We love getting feedback from our readers - we'd love to hear what you liked or disliked, what you'd like to see in the future, or simply what you think of IntoMobile. No suggestion or critique is too small or overlooked.Contact Us
The Verizon Galaxy Nexus finally landed on Verizon with 4G LTE and the world’s first Android Ice Cream Sandwich phone brings a lot of heavy expectations with it. In this review, we’ll see if the latest Nexus phone can head to the top of the class in the smartphone market and how much Ice Cream Sandwich advances the platform.
The Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus isn’t dramatically different from the international version, so many of the elements of our original review still apply. But the slightly different body design and the addition of 4G LTE do have an impact, so read on for the full review.
You can find the Verizon Galaxy Nexus on Verizon’s site here.
The Verizon Galaxy Nexus is packed full of the latest hardware, software and mobile data connectivity unless you count the camera. While it's not necessarily on the bleeding edge in terms of processor, it has more than enough power to satisfy most users and it has a top-of-the-line display. Just as important, the software has been optimized to run fantastically on this device, so you can be assured of great performance.
The Galaxy Nexus on Verizon is a large phone and those who have never used a 4.3-inch smartphone or larger may be thrown for a loop. I've heard the device described as "massive" and "a monolith" by two people I know who aren't elbow-deep in the mobile world and I suppose a 4.65-inch screen is quite large if you're coming from an iPhone or a feature phone. I dig the size and design, though.
The 4.65-inch 1280 x 720 resolution screen takes up the bulk of the face and you'll notice that there are no hard buttons for back, menu, search or home because Android Ice Cream Sandwich turns these into software buttons. This is nice because it means you'll have more space for just the display and these buttons will disappear during things like media playback. That large screen does come with its own negatives though, as some have mentioned that it's difficult to operate one-handed. I have average-sized hands and am used to these larger devices, so I didn't experience any issues but I could see this issue popping up for some.
It's essentially the same design as the international version but the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is a tad bit thicker thanks to the 4G LTE modem. It's still quite a thin phone when you consider all that's inside of it but don't be expecting something that's impossibly thin like the Droid Razr. Samsung did a nice job of making the front slightly curved and making the back and edges smoothly contoured so that it fits nicely in you hand.
On the right spine, there's the power/unlock button and the docking connectors. The top is completely clean and there's a one-piece volume rocker on the left spine which is quite responsive. The microUSB port is on the bottom with the standard headphone jack and I absolutely hate that I have to plug my headphones at the bottom. I know this can be a personal issue but I mostly use my headphones with my phone when it's in my pocket, so I much prefer the jack on top so I can listen to music and then pull the phone out to look at the screen without flipping it. Not a big deal but it's a minor annoyance to me.
Another pain is the back cover, which is difficult to take off and even worse to snap back on. You kind of have to peel it off and it's a very non-premium experience. The textured plastic or "hyper skin" on the back cover does look and feel really cool, though. You'll also find the 5-megapixel camera on the back to go along with the flash and the brandings for Samsung and Verizon.
Overall, the Verizon Samsung Galaxy Nexus has a nice, modern design which should appeal to hardcore Android fans and newbies alike.
The Verizon Galaxy Nexus has the traditional build quality you'd expect from a Samsung device: high-quality plastics. This is where we enter into that debate where some say that a full metal phone feels more "premium." As I've said in previous Samsung reviews, your design preferences will play into whether you think this is a premium device or not. I personally understand and dig the design philosophies Samsung adheres to with the Galaxy Nexus, as it is light, durable and you won't have to worry about the back cover cracking like you do with a certain Apple product.
Still, if you don't like phones made from plastic, you probably won't like the Verizon Galaxy Nexus that much.
As for the 720p display itself, it's definitely good but I noticed some issues with the Pentile display, particularly with all-white screens. It's still an amazing screen, particularly if you're coming from a feature phone but I still think the Nitro HD has the best and brightest 720p screen out there. Still, you get a high-quality 720p experience in your pocket with the Verizon Galaxy Nexus, so I won't complain too much.
The Verizon Galaxy Nexus is pretty similar to the international version in terms of internals but there are a few differences beyond the extra girth and weight. Both sport a 1.2 GHz dual-core TI OMAP 4460 processor, NFC chip, gyro and Bluetooth but the Verizon version has 32 GB of memory (not expandable though), a slightly larger battery and support for Big Red's 4G LTE network. It's pretty much what you'd expect from a high-end handset at the end of 2011 and the inclusion of NFC means that it should be able to utilize future mobile payment solutions, even if it doesn't have Google Wallet at launch.
