Just when you thought that your mobile phone was already ‘smart’ enough, think again. Over the past few years, the pace of mobile phone development has accelerated tenfold, bringing us the best smartphone that promises to “do it all” so to speak, being as versatile as a full-fledged computer, though naturally sacrificing some sheer raw power for its convenient portability. But the overall package in our hands is still ever so promising, as beyond basic calls and messages, smartphones can function as mobile offices and entertainment centers, running on full-fledged operating systems. In addition to Apple’s legendary iOS, we now have Google’s Android system to compete head-on alongside. Android phones are indeed a serious threat to Apple’s market share and popularity, and one remarkable champion from the Android stable comes from Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus 4G.
Being the very first smartphone to feature the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) operating system, this smartphone came into being from a strategic partnership between Samsung and Google. The Galaxy Nexus is actually the 3rd generation of Google’s Nexus series, with its predecessors being the original Nexus One followed by the Nexus S. The Galaxy Nexus is comfortable to hold in the hand with its curved back build, and sports a large, viewable 4.65-inch touchscreen with Samsung’s trademark Super AMOLED touchscreen that is both bright and vibrant, featuring a remarkably high resolution of 1280×720 pixels. With an image quality as high as 316 ppi, it is not far off from Apple’s Retina Display of 326ppi, and the difference would hardly be noticeable.
In terms of speed and processing power, the Galaxy Nexus does not disappoint at all with its 1.2GHz dual-core processor, backed by 1GB RAM and even a graphics processor to boot, the PowerVR SGX540. While this smartphone may not be tops in the camera department, its 5MP rear snapper and the 1.3MP front camera still deliver decent photos, topped with Full HD 1080p video on the rear and HD 720p video for the front camera. Its flash storage is fairly decent at 32GB, and comes complete with the usual connectivity features of N-Wifi, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0 and Micro USB, plus the addition of NFC that fully updates the Galaxy Nexus alongside today’s top smartphones.
The greatest strengths of the Galaxy Nexus interestingly lies in the number 4, which refers to both its 4G LTE network capability under the Verizon network, and its being the very first smartphone to spearhead the latest Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS. 4G LTE network speeds allow speedy downloads of up to 5-12Mbps and uploads of 2-5Mbps, averaging about 10 times the speed of regular 3G.
Meanwhile, the latest Android 4.0 revamps the current Android platform and combines the best of both the smartphone-oriented Android 2.3 Gingerbread series, and the tablet-oriented Android 3.2 Honeycomb series. Featuring some cutting-edge additions such as enhanced multitasking, full onscreen navigation replacing the older physical buttons, face unlock, and app folder organization similar to Apple’s iOS, Android 4.0 also supports voice input for dictation like Siri on the iPhone.
Overall reviews on Amazon for the Galaxy Nexus were encouragingly positive, with expected praise for the latest Android OS, the grip of its form factor, and the overall speed and responsiveness. Some teething issues with 4G LTE reception were reported in certain areas, while as expected, there was a gripe or two about the camera having only 5MP, though it was still an above-average performer overall. The video camera was rated slightly below average, while battery life was quoted as being on the weak side with heavy usage.
Samsung also seems to be noted for its plasticky build quality, which they can work on improving by taking some lessons from Apple’s iPhone for instance. Other than that, they should work on beefing up the camera in future versions of this smartphone to stay ahead in the smartphone game today, while 4G quality is more dependent on the current state of the network carriers and their infrastructure. Most smartphones including the iPhone have batteries that drain pretty quickly from heavy usage of its multiple functions, so this could be a current limitation of today’s battery technology, that we hope would be catching up with the rapidly developing specs these days.
Other than these imperfections, the Galaxy Nexus is one of the finest Android phones to lead this latest OS offering, and is certainly a trend-setter for the Android family of smartphones to keep Apple on its toes.