The screen on this phone is gorgeous. The vivid colors and contrast is top notch. The display does use pentile technology which has had some bad press from the Motorola line of phones that use it with little success. I will say that Samsung has figured out this technology and it is a non-issue on the GN.

NFC

Near field communication technology is in its infancy in smart phones. There is an issue with the Verizon GN phone and using Google Wallet. Verizon does not want people to use Google Wallet because of their partnership with Isis. Isis will launch the Verizon solution later this year offering options for mobile payments. I have installed the Google Wallet application which is kind of fun. No wallet to pull out of your pocket, just tap your phone on the payment device. This will be very handy with vending machines, gas stations, and restaurants. Other uses can include sharing links and other content when ‘bumping’ a phone with beam technology that is built into ICS. PayPal already has functionality to allow for ‘bump’ payments to another person which could be VERY helpful for many types of transactions.

Battery Life

The stock battery will get a person through a day with little usage and 4G enabled. There is an OEM extended battery with a 13% increase in capacity available. As usual, I went with Seidio for their 3800 mAh extended battery which now also has an NFC option (the antenna is built into the battery on the CDMA/LTE device). The extended battery from Seidio has no problem getting me through a day of use.

Conclusion

Having the latest release of Android is a fun benefit of the Galaxy Nexus. Add in the wonderful screen and nice look of the device and this phone is a legitimate contender for one of the top devices in Verizon’s lineup right now. I have been running a leaked patch version (4.0.4) which has helped with the signal performance, overall performance of the device, and some bug fixes. I was not confident enough to take the GN over the Rezound when I first moved to Verizon. This device upgrade ‘error’ that allowed me to have both devices has been a nice bonus 🙂

***Update 6/7/12 – I have primarily been using my Rezound due to Galaxy Nexus reception issues and a known “muting” during calls issue. I wanted badly for this phone to be my primary device but it fails to deliver when I need it most.

Versus the HTC Rezound

While I find myself leaning towards the GN more and more for regular daily use, I still come back to the Rezound when I know that I have a long day and need reliability of signal and voice quality/volume. I consider the Rezound to be my workhorse. I am very curious how the GN performs when I go to the cabin this summer. The benefit of the Rezound having simultanious 3G voice and data is very beneficial for having to work when I am at the lake without LTE coverage. Because of this, I may end up using the Rezound often when at the lake.

My first Google Plus Hangout

Today I noticed that Mashable was holding a hangout so I joined with my Galaxy Nexus smartphone and was very impressed with how smooth everything was. As different people traded thoughts on a subject, the current speaker would come into view. The video and audio quality was very impressive on my LTE connection.

I think this technology could be a lot of fun for disconnected sports fans who want to hangout (ha ha).

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