We were slightly underwhelmed by the specs in last year's Nexus device (the Nexus S), so it's nice to see that the Verizon Galaxy Nexus brings the goods. This smartphone packs enough powerful hardware to make you confident that it will still be relevant by the time your contract runs out.
Blake has already done an extremely thorough review of Ice Cream Sandwich, so I'm going to reprint that below (send all your love/hate mail to him). I will say that using Ice Cream Sandwich has been a delight because it shows me that Android has really grown up.
The major knock on Android has been that it is a less-polished version of iOS and while I believe that's an unfair simplification, there is a kernel of truth to it. That is not the case with Ice Cream Sandwich, as Android differentiates itself from iOS in multiple, wonderful ways. Whether it's the unified and cohesive look, system-wide gestures or the enhanced functionality, Ice Cream Sandwich is a confident display of what Google wants Android to be and it's pretty awesome.
Yes, there are still some issues, apps still lack the overall visual panache of its iOS counterparts and you may not like your phone looking like Tron but the functionality, user interface and outright "wow" factor of Ice Cream Sandwich is second to none. The Verizon Galaxy Nexus comes with a few Verizon-specific apps to backup your data and monitor your account and these can be useful and don't detract from the "pure Google" experience. Additionally, I was required to update to 4.0.2 when I first turned on the device.
Editor's note: This originally appeared here.
By now, hopefully you've taken the liberty of reading our Samsung Galaxy Nexus review, which covers a chunk of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. We also told you that we just skimmed the top in favor of a more in-depth review of the latest version of the OS. *I'm running a custom ROM on this phone at the moment, so disregard any inconsistency you've seen on the stock Galaxy Nexus. There is no dedicated search option on the soft keys but is just an option for this ROM*
Obviously, the Galaxy Nexus has Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich as its main weapon and the latest version of Android is definitely enough to choose Samsung's latest offering over the competition. Ice Cream Sandwich is a dramatic departure from any other version of the OS found on a phone today and will forever change the way you use and see Android. In a good way.
One thing that will immediately change the way you use Android on the Galaxy Nexus is that fact that there are now on-screen keys for navigation instead of physical or capacitive buttons. Ice Cream Sandwich also does away with dedicated search and menu buttons in favor for in-app options, which can take a bit of getting used to. The three buttons that made the cut for Ice Cream Sandwich are back, home, and multitasking. The multitasking option will display your most recent applications via thumbnail and you can simply swipe apps away if you're done with them. This doesn't actually kill the task but it allows you to get at what's most important to you more quickly. You may find yourself ignoring the multitasking option in the beginning but once you get the hang of it, you'll wish it was always there for Android. More on multitasking later.
The changes begin at the lockscreen and it now features the familiar look and feel of Honeycomb. A small ring is found at the bottom of the screen and you can drag it to the right to unlock the device or slide it to the left to immediately open the camera application. Unfortunately, Google has removed the option of silencing the device from the lockscreen. Additionally, jumping directly into the camera isn't as quick as it should be or as fast as it is on the iPhone 4S or on Windows Phone handsets.
A nifty feature for unlocking the device is Face Unlock. It's there for novelty more than security but it's certainly an interesting feature. Face Unlock allows you to take a picture of yourself and will scan your face when you turn on the phone to unlock it. If you have a very good picture of the person, it can be tricked, but it's definitely a feature to show off to some friends rather than securing your device. Ice Cream Sandwich now allows you to drag down the notification bar while your screen is locked and dismiss them if you so choose. Last but not least, if you're listening to music, the lockscreen will have music controls, along with the album cover art for easy access.
An interesting new security wrinkle thrown on the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is that users wanting to get a Google Apps e-mail account on the device will have to download the Google mobile device policy manager app. Depending on your Google Apps' security settings, this may require a pincode password (like it does for me), so you're going to miss out on the quick swipe to camera motion and the face unlock. It's a small price to pay though.
The Android Homescreen is familiar enough but it's full of new features. You're still given the same five screens to customize with applications and widgets but there's definitely enough differences to get excited for. Similar to Honeycomb, the you'll find the static Google Search bar up at the top of the screen at all times. For some reason, even though you can't remove the Google search from the top of the screen, there's still a Google search widget available. Moving to the bottom of the screen, the favorites tray now has two more slots to place applications or folders and is completely customizable.
The only option in the favorites tray that is non removable is the all-apps soft key. Folders have also been revamped for ICS and the new method takes heavily from iOS, as you simply need to drag one application over another to create a folder. From there you can customize the icons where you want them and rename the folder. Even better, after you have your brand new folder created, you can now put it into your favorites tray.
