Samsung Galaxy Nexus review

The Galaxy Nexus has already been out in Verizon clothes for some time now.  It had everything you ever wanted in a phone, LTE, Ice Cream Sandwich, fantastic display screen but it was missing one thing.  Google Wallet, you know that thing Google was touting so much a while ago, where you can pay for items without having to take out your wallet just wave your phone in front of a NFC machine.  Well when Google Nexus came out on Sprint it was packing that Google Wallet and pretty much kept all the same things from the Verizon version into this version.

So how does it stand up on the scale of Android powered smartphones?  Does the lack of Google Wallet make the Verizon version not up to snuff?  We find out right here right now for you.  If you want to jump ahead of the video review check it our here


Hardware

Verizon Galaxy Nexus took a very long time to make it to your hands.  Delay after delay after delay and in all those delays it packed on a few pounds since it was a HSPA+ device.  LTE version weighs in slightly heavier and slightly thicker as well.  Now the difference in the HSPA+ version and the LTE version is that the weight makes the LTE version slightly top-heavy.  Where the HSPA+ version seems to sit comfortably in your hands the LTE version seems to want to topple over if you aren’t careful.

Some of that new found weight comes in the way of the healthy 1,850mAh battery resting behind the ever so popular flimsy plastic cover.  Also under that cover is the micro SIM card, despite the lack of Wallet there is still NFC here, as is the 1.2GHz dual-core processor paired with 1GB of RAM. Our phone is offering 32GB of built-in storage.

What talk of phone wouldn’t be complete without talking about that fantastic display I mentioned earlier.  A 4.65-inch 1280 x 720 Super AMOLED display.  You can debate the RGBG pentile layout and how it results in poor color reproduction, however you will be to busy staring at it’s beautiful viewing angles and it’s bright colorful screen.

Performance and battery life 

Now we found out this phone doesn’t stack high atop the clock speed test, but it is more than capable of handling its own.  It was very responsive, thanks in part to Ice Cream Sandwich, and the device is still fast….very, very fast.  You will be hard pressed to notice a real difference in handsets and the clock speed test was not a huge flaw against it.

Apps loaded quickly, webpages pop up in a jiffy, scrolling is smooth, pinch-zooming was handled with ease.  From top to bottom it is a fast phone.  Installation of apps seemed to install quicker than I have noticed on other phones.  All that quick installation comes from the TI OMAP 4460 processor and PowerVR SGX540 GPU, helped along by 1GB of RAM.

Now we come to battery life, and we all know that LTE can really suck the life out of a battery.  We found that day-to-day operation of the Galaxy Nexus, the battery life could barely make it through a full day.  Yet if you take off the LTE and run just the CDMA and you get a whole new ballgame.  Various testing netted us just over 6 hours, a full hour more than LTE.

Camera

The one spot we figure there would be a huge increase in performance is in the camera, sadly the camera comes up a bit average at best compared to other Samsung cameras.  The same camera module is found here as in the HSPA+ version.  The one thing it has going for itself is the zero-lag capability.

While the camera doesn’t pump out 8 megapixel images it still is able to hold its own when it comes to images.  You have continuous autofocus which is very nice when taking a photo no need to tap the screen to focus, the phone just wants to do it all the time.  The fun thing I was doing was constantly try to out camera the camera, what I mean is that I was just snapping away seeing if the camera could keep up and amazingly it did.

So for those of you looking to grab action shots or that really quick photo before it’s too late will enjoy the zer0 shutter lag.  It even outperformed the Apple iPhone 4S in the zero shutter lag test against my friend.

Low-light images are noisy and the bright light images are soft.  Video is 1080p but gets the autofocus treatment as well.  All that video and photos are a quick way to use up that 32GB of internal storage.

Software

 Ice Cream Sandwich is the real story of this phone.  The 4.0 release of Google Android OS is meant to bridge the gap between tablet and smartphone experience.  While it is a huge step up from Honeycomb in terms of responsiveness and sheer visual appeal, it still seems to fall short of all expectations.

Again I feel the need to again restate the fact that Verizon’s Galaxy Nexus is missing Google Wallet where Sprint is packing that in with the phone and some extra bonuses as well.  Google Wallet was meant to take the consumer world by storm, and it has the potential to do so.  It will especially help when Verizon decides to enable Google Wallet.  The main point of all Nexus phones is that it is at the cusp of Google’s latest developments.  However with Verizon deciding to limit access to this software makes us worry that other versions of Nexus down the road will suffer the same ill fate.

Wrap-up 

Ultimately we knew what we were getting when we got the slightly bowed Galaxy Nexus into our hands.  Not so great battery life but great LTE speeds, average camera quality however zero shutter lag makes up for it.  For all the negative there is a positive.  Ice Cream Sandwich really separates this phone from the competition.  $300 on a two-year contract is a steep price to pay for the best phone on the market running Android 4.0.

We hand this over to our crack team of scientists who if they can separate themselves from Game of Thrones for a moment will give this device a true good once over.  We now go to the Kyle Scientific Scale-o-Rama and hit up our Buy It, Skip It or Flip It we rate this device a Buy It.  Great screen display, Ice Cream Sandwich, LTE speeds, zero shutter lag, more than make up for its deficiencies.

Article first published as Samsung Galaxy Nexus Review on Technorati.
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