The way you switch between applications is unlike anything you've probably seen on a phone before. Similar to Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich shows you thumbnails of the application to give you a quick glimpse of what screen you left off on in the app. Unlike Honeycomb, however, dismissing applications can be done with a simple swipe gesture, just like dismissing emails, texts, etc. in the notification panel. This gesture is universal throughout Ice Cream Sandwich and you can also dismiss browser tabs in the same way.
If you thought the updated keyboard in Gingerbread was nifty, you haven't seen anything yet. It seems that Google has actually implemented the BlindType tech this time around, as the keyboard is a joy to use. The mix of the large screen and the updated keyboard make typing on the Galaxy Nexus a pleasure. Luckily, because the updated keyboard software is that nice, phones with smaller displays will likely be able to enjoy it just as much as larger phones. Just like previous versions of the OS, Ice Cream Sandwich features voice-to-text right from the keyboard but Google has taken it to the next level. Voice dictation is not only more accurate but it's also nearly instant. As a lover of physical keyboards, for the first time ever I think I'm done with them for good.
Accessing all of your applications hasn't changed in Ice Cream Sandwich but the way you navigate through them has been tweaked quite a bit. With Android 4.0, you scroll through applications horizontally now and swiping to another page will produce a nice animation. Adding an application is done in the same way as previous versions of Android but when you long-press an app you're presented with an option to uninstall said app on the top of the screen.
Another Honeycomb feature that made its way to Ice Cream Sandwich is that Apps and widgets now live in the same place and widgets now have their own dedicated tab at the top. You can also get to your widgets by swiping past your last page of apps. You're now given a preview of how your widget will look on the homescreen, which is pretty nice. That said, it can be a bit overwhelming if you have a lot of widgets. The new way of moving through apps and widgets may take some getting used to but it's cleaner and much easier on the eyes.
Google Maps is just one of the many applications Google has revamped for Ice Cream Sandwich. Since a physical or capacitive menu button is no longer needed, most of your options are displayed on the screen. Most of these revamped Google apps all share the same dark grey bars lining the top and bottom of the apps, which is where you'll find the action bars. The bottom gives you the option to search, immediately jump into directions, go to the built-in Places app, layers, and the new on-screen menu option, which reveals options for My Places, Clear Map, Latitude, and settings. The latest update of Google Maps adds more options to the top action bar for quick access to other Maps features.
Probably my most-frequented application on any Android phone, Gmail has received a great facelift with Ice Cream Sandwich. If you haven't noticed the trend, these newer Google apps have most options found in the action bars on the top and bottom of the application. Gmail's bottom action bar allows you to quickly compose a new email, search, change labels, refresh Gmail, and the menu option to show more settings. The top bar will allow you to quickly switch accounts.
When one or more emails are selected, the options on the action bar change. Once selected, an email can be archived, deleted, have its label changed, be marked as unread, or starred. The on-screen menu found on the bottom right of the action bar will allow you to mark the selected emails as important, mute, or report spam. Navigating through emails is now easier than ever, as all you need to do is swipe to the left or right to get to your next email in your inbox. Sadly, Gmail still doesn't support multitouch.
Google Calendar has been tweaked a bit but not as dramatically as some of the other Google applications. Probably the nicest tweak found in the calendar app is that when you're in the week view, you can pinch to zoom on the screen to show more or less information on your appointments. So if you have many appointments on your plate for the week, you can expand the view easily to get just the right amount of information displayed for you at one time.
However, the new zoom feature can not be used when the calendar is in the month view. Only one action bar is used in the calendar application, which is found on top. The action bar allows you to easily jump into day, week, month, or agenda views, and the menu soft key found on the right allows for search, adding a new event, refresh, calendars to display, and settings.
The Movie Studio application from Honeycomb has made its way to Ice Cream Sandwich and offers up all the features you'd expect. Once a video or picture is added to the current project, you can trim and edit the video, as well as add a music track on top of it. Movie Studio isn't the all in one video editing software but it's a great start and coupling it with the decent photo editing in the gallery as well as video recording options in the camera app makes for a powerful set up.
If you're someone who used YouTube frequently, you'll love the changes made in the Ice Cream Sandwich version of the application. The changes aren't as dramatic as other Google applications, as one could tell YouTube was leaning in this direction when it was updated late last year. The main screen on YouTube, like the previous versions, will show trending videos but if you've set up your account on the application, it will display suggested videos that are more relevent to your YouTube viewing habits.
A quick swipe to the left will show you a new Browse option, which breaks down videos into the standard YouTube categories.Another swipe will bring you to your account page, which shows your uploads, favorite videos, playlists, and subscriptions. You're also given the option to upload a video right from the gallery on this screen. Selecting a video will bring you to a familiar screen, which displays the video on top and information of the video on the bottom. You can +1 the video, give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down, and view the description. Related videos and comments for the video are just a few swipes away.
Ice Cream Sandwich not only sets out to make the user experience easier on the user but to keep them in control of their experience as well. This is where the new Data usage manager comes into play and if you consume a lot of data every month, you may have just met your new best friend. The Data usage manager will not only show you the amount of data you've used for the month, but it will break it down into what applications are using the most data.
Because we live in a world of tiered data plans, the data usage manager will allow you to set a mobile data limit on your phone, which will warn you when you've hit a certain amount of data for the month and completely turn off data once you top out. Better yet, if you notice a specific application that is sucking down data like oysters on a half shell, you can block the application from using data altogether.
The notification bar has been revamped in many ways and we're loving what Ice Cream Sandwich brings to the table. If available, texts, emails and others will show a picture of the sender next to the notification. This adds a more personable touch to the notification panel and it simply looks nice. While you'll still be able to clear all of your notifications with the simple "X" symbol on the notification bar, Google has made it easier than ever to dismiss specific notifications by using a simple gesture. The gesture is found throughout the entire OS, which is a simple swipe.
The new way of dismissing individual notifications is definitely a nod to WebOS, and custom ROMs like CyanogenMod have had this method implemented for some time now. One small tweak that has been added to the notification bar is that there's now a dedicated settings option that's found right next to the date. This will alleviate the need to dig through your applications or even go to your homescreen to get at the settings menu and we're more than happy to see it.
The People application, which is Ice Cream Sandwich's new Contacts application and the first thing you'll notice is that it looks like it was taken right out of Windows Phone 7. The People app is broken into three sections: Groups, contacts, and favorites. You can sync your Twitter and Google+ contacts and when viewing a contact with either of these services, their latest updates will be shown.
The favorites page is displayed in a thumbnail view and allows for high-res pictures for your contacts. You'll probably need to manually update these photos, as the first time my contacts were synced, all photos looked rather distorted but you're good to go after that. This would be completely alleviated if Google still allowed your Facebook contacts to be synced but that likely won't happen anytime soon. Below your favorite contacts is a list of your most frequently contacted people, whether its text, email, or calling. It's pretty nice to find these contacts in the same place, no matter what way you communicate with them.
Android Beam is a nifty and novel way of sharing content from one phone to another. You can easily share YouTube videos, contacts, applications and more simply by putting two Galaxy Nexus phones together and tapping on the screen. Before we tested it out, it seemed as if Android Beam would fall into the same gimmick realm as Face Unlock but we walked away pretty impressed. Check out the video below to see Android Beam in action!
A feature that many have been requesting for some time in Android has finally arrived in Ice Cream Sandwich. Screenshots. While the feature isn't necessarily the most useful, it can be helpful and just plain fun. Previously, screenshots were a bit of a hassle to get working on most Android phones, as it required the Android SDK and connecting the device to a computer. Now screenshots can easily be taken by pressing the volume down button and power button at the same time for two seconds. To add a bit of visual flair to screenshots, a simple poloroid-esque animation is displayed on the handset when a screenshot is taken.
The Gallery application has been significantly revamped and now offers a built-in photo editor. Also taking heavy cues from Windows Phone 7, photos are displayed in a magazine-style and doesn't offer much spacing in between photos. This is easy on the eyes but can also make the gallery app feel a bit noisy. Tapping on a photo will allow you to edit it and apply all sorts of filters and after-effects. The editing options are actually pretty decent for what you'd find built-in to any phone. HEre are just a few options you can choose from: highlights, Shadows, Auto-fix, Cross-process, Posterize, Lomo, Documentary,Vignette, Film Grain, Fisheye. There are also more color effects and other photo manipulation options, like straighten, sharpen, etc.
The web browser is a joy to use on the Galaxy Nexus and just makes one of the best experiences even better in Ice Cream Sandwich. The look and feel has been refined in the browser and since there's no dedicated menu button any longer, you'll find everything you need at your fingertips. As expected, you'll find the address bar along the top of the browser, as well as the soft key for showing all of your open tabs and the three dot menu soft key for settings options. Not only is the browser within Ice Cream Sandwich significantly faster, it also brings along some great features along the way.
One feature that many people have been waiting for is Chrome Sync, which will sync all of your bookmarks on the Chrome desktop browser to your phone. This feature is especially nice for those who flash custom ROMs and are used to manually backing up their bookmarks every time, as it's all done for you now. Another feature found in the browser is Incognito Mode, which doesn't save browsing history or cookies. This is a simple feature that has been available in CyanogenMod for some time now and it's just nice to see that the stock Android browser is sharing many of the same features found in the Chrome desktop browser. Another feature is the ability to request the desktop version of a website. This is very useful for websites that recognize you're on a mobile device and don't offer the option for accessing the desktop version of the site.
As I've been writing with nearly every Android phone recently, the platform is still lacking the breadth of content that iTunes has with iOS but the multimedia lead of the iPhone is almost completely gone thanks to Google's new initiatives and third-party apps. Google Music may not have as many songs to purchase as iTunes but it does offer a free way to stream or download most of your home collection to the device. Throw in apps like Spotify, Stitcher, Rdio, Slacker and Pandora and your ears will be pretty happy even if the speaker on this device isn't the greatest.
Videos look great on the 720p screen and you can rent these from the Android Market or just stream some from Netflix and other apps like Bitbop. Gaming is a breeze with apps from the Market and the OnLive service provides console-quality graphics and it works smoothly over Verizon's 4G LTE network (watch out for your data caps though). It may take a little more searching than it would on the iPhone but the Verizon Galaxy Nexus can provide a great multimedia experience.
I had high hopes for the Verizon Galaxy Nexus' camera and I came away disappointed because the 5-megapixel camera didn't consistently produce quality shots. It's a shame too because the Galaxy Nexus has the fastest shot-to-shot time I've ever seen - the iPhone 4S is also lighting fast with shot-to-shot times but the animations with the photos make it a tad bit slower than that of the latest Nexus. Still, I don't really care how quickly you can shoot pictures if you wind up having to take 10 shots for every moment to get one really good picture.
We're used to amazing cameras with the latest high-end smartphones and the Galaxy Nexus falls a little bit short. It's still an above-average camera but I wasn't blown away with the detail and auto-focusing. The worst part about this is that I know Samsung can do a better camera because there's one in the Galaxy S II, so you just have to wonder why this falls short. Low-light photos produce a lot of noise (expected) but at least the flash produces some reasonably-nice low-light shots.
On the positive side, you have a bunch of built-in editing options including neato filters and even a panorama mode. While we've seen these on other Android handsets, having these options at the base of the platform really opens the door for some innovative apps down the line.
The Verizon Galaxy Nexus has a 5-megapixel camera (I misspeak in the video, sorry) that can do some nice 1080p HD video. I found the playback was smooth and that audio reproduction is excellent.
The Verizon Galaxy Nexus mostly provided super clear calls but callers reported that there was some random hissing coming from my end. I heard that complaint from a few people on different networks, so I'm still not sure if it's the phone to blame or the network. The speaker phone is loud enough but it gets a little distorted when you pump up the volume.
The 4G LTE speeds on the Galaxy Nexus can be amazing (I got over 32 Mbps down in San Antonio once!) but I found it needs a really strong signal compared to other 4G LTE devices. In general though, expect average speeds of at least 8 Mbps and bursts or up to 20 - that's pretty freaking awesome.
Of course, every 4G LTE phone we've used on Verizon has had poor battery life and the Galaxy Nexus stands out from that crowd by being pretty solid ... most of the time. I recently drove from Houston to San Antonio with the Galaxy Nexus in my pocket and had a Verizon iPhone 4 connected to the car via Bluetooth.
I streamed podcasts from the iPhone to the car for the 3 hour drive or so and when I arrived at my destination, the iPhone was at about 80 percent. The fully-charged Galaxy Nexus was at 40 percent just from sitting in my pocket receiving e-mails and with the occasional navigation request.
I think the culprit of this is that it was desperately searching for a signal in the middle of Texas, which is pretty much no man's land. We've been hearing reports of signal issues and I haven't experienced that in an extreme way but I can report that when it doesn't have a great signal, be prepared for a massive battery hit.
If you're in a strong Verizon 4G LTE coverage area and generally don't deviate from a few places (home, work, a few restaurants, etc.), it should get you through the day but I'd strongly advise going for the extended battery or carrying an extra charger.
The Verizon Galaxy Nexus is quite an impressive device, as it combines a super-fast data network with hardware and software that have been optimized for each other. The specs in this thing are nothing to ignore but in many ways, the real star of the show is Ice Cream Sandwich and how it elegantly brings Android into its own. Using this phone is a joy, even if experienced Android users have to adjust their way of doing things slightly.
On the downside, the camera could and should be better and I'm not comfortable with the battery lasting all day on a single charge. Still, those compromises may be worth it for the cool new version of Android and the super-fast 4G LTE network from Verizon.
Ok, you've heard what I've had to say, so now let your voice be heard in the comments.
Add Content Here